TO2
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* This is v v long

1. Why did you want to study your subject?
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HSPS, specifically because it’s one of the few degrees in the country which allows multidisciplinary approach to social sciences

- I love sociology as a disciplinary because of its relevance to today’s society, it’s scope (from the sociology of tomatoes to globalisation) and it’s inherently critical nature

- But I’m also interest in politics, social anthropology and archaeology! Even if I have little formal knowledge of the subject compared to sociology



2. Why Cambridge?
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- HSPS is only available there

- Also, why not? Even if you are rejected you gain so much more from the process than you lose


3. Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)

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- It never occurred to me to apply to Oxbridge until ethnic minority youtubers such as Courtney Daniella and Ibz Mo (both HSPS) started making youtube videos

- Seeing their hard work raised my academic ambitions in general



4. Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?

Spoiler:
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1. Thinking Allowed Podcasts- BBC Radio 4

- These podcasts allowed me to look at a range of topics from a social science perspective and gave a broad overview of studies

2. Sociology: The Basics - Jeff Plummer

- If there’s a book to help you “think” sociologically, this is it! It’s especially useful if you don’t study the subject for A-Level
- It gives an overview of the perspectives, research, key topics in sociology and sociological debate


3. The Wretched of the Earth- Frantz Fanon
- My favourite because it combined some of my favourite topics- Marxism, race and Africa

4. The Philadelphia *****- W.E.B Du Bois

5. Manifesto- Marx and Engels

6. Many articles from google scholar and JSTOR. I’d say an introduction to your subject book, a few specific topic books and many articles



5. Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

- Yes, but it wasn’t really HSPS related! (for a Magazine company)


6. Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?

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- It was evaluating whether postcolonial nationalism in Nigeria had actually achieved a sense of national identity, primarily using Fanon’s ideas

- My process was really haphazard but a good tip for research is to make table/ take notes summarising the argument of the books for your literature review

- If I couldn't have done an EPQ, to show a wider interest in sociology other than reading I would have done a smallscale ethnography or done some qualitative research to put in my PS (I.e. Come up with a thesis and conduct interviews from family members/ friends or analyse personal documents to write a whole paper). I always get annoyed that I came up with the idea AFTER I applied.

7. What did you mention in your personal statement and why?

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- I thinks its important to mention topics which have a personal significance to you! It does not have to be super original/ niche

- One or two running themes are nice. I did contrasts of race/ postracialism, nationalism/ ethnocentriscism, modernity and Marxism/ post modernism)

- You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but show a your own stance in these topics/ areas of debate

- I also think its nice to link aspects of your life to sociology because sociology is the study of social life (basically everything human), so I said my job at a fast food place was an example of a postmodern , consumption-led workforce



8. Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?

Preparation
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- Leave enough time to study, unlike I did, this is one of the few aspects of your application you can directly control

- Practice essays in timed condition and plan essays from questions you don’t answer

- Practice section A with past papers and summarising abstracts/ extracts from journal articles

- Become confident in understanding journal articles

- To further practice Section A use some questions from O*fords TSA



Completing Section A- Multiple Choice
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- Answer back to front, beginning with the harder questions at the end and finishing with the quick, easy ones at the beginning

- Summarise the extracts into a few bullet points before answering the questions

- Pay extra attention to the wording of the multiple-choice answers


Completing Section B- Essay
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- Structure it like a history essay. So thematically, with arguments and counterarguments, these arguments can be embedded in or a new paragraph

- I recommend PEEAL (Point, Example/ Explain, Example/ Explain, Assess, Link to Q)

- It only needs to be around 3 paragraphs with an introduction and conclusion

- Bring in examples from wider reading (does not have to be scholarly), here’s where in-depth, quality knowledge on a few topics reaps more than trying to learn EVERYTHING about too many topic


9. How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

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- I chose to apply really late so I didn’t visit open days and was going to make an open application

- I heard Homerton recommended at an event. I decided based on the facts that Homerton was one of the most affordable, friendly, big and everyone was guaranteed en-suite accommodation



10. How did you find the interview process?
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- Like one big adrenaline rush

- Very intellectually stimulating and made me consider things I had never thought about (Especially when the interviewers came from a political/ social anthropological perspective rather than the sociological perspective that I'm more been comfortable with)



11. Any interview tips?

DO'S
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- Listen and smile!

