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Supracurricular exploration is an important way to expand your knowledge of your subject, explore your interests and develop your skills. Our new webpage contains guidance on supracurricular exploration and a comprehensive source of resources, grouped according to undergraduate degrees at Cambridge.

What is supracurricular exploration and why is it important?

Supracurricular activities are subject-specific academic exploration that builds on and goes beyond what you are studying in school or college. Supracurricular activities are usually different to extracurricular activities because they are academic in focus and directly relevant to the subject you want to study at university. Supracurricular activities, therefore, refer to anything you do to explore your subject in greater depth in your own time.

Strong applicants to Cambridge and other competitive universities have often explored their chosen subject in their own time, and discussion of academic enrichment will usually take up the majority of a competitive personal statement. Exploring these resources should also help you develop certain skills and knowledge which will be beneficial for both applying to and then studying your chosen course.

Academic enrichment should also be an interesting and rewarding process for you. There is no set formula nor any ‘required reading’: it is a chance for you to pick topics that fascinate you and to explore them in a variety of ways. There are also no exams or deadlines and you are free to develop your own lines of research. Do not feel pressured to read something that seems ‘impressive’ or see this as purely an exercise in finding material for your personal statement. Let your own interests guide you.

Academic exploration is also a good chance for you to think about what you might like to study at university. If you’re not enjoying exploring a particular subject, then you might like to consider if it is really right for you.

Watch a recording of our Introduction to Supracurricular Exploration webinar

 

Getting started

Reading can be an excellent way of exploring topics that interest you and much supracurricular study will usually take that form. Bear in mind, however, that there are many other ways to deepen your understanding. You could visit your local museums, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, attend seminars or taster days offered by universities, or enter competitions. For STEM subjects in particular it is also important to find ways to practice key subject-specific skills. For example, you might like to work through problems to challenge your problem-solving skills, and consolidate your knowledge of key concepts.

We would strongly recommend keeping a record of the work you are reading and thinking about, summarising the key arguments and your reflections and opinions. Depth can often be better than breadth in a personal statement, so you should aim to be able to talk about particular works or resources in detail.

Perhaps the most helpful thing you can do when applying to competitive universities is to keep up to date with news and current affairs that relate to your subject. Here are some suggestions of quality journalism which you can use to find pertinent articles:

Reading quality journalism can also help you to develop the ability to think critically and analytically. You can assess their arguments and weigh their evidence and think about why one media outlet my present news in a different way to the other. Remember that most strong applicants display the ability to think critically when presented with new information and to assess it in the light of their existing knowledge, making connections between the familiar and the unfamiliar and using their existing knowledge to assess the validity of what they have been shown.

Podcasts are an excellent free way to learn about a topic, and you can listen to them whenever is convenient
for you. See below for individual subject suggestions, and here for a general list of useful podcasts:

You may also find some useful videos at:

Many universities have made some courses free and you can access online lectures, downloadable courses, notes and academic discussion groups:

You might like to consult the following websites for resources and ideas pertaining to a wide variety of subjects:

Various Competitions: 

 

If you’re looking for reading lists specific to the University of Cambridge, try individual college websites. You can take a look at reading lists for prospective applicants, as well as incoming first years. Please do not feel you need to read everything on a first year reading list; rather it can give you a good sense of where to start and what the course focuses on.
Some examples include:

You might also like to look at the suggested reading from other universities, such as the University of Oxford:

Another good place to start are the Very Short Introduction texts: Very Short Introductions | Journals | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

 

Subject-specific resources

Be open minded about the different courses you may wish to look into and be attentive to the overlaps between subjects. It is usually sensible to consult the course pages first and then start with broader, more introductory resources. If you’re finding yourself truly fascinated, you can then begin to narrow your search to specific topics of interest. Courses often share common themes, so you may also find that resources for certain other courses will help you with your own subject. 

Disclaimer: Please note that the following resources are not required reading lists for applicants to Cambridge and you are not expected to have read any of the below before applying to the university. Unless otherwise stated, the sources are not endorsed by the University of Cambridge or Lucy Cavendish College. Please also remember that you do not need to pay for books or online resources, and your school or local library may have access to books and material for you to loan.

Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNAC) allows you to discover the early medieval world in Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. The course is therefore truly inter-disciplinary in that it spans the areas of literature, languages, and history. There is also a lot of flexibility in terms how you might specialise, but in general students often take a mix of historical and literary options. You may therefore like to get a sense of the history of the Early Middle Ages and think about the historical context of any literature you encounter. Sampling the different languages of this period will be useful as you will be looking at literature in its original languages.

Find out more about studying ASNAC at Lucy Cavendish College

 

General resources:


Reading suggestions:

  • Preparatory reading ideas: www.asnc.cam.ac.uk/currentstudents/undergraduates/reading-lists/intro-reading.htm
  • The Anglo-Saxons by J. Campbell, E. John & P. Wormald
  • The Viking Achievement by P. Foote and D.M. Wilson
  • Wales and the Britons, 350-064 by T. M. Charles-Edwards
  • Early Medieval Ireland 400–1200 by D. Ó Cróinín
  • An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England by B. Mitchell
  • The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse–Icelandic Saga by M. Clunies Ross
  • A Grammar of Middle Welsh by D.S. Evans
  • Early Irish Lyrics by G. Murphy
  • A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 by M. Brown


Websites:


Videos:

 

You may also be interested in English, History, Modern Languages and/or Linguistics.

This broad course contains topics that span the humanities, social sciences and the sciences. In the first year, students take seven core archaeology, language and biological anthropology papers, but after that you are able to specialise in one or more of archaeology, Assyriology, biological anthropology and Egyptology. It is therefore worth spending time researching the different areas available and thinking about how you might eventually like to specialise. If you are interested in Assyriology or Egyptology in particular, you may like to look into the relevant languages and see if you might enjoy the challenge of learning them from scratch.

Find out more about studying Archaeology at Lucy Cavendish College

Reading Suggestions 

  • Barnett, Ross (2019). The Missing Lynx: The Past and Future of Britain's Lost Mammals. Bloomsbury Wildlife.

  • Broodbank, C. 2013. The Making of the Middle Sea. Thames and Hudson.

  • Fauvelle, F.X. (2018). The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the African Middle Ages. Princeton University Press.

  • Kelly, R. (2016). The Fifth Beginning : What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell Us about Our Future.

  • McCorriston, J. and Field, J. (2020). Anthropocene: A New Introduction to World Prehistory Parker Pearson, M. (2013). Stonehenge. Simon and Schuster.

  • Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark Emu. Broome: Magabala Books

  • Pauketat, T. (2010). Cahokia. Penguin.

  • Rutherford, A. (2016). A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

  • Wragg Sykes, R. (2020). Kindred: Neanderthal life, love, death and art. London Bloomsbury Sigma

  • Yong, E. (2017). I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (01 edition). Vintage.

    Textbooks used in the first year

  • Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 2012. Archaeology: Theory, Methods and Practice, 6th edition, Thames and Hudson, London.

  • Scarre, C. (ed.) 2009. The Human Past: World Prehistory and Development of Human Society, 2nd edition, Thames and Hudson, London.


General resources:

Journals and magazines:

Websites:

Videos:

Podcasts:

Subject Societies:

 

You may also be interested in Classics, History, Geography and/or Human, Social and Political Sciences.

Architecture spans both the arts and sciences, and it is often worth brushing up your Maths and Physics skills to at least GCSE level. Studio work forms the core of your studies at Cambridge, and in order to develop your own design skills you should be trying to look at and then think critically about all kinds of architecture you see around you. You might like to begin a sketchbook where you can record all the different kinds of designs you have been examining. You can also learn about and critique the work of high profile designs and architects, using some of the resources below to get you started.

You will need to bring a portfolio of work to you at interview in Cambridge, so your supra-curricular work might help you to compile this.

Find out more about studying Architecture at Lucy Cavendish College


General resources:

Reading suggestions:

Journals and magazines:

Websites:

Podcasts

Videos:

 

You may also be interested in History of Art, Mathematics, Engineering, and/or Design.

