Applying this year
Applying can seem daunting, but the process is more straightforward than you might think. To find out more, take a look at the information below.
St John’s offers 32 subjects for study at Undergraduate level. When applying for a subject please make sure to carefully read the subject information here.
Applications to St John’s are made online via the UCAS website and further information about the UCAS application process can be found here. Applications should be submitted by 18:00 BST on the 15 October* for entry in October 2021, or for deferred entry to the following year (October 2022).
When applying to Cambridge you will need to use a Campus Code to nominate your chosen College. St John's College’s Campus Code is X. If you do not have a preference College you can make an Open application (Campus Code 9) and your application will be randomly allocated to a College after the application deadline.
You’ll then be asked to supply extra information through a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ), which ensures that we have complete and consistent information about applicants.
* If you are an Overseas applicants wishing to be interviewed via an overseas interview scheme you might have a slightly earlier application deadline. Please see the eligibility and interview dates information here.
As part of a UCAS form, you will be asked to complete a personal statement. This is an opportunity to give specific information about yourself that you feel it is important for us to know. This could be detailed reasons for why you want to study your chosen course, what motivated you, your hobbies and interests outside school, or your future aspirations, to name but a few. Interviewers at St John’s may use your personal statement as a basis for discussion.
The SAQ includes space to provide an additional personal statement, giving you the opportunity to expand on your UCAS personal statement, allowing you to include information specific to the course you are applying for at Cambridge. There is no need to repeat information included in the UCAS personal statement.
The information displayed on this webpage applies to the vast majority of applicants to St John's. However an applicant's circumstances can affect what they must submit in order for their application to be considered, or specific deadlines for when they must apply.
If any of the below circumstances apply to your application, please also look for further information on this webpage:
- You live outside the UK or EU
- English is not your first language
- You are planning to take a year out between school and university
- You will be over the age of 21 on the 1st October of the year you hope to come to Cambridge
- You already have a degree from another university
- You wish to apply for an Organ Scholarship or Choral Scholarship.
Some subjects require applicants to complete a written assessment, either pre-interview or at-interview. A list of these subjects and the type of assessment they require can be found on the University website, each subject webpage will also state whether a pre- or at- interview assessment is applicable.
A list of subjects with an At-Interview Assessment, with further information on the format of each assessment, can be found on this University webpage. You do not need to register for an At-Interview Assessment, and there is no charge associated with taking an assessment at interview.
A list of subjects with a Pre-Interview Assessment, with further information on the format of each assessment, can be found on this University webpage. You must register for pre-interview assessments so please do take note of the registration deadlines.
The following subjects have additional requirements for applicants:
- Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic - submit two pieces of written work
- Architecture - must submit your original artwork and original sketchbooks (further details here)
- Asian and Middle Eastern Studies - submit two pieces of written work
- Classics - submit two pieces of written work
- English - submit two pieces of written work
- History - submit two pieces of written work
- History and Modern Languages - submit two pieces of written work
- History and Politics - submit two pieces of written work
- History of Art - submit one piece of written work
- Human, Social and Political Sciences - submit two pieces of written work
- Linguistics - submit one piece of written work
- Modern and Medieval Languages - submit two pieces of written work
- Music - submit two pieces of work, written and music-based
- Theology - submit two pieces of written work
Submitted written work should be essays or pieces of coursework you have produced in the course of your school work and marked by a teacher, not specially written for your application. Please see the following section for how to submit written work.
Correspondence and Supporting Information
This section is for those who have applied to St John's College and who have received an email acknowledging their application.
All correspondence regarding your application will be sent via e-mail to the address provided in your UCAS application. Any questions about your application can be sent to email@example.com. Please ensure your email account is configured correctly, so that emails from the University or College are not rejected. Any email sent to the College should include in the subject line: your name, UCAS Personal ID, and subject you have applied for.
Documents to Upload
1. Written work
Who needs to submit cover sheets and written work? Only applicants for subjects which are listed here as requiring written work.
How should the written work and cover sheets be submitted? All applicants have been sent an email containing a link to the Applicant Additional Documentation Form where written work needs to be uploaded. Please create a single, multi-page PDF file containing all the pages of your document. If asked for two essays, please submit these as separate files. Download the cover sheet and find guidance here.
Deadline: Thursday 5th November 2020
2. Architecture Portfolio
Who needs to submit this form? ONLY applicants for Architecture. All applicants have been sent an email containing a link to the Applicant Additional Documentation Form where your Architecture portfolio needs to be uploaded. Please upload your sample artwork (as a single 6-page PDF) using this link and include the relevant cover sheet. Download the cover sheet here.
