Note for candidates interviewing overseas: Most of the below applies to interviews in Cambridge only. If you are being interviewed overseas, you should contact the relevant administrator for more information. Please note that candidates attending overseas interview are still required to submit written work and complete paperwork (data protection declaration, fee status questionnaire etc.) and will still need to sit the admissions assessments.
If you are travelling from abroad to an interview in Cambridge you may need a visitor visa - please make sure you apply for the right type of visa, and that you do so in plenty of time for it to be processed (which can take weeks!). Please note that we do not offer Skype, phone or video interviews* and all candidates who are invited are expected to attend an interview in person.
*Remote interviews may be available for candidates applying for some courses from the US and surrounding countries. More information can be found on the University's page on applying from the US.
Types of interview
All interviews will be academic in nature. In some cases, you will be given some interview preparation immediately prior to your interview. This means that you will be given a passage to read or problem sheet to look at, which you will probably then discuss for part of the interview. Sometimes this takes place on a chair just outside of your interview room so it’s a good idea to bring something to lean on. The contents of the interview prep is deliberately supposed to be something you have not come across before so no preparation is necessary. It often helps to guide the interview such that it is more like an actual Cambridge supervision.
Interviewers may not bring up anything from your personal statement. Many candidates have answered questions like 'why do you want to study Law?' quite comprehensively in the personal statement and the interview is a chance to find out new information about you and your potential rather than re-tread the ground from your personal statement. Also remember that there's no need to go overboard on revision - your current schoolwork is very important and we're anxious not to distract you from it. Interviews are designed to be something that you can't prepare for too much (aside from a wider and general interest in the subject) to allow all candidates from all backgrounds an equal chance.
In some subjects, one of your interviews may only have one interviewer. If you would prefer a third person be present in the room, you are welcome to request this by emailing the Admissions Office once invitations to interview have been sent, you have received your schedule and you know that you will have a one-on-one interview. You can also ask at the welcome desk on the day of your interview.
If you apply for a subject for which written work is requested in advance, this may be used as the starting point for discussion during the interview.
In some subjects, you will be asked to sit a written assessment or test in Cambridge as well (more details on this on the subject pages below). Wherever possible we will do our best to arrange all of your appointments (i.e. interview(s) and, where applicable, written assessments, tests etc.) on the same day. If necessary, we will also provide meals and overnight accommodation too. You can find much more information, including videos of mock interviews, on the University website. Specifications and sample papers for the written assessments can also be found on the University website. You can find likely interview dates, more detail on what to expect in interviews for your subject at Peterhouse, on the drop-down pages below.
Please note that interview/test/interview prep times will already be adjusted as appropriate for those who have submitted an Adjustment for Disability/Learning Difficulty form.
What to bring
- Warm clothes: Cambridge is cold (and often wet!) in December. There is no specific dress code so it is important that you wear whatever you feel comfortable and confident in.
- Sensible shoes: you may need to walk around a lot so make sure you are comfortable.
- Something to read/watch: you may spend some time sitting around waiting so make sure you bring something to keep you entertained. You can also use the JCR (Junior Combination Room, aka social area) during your breaks, which has free tea/coffee for interviewees (after 9am), and a TV and free pool table. Regrettably, parents/non-interviewees are not permitted to use this waiting area.
- A mobile phone: if you have provided us with your mobile phone number then please bring it with you as we do sometimes need to make last minute changes to interview times if people are held up in traffic, etc. But please remember it must be switched off during any interviews, interview prep or tests.
- Your interview invitation: you will need this so that you know where you are going and when. For all appointments at Peterhouse, the JCR will act as the waiting area, with tea and coffee and a reception desk run by current students - we call these students 'shepherds' because they deliver you to your destinations and look after you while you're here. If you have an appointment at another College or at a Faculty/Department then please make sure you know how to get there, and allow yourself plenty of time to find their Porters’ Lodge/Reception. Our students helpers and staff will be happy to help point you in the right direction or arrange taxis etc.
- A pen: the shepherds will have some spare for those with interview prep/sitting tests but it helps if you can bring your own.
- A calculator? Applicants for Engineering (or Chemical Engineering via Engineering) should bring a calculator to use whilst working on their pre-interview problem sheet. Otherwise, calculators are not permitted.
- Photo ID (passport, driving licence etc.): we may need to confirm your identity at the interview.
- An alarm clock (if you are staying overnight): you don’t want to miss your interview!
How to get to the interview
Make sure you have a good look at the maps and directions for Peterhouse before planning your travel. Bear in mind that we are on Trumpington Street, about 30 minutes walk from Cambridge Railway Station, and about 15 minutes walk from Drummer Street bus station. Once you get to Peterhouse, you should report to the JCR about 10 minutes before each appointment, so they can tick you off their list and deliver you to your room and give you any instructions. Please don't try to find your own way to the interview rooms - you need to be checked off the list in the waiting room.
We have a limited amount of accommodation available to use during the interview period but, where appropriate (usually if you have a long way to travel or an early start), we will offer you free accommodation during your time at Peterhouse. Please note it is not possible to offer accommodation to parents and nobody apart from the candidate will be allowed to stay overnight at Peterhouse. We may also offer you some meals if you are staying with us over mealtimes. Your interview invitation email will say what we have offered you, if anything. Accommodation is usually in St Peter's Terrace (first-year students' accommodation) and you will be provided with a towel, bedding and basic toiletries. Bathrooms are shared between 3-4 people, and you will have access to a very basic kitchen. We would recommend bringing with you a water bottle and snacks for the evening, as there are no vending machines on the College site. Meal times and checkout times can be found below. Hot drinks will be available in the JCR/waiting area after 9am during the day - there will be signs from the Porters' Lodge to help you find it.
*Candidates with appointments that span the length of the breakfast period will be able to collect a small breakfast before that period, just ask a member of staff in the kitchens.
**There is a luggage room available at the Porters' Lodge, so we recommend that you check out on your way to breakfast.
What to do outside of appointments
In between interviews you should do your best to relax and prepare for your next appointment. There are a number of suggestions for how you can spend your time below. If you need help with directions, the Porters and student helpers are always happy to help you.
- Go to the JCR (i.e. Common Room) in the Whittle building in Peterhouse to relax in the warm with a cuppa on a comfy sofa. The JCR opens at 7.30am (tea and coffee from 9), closes at 1.00am, has a TV, board games and a free pool table. It will also be staffed during the day with a team of friendly undergraduates, who will answer any questions you have and take you to your interview, and we'll be providing free tea/coffee/squash for applicants during the daytime.
- Go to the College Library if you want somewhere a bit quieter.
- If you have a long break, or have stayed overnight, you can pop into town - there are lots of cafes and shops within 5 minutes walk, as well as the Grand Arcade and Lion's Yard shopping centres and a cinema, all about 10 minutes walk away.
- I'm afraid we won't have time to give you a tour of the College as we'll be busy making sure the interviews run smoothly, but you are welcome to have a wander around by yourself, using a College map. Please do not enter any rooms as we have interviews taking place across the College site.
The drop-down menu below provides a rough outline of what you can expect as an applicant for your subject.
Important note: details like the number of interviews you will receive, running times of tests etc may change (you will receive full and final information in your 'invitation to interview' email) but the below is intended to give you an idea of how we typically assess candidates in each subject.