- Ask to clarify something you don’t understand!!

- Don’t worry about taking your time, but explain why you can’t think of an answer immediately and the logical steps you are taking

- Defend your stance, but be willing to adapt and change (interviewers often drop hints and you need to take the bait)

- They may not directly ask about wider reading so bring up any wider reading you’ve done yourself

- Support whatever you say with relevant examples, again these can be from personal experience to news stories to academic books


DONT'S

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- Don’t drop a load of jargon

- Refuse to adapt/ develop your view when faced with new information/ other viewpoints

12. Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?

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- I was only there for a day and with a parent so not at all!

- I mostly studied my personal statement, read the news and tried to read a book that I hadn’t finished (lol)

- But if I’d known that it wasn’t a memory test and I didn’t need to learn everything about the election in 15 minutes then I would have socialised!

- I don’t recommend cramming information, just relax


13. How did you feel after the interviews?

Spoiler:
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- After the first one I felt jittery, after the section still happy but a bit dejected

- I then kept rethinking every dumb answer, messing up Year 12 sociology knowledge, cutting off the interviewer etc. but this doesn’t help at all



14. Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

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- I got my offer at 7:55! But i was way too scared to open my inbox, especially when others at school were getting news too
so I waited till I got home
- I didn’t believe it, started crying and messaged my friends



15. Are you looking forward to coming up to Cambridge?

- Depends on what grades my teachers calculate lool, but I'm very excited and forever grateful for an offer no matter what happens
Last edited by TO2; 1 year ago
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Mona123456
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HSPS sounds like such a broad and unique course! I’m sure lots of future applicants will find this helpful, and I especially agree with your do and don’t interview tips! Good luck with everything
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by Mona123456)
HSPS sounds like such a broad and unique course! I’m sure lots of future applicants will find this helpful, and I especially agree with your do and don’t interview tips! Good luck with everything
Glad you are enjoying the Cambridge chapters, Mona and thanks, as ever, for your kind support.
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Oxford Mum
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TO2

Hi there!

Firstly no, this is NOT too long, in fact it is absolutely perfect and a real template for any other future Cambridge student wanting to apply for HSPS.

I loved all the personal feeling you put into this and your opinions.

I was really proud to read that, although it had never occurred to you to apply to Cambridge, but youtubes by Ibz mo (have also heard of him) and Courtney Daniella changed your mind. This is exactly the effect I am looking for with Cambridge Demystified, and I am sure you will be influencing potential candidates for many years to come.

Future readers, please note the specialised nature of OP's EPQ. The more specialised the better, as Oxbridge courses are big on detail. A Cambridge tutor also once told me he loves the "obscure" and he will hear about something and if it interests him, he will rush off to find out more about it. Now imagine the tutors reading loads of generic personal statements, with students reading the same set books, then seeing this:

I did contrasts of race/ postracialism, nationalism/ ethnocentriscism, modernity and Marxism/ post modernism).

Plus saying this about working in a fast food outlet

I said my job at a fast food place was an example of a postmodern , consumption-led workforce

You are not just working at that outlet. You are thinking about it and drawing conclusions from it.

Magic! You've got them hooked from then on!

Also, like many of the Oxford offer holders, you went into the admissions test with a clear plan and stuck to it. Any person attempting the same test will be wise to adopt your tactics. I especially like the essay structuring hints. Could have done with that information when I was 17!

It's a similar story with the interview, isn't it! All of your detailed advice about it wouldn't look out of place in a "how to get into Oxbridge" book (oh, wait...)

A common trait of chapters I have read is that interviews are interesting, albeit challenging. They are, to you, "very intellectually stimulating" and "made me consider things I had never thought about". As another Oxford offer holder said, if you stop worrying about the admissions problem (ie I'll never get in, I've blown it) and try and enjoy talking about your subject, it helps.

If I were wanting to apply for Cambridge, but wasn't sure which course to pick, then stumbled across this, I would be very tempted to apply!

