Which courses are taught at Lucy Cavendish College?

Lucy Cavendish admits undergraduates in all subjects offered by the University of Cambridge. It is one of only three colleges to accept applicants for the Cambridge Graduate Course in Medicine, or for affiliated (graduate) entry to Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Do you have subject quotas?

There are externally imposed quotas in Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and the University caps the number of Cambridge places that can be offered in Architecture, History of Art, Music, and Philosophy (though these places may be distributed in different ways, amongst colleges, depending on the applications each receives). We do not have a fixed number of places in any other subject, and whilst you will see some target figures via our individual Subject pages, these are intended to indicate the likely size of the subject community, rather than our ‘cut-off’.

How old are Lucy Cavendish undergraduates?

We accept applicants who will be twenty-one or over at the time of their admission to Cambridge (October 1 in any given year). The majority of our students are in their early to mid twenties, but we also regularly admit undergraduates in their thirties, forties and beyond.


What are the implications of studying at a women's college, in practice?

The University, not the College, organizes lectures, seminars, and practicals, runs major student services, determines the content of degree courses, and sets exams. Whichever College you join, you'll be working side by side with students from all the other Colleges; you'll be in the same classrooms, the same specialist libraries, the same Careers Service. You may play in the same sports teams, and participate in the same societies. The College, however, is usually the place you live; it provides social space, and the staff of the College are responsible for guiding and supporting your academic study, as well as overseeing your welfare.

Do I need to sit a test prior to interview?

Applicants to Lucy Cavendish will not be required to complete any form of assessment prior to interview, unless they are applying for the standard course in Medicine or for Veterinary Medicine (both of which require the BMAT). Candidates invited for interview will be asked to sit a written assessment on the day of their interviews.  The written assessment, in most cases, will last no longer than one hour.  An example of the assessment for each course can be found via the Course Listing page on the Cambridge website.

Can I transfer from another university?

It is not possible to transfer from another university directly into the second or third year of a Cambridge BA course, and credit accumulated elsewhere will not be counted towards Cambridge degrees. However, undergraduate study undertaken at another university can be used as evidence that you meet our academic standards for entry. If you wish to move to Cambridge from a university elsewhere in the UK prior to graduation, we will ask for a letter from your current Course Director or Academic Tutor in support of your application. Note that such moves are possible only under exceptional circumstances. Graduates and finalists at other universities may apply for affiliated entry in the normal way.

Do you make lower offers to candidates who have experienced personal or educational disadvantage?

Many successful applicants have a past history of underperformance, or gaps in their education, and we take contextual factors into account in our decision-making process. For that reason, it is important that you provide information about the educational institutions you have attended, and any challenges you have encountered, in your UCAS form and Supplementary Application Questionnaire. In certain circumstances, it may also be appropriate to ask a tutor, doctor or social worker to complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form on your behalf.

What if I have a disability?

We welcome applications from disabled students. Please get in touch with us early in your preparation to discuss any support that the College or University could provide, either at the selection stage, or on entry. You may also wish to contact the Cambridge Disability Resource Centre.

Do I need IELTS?

If you do not have a lengthy history of education in English, we will ask for evidence of your competence in the language prior to admission. For some European students, this may consist of a high grade in the English component of your school-leaving qualification. For other students, it may take the form of an IELTS qualification, with an overall grade of 7.5 or above (and 7.0 in each element), or a Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English at grade A. We routinely include IELTS in offers to candidates from non English-speaking countries, requiring Tier 4 Visas. 

Should I take A-levels?

The majority of school leavers come to Cambridge with A-levels (or an international equivalent), and in some subjects it is difficult to identify alternative qualifications that offer comparable breadth and rigour. We understand that the options for A-level study available in the Further Education sector can be limited, and the costs associated with A-level study in the private sector, high, so will take this into account when setting offers. However, please be aware that for scientists, in particular, one or more appropriate A-levels may remain the best way to demonstrate that you have the knowledge necessary to thrive here, and check the requirements for your chosen subject carefully.

What about A-level practicals?

Many applicants to Lucy Cavendish study for science A-levels with distance learning providers such as the National Extension College, Open Study College and the Oxford Learning College, and such applicants can find it particularly difficult to access science practicals. We do expect students to complete the practical element of the A-level, wherever possible, and it is essential that you gain some experience of practical and experimental science as part of your preparation for University. We will, however, make offers based on the theoretical components of A-levels only, in certain cases, and welcome requests for advice in this area.

Do I have to supply UMS?

If UMS scores were available when you took your A- or AS- levels, please include these as part of your application. 

What are the alternatives to A-levels?

Applicants to Lucy Cavendish are often enrolled on Access to Higher Education Diplomas, and these can be a good choice if you lack confidence in basic study skills or are undecided as to which subject you wish to take at university. However, Access Diplomas do vary, and you should ensure the course you follow contains a serious examination element, as well as permitting in-depth study in the area(s) that most interests you. We regularly receive applications from students who have taken Foundation Years or a Certificate in Higher Education, and are happy to advise on the suitability of any course (or mixture of courses) as preparation for Cambridge. Note that the University does not accept Access Diplomas alone for entry to Economics or any science degree, other than Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

What about Open University credits?

