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Cambridge has one of the largest and most renowned Faculties of Education in the world, with a huge variety of expertise and courses on offer. Education is an interdisciplinary field and is a key process through which societies and cultures reproduce themselves and change. There is huge political and policy interest in education as a means of increasing social mobility and enacting change. We teach about education through a wide range of subjects and topics: philosophy, politics, international development, sociology, psychology, economics, history, art, drama and literature. A number of courses are shared with other departments, such as Sociology, Psychology, Geography and English. Learning at Cambridge involves lecture- and class-based teaching but also an emphasis on individual tutorials (‘supervisions’) and self-directed research. You will develop the ability and confidence to analyse a wide variety of educational themes; engage critically with issues such as social class, race and gender; and pursue your own ideas and research through projects, for example at the University of Cambridge Primary School, and a final year dissertation. You will develop important skills which employers value, particularly the ability to solve ambiguous problems characteristic of jobs in the knowledge economy. Those who have studied Education at Cambridge have gone on to be successful in very many different careers, for example in research, administration, finance, policy work, the civil service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on international development, educational charities, teaching, and the media.


The Course

Education is fundamentally concerned with the production and dissemination of knowledge making it one of the most important and powerful cultural currents of change in the world. Studying Education involves understanding intellectual development from birth to adulthood, how education policy works at national and global scales, and the role of creativity and language in learning. To achieve this understanding all students take a common core of papers that cover key ideas in the philosophy, history, sociology and economics of education. Here you will engage in learning that enables you to deal with the largest issues that we face: what should education for the 21st century look like; how can we help students from disadvantaged backgrounds gain access to education; how do processes such as globalisation and nationalism affect education; does education result in economic growth and social mobility; why are educational outcomes linked to social class, gender and ethnicity? You will also be taught how to undertake quantitative and qualitative social science research and use these skills to produce a dissertation on a subject of your choice in your final year.

In addition to the core papers, Cambridge also offers a unique way to study Education from a social science, psychology or humanities perspective via one of three tracks:

  • The Education, Psychology & Learning track allows students to consider various aspects of psychology that are important for not only learning in traditional educational settings, but also how we learn from everyday experiences and informal settings. The course will include learning by children of all ages and adults. It is excellent preparation for those who might be considering a career in educational psychology as well as those who might want an inter-disciplinary experience in psychological science. This track benefits from the involvement of researchers from the Faculty of Education’s PEDAL Centre (Play in Education Development and Learning) – an innovative centre founded by a donation from the Lego Foundation that investigates the role of play and playful learning in child development. This track is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which enables graduate basis for chartered membership, the first step in becoming a Chartered Psychologist. 
  • The Education, English, Drama and the Arts track is the only degree of its kind in the UK. It provides students with the unique opportunity to compare the study of English literature or drama with a social science view of education. This track benefits from involvement of researchers from the Faculty of Education’s Centre for Children’s Literature, which is internationally renowned for high-quality and innovative research in children’s literature that combines literary, aesthetic and educational approaches within an interdisciplinary research framework. This is excellent preparation for careers in teaching, working in arts based educational charities, research and policy.
  • The Education, Policy and International Development route provides students with an opportunity to consider how educational policies in the UK and abroad affect social and economic conditions and how education can be leveraged as a force for social change and economic improvement globally. This track benefits from the involvement of researchers from the Faculty of Education’s REAL Centre (Research for Equitable Access and Learning) – a world leader in investigating national and international barriers to education, such as poverty, gender, ethnicity, language and disability, and promotes education as an engine for inclusive growth and sustainable development. This track leads to careers in international aid agencies and other NGOs, policy and research.

Education at Pembroke

The multidisciplinary nature of the Education Tripos will attract students who have multiple interests. Pembroke has a diverse student body and has many students taking other Cambridge Triposes directly relevant to Education. That means there are opportunities to discuss issues that are directly relevant to the Education course with students who are not studying the same subject. We work hard to help our students realise their full potential.  All Cambridge colleges pool their teaching resources to provide supervisions to students in the University, so what students cover is not dependent on the expertise of the fellowship in the College.  Throughout the three years of the course, the main compulsory teaching that students receive is the weekly supervision. Preparation for the supervision involves guided and self-organised reading and writing an essay. This teaching is arranged by your College Director of Studies, currently Professor Geoff Hayward who also teaches and examines on the Education Tripos. We seek to find the best and most appropriate supervisors for each student and course. Much of this teaching is provided inside the College but the rest is organised by swap arrangements with other Colleges. Professor Hayward will meet with you regularly, arrange your supervisions, and provide oversight over your progress. He will also help you to navigate the Cambridge opportunities and experiences, both academic and extra-curricular, that will enable you to be successful in progressing from Cambridge University into work or further study. In addition to your weekly supervision, you will attend lectures, seminars and workshops put on by the Faculty of Education. Pembroke College also has a beautiful library with books and journals that will be relevant to your study. The University Library and the Education Faculty Library are two of the finest libraries in the country open to Education students.


Applicants wishing to study the English, Education, Drama and Arts track should be studying A level (or the equivalent) English Literature/Language. For the other two tracks there are no particular subjects that are required for entry to the Education Tripos. Pembroke is keen to attract the most able, interested and hard-working students to study Education; in selecting we place a good deal of emphasis on strong examinations results and predictions.  We are always keen to encourage the very best students from all backgrounds to consider applying to us.  We are looking for applicants who show a genuine engagement with their subject, and an ability to think laterally and analytically. You must also like reading and solving problems. The most important thing to demonstrate in your application is that you have a genuine interest in and passion for Education and your chosen track.

We make decisions about whom to admit to study Education at Pembroke on the basis of as many pieces of information as possible.  The admissions process involves the pre-interview Admissions Assessment and two interviews. Applicants will need to register for the Admissions Assessment by 15th October, more information about the format of the assessment can be found on the University course page. One interview will be a general academic interview with a Pembroke tutor, and the other will be a subject interview with the Director of Studies.

When we receive your application, we will ask you to send us two pieces of written work that you feel best reflect your interests. This should be work which has been prepared as part of your normal course of study and which has already been marked by a teacher. For the Education, English, Drama and the Arts track these should be on English Literature, for the other two tracks they can be on any relevant topic.

In making admission decisions we take into account all the information we have about an applicant including exam record and predictions, the school reference, the results of the University’s written assessment for Education, submitted written work, school or college essays, and UCAS personal statement. No specific preparation for interviews is necessary, other than to revise your course content and ensure you have done some wider reading. We send guidance notes about interviews beforehand. Each year, some undergraduates seeking to study at Pembroke take a year off after completing school before coming up to university, and the College is happy to accept deferred applications. If you apply for deferred entry your chance of securing a place is the same as for immediate entry.

Go to the Education faculty website