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

Interview format

2x interviews (2 interviewers in each)

Interview content

Interview 1: wider reading, picture source; Interview 2: wider reading, discussion of pre-interview exercise

Best preparation

Wider reading; radio programmes/podcasts; talking with current students

Final thoughts

Think of questions to ask your interviewers

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 two interviews, both of which took place on the same day in December and were both held by two lecturers from the college. When I arrived I was led to the JCR by signs and then assigned a current student to guide me to the interviews which were spread across college. They tend to do a good cop and bad cop interview and my first was the good one: I was greeted warmly and led to a sofa, it was pretty chatty in nature. In the second I had to prepare a text before hand within a time limit of about 5 minutes and then I was asked questions about it. The second interview was much more formal, across a table with serious faces greeting me.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Both interviews focused mainly on the reading I had undertaken previously and mentioned in my personal statement. In the first, I was asked about things I had done to explore HSPS e.g. reading. I was then given a picture and asked to describe what was going on in it as I was interested in anthropology.

In the second interview I had a prepared text I was briefly asked about; then the interview was based mainly on the books I'd read and I was asked if I had noticed any similarities between them. They also got me to debate a topic, with the interviewers playing devil's advocate.

How did you prepare?

Reading anthropological books and then taking notes and noting similarities to other works. I also regularly listened to BBC Radio 4/World Service and read the news. I also talked to current Cambridge students and got tips at a conference.

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

They always ask if you have a question at the end. It's a trick question because you can't not ask a question. Look up the lecturers and ask them something they're interested in.