Lucy Cavendish aims to admit six undergraduates in English each year, and a number of Erasmus students follow related pathways, making English one of the most vibrant and active subject communities in college. Our recent students have performed strongly in their academic studies, as well as staging plays, publishing novels, and speaking at academic conferences.

The BA in English is internationally renowned, and balances a strong grounding in the core of English literature with the chance to specialise or branch out from that core into the literature of other parts of the world, such as the USA or South Asia, other art forms, the English language and related intellectual traditions. Many graduates pursue careers in information management, teaching and academia; others go on to work in media and the creative industries.

Further information about the course can be found on the Faculty and University websites.

Director of Studies

Dr Isobel Maddison

We also have a University Lecturer in English, Dr Ruth Abbott.

Course Requirements

Whilst we will accept a range of both British and international qualifications, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have studied English Literature or English Literature and Language to A-level standard (or equivalent).

See the general Entrance Requirements and FAQ for more information about our academic conditions. You can also contact our Admissions Office with queries.

Admissions Assessment

Applicants to Lucy Cavendish will not be required to sit the ELAT.  Applicants invited for interview will be asked to sit a written assessment on the day of their interviews. This assessment will last no longer than one hour, and will be similar in content and format to the assessment used by other colleges, prior to interview. Specifications can be found in the Entry Requirements section here.

Kassi came to Lucy Cavendish with Open University credits, having previously trained in drama and ballet, and worked in retail, fitness and the nightclub industry. While Lucy Cavendish is one of the smaller colleges, it still retains the traditions, such as gown clad Formal Hall dining, that make Cambridge such a beautiful and exciting place to study. Being a ‘mature woman’ in no way means we miss out on anything that the University has to offer; societies and our annual June Event make sure of that! The English Literature course allows for a lot of freedom when choosing texts you wish to focus on. While you cannot hide from the classics forever, you are able to indulge your own passions and tastes. For me this has meant reading as many plays as possible from every period we have studied, while for some of my classmates this has meant avoiding plays and focusing on poetry with equal vigour.

Aisha was working in local government when she enrolled at Greenwich Community College to add an A-level in English Literature to the set she had acquired some years earlier. Lucy Cavendish has been wonderful in supporting me and I am very grateful to have a fantastic Director of Studies in my subject, who is always there to answer any questions I have and ensure I’m receiving the best academic support from my supervisors. The college library is also particularly well-stocked for books I’ll need throughout my studies in English.  I have really enjoyed studying papers on Renaissance and Shakespeare -- I am currently working on my dissertation on Ben Jonson, a writer who inspired me when I studied the topic of City and Space in Renaissance Literature!

Annabel trained as an electrical-mechanical fitter and made Formula One car parts before taking A-levels at New College Swindon. She is now doing a practice-based poetry PhD in Falmouth. The Cambridge degree is fascinating, covering English from Medieval times up to the latest post-modern theory, with plenty of room for you to make choices that play to your interests. The staff and fellows at Lucy go out of their way to make you feel welcome and included and able to study, while encouraging you to make the most of your time at Cambridge. During my three years, I won University prizes for poetry and new theatre writing, and was encouraged all the way by Lucy. The only regret I have is not starting the degree earlier.

Nicola had worked in the City and had children when she enrolled on an Access to HE Diploma at Huntingdonshire Regional College. She is currently researching literary royalism at the University of Oxford. Applying to Cambridge University turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. Although the application procedure was daunting, the staff in the admissions department were always very welcoming and helpful. I was worried that as an older student I would feel lonely and out of place. I couldn't have been more wrong: there are women of all ages at Lucy and there is a very friendly atmosphere. The fellows are all very supportive and there is a real feeling that everyone wants you to do well. I have remained in touch with many friends I made at Lucy and have memories that I will cherish forever.