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) provides an exciting opportunity to pair language learning with cultural study, taking in fields such as literature, history and politics. You may like to explore the culture and history of relevant countries/societies widely and see if there are any particular topics that particularly fascinate you. Although you will be taught your language(s) from scratch, it is also helpful to do some basic study yourself, so you understand (and hopefully look forward to!) the challenge ahead. 

Find out more about studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Lucy Cavendish College

 

General resources:

Reading suggestions:

 

You may also be interested in Modern and Medieval Languages, English, and/or History.

Chemical engineers design industrial processes that convert raw materials into valuable products. Biotechnologists use living systems and organisms to make valuable products. The need for sophisticated products and sustainable processes means chemical engineers and biotechnologists are in great demand, as they are essential for addressing some of the problems currently facing humanity. These include the energy transition away from fossil fuels, the need for sustainable food and water supplies as climate change occurs, and the provision of improved global healthcare solutions and therapeutics.

Find out more about studying Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Lucy Cavendish College

 

General resources:

Suggested reading:

  • Introduction to Chemical Engineering: tools for today and tomorrow (Solen & Harb, 2010)
  • Chemical Engineering: and introduction (Denn, 2012)
  • Solen and Harb, Introduction to Chemical Engineering: Tools for Today and Tomorrow

    Websites

     

    You may also be interested in Engineering and/or Natural Sciences.

    The study of Latin and Ancient Greek is central to the Classics course, whether it be in our three year degree for those with A-level Latin (or equivalent) or in our four year degree for those without advanced Latin or Greek. If you already have A-level Latin, it may be useful to ensure your language skills are as strong as possible as these will likely assessed at interview at Cambridge through a translation exercise .If you are more of a beginner then you may wish to sample the fundamentals of the language to see whether you will enjoy intensive language learning, and bear in mind that you will likely have a language aptitude component at interview.

    Classics at Cambridge involves not only a strong emphasis on Latin and Greek, but also the interdisciplinary study of areas such as history, philosophy, archaeology and literature. You may wish to sample these different areas and see if there are specific topics you find particularly fascinating. Classics: A Very Short Introduction, provides a good starting point.

    Find out more about studying Classics at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Videos:

     

    You may also be interested in English, Modern & Medieval Languages, Linguistics, HistoryHistory of Art, Philosophy and/or Archaeology.

    Practicing your mathematical thinking and reasoning skills is vital as mathematics provides the essential underpinning to our course, and these skills will be assessed in the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA) as well as at the interview itself. You are also very strongly encouraged to take A-Level Further Mathematics (or equivalent) if possible.

    Whilst you are welcome to do some reading about the course (especially if Computer Science is an entirely new discipline for you), the important thing is to practice your mathematical, logical thinking skills in a hands-on way and demonstrate a real passion for the subject through practical exercises such as learning a programming language, designing a phone app, or even building a robot.

    Find out more about studying Computer Science at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Websites:

    Suggested reading:

    • The New Turing Omnibus (A Kee Dewdney)
    • Computational Thinking (Jeannette Wing)
    • How to Think Like a Mathematician (Kevin Houston)
    • Gribbin, Computing with Quantum Cats
    • Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind
    • Hromkovic, Algorithmic Adventures: From Knowledge to Magic
    • Singh, The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking

    Journals and magazines:

    Videos:

    Competitions:

    You may also be interested in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and/or Engineering.

    The economics course at Cambridge has a very strong mathematical element, as well as covering related areas such as economic theory, history and politics, meaning students also write essays. It is important therefore to practice your mathematical and logical and analytical thinking skills, as well as your ability to write clearly and analytically. These are skills tested in the pre-interview assessment (see the course page for more details) and you may also encounter mathematical exercises at interview. Accordingly, A-level Further Mathematics (or equivalent) is strongly advised for economics applicants.

    You may also wish to familiarise yourself with some of the basic terms and theories in introductory works such as those suggested by the Faculty (see below). You can also use these resources to not only get a broad introduction, but also discover topics you find particularly interesting and may want to specialise in. Always remember to think critically and analytically about any new ideas and arguments that you come across.