Very engaging and interesting, thank you!
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Oxford Mum
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Further resources:

HSPS sample interview questions

https://www.cambridgeinterviewquesti...ical-sciences/

(plus recommended reading)

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...tical-sciences

https://doxa.co.uk/undergraduatereso...ridgeinterview

Youtube about the course

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8pUQJQy9OA

OK, let's have some Ibz Mo!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B7dAcN0PjM

And Courtney Daniella

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_S20jCDn50


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZic1LgVjrk
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IBCA25
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HSPS hopeful huge appreciation for this resource I will use it effectively! I was wondering if you could tell me if there was anything I could do to further enhance my application any advice is appreciated just to check I'm going in the right direction!
Currently, I'm studying Gov & Politics, Religious moral and ethical studies and Art and Design: Photography for A-Level (ethnographic-like project on photographing Post-Brexit Britain having trouble doing it during lockdown though!) and was hoping this would be okay. I'm entering the philosophy and politics essay competition and doing an epq (on the digital work revolution it's mainly managerial studies but I'm going to try and combine it with basic sociological concepts, my experience with sociology is slim to none and I regret not doing further research as I could have taken the A-level as i would thoroughly have enjoyed it!) I am trying to read as many books on the reading list as I struggled with the book "Age of anger" so moved onto "Democracy: a short introduction" although not on the list I did enjoy "the prince" the most.

For sociology, could you please recommend some activities to do to provide me with some valuable insight!

For anthropology, I've gone to LSE's anthropology department and visited lectures there, I am planning to go to UCL's, Durham's and Cambridge to visit the museum and see the samurai suit!
For politics, I was part of a London Mayoral campaign, I'm going to write blog entries for a new youth-led politics blog for people with moderate views, I am also my school's head blog writer. I am also an active member of the pressure group Liberty. I am also listening to the Cambridge politics podcast.
Thanks and any advice you could give me ANY would be hugely appreciated and i appreciate taking the time of your busy schedule to reply to my message anyway.
So Thanks again!
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by IBCA25)
HSPS hopeful huge appreciation for this resource I will use it effectively! I was wondering if you could tell me if there was anything I could do to further enhance my application any advice is appreciated just to check I'm going in the right direction!
Currently, I'm studying Gov & Politics, Religious moral and ethical studies and Art and Design: Photography for A-Level (ethnographic-like project on photographing Post-Brexit Britain having trouble doing it during lockdown though!) and was hoping this would be okay. I'm entering the philosophy and politics essay competition and doing an epq (on the digital work revolution it's mainly managerial studies but I'm going to try and combine it with basic sociological concepts, my experience with sociology is slim to none and I regret not doing further research as I could have taken the A-level as i would thoroughly have enjoyed it!) I am trying to read as many books on the reading list as I struggled with the book "Age of anger" so moved onto "Democracy: a short introduction" although not on the list I did enjoy "the prince" the most.

For sociology, could you please recommend some activities to do to provide me with some valuable insight!

For anthropology, I've gone to LSE's anthropology department and visited lectures there, I am planning to go to UCL's, Durham's and Cambridge to visit the museum and see the samurai suit!
For politics, I was part of a London Mayoral campaign, I'm going to write blog entries for a new youth-led politics blog for people with moderate views, I am also my school's head blog writer. I am also an active member of the pressure group Liberty. I am also listening to the Cambridge politics podcast.
Thanks and any advice you could give me ANY would be hugely appreciated and i appreciate taking the time of your busy schedule to reply to my message anyway.
So Thanks again!
I am so glad to meet another HSPS fan! This course is proving popular amongst TSRians, and given the uniqueness of the course, no wonder!

You are doing all the right things so far. During lockdown, see if you can order some sociology books to broaden your knowledge, if you feel you need it.

A very interesting EPQ, btw!! I would also keep up with the news avidly during these strange times. Keep on reading any broadsheet newspapers you can. Your keenness does you credit, and your experiences wouldn't be out of place compared with some of the Cambridge Demystified chapters.

clareschools (AKA the admissions tutor at Clare College) is kindly running some Cambridge youtubes and other activities during lockdown. There will probably even be a virtual open day! I did point out how popular HSPS is on here (and 7 out of 10 students are rumoured to use TSR), so we may, hopefully be seeing some further info on this

Why don't you join us on the official Cambridge 2021 applicant's page and meet some like-minded students?