Deadline: Thursday 5th November 2020
3. Disability/Specific Learning Difficulties Interview Adjustment Form
Who needs to submit this form? Applicants with a disability or specific learning difficulty. If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, please complete the form and return this to us as soon as possible. We wish to ensure that, wherever possible and required, we can make appropriate arrangements if you are called for interview.
How should the form be submitted? Download the form here and complete it with a school/college representative. Please upload this document using the link to the Applicant Additional Documentation Form you have been emailed.
Deadline: Thursday 5th November 2020
4. Extenuating Circumstances Form (ECF)
Who needs to submit this form? Applicants who have experienced particular personal, social or educational disadvantage. More information is available here.
How should the form be submitted? Submit an Extenuating Circumstances Form here. The ECF should normally be completed and submitted by the applicant's school/college.
Deadline: 26 October, or as soon as possible after that date.
By applying to St John's College applicants give consent for their data to be processed in accordance to the University of Cambridge's guidelines on data protection. Applicant information is retained by the College and University for as long as it remains relevant. In the case of unsuccessful applications this normally means that hard copy files will be destroyed on the 1st September in the year following the application, and electronic files are anonymised and kept for research and statistical purposes.
Interviews in 2020 will be conducted remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
All applicants will be sent a survey to obtain information on what technology you have access to and we will ensure that appropriate arrangements are made so that remote interviews can proceed for all applicants invited for interview. Further details regarding the remote interview arrangements will be sent with the interview invitation.
Who is interviewed?
Interviewees are typically predicted to achieve our minimum conditional offer. This is A*AA or A*A*A at A Level (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking), depending on the course. Some subjects require qualifications in certain subjects, so check your subject's requirements before you apply. There are exceptions and we always take individual circumstances into account.
If you are taking qualifications other than A-Levels, don’t worry. We regularly make offers based on other qualifications, including the International Baccalaureate and Scottish Advanced Highers, and you can see here typical offer levels for many other international qualifications.
Preparing for your interview
When you have received your invitation to interview by e-mail you will be asked to complete an online form confirming your attendance. Please complete this form as soon as possible.
The University's guide to preparing for interviews gives general advice on preparation for Cambridge interviews.
How interviews work
St John's applicants are typically given two interviews of 20-30 minutes in length held by two interviewers each. The interview panel with usually include the Director of Studies and/or Fellows within the subject you've applied for, who wish to learn more about you aptitude for the course. You are not being assessed on your clothes or appearance so there's no need to dress formally and it's not necessary to wear a suit, although some applicants may prefer to do this. A general rule is to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in that will allow you to concentrate on the discussion in the interview. We try to make the interviews as relaxed as possible, so if you have any questions or problems do let us know in advance and we will do our best to help. Our interviews are designed to find out what you do know, not what you don't. The interviewers want to see how you think spontaneously, and where your interests and enthusiasms lie, particularly in relation to the course you are applying for.
Interview arrangements have not yet been finalised for the 2020-21 Admissions Round but interviews typically take place during the first three weeks of December. We will try to give each applicant at least two weeks' advance notice of the timing of interviews, but there may be occasions when this is not possible.
Dates for each subject's interviews be will be listed as they become available. All dates are provisional and subject to change should unforeseen circumstances arise.
- Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic - 10 December
- Archaeology - 8 December
- Architecture - 8 to 11 December
- Asian and Middle Eastern Studies - 7 & 8 December
- Chemical Engineering - see Engineering / Natural Sciences (Physical)
- Classics - 7 & 8 December
- Computer Science - 7 to 9 December
- Economics - 8 to 11 December
- Education - 10 December
- Engineering - 7 to 11 & 14 December
- English - 7 to 9 December
- Geography - 7 to 9 December
- History - 4 & 5 December
- History of Art - 8 December
- History and Modern Languages - 9 December
- History and Politics - 5 & 7 December
- Human, Social and Political Sciences - 8 to 11 & 14 December
- Land Economy - 11 & 12 December
- Law - 6 to 11 December
- Linguistics - 7 December
- Mathematics - 7 to 11 December
- Medical Sciences - 7 to 11 December
- Modern and Medieval Languages - 9 to 11 December
- Music - 8 to 10 December
- Natural Sciences (Biological) - 7 to 11 December
- Natural Sciences (Physical) - 4 & 7 to 10 December
- Philosophy - 7 & 8 December
- Psychological and Behavioural Sciences - 8 to 10 December
- Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion - 10 December
- Veterinary Medicine - 4 & 5 December
Please avoid other fixed commitments that might clash with interviews during this period as we may not be able to re-arrange interview times assigned to you. The College does not normally offer undergraduate places to candidates who are unavailable for interview.