    Find out more about studying Economics at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    • Preliminary Reading List for Economics at Cambridge: www.econ.cam.ac.uk/ba/PrelimReadingList.pdf
    • Economics: A Very Short Introduction (Dasgupta, 2007)
    • Economic Rules: Why Economics Works, When It Fails, and How To Tell The Difference (Rodrik, 2015)

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Videos:

    Podcasts:

    Competitions

    You may also be interested in History, Land Economy and Mathematics.

    Education is the study of human development and transformation in all its forms and contexts: from the individual mind to the social and political processes taking place within communities, institutions and global networks to the cultural encounters that shape ideas, beliefs and imaginations. Applicants for Education would be well-advised to keep up-to-date with current developments in UK/International Education through quality journalism and publications such as the Times Education Supplement. Remember too to think analytically and critically about any new ideas or arguments you are presented with. 

    Find out more about studying Education at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Videos:

    You may also be interested in English, Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, Human, Social and Political Sciences, History and Geography.

    Engineers at Cambridge begin with two broad foundational years designed to give a very firm grounding in the basic principles of the subject before specialisation begins in the third year. It is very important to strengthen your knowledge and understanding of Mathematics and Physics, and applicants are also strongly to take A-level Further Mathematics if possible. All candidates will sit a pre-interview assessment focusing on advanced Maths and Physics (see the course page for more information, and these skills will also be tested at interview. Whilst further reading can be helpful for introducing you to interesting concepts and ideas, the key thing is to immerse yourself in the subject in a hands-on way by practicing your mathematical, problem-solving skills and trying out some Engineering activities for yourself.

    Find out more about studying Engineering at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading: 

    Websites:

    Videos:

    Other activities:

    You may also be interested in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

    English at Cambridge is a wide-ranging course that allows you to discover texts from the Middle Ages to the present. Unsurprisingly, it is very helpful to read as much as you can, in a way that you find fascinating and enjoyable rather than purely for the purposes of an application. Read primary texts but also some related secondary texts, such as criticism, history, or theory and think carefully and critically about the arguments presented. If you are reading a particular work it can also be helpful to contextualize it in light of the author’s other work and consider how it may or may not differ. 

    Find out more about studying English at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    • Downing College’s suggested reading: www.dow.cam.ac.uk/join-downing/information-new-students/undergraduates-reading-lists/english
    • How to Read a Poem (Terry Eagleton, 2006)
    • Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
    • Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction
    • Eco, The Name of the Rose
    • Fisher, Ghosts of my Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures
    • Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare
    • Lewis, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature
    • Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller Nuttall, Shakespeare the Thinker
    • Paterson, Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A New Commentary
    • Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
    • Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Video:

    Subject Societies:

    You may also be interested in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Education, Classics, Philosophy and History.

    Geography at Cambridge allows students in the first year to study both Human and Physical Geography, and as you progress through the course you can specialise in a particular field of interest or retain more of a balance between the two areas. In the first year, all students take a human geography and a physical geography paper so you will be working on both your writing and your numeracy skills. It is helpful to keep up to date with relevant current affairs thorough quality journalism, as well as reading periodicals such as Geographical. You can narrow your exploration to a particular area of interest, whilst also being open to discovering new topics. If you do read, listen, or watch something then ensure you are always thinking critically and analytically about the arguments presented.

    Find out more about studying Geography at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Videos:

    Subject Societies:

    Challenges and competitions 

     

    you may also be interested in Human, Social, and Political SciencesLand Economy, and Natural Sciences.

    Historians at Cambridge will do a great deal of reading as part of their degree and therefore they  need to learn how to synthesise large amounts of information quickly, as well as thinking about ideas and arguments they encounter in a highly analytical, critical way. Doing plenty of reading into topics of particular interest to you is therefore very useful preparation for the degree. Remember that you should always be reading in an active, analytical way. For more information on this, see the very useful guidance from the Faculty.

    If you are studying History alongside Politics or Modern Languages it can be very useful to find areas of crossover. Not only is this a rewarding academic exercise, but it also means that your personal statement will likely strike a good balance between the two distinct yet linked subjects.

    Find out more about studying History at Lucy Cavendish College

     

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Video:

    Podcasts:

    Subject Societies:

    You may also be interested in Economics, Human, Social and Political Sciences, History and Modern Languages, Archaeology, Classics, and Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.