IBCA25
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TO2
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(Original post by IBCA25)
HSPS hopeful huge appreciation for this resource I will use it effectively! I was wondering if you could tell me if there was anything I could do to further enhance my application any advice is appreciated just to check I'm going in the right direction!
Currently, I'm studying Gov & Politics, Religious moral and ethical studies and Art and Design: Photography for A-Level (ethnographic-like project on photographing Post-Brexit Britain having trouble doing it during lockdown though!) and was hoping this would be okay. I'm entering the philosophy and politics essay competition and doing an epq (on the digital work revolution it's mainly managerial studies but I'm going to try and combine it with basic sociological concepts, my experience with sociology is slim to none and I regret not doing further research as I could have taken the A-level as i would thoroughly have enjoyed it!) I am trying to read as many books on the reading list as I struggled with the book "Age of anger" so moved onto "Democracy: a short introduction" although not on the list I did enjoy "the prince" the most.

For sociology, could you please recommend some activities to do to provide me with some valuable insight!

For anthropology, I've gone to LSE's anthropology department and visited lectures there, I am planning to go to UCL's, Durham's and Cambridge to visit the museum and see the samurai suit!
For politics, I was part of a London Mayoral campaign, I'm going to write blog entries for a new youth-led politics blog for people with moderate views, I am also my school's head blog writer. I am also an active member of the pressure group Liberty. I am also listening to the Cambridge politics podcast.
Thanks and any advice you could give me ANY would be hugely appreciated and i appreciate taking the time of your busy schedule to reply to my message anyway.
So Thanks again!
Hi! I would say that you don’t need to know that much at all about a subject you haven’t studied before . They’ll probably only ask if you expressed an interest on your personal statement. For sociology I recommenced a basic understanding of some social theory- Marxism, functionalism, feminism, post/late modernism and interactionism and the Jeff Plumer book. But this is only if you specifically mention sociology. Some you study politics this is mostly likely what the subject specific interview will be on.

The best advice I ever received is not to try and slog through a reading list! I didn’t use a reading list at all, if I found a topic interesting i’d search for a book about it. For example, my interest in postcolonialism led me to read “The Wretched on the Earth” as it’s a key text for this topic. Reading lists often ignore niche areas/ topics you really enjoy learning about.

Your supercurriculars and application in general sound really good! Way better than mine at this stage, which was nonexistent. The only constructive thing I have to say is depth over breadth in regard to subjects in the HSPS tripos. Cambridge understand that you may only be applying to 1/2 subjects at other university’s and that you might not even currently study any of subjects offered. It’s all about showing intellectual curiosity and that you can use the knowledge you gained in one subject (I.e politics) and adapt it to the other subjects.
There tends to be a lot of crossover in social sciences anyways, for example, Marxism is in sociology, politics, economics, etc., so there’s no need to try and study everything about each.

Best of luck!
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by TO2)
Hi! I would say that you don’t need to know that much at all about a subject you haven’t studied before . They’ll probably only ask if you expressed an interest on your personal statement. For sociology I recommenced a basic understanding of some social theory- Marxism, functionalism, feminism, post/late modernism and interactionism and the Jeff Plumer book. But this is only if you specifically mention sociology. Some you study politics this is mostly likely what the subject specific interview will be on.

The best advice I ever received is not to try and slog through a reading list! I didn’t use a reading list at all, if I found a topic interesting i’d search for a book about it. For example, my interest in postcolonialism led me to read “The Wretched on the Earth” as it’s a key text for this topic. Reading lists often ignore niche areas/ topics you really enjoy learning about.

Your supercurriculars and application in general sound really good! Way better than mine at this stage, which was nonexistent. The only constructive thing I have to say is depth over breadth in regard to subjects in the HSPS tripos. Cambridge understand that you may only be applying to 1/2 subjects at other university’s and that you might not even currently study any of subjects offered. It’s all about showing intellectual curiosity and that you can use the knowledge you gained in one subject (I.e politics) and adapt it to the other subjects.
There tends to be a lot of crossover in social sciences anyways, for example, Marxism is in sociology, politics, economics, etc., so there’s no need to try and study everything about each.

Best of luck!
That's true! If you just read from the recommended book list, your PS is going to sound very generic. You want yours to stand out from the others.

It's very important to go meandering down an academic path that interests you alone, and therefore makes you unique. Depth rather than breadth, exactly.