If you are unable to attend an interview during this period please contact the Admissions Office as soon as possible as well as noting these restrictions in your Supplementary Application Questionnaire. If enough notice is given, it may be possible to avoid scheduling your interviews on particular days.
Interviews can start as early as 8.00am, with the later ones finishing at 6.30pm UK time. It may not be possible to make any changes after you have been notified of your interview times. Any special arrangements for interviews in individual subjects will be communicated when you are notified of your interview date.
All applicants for entry in 2021 and deferred entry in 2022 across the University will be informed of the outcome of their application in January 2021.
Decisions on which candidates will receive an offer of a place are made on a holistic basis, combining performance in interviews, the school or college reference, actual and predicted exam results, and any other relevant factors concerning the application. So far as possible, both intellectual achievement and potential are taken into consideration. Our aim is to choose students of high ability who have a keen interest in their subject and who are likely to benefit most from the unique opportunities in this field of education at Cambridge.
There are three possible outcomes of the application process:
- Your application is successful and you receive a conditional (or unconditional) offer to study at St John’s. You will receive an e-mail confirming your offer, and will be notified of your offer via UCAS shortly thereafter. You will need to accept your offer via UCAS.
- Your application is placed in the Winter Pool. This means that whilst we are unable to offer you a place at St John's, we believe that your application should be considered by other Cambridge Colleges. If your application is picked out by another College in the Winter Pool, they may make you an offer straight away, or you might be invited for an interview at another College. Pool interviews will be conducted in late January 2021.
- Your application is unsuccessful.
Whatever happens, don’t let the fear of being unsuccessful put you off – we can’t offer you a place if you don’t apply!
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the volume of applicants it can take time for the College's Admissions Office to respond to enquiries. This web page has been designed to provide as much information as possible to applicants, so before contacting the Admissions Office please carefully read the content presented here as your query might already be answered.
The University also provides a list of questions frequently asked each year by undergraduate applicants, below are frequently asked questions specific to St John's College. If you still require assistance then please contact the Admissions Office and they will be happy to help you.
Is my combination of subjects at A-Level acceptable for my chosen course?
Many Triposes accept applications from students with a wide variety of subjects studied at A-Level (or equivalent) which may not be directly related to the course they have applied for. Every Tripos is different however so you are encouraged to consult your course’s subject web page on the College website for further information on essential and desirable subjects, where appropriate. For more general advice you may like to consult a helpful leaflet produced by the University.
My written work is ready but the cover sheet is not, can I send in my cover sheet later?
All written work must be submitted with a completed cover sheet to be considered a valid part of your application. Each piece of written work, including the cover sheet, should be submitted as a single document. Applicants are encouraged to prepare their work in good time ahead of the deadline and to allow for any planned school closures which could delay completion of the cover sheet. Incomplete written work, or submitting written work after the deadline, may disadvantage your application.
I have left school and will not be able to have my cover sheet completed by my teacher – what should I do?
Please contact the Admissions Office for further advice.
What should I write about in my personal statement?
It is useful for those assessing your application to understand what draws you to the course you have applied for and why you feel you would be well suited to studying this subject. For guidance on what to include, we advise you to follow the UCAS advice on personal statements.
I cannot attend an interview on certain dates during the interview period, what should I do?
Applicants who know that they will not be available on certain days in the interview period should note this in their SAQ. If you discover that you will be unavailable for part of the interview period after submitting your application please contact the Admissions Office as soon as possible for advice.
Due to the time pressures of the interview period and the number of applicants being interviewed we are very rarely able to amend an applicant’s interview date or time once they have been notified of their interview timetable. If you become aware that you will not be able to attend you interview at the allocated date and time after receiving your interview timetable please contact the Admissions Office as soon as possible for advice
I have not been offered accommodation on the day before/day of my interview, can I request accommodation?
We have a limited quantity of accommodation available for use by applicants at interview and we are very rarely able to accommodate applicants if accommodation has not already been offered with their interview timetable. If you would like to request additional accommodation please note this when responding to your interview invitation, you will be informed if a room becomes available.
I have special arrangements for my exams at School, what do I need to do for the interviews?
Please submit a Disability/Specific Learning Difficulties interview adjustment form by 31st October. If your arrangements only become necessary after you have submitted your application please submit the Disability/Specific Learning Difficulties interview adjustment form as soon as possible and contact the Admissions Office for further advice.