    You do not need to have studied History of Art before to begin the course at Cambridge, or indeed at most other universities. You should have a real interest about a wide range of art, and you will also need to develop a good visual memory and hone your critical thinking skills. It is very helpful if you can visit museums, exhibitions and buildings of architectural note (see below for some online suggestions too), and take sketches, photographs and descriptive notes of what you observe. Don’t worry if you are not used to doing a lot of drawing, as many people are very pleasantly surprised by how quickly their skills improve! For more on this, see the guidance
    from the Faculty
    .

    Essay writing is an important component of the course so developing your ability to write clearly is useful. We strongly recommend you take an essay-based subject at A-Level or equivalent in preparation for this aspect of the course.

    It is also helpful to gain some basic knowledge of classical mythology and the Bible as this will help you to better understand the meaning of certain art. See the Department page for reading suggestions, as well as the reading lists suggested below.

    Find out more about studying History of Art at Lucy Cavendish College


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts

    Other activities:

    You may also be interested in Architecture, Classics, and History.

    In the first year of study Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) involves three core disciplines: Politics and International Relations, Social Anthropology and Sociology. From the second year onwards students can either specialise in one of these three areas or combine two within a dual ‘track’ (see our course page for more details on this). It is therefore very helpful to read the course pages thoroughly so you understand how the degree is structured and how you might potentially like to specialise.


    Many students will be completely new to the core disciplines, so it may be useful to read some introductory works (The Oxford Very Short Introductions are usually an excellent starting point) before then pursuing your own more specific lines of enquiry. You will be doing a great deal of reading on this course, so getting used to extensive reading and then being able to synthesise and analyse the information you are presented with is useful preparation. Remember that any new reading you have done should be thought about carefully and analytically.

    Find out more about studying Human, Social and Political Sciences at Lucy Cavendish College

     


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Videos:

    Podcasts:

    Competitions

    You may also be interested in: Economics, History, and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

    A truly interdisciplinary course, Land Economy is principally concerned with Law, Economics and the Environment. As the course is unique to Cambridge, start by reading the course page thoroughly in order to see how the degree might fit with your particular interests. If you are unsure where to start, consult an introductory guide to the different areas of the course and see if there any topics that particularly fascinate you. Remember to always reflect critically and analytically on what you have read and bear in mind depth is often better than breath in a personal statement.

    Find out more about studying Land Economy at Lucy Cavendish College


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    • Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases and How They Shaped the World (Allan Hutchinson)
    • What about Law: Studying Law at University (Catherine Barnard, Janet O'Sullivan and Graham Virgo)
    • Economics of Social Problems (Julian Le Grand and Carol Propper)
    • The Undercover Economist (Tim Harford)
    • Feral: rewilding the land, sea, and human life  (George Monbiot)
    • Triumph of the City (Edward Glaeser)
    • The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jane Jacobs)
    • Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880 (Peter Hall)
    • Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty (Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson)

    Websites:

    Videos:

    You may also be interested in Economics, Geography and Law.

    As Law is often an entirely new discipline for prospective students, it can be helpful to read some introductory works in order to get a sense for the different strands of Law you will be covering (see the suggested reading below). Aside from gaining a broad understanding of the Law, keep up to date with relevant news stories and reflect on them critically. It can also be helpful to base your exploration in terms of a legal question you find fascinating. Investigating this question through various sources such as books, blogs, podcasts, and legislation will be excellent training in independent legal research. 

    Please also do not be concerned if you do not embark on any work experience prior to application. Whilst it can be useful for applicants, it is not a required part of the application and you will not be penalised for not having done any. If you do embark on any, the important thing is to be active and engaged and ask plenty of questions, and then to reflect on the experience carefully in the personal statement. Has it changed how you thought about the profession and any particular legal matters, and what did it lead you to think about or do next?

    Find out more about studying Law at Lucy Cavendish College


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    • King’s College Cambridge suggested reading: https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/reading-lists/law-reading-list
    • What About Law (Barnard, O’Sullivan and Virgo)
    • The Law Machine (Berlins and Dyer)
    • The Rule of Law (Bingham)
    • Misjustice: How British Law is Failing Women (Kennedy)
    • Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University (McBridge)
    • Learning the Law (Williams)

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Videos:

    Other activities:

     

    You may also be interested in History, Economics, and Human, Social and Political Sciences.

