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Education is one of the most powerful means for change and growth in the modern world. If you are interested in the psychology, politics or social and cultural contexts of education and learning, you can study it on our Education course.

Education at Cambridge

The Education course at Cambridge is undergoing changes for entry from October 2017 onwards. Below are some guidelines, but we strongly recommend you take the opportunity of coming to one of our Open Days and discussing the course with the Director of Studies, Dr Morag Morrison-Helme

The course at Cambridge is a rigorous and rewarding interdisciplinary degree. You will follow one of three tracks, combining in-depth study of a particular field of interest with an examination of wider educational and social issues.

Course Outline

In your application (SAQ) you should indicate which track you are interested in studying.

You attend four to six lectures and seminars and one or two hours of supervision per week in the first year. You are assessed at the end of each year. Depending on the papers studied, this will be through coursework, written examination, or a combination of both. In the third year all students also submit a dissertation.

Year 1 (Part IA):

You take four papers, including 2 compulsory Education papers:

  • Critical Debates in Education - introducing major themes in education and Faculty research

  • Language, Communication and Literacies - exploring the social, psychological and material context within which spoken language and literacy are developed

Your two remaining papers are determined by the track you are following:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Learning and Human Development and Introduction to Psychology

  • Education, Policy and International Development - Education, Global Inequalities and Social Justice, and a paper from choices in the Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) course

  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts - Poetics, Aesthetics and Criticism; and either Drama Production or Literature and Culture.

Year 2 (Part IB):

In Year 2 you take five papers. Two are compulsory:

  • Designing Educational Research (a project in research design), and
  • The Emergence of Educational Thinking and Systems (covering historical and philosophical perspectives on key aspects of education) - and you choose your third from several other education topics.

The other two papers are dependent on the track you are taking:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Formal and Informal Contexts of Learning, and a psychology paper
  • Education, Policy and International Development - International Issues in Inclusion and Diversity in Education, and a paper from the HSPS course
  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts - two of International Literatures, Arts and Cultures, Theatre Practice and Production; one paper from a range offered in the English course.

Year 3 (Part II):

You take five papers in the final year. All students take at least two papers on particular issues in education and write a dissertation of 8,000-10,000 words. For the fourth you can take another issue in education paper, submit a second dissertation, or choose a paper from the options in the other relevant courses.

Your final paper is track specific:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Education, Neuroscience and Society
  • Education, Policy and International Development - Critical Debates in Education, Policy and International Development
  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts - either Children's Literature, or Performance, Education, and Society

Teaching of Education at St John's

The Director of Studies for Education at St John’s is Dr Morag Morrison Helme. She will oversee your progress through the Education Tripos and arrange your supervisions. Morag has taught Drama and Applied Theatre across a range of settings in Australia, the UK and Sweden. Morag now supervises and lectures on undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses in Drama, Creativity and Arts Education and co-ordinates the MPhil in Arts, Culture and Education. Morag's research involves Applied Theatre and Arts Education pedagogy in schools, Nursing and Health Care educaion.

Depending on which track you follow, your teaching and supervisions will be undertaken by a wide-range of world learning researchers of international standing in the field of Education, Sociology, Psychology, History and Philosophy. The undergraduate degree in Education at Cambridge is ranked as the best Education course in the country. The Education Tripos will suit any student who is interested in a flexible course that enables the study of more than one discipline. Education students typically have a broad social sciences base, but those who have a sciences background and are interested in teaching their subject will also enjoy the course. The Tripos offers the opportunity to continue onto the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, ranked as the best teacher training course in the country (by Ofsted).

St John’s is a good choice if you wish to study Education. The College has an excellent library and good student computing facilities. Apart from Scholarships and Prizes awarded for academic distinction, special book grants and funds for travel and courses and conferences are also available. These combine to make St John’s an excellent setting for undergraduate studies in Education. The College also has a number of post-graduate students pursuing PhDs in Education, and usually has 5 – 6 PGCE students a year who are training to be teachers.

Directors of Studies

UCAS Code: **X3

Entry Requirements

The standard offer for the Education Tripos is A*AA at A-level (or its equivalent) in line with all other Cambridge arts and social science degrees. If you are studying for the IB, our standard offer will be 40-42 with 776 at Higher Level Subjects. Applicants for the Education, English, Drama and Arts track are required to have A-Level English Literature/English Literature and Language (or equivalent). 

Generally applicants are welcomed with any combination of A-levels (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking). It is useful (but not essential) for applicants to have additional AS and A-levels in one or more of the social sciences, e.g. Sociology, Psychology and History. For further information on subject choice, please see here. Please contact the College's admissions office should you require more information on appropriate subject requirements. 


Application / interview procedure:

We aim to take 3/4 students a year to study Education at St. John’s. Those who are invited to attend for interview will have two interviews: a general interview with the Tutor for the subject, and a second subject interview with the Director of Studies in Education and a subject specialist in the route you wish to take. The aim of the subject interview is to find out about your motivation, intellectual curiosity, and aptitude for the subject. We conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel too daunted by the prospect of them. 

At-Interview Assessment:

Applicants who are invited to interview will sit the University’s At-Interview assessment for Education. More information can be found on the University’s webpage for Admissions Assessments. Further information can be found on the Faculty of Education webpage

I was attracted to the Education tripos because of its multi-disciplinary nature, and it has certainly delivered. No other subject at Cambridge offers such a range of topics throughout the duration of the whole three years. I’ve loved studying topics as diverse as the globalising secularisation of our society, Mary Wollstonecraft and the French Revolution, the scholarship of fairytales and the...
It was a straight choice between another College and St John's. In the end I picked John's because of the juxtaposition of studying such a new subject at such an old College. Many other old Colleges hadn't yet started to take education students, and it seemed exciting to be in a space where a decision had consciously been made to take on a subject and see the students through it. In my view, we...
To be an Education student is to have access to a smorgasbord of knowledge. We study 7 subjects, sometimes more, sometimes less. We are exposed to a rich selection of studies ranging from arts through to social sciences which makes our learning experience at Cambridge a unique and wonderful one. I find myself constantly engaged, and where we sometimes might have a rush of essays in a few weeks I...
Marthe de Ferrer
I chose to study Education with English because it is such a wonderfully broad course, and I loved that I could study Renaissance literature and the psychology of child development within the same week. It has allowed me to really develop and pursue my academic interests, under the guidance and support of a truly fantastic faculty. I’ve written dissertations on New Zealand literature, and my own...
'It was principally the diversity of the course that attracted me towards reading Education and English at St John’s rather than just English. I chose St John’s as a college because of its central location, its incredible academic and sporting facilities and the way St John’s always tries to help students fulfill personal projects by providing the necessary help with various book and travel...

Further Information

The Faculty of Education website contains full information about Open Days and further details for prospective applicants. If you have any questions about the Education Tripos you can also contact the Director of Studies in Education at St John's, Dr Morag Morrison or the Faculty of Education.  You may also wish to watch this video about two St John's Education students involved in the drama community within the University. 


Education Course Video, courtesy of the University of Cambridge