Human, Social And Political Science @ Fitzwilliam, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

2 x 30 minutes interviews. Each had 2 interviewers. First about pre-reading extract. Second mainly personal statement.

Interview content

Interviews were like a friendly discussion. First was about a sociology study. Second was politics orientated.

Best preparation

Reading on sociological theories, research methods, and topical political theories. 'Very Short Introductions' and ''.

Final thoughts

They are looking for people they want to teach and share their passion for a subject.

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

I had 2 interviews with 2 interviewers in each interview. The first interview was with the Director of Studies and a Fellow of the college and was based on an extract that I read 30 minutes beforehand, whereas the second was mostly based on my personal statement but I was shown some data during the interview and asked to comment on it. I had around 2 hours between first and second interview.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

All of the first interview was based on the extract I had read, which was a sociological study, with quite general questions at first about the style of the study before asking some slightly more challenging and specific sociological questions. I had to use my imagination to extend the ideas we talked about into new areas I hadn't thought about before.

The second interview felt easier because it was more of a discussion of some things I said in my personal statement. One of the interviewers happened to specialise in the topic of an essay I wrote so we talked quite a bit about it. The interview was more politics-oriented. They gave me some information including demographic data and a campaign poster and we discussed them.

Both interviews were more of a friendly discussion, a lot less intense than I had expected!

How did you prepare?

Reading up on key sociological theories as I was able to apply one to the extract-based interview! Also revising research methods and evaluation for the extract-based interview. Look up political theories that relate to topical issues such as populism and analysis of recent political events. Very Short Introductions [Editor's Note: this a book series published by Oxford University Press, and can be found easily online] are amazing! is great for the basics of key sociological theories.

Get a notebook and fill it with research and notes relating to everything you mentioned in your personal statement and look over it before your interview!

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

Be yourself! As cliche as it sounds, the interviewers are human beings after all so if you’re just your pleasant, smiley self then you’ll come across as a person that they might want to teach for the next 3 years! They love their subject so much that they’ve spent yearsss studying it so they just want to find people who share similar passion!