    Linguistics is the systematic study of human language. Superficially, there’s huge variation among the world’s languages, and linguists not only describe the diverse characteristics of individual languages but also explore properties which all languages share and which offer insight into the human mind. The study of linguistics draws on methods and knowledge from a wide range of disciplines. For instance, the study of meaning draws on philosophy, the analysis of the speech signal uses methods from physics and engineering, and the study of language acquisition draws on psychology.

    You may find it helpful to begin with some introductory works, as well as consulting the reading lists below. The Cambridge preliminary reading list is based on the topics studies by all first year Linguistics students, and therefore gives a good sense of the different core areas you might like to investigate. You may also wish to try some Linguistics puzzles, as these will form part of the Linguistics Cambridge College registered admissions assessments, as well as provide an opportunity to analytically explore features of world languages.


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    Videos:

    Other activities:

    You may also be interested in Modern and Medieval Languages, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

    Mathematics at Cambridge is an exciting, uniquely demanding course. The most important thing is to immerse yourself in the subject and practice your mathematical, logical thinking and problem-solving skills as often as you can in a hands on way. A crucial skill is the ability to applying existing knowledge to unfamiliar problems.

    You can work through problems available on various websites such as the ones below (HE+ is usually a good starting point) and enter different Maths competitions if you can. Whilst you can read around the subject, it is crucial that you gain practice yourself in tackling complex problems. This kind of practice is useful not only for STEP (see more below) but also for your interview when you’ll likely be presented with new material to work though.

    Mathematics offer holders at Cambridge also sit the Sixth Term Exam Paper (STEP), usually in June before their course starts. STEP uses material from A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics but increases the difficulty. Preparing for STEP is a very important part of the applications process,
    and support resources can be found below.

    General resources and STEP support programmes:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Videos:

    Podcasts:

    Competitions:

    Subject Societies

    You may also be interested in Computer Science, Natural Sciences and Engineering.

    The six year Medicine course at Cambridge is divided into two three year parts. The first three ‘pre-clinical’ years are a rigorously scientific, theoretical grounding in Medicine before the emphasis shifts to learning in clinical settings in the final three ‘clinical’ years. The demanding nature of such a highly scientific course means that you should also be working hard on both your scientific and mathematical ability, and sites like NRICH Chemistry and NRICH Biology (see below) are therefore worth consulting. 

    Aside from learning from and reflecting on any volunteering and work experience you may undertake (see the course page and Cambridge Medical Society guide for more on this), it is advisable to ensure your wider academic exploration has a strong scientific basis given the theoretical nature of the pre-clinical years and you should also be keeping up with relevant current affairs. You can consult journals like the British Medical Journal, magazines like the New Scientist and books mentioned in the reading lists below. You can also use any work experience or volunteering you do as a springboard for wider study. Was there something you observed that you
    want to learn more about?


    Applicants for Cambridge are also required to sit the BMAT. For more information, see the resources below.


    General resources:

    BMAT resources:

    Work experience guide:

    Suggested reading:

    Journals and magazines:

    Websites:

    Podcasts:

    You may also be interested in Natural Sciences and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

    The study of Languages usually requires not only a sound grounding in vocabulary and grammar, but also the ability to critically engage with areas such as history, film, thought and culture. At Cambridge, as at other competitive universities, you will eventually need to become confident reading a wide range of literary texts in the original language and so any practice you can do of reading in your chosen language(s) is helpful. Do not feel you need to read whole novels in the original; shorter, more accessible texts such as newspaper and magazine articles are valuable. Indeed, you can certainly talk about literary works in your personal statement even if you read them largely or wholly in translation. Alongside this, listen to the radio and watch TV programmes and films to develop your comprehension skills. Try to make a habit of noting down words and phrases that you are not familiar with. There is now a wide variety of foreign language content on streaming services such as Netflix.


    If you are taking your language from scratch (ab initio), please be aware that it will benefit you enormously if you have covered much of the basic grammar and vocabulary yourself over the summer before you start your course.

