Studying at Cambridge
Cambridge is one of the best universities in the world in terms of its academic reputation. Study life is intense and intellectually demanding and we place great emphasis on independent and self-directed learning.
The way we teach, the assessment methods use, the emphasis on independent and self-directed learning may be very different to what you are used to and so your course handbook might help you understand what the course involves (e.g. course structure, teaching approach, academic conventions, and methods of assessment) and what is expected from you.
Some students do not follow the academic conventions of the University and do not understand how to avoid plagiarism. The University offers guidance on plagiarism and how to avoid it.
Studying in English
Since you will study in English, the University requires all applicants to demonstrate competence in the English language at a very high level and in an idiom suitable to their subject before beginning their proposed course of study. This is of particular importance for students on one-year courses.
Do not be surprised if you experience a period of linguistic, cultural and academic acclimatisation on arrival. You may need to work continuously on refining your academic English skills throughout your time at Cambridge. After all, these skills are not innate for native speakers, but must be learned and continually practiced and refined.
The University provides many sources of guidance and support for students whose first language is not English to ensure that they can achieve their academic potential. However, in preparation it is helpful if you recognise the challenges that studying in English will pose. This is not simply in terms of language proficiency, but more importantly in terms of the approach and conventions of academic English, which may vary quite considerably from those of your first language.
Experience with students whose first language is not English, shows that where they encounter difficulties this has far more to do with their lack of awareness of the expectations and conventions of studying in English and far less to do with their competency in the language.
The Language Centre offers programmes and support to students who wish to improve their academic English.