I can remember going to an Oxford languages taster day with my son. The exams schools, where the talks were, were packed to the gills. They had a famous languages tutor, Helen Swift, give us a speech that I still remember (we don't like to see B's, she told us). Then she opened the floor to some current students. Some of them hadn't read a lot of French or German books before the interview, but boy, did they enjoy them. All of them, without exception, looked like they had just got religion. So really, really BELIEVE in what you are reading, and appreciate it.
IBCA25
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RiaWombat
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(Original post by IBCA25)
HSPS hopeful huge appreciation for this resource I will use it effectively! I was wondering if you could tell me if there was anything I could do to further enhance my application any advice is appreciated just to check I'm going in the right direction!
Currently, I'm studying Gov & Politics, Religious moral and ethical studies and Art and Design: Photography for A-Level (ethnographic-like project on photographing Post-Brexit Britain having trouble doing it during lockdown though!) and was hoping this would be okay. I'm entering the philosophy and politics essay competition and doing an epq (on the digital work revolution it's mainly managerial studies but I'm going to try and combine it with basic sociological concepts, my experience with sociology is slim to none and I regret not doing further research as I could have taken the A-level as i would thoroughly have enjoyed it!) I am trying to read as many books on the reading list as I struggled with the book "Age of anger" so moved onto "Democracy: a short introduction" although not on the list I did enjoy "the prince" the most.

For sociology, could you please recommend some activities to do to provide me with some valuable insight!

For anthropology, I've gone to LSE's anthropology department and visited lectures there, I am planning to go to UCL's, Durham's and Cambridge to visit the museum and see the samurai suit!
For politics, I was part of a London Mayoral campaign, I'm going to write blog entries for a new youth-led politics blog for people with moderate views, I am also my school's head blog writer. I am also an active member of the pressure group Liberty. I am also listening to the Cambridge politics podcast.
Thanks and any advice you could give me ANY would be hugely appreciated and i appreciate taking the time of your busy schedule to reply to my message anyway.
So Thanks again!
Hi, fellow HSPS applicant here!
The book I read to get an introduction into sociology is Sociological Beginnings by George Ritzer. I like the way it is structured and it gives a good overview of the history of the subject and some key figures and theories. It’s a good jumping off point to find areas you are interested in.
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IBCA25
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(Original post by TO2)
Hi! I would say that you don’t need to know that much at all about a subject you haven’t studied before . They’ll probably only ask if you expressed an interest on your personal statement. For sociology I recommenced a basic understanding of some social theory- Marxism, functionalism, feminism, post/late modernism and interactionism and the Jeff Plumer book. But this is only if you specifically mention sociology. Some you study politics this is mostly likely what the subject specific interview will be on.

The best advice I ever received is not to try and slog through a reading list! I didn’t use a reading list at all, if I found a topic interesting i’d search for a book about it. For example, my interest in postcolonialism led me to read “The Wretched on the Earth” as it’s a key text for this topic. Reading lists often ignore niche areas/ topics you really enjoy learning about.

Your supercurriculars and application in general sound really good! Way better than mine at this stage, which was nonexistent. The only constructive thing I have to say is depth over breadth in regard to subjects in the HSPS tripos. Cambridge understand that you may only be applying to 1/2 subjects at other university’s and that you might not even currently study any of subjects offered. It’s all about showing intellectual curiosity and that you can use the knowledge you gained in one subject (I.e politics) and adapt it to the other subjects
Thanks again for your reply, i have a couple of politics books that are not the reading list that personally I enjoyed more!
Appreciate the advice again hugely, i will follow my interests and get into the specifics I find most interesting, i find the topic of propaganda captivating so ill dig into that further.
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IBCA25
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
That's true! If you just read from the recommended book list, your PS is going to sound very generic. You want yours to stand out from the others.

It's very important to go meandering down an academic path that interests you alone, and therefore makes you unique. Depth rather than breadth, exactly.

