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Undergraduate Study


All undergraduate admissions decisions are the responsibility of the Cambridge Colleges. Following the assessment of your application, there are two possible outcomes.

1) You're made an offer

This might be from the College you applied/were allocated to, or from a different College as a result of your application being ‘pooled’ (see below).

If you've already gained the qualifications required, you may be made an unconditional offer. If you're still studying, an offer will usually be conditional and dependent on achieving certain grades in the qualifications you're taking.

Accepting your offer

If you're offered a place, you'll be informed by the College and through UCAS.

  • You must reply, observing UCAS requirements and deadlines.
  • If you accept Cambridge 'firmly' you must meet the conditions of your offer by the deadline set by UCAS.
  • In a few cases, offer holders who haven't quite met the conditions of their original offer may still be offered a place, either at their original College or at another College following a small 'summer pool' (see below).

Upon accepting your offer you agree to the Terms of Admission.

2) Your application is unsuccessful

With around five applications for each place, every year we have to turn down many good students whom we’d like to have taken. If your application isn’t successful, although this may be disappointing, we hope you’ll have found the process a useful experience and valuable preparation for your other university choices.

Don’t let the prospect of not getting a place put you off applying. We can’t offer you a place if you don’t apply to us!

All Colleges provide, on request, feedback on unsuccessful applicants to schools/colleges.

The pools

The pool system is designed to ensure that the best applicants are offered places, no matter which College they applied/were allocated to.

If a College is over-subscribed in a particular course, strong applicants are put into the ‘winter pool’ for other Colleges to consider. All Colleges can consider pooled applicants and Directors of Studies in each subject meet during the admissions period to discuss the overall standard of applications so that they can see how their own College’s applicants compare – Colleges would rather admit a strong applicant from the pool than a weaker applicant who applied directly/was allocated to them.

As a result of being placed in the winter pool, some applicants may be asked to attend another interview at a different College, usually in January. Alternatively, they may be offered a place at another College without further interview; or they may be unsuccessful, in which case they’ll be notified by their original College.

Normally, around one in four applicants is pooled and, of these, around one in four receives an offer of a place from a College other than the one they applied/were allocated to (853 for 2016 entry, about 20 per cent of all offers made). For more information read our Undergraduate Guide to the Winter Pool.

A second smaller pool (of offer holders who narrowly miss the conditions of their original offer) takes place in August after examination results are released and places can be confirmed. This again helps to ensure that the best applicants secure places.