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Application and Interview

Applying to Cambridge

You are advised to put only one subject (i.e. Chinese Studies) on your application form. 

The process of applying to Cambridge is much the same as that for other universities. However, there are two key differences that you should be aware of. At Cambridge, the application process starts earlier to allow time for interviews to be organised. You will also be asked to specify a College as well as naming your chosen degree subject in the application.

While most of our students are UK nationals, we strongly encourage young people from other countries to also apply to us. In the past few years some of our students have hailed from Ireland and continental Europe (e.g. Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, the Netherlands) as well as farther afield (Australia and the USA).

Choosing a College

In your College you will have a Director of Studies who will be responsible for your academic welfare and for your progress. In most other subjects your Director of Studies also arranges your supervisions, but in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies supervisions are arranged by your teachers in the Faculty.

Students choosing Chinese Studies and wondering which College to apply to should be aware that members of the Chinese Studies academic staff are Fellows of the following Colleges. In most cases they act as Director of Studies (DoS) for all students in their Colleges doing Chinese Studies as well as other subjects within Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. In other colleges your Director of Studies is likely to be a specialist in Middle Eastern Studies, Japanese or South Asian Studies.

Preparing for your interview

In addition to talking to you about your personal statement, interviewers will want to know why you want to study the language and culture on which you will be spending the next four years of your life (and even beyond Cambridge). Before your interview you will need to do some exploratory reading about China and to be prepared to talk about your reading in the interview. This can include general history, literature in translation and other reading that relates to your main interest in China. Wikipedia (which is not always a trustworthy source) and other internet sources alone are not good enough, though they can often serve as convenient entry points to more proper and scholarly sources.

You will find some reading recommendations in our section on 'Preparatory Reading'. You will impress the interviewers positively if you can demonstrate your commitment to pursuing Chinese Studies by having done some relevant readings and having watched some Chinese films.

Each applicant will have two interview sessions, each lasting approximately 25-30 minutes. The 'general interview' is often conducted by the College admissions tutor and another Fellow of the College, both of whom are most likely non-China specialists. This interview's aim is to assess the applicant's general academic and intellectual aptitudes. The 'subject interview' is usually conducted by two members of the Chinese Studies staff, one of whom can be the Director of Studies for AMES subjects for the College. This interview's aim is to assess the applicant's suitability for the Chinese Studies course. The interviewers will write up reports on the interviews that will serve as an important basis for the admissions decisions at the College to which the applicant has applied and/or at the admissions pool in the event that the applicant is considered suitable for the course but the College in question does not have enough space for the applicant. All highly-qualified and suitable applicants will have a fair chance of getting admitted no matter which college they have applied to (though we suggest you consider first and foremost those colleges with Chinese Studies staff members as fellows and/or directors of studies for AMES subjects).

No one should be intimidated by the interview. There are many resources to help you familiarise yourself with the interview process. Here are some videos about the admissions interview:

Preparing for the Cambridge admissions interview

More on preparing for the Cambridge admissions interview