     

    General resources:

    French:

    German and Dutch:

    Italian:

    • General resources: /www.mml.cam.ac.uk/italian/resources
    • Corriere Della Sera: www.corriere.it
    • Italian text
      • La coscienca di Zeno (Italo Svevo)
      • Se questo è un uomo (Primo Levi)
      • Lessico famigliare (Natalia Ginzburg)
    • Italian film
      • Ladri di bicicletta (Vittorio di Sica)
      • i La dolce vita (Federico Fellin)
      • Gomorrah (Matteo Gorrone)

    Portuguese:

    • General resources: www.mml.cam.ac.uk/spanish/resources/portuguese
    • Diario de Noticias: www.dn.pt
    • Portuguese text
      • A viagem do elefante (José Saramago)
      • Antes do Baile Verde (Lygia Fagundes Telles)
      • Nós matámos o cão tinhoso (Luís Bernardo Honwana)
    • Portuguese film
      • A costa dos murmúrios (Margarida Cardoso)
      • Central do Brasil (Walter Salles)
      • Cidade de Deus (Fernando Mereilles and Kátia Lund)

    Russian:

    • General resources: www.mml.cam.ac.uk/slavonic/resources/online-resources/russian
    • Russian text
      • A week like any other (Natalia Baranskaia)
      • Any short stories (Alexander Pushkin)
      • Revizor (Nikolai Gogol)
    • Russian film
      • Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
      • Prisoner of the Mountains (Sergei Bodrov)
      • Ivan’s childhood (Andrei Tarkovskii)

    Spanish:

    • General resources: www.mml.cam.ac.uk/spanish/online-resources
    • El Pais: www.elpais.com
    • News in slow Spanish: www.newsinslowspanish.com/
    • Spanish text
      • La casa de Bernarda Alba (Federico García Lorca)
      • Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Gabriel García Márquez)
      • La casa de los espíritus (Isabel Allende)
    • Spanish text
      • El laberinto del fauno (Guillermo del Toro)
      • Volver (Pedro Almodóvar)
      • Una mujer fantástica (Sebastián Leilo)

    You may also be interested in History and Modern Languages, English, Human, Social and Political Sciences, Philosophy, Linguistics, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.

    Rather than discrete scientific degrees, Cambridge has a wide-ranging and flexible Natural Sciences course. The first year provides students with a broad-based scientific foundation, with increasing specialisation available in the subsequent years. Largely speaking, students choose either a physicals sciences route or a biological sciences route. Indicating this choice in advance through 'My Cambridge Application' questionnaire is important as your interview will be tailored to your route. Do bear in mind, however, that the course is flexible and it is certainly possible to combine topics from both broad areas.

    Whether you are intending to go down either a biological or physical sciences route, ensuring your mathematical skills are strong is essential, particularly as these will be tested in the pre-interview Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (see the course page for more details on this). If you are intending to specialise in physics in particular, being able to also link Physics and Mathematical knowledge is crucial for degree study. 


    General resources:

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    Journals and magazines

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    Subject Societies

    Biological, Biomedical and Life Sciences and Zoology:

    Suggested Readings

    • Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
    • Margulis, What is Life?
    • Mukherjee, The Gene/Emperor of All Maladies
    • Reich, Who We Are, and How We Got Here
    • Ridley, Nature via Nurture
    • Sapolsky, Behave
    • Schilthuizen, Darwin Comes to Town

    Websites:

    Videos:

    Subject Societies

    Competitions

    Chemistry:

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    Journals and magazines

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    Subject Societies

    Physics:

    Recommended Reading 

    • Hawking, A Brief History of Time
    • Mann and Crease, The Second Creation
    • Orzel, How to Teach Quantum Physics to your Dog
    • Povey, Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems
    • Warner, A Cavendish Quantum Mechanics Primer

    Websites:

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    Subject Societies

    Competitions 

    • British Physics Olympiad

    Geological and Materials Sciences:

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    Websites:

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    Subject Societies

    Challenges

    You may also be interested in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.

