How to Apply

Like most other British universities, making an application to study at Corpus is done online via the UCAS system. Like other colleges we make our admissions decisions in a holistic way based on many factors; public examination results, admissions tests, personal statements, school references, submitted work, contextual data and interview performance. The University website has an excellent overview of the applications process. Here are a few tips from our admissions office on preparing an application to Corpus, and on what to expect at the interview.

Personal Statements

Your UCAS personal statement is your chance to tell us (and the other universities to which you apply) what makes you a good candidate for a place in your chosen subject and why you have decided to study it. At Cambridge we are interested in how you have pursued your interest in the subject, not just at school but beyond the classroom as well. This could be in many ways depending on your subject, from extra reading, to attending or downloading lectures or, in a few cases, relevant work experience. These should take up the bulk of your personal statement and any good university will be more interested in these ‘supra-curricular’ activities than in extra-curricular pursuits like sports, music or drama.

If you are applying to different courses at different universities, it can be hard to phrase your UCAS personal statement accordingly. Don’t worry – after you have submitted your UCAS application you will also get an opportunity to complete a Cambridge-specific application form, called the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ), which includes a space for an additional personal statement if you wish to write specifically about the Cambridge course.

The Interiew

Interviews are a chance for you to show your ability, aptitude and interest in the subject for which you have applied. At Corpus we interview around 80% of candidates, and for most applicants these will take place in the first two weeks in December. Depending on your circumstances you may be offered free overnight accommodation at Corpus and all applicants receive free meals while at the college. You will have two academic interviews, conducted by subject specialists, and there will usually be two academics in each of the interviews. All your interviews will be held on the same day. Some overseas applicants will be interviewed in their own or a neighbouring country and details about this can be found here.

We aim to give you as much notice as possible before the interviews. Helpful Corpus undergraduates will be on hand to take you into meals, show you your way around the College and to try to put you ease.

The interviews themselves often take the form of mini-supervisions (i.e. college-based teaching sessions) and the interviewers are looking to see how you are likely to respond to this style of teaching. Interviews in different subjects are often very different. In a maths or science interview, for instance, you should expect to do some writing, such as solving equations or sketching curves. In a humanities subject, however, it is likely that you will be given a text for discussion during the interview. Remember that the interview is less about ‘getting the right answer’ (there may not even be a ‘right answer’), and much more about showing how you are able to work towards an answer or solution to an unfamiliar concept or problem. The above video from the Cambridge Admissions office gives you a great sense of how admissions interviews are usually conducted.

Here are our top tips for getting ready for interview.

  • Carefully re-read your personal statement and any written work you have submitted.
  • Think in detail about the course at Cambridge and what about it attracts you and matches your aptitudes and interests.
  • Revise the subjects you have already studied and try to read and develop your interest in the subject further.
  • Expect to be asked focused and challenging questions, typical of teaching and learning at Cambridge, and be prepared to talk about the academic work you have completed in the last year or two.
  • Wear something warm! It will be December so it is likely to be cold. Beyond that, it really is your choice, we want you to be comfortable in what you are wearing and to focus more on what you are going to say than on what you are going wear.

Tests and Written Work

From the 2016 admissions round onwards, the University will ask most applicants to write admissions tests. Some of these will be sat in schools in early November, while others will be sat in Cambridge, at the time of the interview in December. The University web site has a good description of the tests, as well as example papers in each subject so that you can be prepared for the sorts of questions that might come up. These tests are designed to supplement the information in your application and provide a gauge of your abilities – to assess skills (such as comprehension and thinking skills) and, where appropriate, levels of current knowledge and understanding relevant to the course applied for. Depending on the course, we may also ask for:

  • Written Work  For some of our courses (particularly arts and humanities subjects), we require written work to be submitted during the application process. We will normally ask for two marked essays written as part of your school work, to be submitted by 3 November. You do not have to send this work before applying – we will write to you after you have applied and let you know exactly what you need to send.  We ask for this to see how you write and formulate an argument and also to see how well you have been taught (which is why we ask for it to be marked). Often an interviewer might want to ask questions about the work you have sent in. It is therefore a good idea to keep a copy of what you send so that you can read it again before the interview to refresh your memory. It is also helpful to send, if possible, two pieces on contrasting topics and it is best to send work that is recent. If you are uncertain about what work to submit, especially if your chosen subject for University is not one you have studied at A Level then the Admissions Office will be happy to advise you.
  • Prepatory Study at Interview
    Prior to the interview, applicants to some of our courses are asked to study a piece of writing or a set of problems to be discussed at interview. This could be an article or essay for History, a translation for MML, or a set of mechanics questions for Engineering. These readings aren’t part of a test or exam – they simply act as a jumping off point for discussions in the interviews.

This table summarises what the requirements are for all of the subjects we offer at Corpus.

SUBJECT Submitted Written Work Test at Interview Pre-interview test Prepartory Study at Interview
Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Yes No Yes No
Archaeology Yes Yes No No
Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Yes No Yes Yes
Classics Yes Yes No No
Computer Science No Yes No No
Economics No No Yes No
Engineering No No Yes Yes
English Yes No Yes (ELAT) Yes
Geography Yes No Yes Yes
History Yes No Yes Yes
History and Politics Yes No Yes Yes
History and Modern Languages Yes Yes Yes Yes
History of Art Yes Yes No No
SUBJECT Submitted Written Work Test at Interview Pre-interview test Prepartory Study at Interview
Human, Social and Political Sciences Yes No Yes No
Law No Cambridge Law Test No Yes
Linguistics Yes Yes No No
Mathematics No Yes No No
Medicine No No BMAT No
Modern and Medieval Languages Yes Yes No Yes
Music Yes No No No
Natural Sciences Biological No No Yes No
Natural Sciences Physical (Chemistry) No No Yes No
Natural Sciences Physical (Physics) No No Yes Yes
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Yes No Yes Yes
Philosophy No Philosophy test No No
Theology and Religious Studies Yes No Yes Yes


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