I can remember going to an Oxford languages taster day with my son. The exams schools, where the talks were, were packed to the gills. They had a famous languages tutor, Helen Swift, give us a speech that I still remember (we don't like to see B's, she told us). Then she opened the floor to some current students. Some of them hadn't read a lot of French or German books before the interview, but boy, did they enjoy them. All of them, without exception, looked like they had just got religion. So really, really BELIEVE in what you are reading, and appreciate it.
IBCA25
Yeah definitely don't want to drone the admissions department! I will follow that advice strongly, DEPTH not BREADTH
THANK YOU!
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Oxford Mum
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Propaganda is such an interesting subject!
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IBCA25
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(Original post by RiaWombat)
Hi, fellow HSPS applicant here!
The book I read to get an introduction into sociology is Sociological Beginnings by George Ritzer. I like the way it is structured and it gives a good overview of the history of the subject and some key figures and theories. It’s a good jumping off point to find areas you are interested in.
Great I'll look into that thank you!
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IBCA25
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Propaganda is such an interesting subject!
Thank you very much and I hope Cambridge agree! I'll look at youtube channel appreciate you sharing it with me.
Have a great weekend!
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Oxford Mum
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You too! You’re gonna be awesome!
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hi all!! just to let everyone know @pembroke.jpc (the instagram for the junior parlour committee at Pembroke College, Cambridge) is doing biweekly takeovers for prospective students and offer holders to have a look at the day in the life of a typical Cambridge student and ask any questions. Today, Maya, a hsps student and our BME officer, is answering any questions about Pembroke, HSPS, BME, and Cambridge life in general!! ❤️❤️❤️
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IBCA25
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(Original post by Sophielumsdon22)
hi all!! just to let everyone know @pembroke.jpc (the instagram for the junior parlour committee at Pembroke College, Cambridge) is doing biweekly takeovers for prospective students and offer holders to have a look at the day in the life of a typical Cambridge student and ask any questions. Today, Maya, a hsps student and our BME officer, is answering any questions about Pembroke, HSPS, BME, and Cambridge life in general!! ❤️❤️❤️
Hello, I'd be very fortunate if I was able to ask her some questions! where would I be able to send her some?
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1. Why did you want to study your subject?
- As others have said I like the multidisciplinary focus

- I do politics A-level and love it so I was always looking at related degrees but sociology also really interested me


2. Why Cambridge?
- Came to a subject masterclass for politics and it really interested me so I thought why not?


3. Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)
- Not particularly but I did watch some of Ibz Mo's youtube videos and thought it sounded fun from him!


4. Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
1. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism - brilliant but very dense and honestly I didn't understand all of it!
2. This is Not Propaganda - really good and accessible about misinformation
3. Loads of podcasts - some of my favourites are You're Wrong About, The Rabbit Hole, The Daily, Getting Curious and Talking Politics (hosted by Cambridge professors)
4. I also wrote about some of the books I studied in English in my PS as well as the pieces from AS dance (sounds weird but a lot of dance pieces/musicals are very politically motivated)
5. Generally keeping up with news and reading long form analysis pieces - The New Yorker and The Guardian are my favourites


5. Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

- No! COVID shot any ideas about work experience in the foot


6. Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?
- Didn't do an EPQ but I entered an essay competition writing about pedophilia on the internet

7. What did you mention in your personal statement and why?
- The internet and its relationship with democracy - included Surveillance Capitalism, This is Not Propaganda and the essay competition - I find this area super interesting
- Politics and the media/art/literature - I applied for english/politics combined at other unis so needed to include lit hahaha
- Feminism - spoke about how it is relevant in all of my A level subjects
- A tiny bit about my job as a waitress, volunteering and hobbies etc


8. Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?
Didn't have an entrance test


9. How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?
Never been to my college! Narrowed it down to about 3 and then chose fairly randomly. I think it's best not to overthink college choice


10. How did you find the interview process?
Stressful! They did challenge me and asked some tricky questions but it led to some interesting discussions about things I'm passionate about



11. Any interview tips?

DO'S
- Ask if you're confused about an aspect of the question

- Take your time if you need to and explain your thought process (I did a lot of 'that's a really interesting question' to buy myself time haha)

- Bring up extra reading if it's relevant but don't shoehorn it in

- Be flexible - it's okay to change your mind!

- Trust yourself and be confident - if you've got an interview they think you are capable of getting a place!



DONT'S
- recite long prepared answers - they will know!


12. Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?
- mine was online because of COVID


13. How did you feel after the interviews?
- Exhausted! But I felt like I'd given it my best shot and tried not to overthink



14. Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?
- At home!! I was very shocked



15. Are you looking forward to coming up to Cambridge?

Yes!!!
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(Original post by 4mmjenkins)
1. Why did you want to study your subject?
- As others have said I like the multidisciplinary focus

- I do politics A-level and love it so I was always looking at related degrees but sociology also really interested me


2. Why Cambridge?
- Came to a subject masterclass for politics and it really interested me so I thought why not?


3. Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)
- Not particularly but I did watch some of Ibz Mo's youtube videos and thought it sounded fun from him!


4. Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?
1. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism - brilliant but very dense and honestly I didn't understand all of it!
2. This is Not Propaganda - really good and accessible about misinformation
3. Loads of podcasts - some of my favourites are You're Wrong About, The Rabbit Hole, The Daily, Getting Curious and Talking Politics (hosted by Cambridge professors)
4. I also wrote about some of the books I studied in English in my PS as well as the pieces from AS dance (sounds weird but a lot of dance pieces/musicals are very politically motivated)
5. Generally keeping up with news and reading long form analysis pieces - The New Yorker and The Guardian are my favourites


5. Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

- No! COVID shot any ideas about work experience in the foot


6. Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?
- Didn't do an EPQ but I entered an essay competition writing about pedophilia on the internet

7. What did you mention in your personal statement and why?
- The internet and its relationship with democracy - included Surveillance Capitalism, This is Not Propaganda and the essay competition - I find this area super interesting
- Politics and the media/art/literature - I applied for english/politics combined at other unis so needed to include lit hahaha
- Feminism - spoke about how it is relevant in all of my A level subjects
- A tiny bit about my job as a waitress, volunteering and hobbies etc


8. Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?
Didn't have an entrance test


9. How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?
Never been to my college! Narrowed it down to about 3 and then chose fairly randomly. I think it's best not to overthink college choice


10. How did you find the interview process?
Stressful! They did challenge me and asked some tricky questions but it led to some interesting discussions about things I'm passionate about



11. Any interview tips?

DO'S
- Ask if you're confused about an aspect of the question

- Take your time if you need to and explain your thought process (I did a lot of 'that's a really interesting question' to buy myself time haha)

- Bring up extra reading if it's relevant but don't shoehorn it in

- Be flexible - it's okay to change your mind!

- Trust yourself and be confident - if you've got an interview they think you are capable of getting a place!



DONT'S
- recite long prepared answers - they will know!


12. Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?
- mine was online because of COVID


13. How did you feel after the interviews?
- Exhausted! But I felt like I'd given it my best shot and tried not to overthink



14. Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?
- At home!! I was very shocked



15. Are you looking forward to coming up to Cambridge?

Yes!!!
Hi 4mmjenkins

Thank you for these very enlightening answers!

I can understand your interest in HSPS - it sounds unique and sociology really interests me (I studied a sociology module for my French degree)

I really love your casual question - why not (apply to Cambridge)? You have four other choices on your UCAS form, so why not take a punt on it?

This is a really refreshing approach rather than "all I wanted to do all my life is go to Cambridge, and now I have been rejected I can't cope". It's much better to start out by thinking "I'll have a go and see how it turns out. OK so the odds are against me, but if I get in, it's a bonus".

Yes, the Cambridge masterclasses (when they are offered) are great. They are inexpensive (I think about £20 when I last looked) but you have to provide your own lunch (son went to hot dog stall on Queen's bridge between lectures). The talks are given by Cambridge tutors and are of the standard you would get as students. They will just make you think outside the box a bit, and try and have a go at a bit more research yourself. There is also general help with your applications.

I have heard a lot about Ibz Mo - he is quite the hero on TSR.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiaojpyhTpM

Cambridge university essay competitions - always great, even if you don't win (and I have only met one person who has won). Just because it gets you to go away, research and craft a good essay, which is what you will be doing, day in day out at Cambridge!

Do not overthink college choice - as sometimes you will not end up at the college you applied to! Yes, look at the websites, watch the videos and think about where you could see yourself. All colleges, without exception, are filled with world renowned tutors, fantastic, intelligent, friendly students who think just like you, libraries, amazing events, dining halls etc. Your college will be like your own happy family, wherever you end up.

Although the interviews are not easy, I am glad you found it an opportunity to talk about interesting things you are passionate about. That in itself, makes for a great experience, whether you get in or not.

I agree that you should ask if you are confused. My son was asked a key word and asked what it meant. Also it's ok if you change your mind. Son started asking a question and went down a route, then changed his mind and asked if he could start again. They were fine with that.

And finally, the most fantastic observation you made "trust yourself and be confident". Yes, you belong in that interview seat. Yes, the tutors will be interested to meet you and want to offer you a place. Don't worry about the competition. Too many people do not trust themselves but self belief is a large part of success.

I am sure you are going to love Cambridge. Good luck and congrats!
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