    Philosophy is often a completely new discipline for students at Cambridge as indeed at many other universities. You are therefore strongly advised to do some reading about the subject so you understand what it would be like to study it at a high level (see the course page and the reading suggestions below). You may like to start with some broader introductory works and resources before narrowing down into a particular area that you find interesting. Remember that is important to think carefully and analytically about the material that you encounter, and going into depth is often more useful that aiming to read a vast amount of potentially challenging material requiring careful thought.


    Ultimately, you should be developing your ability to think clearly and logically, as well as in a more abstract way. Formal logic is a required component of the course, and it can be helpful to get to grips with the basics of both formal and informal logic, as well as critical thinking. 

    General resources:

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    You may also be interested in Classics, History, Mathematics, and Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion.

    Psychology and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) is concerned with cognitive, social, developmental and biological psychology within the broader context of the behavioural sciences. There is also overlap with many other disciplines such as anthropology, linguistics, neuroscience and sociology. An essay-based subject is useful at A-level, whilst Mathematics and Biology also provide helpful preparation. Bear in mind that this is primarily a scientific course, as opposed to a social science one.

    Many students will never had done any formal study of psychology before, so you may wish to start with some introductory works to get a sense of the discipline as a whole before beginning to specialise into topics that you find particularly interesting. Remember that is important to think carefully and analytically about the material that you encounter, whilst going into depth is often more useful that aiming to read a vast amount of potentially challenging material requiring careful thought.


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

    • Christ's College reading suggestions: https://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/psychological-and-behavioural-sciences/reading
    • Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain (Blakemore)
    • Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook (Eysenck &Keane)
    • Self comes to mind: constructing the conscious brain (Damasio)
    • Essentials of Social Psychology (Hogg and Vaughan)
    • Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding (Hrdy)
    • Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience: An Introduction (Johnson & de Haan)
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman)
    • Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (LeDoux)
    • How the Mind Works (Pinker)
    • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Sacks)
    • Key Concepts in Developmental Psychology (Schaffer)
    • A Student’s Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience (Ward)

    Journals and articles:

    Websites:

    Videos

    Podcasts:

    Subject Societies

    You may also be interested in Human, Social and Political Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Linguistics.

    Theology and Philosophy of Religion is an interdisciplinary course that covers key areas of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. You will learn to think about important issues via a range of traditions and philosophical standpoints and there is the freedom to specialise in areas that particularly interest you.

    In the first year, you are required to learn a scriptural language (either Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Sanskrit or Qur’anic Arabic), and it is, therefore, worth consulting the Faculty page to see if this is something that might interest you. If you have not yet got a topic within this field that you’d like to explore then make use of some broader introductory resources before narrowing your research. Do bear in mind that the important thing is often depth over breadth, and you will need to think critically and analytically about the material you encounter.


    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

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    Competitions 

    You may also be interested in English, Philosophy, Classics, and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

    The six year Medicine course at Cambridge is divided into two three-year parts. The first three ‘pre-clinical’ years are a rigorously scientific, theoretical grounding in veterinary medicine before the emphasis shifts to learning in clinical settings in the final three ‘clinical’ years. The demanding nature of such a highly scientific course means that you should be working hard on both your scientific and mathematical ability, and sites like NRICH Chemistry and NRICH Biology (see below) are therefore worth consulting. You may also wish to consult the preparatory guidance on scientific concepts sent by Cambridge to incoming first-years to get a sense of the key areas.

    Working on your mathematical and scientific ability is important not only in the longer term, but also for the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment which all prospective Cambridge Veterinary Medicine students sit. For more on this, please consult the course page. Getting used to working through scientific and mathematical problems will also be useful for the scientific part of your interview.


    Aside from learning from and reflecting on any volunteering and work experience you may undertake, Veterinary Medicine applicants should try to go beyond their school curriculum, usually by reading about scientific/clinical topics which interest them. This wider exploration can be in any biological science, physical science, mathematical or clinical topic and it can take many different forms including journals, articles and online courses. The key thing is that it is of genuine interest to applicants! It is also helpful to keep up to date with current affairs that relate to the profession.

    General resources:

    Suggested reading:

     

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    Journals and magazines:

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    Videos 

    You may also be interested in: Medicine or Natural Sciences

    Interested in learning more about applications?

    Our prospective applicants page has resources to aid you in the application process