Sociology at Cambridge?(17 Posts)
Hello, I hope no one minds me using this forum as I'm not a mum! I came across it by googling!
I'm a year 13 student who has just finished my A Levels. I didn't apply to university this year as I didn't know what I wanted to do and my AS Level results were a (positive) massive surprise.
From what I can see people on here really know their stuff about university admissions and courses and Oxbridge and I don't have access to any of that sort of support or cultural capital in real life so I'm trying to get some ideas from here.
I got good, but not stellar GCSEs (9As and 1A*) in Eng, Eng Lit, Maths, Bio, Chem, Physics, Geog, French, History and Child Development (this was the A*) which are quite some way below the average successful Cambridge applicant but I think I've really found my niche at A level. I got 5As last year in my AS's (3 of which would be A*s at A2) in Sociology, Psychology, Politics, English Literature and General Studies. I've done A2s in Sociology, Psychology, Politics and an extended project and I'm hoping to get 3A*s and from my January modules I'm quietly confident I will get at least 2 A*s.
However since I've started to think more about Cambridge's Human Social and political Sciences course(and other good universities) I've found that my A level subjects aren't very well regarded and I have none of the 'ideal' subjects that Trinity College publish.
If I apply with my grades in the bag do you think I have a chance of an interview? Is it worth the application and is there anything I can do to improve my chances? I am thinking about taking AS Maths in my gap year as an evening course and I've just got a job doing admin for children's social services and I'm hoping to go to a few policy meeting to get an idea of how sociology and politics are applied in 'real life'.
Thank You (and sorry this is a bit lengthy!)
Have you seen The Student Room? It's got a whole forum dedicated to Cambridge, which is full of prospective, current and past Cambridge students who will be able to help you out www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=15
Have you contacted any admissions tutors? Or tutors of the course within the college system? I did the old version of this course. It was fab and I would recommend to anyone. I will PM you with some extra.
Cambridge still interviews a relatively high number of applicants, I believe, so definitely worth a try. And if you are applying from a school which doesn't send loads of candidates to Oxbridge, they might look a little less critically at your choice of subjects at A Level.
I think you should go to a few college open days and get chatting to the fellows. You will soon get a feel of where is open to less traditional a levels.
Well done with your as grades btw
BTW only one of my A level results was on Trinity's list (but this was YONKS ago). I do think there can be flexibility, particular with some of the newer colleges. Do have a go. Are you planning to go to an open day. I believe there are some this week.
OP, you could always look at Manchester. A few years ago it was highly regarded. I had an offer on a Masters level Sociology course but turned it down for personal reasons. I so wish I'd done it now, but my parents became ill and died very close in succession.
I don't know about Cambridge, obviously its reputation is known but sometimes it can be good to look at the alternatives.
As someone else has said do have a good look at a range of colleges a they are autonomous bodies and do vary in their requirements (as well as in their cultures for both academic and non-academic activities).
Newer colleges such as Fitzwilliam, Robinson and Murray Edwards (if you're female) tend to have a higher proportion of state school applicants for example.
It's definitely worth going to have a look round several of them if you can!
I would add St Catherine's and Churchill college to the pp's list as being less stuffy.
I know someone who read SPS with A levels in English Lang, IT and Politics (he went about 9 years ago). I don't think non-traditional A levels mean game over but be prepared to explain why you chose them if you get called to interview.
Cambridge is a good university for those who come into their own in the sixth form as it gives AS grades more weight than GSCE. There is a new cours that you should look at here www.hsps.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/
As Cambridge applicants tend to exceed their offers they take a lot of people who get 2/3 A*s. Therefore if you apply with known grades I suspect they would like to see that level of achievement. As your A level subjects are mainly weak subjects I think they'd like to see an A* in English literature and probably 3A*s rather than 2. However studying each colleges website carefully may suggest which ones would be more open to less traditional subjects and if your school rarely sends anyone to Cambridge they may be more inclined to take you. It's worth applying if you like the course and think the short intense terms and tutorial style teaching would suit you as you'd probably get an interview. Do think hard about the different teaching style and the pressure of the short terms.
Your job may give you something to talk about but read around the subject as much as you can. See if there is a reading list for the course anywhere. An AS, or even an A level, in a more traditional subject is worthwhile or an open university module related to the course.
It is worth looking into Cambridge, but remember it is a broader social science degree rather than Sociology. If sociology is your passion, then other universities would be better.
Sociology degrees are very varied. All degrees will cover key theorist and research methods. But the majority of the degree is likely to be based on the research interests of the staff, so do have a think about which areas of sociology you are interested in and look for universities that can offer these.
Other things to think about are the possibilities of work placements or years abroad. These can not only broaden your sociological imagination but also give you extra skills.
And if you have not done so already, I would recommend you read Dead White Men and Other Important People by Ralph Fevre & Angus Bancroft. This is a great introduction, and if you do decide to go for Cambridge you could mention this in your PS.
if you look at the entrance requirements for the course they mention psychology and politics as part of the range that are acceptable, so you may find other colleges more amenable than trinity. The list of admission tests/ written work required is here www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/hsps/.
Have you booked on any open days? There may still be places on some college open days - have a look here www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/events/opendays/college.html
Sorry I forgot you weren't taking English Lit to A2.
If I apply with my grades in the bag do you think I have a chance of an interview? Is it worth the application
A cat may look at a king. You have to be in it to win it. And other such clichés.
You will have the advantage of known A2 grades; there are five UCAS choices. You can afford to take a risk or two, so go for it. What's the worst that could happen - that Cambridge turn you down? So what: you wouldn't be the first, or the last.
As long as your A Level grades put you in the 'possibles' pile, then they will invite you for interview (80% of applicants get an interview). You can either not get into Cambridge because (a) they reject you or (b) because you didn't apply in the first place. I would say the former is preferable.
If nothing else, going through the admissions procedure is an interesting experience in itself.
I would suggest that you work on your interview skills. You mentioned being "quietly confident": I know that it is a turn of phrase but I get the impression that Cambridge doesn't 'do' quietly confident. There was a discussion on here the other day when someone said that all the female Cambridge graduates they knew were "very sparky, feisty, vocal". Get some practise in being "noisily confident".
Thank you all for your help
I'm booked onto an open day and I've been looking at the colleges, I like the look of Churchill and Girton (even if its a trek away!) I would see all the beautiful buildings daily even I don't live in one!
Senua, I've been reading a book on research methods, maybe there's an inherent bias so you just notice the sparky confident cambridge grads more! There might be quiet ones who just don't mention it!
Thank you all, I'll give it a go and if its meant to be I'll get in, if not I'll have a nice visit at the open day and potentially the interview!
Director of studies at Girton is a psychologist, at Churchill they have two teaching fellows www.chu.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduates/courses/politics_psychology_sociology/
If you share any of their interests you might find an interview easier - what was your extended project on?
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