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Entry Requirements and Applications

Entry requirements

No particular subjects at A level (or equivalent) are required for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion and it is not necessary to have studied Religious Studies or Philosophy at AS or A level. Subjects such as Religious Studies, Ethics, History, English and  languages can be helpful, but so can any other subjects that encourage clear, logical thinking and careful analysis of evidence. Students with a completely science background study for the degree and do very well. We have some student profiles to show you some of the different combinations our students have studied. 

There are some subject combinations which the university advises against. This booklet is produced by the university to help you make informed choices: The Subject Matters. Some colleges may require you to have studied an essay-based subject. Please check individual college webpages for this information.

If you aren't studying religion or philosophy at the moment, you may wish to supplement your knowledge of the area by browsing the introductory reading lists for new students.

Our entry requirements are A*AA at A-level or 40-41 points with 776 at Higher Level for IB; more information is available on the University's Undergraduate Study pages.

You do not need to be religious, non-religious or have any particular beliefs. We are looking for interest, engagement, and a demonstrable belief that religions (for better or worse) are important in the world.

How do I apply?

The Application

Your application will be made via the UCAS form, and includes details of your current subjects and grades, teachers' references, and a personal statement. It is worth remembering that the closing date for applications to Cambridge is on 15 October, earlier than for other universities. Don't leave it too late!

All applications for undergraduate degrees are handled by the individual colleges that make up the University of Cambridge. The University has an excellent admissions website which will guide you through the process. We welcome students from all over the world. If you are an international applicant, please refer to the relevant pages on the Cambridge Admissions website.

Many applicants worry a great deal over whether they have chosen the 'right' College for their application. The admissions process for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion is designed to ensure that it really does not matter which College you apply to: strong candidates will have a good chance of gaining a place at one of the Colleges in the University.

When making decisions about who to admit, we will take into account all of the information on the UCAS form as well as your interview, the quality of any essays which you submit in advance, and your performance in the at-interview assessment. More details about all of these elements can be found below.

Assessments and Interviews

"Although applying can seem daunting, I enjoyed narrowing down my preferences and really focusing on the reasons why I am interested in what I am interested in. The interview was great fun as well - although it is a scary prospect, those twenty minutes fly by and are a really great opportunity to talk about what you are passionate about."

Hannah, first year student

At-interview assessment exercise

If you are invited to interview (about 80% of applicants) you will take part in a 60 minute assessment exercise when you come to Cambridge in December.

It will take the form of a pre-recorded sample lecture. This will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you have developed academically since you took your GCSEs. It will be skills-based, looking at your comprehension and writing skills, but will not assume any prior knowledge. It is worth remembering that this exercise is only one element in a large range of different types of information which are used to make an admission decision.

The purpose is to determine a candidate’s potential to achieve in an academically demanding undergraduate degree course. The assessment is designed to be challenging, in order to differentiate effectively between able applicants, including those who may have achieved the highest grades in school examinations. The exercise will take one hour and consists of two sections:

Section 1

Candidates will watch a brief video of a sample lecture in the Faculty of Divinity on a subject related to religion. Candidates will be expected to make notes during this.

Section 1 will last for approximately 20 minutes.

Section 2

Candidates will provide written answers to a series of comprehension questions about the content of the video. Marks are not deducted for incorrect answers, so candidates are advised to answer all questions. It will be skills based and no prior knowledge of any particular religion will be assumed. The purpose of this exercise is to allow the candidates to show recall, comprehension and analytical skills in respect to a lecture.

Section two will last for approximately 40 minutes. 

The latest Assessment Exercise is available here:

We have three more informal sample lectures available for you to familiarise yourself with the exercise and to practise your comprehension and recall skills:

School Essays

Applicants to the following Colleges are also required to submit one or two School/college essays as examples of written work prior to interview. See individual College websites for further details.

  • Christ's
  • Clare
  • Corpus Christi
  • Downing
  • Emmanuel
  • Fitzwilliam
  • Girton
  • Gonville and Caius
  • Homerton
  • Jesus
  • King's
  • Lucy Cavendish
  • Magdalene
  • Murray Edwards
  • Newnham
  • Pembroke
  • Peterhouse
  • Queens'
  • Robinson
  • St Catharine's
  • St John's
  • Selwyn
  • Sidney Sussex
  • Trinity
  • Trinity Hall
  • Wolfson

Interviews

80% of applicants are interviewed here in Cambridge. If you are travelling to Cambridge, you will be offered accommodation during the interview period, which is usually one or two days long, and always takes place in December.

The Faculty has an Admissions Co-ordinator who will receive a copy of every application for Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion across the Colleges. Before the interviewing begins, all of the Colleges meet to consider the whole field of applicants. At that meeting, each candidate is assigned an interview at a second College - this process not only compensates for peaks and troughs in applications to particular Colleges but also gives you a second chance, with a different interviewer, who may draw out a different response. To see a mock interview, see the Interviews in Action page.

Applicants are interviewed in all Colleges on the same two days. Immediately afterwards the Directors of Studies meet again to compare notes; at this point they flag up to colleagues strong applicants for whom they might not have room at their College, but who deserve a place at another College. The Second Interview Scheme has proved to be very successful: over the last few years one offer in four has been made in this way.

Outcomes

Strong applicants who have not been made an offer by their first choice College are placed in the 'Pool'. You might then be made an offer by your second interview College, or by another College which is happy to rely on the information already available. It is possible that a third College might ask you to a further interview in January.