We will accept an Open University Certificate in Higher Education, with Distinction, for entry to most Arts courses, and Psychological and Behavioural Sciences. However, we recommend that you consult us at an early stage to ensure that the Certificate you hold is appropriate preparation for the degree course that you wish to study; as a general rule, non-vocational Certificates (e.g. Social Sciences) are more likely to fulfill our requirements than vocational ones. If you have already met the standards for entry to Cambridge, and are using OU credits as a means of refreshing your study skills, we prefer credits at Level 2. We would also encourage candidates taking 30-60 OU credits as part of a mixed portfolio of qualifications to take Level 2 credits where possible

Will a 'false start' on another degree programme count against me?

A significant proportion of our applicants have made subject choices at school and/or university that they later regret, and one 'false start' elsewhere is unlikely to have a bearing on our assessment, provided you explain it sensibly and supply relevant evidence on request.  Please note, however, that applications from students who have failed at or have been excluded from another medical school will not normally be considered for entry to Medicine at Cambridge.

Do you look at GCSEs?

We do not regard GCSEs as a performance indicator, unless you have taken them very recently,  and even then, your grades will be considered in the context of overall attainment levels at the institution you attended. A few courses do, however, require specific subjects at GCSE (or equivalent), and English Language and Maths can often be an asset.

What about vocational and professional qualifications?

Vocational and professional qualifications can be a useful way to demonstrate commitment to your chosen subject, but do not generally constitute appropriate academic preparation for Cambridge. Prospective applicants holding such qualifications are advised to contact our Admissions Office (admissions@lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk) for guidance.

How important is additional preparation for candidates who met the entrance requirements, some time ago?

We recommend that all applicants who achieved the academic standards required for entry more than two years prior to application undertake some additional preparation, and applicants who have taken a break from study lasting more than three years are likely to be disadvantaged if they do not prepare formally. Many recent applicants who were initially reluctant to undertake additional preparation have reported how much they enjoyed modules offered by Birkbeck College, Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, the University of London International Programme, Oxford Department for Continuing Education, and the Open University, amongst others.

How flexible are the Pre-Medical requirements?

The University has minimum requirements for entrants to medical courses, and almost all medics at Lucy Cavendish achieve an A or A* in A-level Chemistry, as well as similar grades in A- or AS-levels in two of Biology, Physics and Mathematics, prior to admission. We will consider waiving the requirement for one or more of these qualifications only if you can demonstrate to us conclusively that you have passed a close equivalent (for example, the same subjects, at Higher Level, in the International Baccalaureate) or hold credits for university courses in the pure science concerned. Note that the University does not accept Access Diplomas alone for entry to any science degree, other than Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, and success rates for candidates holding an Access to Medicine Diploma alongside one or more A-levels are lower than they are for applicants with three science A-levels.

Does Cambridge offer a Foundation Programme?

The University of Cambridge does not offer Foundation Years as such. However, the Undergraduate Certificates administered by the Institute of Continuing Education do provide suitable preparation for some of our degree courses. From 2014-15, these Certificates will include Evolutionary Biology, Local History, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences, as well as Archaeology, English Literature, History of Art, and Philosophy.

Do I have to live in Cambridge?

Cambridge is a residential university and most undergraduates are required to live within three miles of the centre of Cambridge, during term. Lucy Cavendish can accommodate single undergraduates (including affiliated students) for the duration of their studies, and some flats for couples and families are available at our Histon Road complex. You can, however, apply for permission to reside up to ten miles from the city if this is more appropriate to your situation.

Can I change subject?

Occasionally, we interview strong applicants whose knowledge and skills are not an exact match for their chosen subject. In such instances, we may recommend that you consider a related subject instead. Students admitted to Cambridge may apply to change subject at designated stages of the BA course, but should note that not all applications are successful, and that academic conditions must be met.

Will I be disadvantaged if I apply in the March Round?

We assess all applications in exactly the same way, and competitive applicants for subjects available in the second round stand as good a chance of securing a place as those who apply in October. Delaying your application may, in fact, be to your advantage if you have only recently returned to study, since it allows you more time to build core knowledge and academic interview skills, collect examples of written work, and obtain an appropriate reference. The four 'mature' Colleges operate a small March Round Pool which operates in the same way as the Winter Pool.

Does the Winter Pool work differently for mature students?

Mature students are not automatically pooled if they fail to secure a place at their preference College: whether you are placed in the Winter Pool or not will depend on the quality of your application, your performance at interview, and any written work supplied. Lucy Cavendish makes less use of the Pool than many other Colleges, since we are able to offer to the majority of our strongest direct applicants. However, we do occasionally pool candidates whom we feel would benefit from re-assessment. 

Can I work during term time?

We strongly discourage undergraduates from taking paid employment during term time, and students in some subjects will be expected to attend teaching sessions on Saturdays and/or after 5pm. The College has funds to assist with those who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulties.

What about children?

A number of our undergraduates have children, and Lucy Cavendish has a designated Childcare Contact to support and advise mothers at the College. Prospective applicants may also wish to consult the University’s Guide for Student Parents.


Can I appeal against an admissions decision?

Admissions decisions taken by Cambridge Colleges are not normally reviewed unless it appears, after investigation, that a serious procedural error has occurred, as detailed on the University website. 

Should I reapply to Lucy Cavendish?

We are always happy to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants, and we will occasionally recommend that an individual reapplies if circumstances beyond her control prevent her from meeting the academic conditions of her offer within the time frame afforded by UCAS. Where this is not the case, our standard advice is that second-time candidates should consider applying to another Cambridge College.