Undergraduate Admissions

Photo of the Entrance to the FacultyThe Faculty has a large number of members with many different areas of expertise and approaches to literary criticism. They include not only critics but also poets, novelists and travel writers, and there are often visiting Fellows in the creative or performing arts. Between them, the members of the Faculty teach and research almost every aspect of literature in English.

The Cambridge English Tripos has the following aims, among others: to stimulate in its students original thinking and critical habits of mind; to develop the ability to construct an argument, both oral and written; to foster an unusual sensitivity to language; to provide a broad knowledge of the development of English literature which will enable students to understand how writers work within and against literary traditions; to create awareness of the historical dimension of literary works; and to provide a comparative dimension for the study of literature in English, by study of literature in other languages, or of philosophical works which handle ideas in a non-literary mode.

All students of English acquire knowledge that enriches their lives forever. They also acquire qualities and skills that are, most importantly, valuable for living. They are also valuable to employers. Graduates from the Faculty have an exceptionally good record in achieving employment in a wide range of areas. Many draw directly on their subject in careers in arts management or information management, or go into academia and teaching, where they share with future students the skills of critical thinking, close reading and good communication. Yet those same skills are valued by employers in many professions, such as law, the civil service, management, industry, accountancy and social work. Unsurprisingly, many graduates work in the media, theatre, and film – as have people such as Jeremy Paxman, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Sam Mendes – or become poets, novelists and playwrights.

The experience of reading English at Cambridge is especially rich because the course combines Lectures and Seminars provided by the Faculty with close teaching (Supervision) organised by the Colleges – for details see the section: 'Lectures, Seminars and Supervisions'. The choice of which College to apply to will depend on such incidental issues as your taste in architecture. The best way to find out about the different Colleges is to send off for prospectuses and/or attend Open Days. The majority of Colleges have made their prospectuses available on the Web. You may also study English and Drama with Education through the Faculty of Education.