Prospective Undergraduates: Entry 2014
Philosophy is the study of fundamental problems about the nature of knowledge and reality, and about our moral and political ideas. In universities it is studied in a way which lays considerable emphasis on very precise and careful argument. Although undergraduates in Cambridge read a wide range of philosophical authors, the main aim of the course is not to impart information about which author said what. Rather the aim is that students acquire the kind of skill in reasoning which will enable them to tackle problems of a philosophical character and to think intelligently about abstract questions generally.
Since Philosophy is not always taught in schools, it is not necessarily easy for students to tell whether they are suited to the subject. If you enjoy marshalling arguments pro and con on general issues, if you enjoy puzzle-solving of various kinds, if you enjoy subjects like maths which emphasize rigorous thought, then you might well find that Philosophy is the right subject for you. To get a real feel for the character of the subject, you need to read some Philosophy. This is a link to a list of books which give a good introduction to the various aspects of the subject, and you are warmly encouraged to look at some of them before deciding to apply for entrance to read Philosophy.
Note, however, it is not expected that students have formally studied any Philosophy before reading the subject at Cambridge, and Part IA of the Philosophy Tripos is taught on the assumption that they have not done so. Students with A-levels in either Arts or Science subjects are equally acceptable. Philosophy at Cambridge can be studied for one, two or three years. It combines well with a variety of other subjects. Further details can be found in the Faculty's Undergraduate Prospectus.
All the information you need for applying can be found in the Cambridge University Undergraduate Prospectus. Please note that all applications for undergraduate admissions are dealt with by the Colleges. Before applying you need to decide which College might suit you best. Your choice of College has a great impact on your time in Cambridge, so it is well worth visiting the Colleges. All of them will welcome enquiries.