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Human, Social, and Political Sciences - HSPS Tripos


Everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place to study at Cambridge is invited to interview – that's around 75 per cent of applicants each year.

Although it can seem daunting, the interview is just one part of the Cambridge admissions process, so it isn't "make-or-break" like a job interview. On this page you can find advice from both staff and students at the University on how you can prepare in order to make the best impression you can. Director of Admissions Dr Mike Sewell says: "Above all else, remember that we're not looking for perfection, we're just looking to see if you're right for the course for which you've applied".


  1. Remind yourself of your motivation, why do you want to study HSPS, and why is the course right for you?
  2. Re-read your application and personal statement, and be ready to discuss the things you've said and studied.
  3. Check the Undergraduate Study website for information on the interview process and further tips on how to prepare.

The Interview

In this video, you can see four example interviews so you can get a sense of the kind of questions you might be asked. There's even a specific example of an HSPS inverview question (01:50-03:50), as well as an example of the kind of "unseen" material that you might be asked to interpret and reflect on during the interview (08:47-10:51). Throughout the video there are pointers on what the interviewers are looking for.

Most importantly...

  • Listen carefully
  • If you don't understand something, ask for clarification
  • Don't be afraid to take a moment to gather your thoughts
  • Be yourself!

Remember that the interviewers are not trying to trick or scare you, they just want to know if you're right for the course. Don't be disheartened if you think you give a poor answer to one question, try and let it go, turn over a new page, and approach the next question with a fresh head. The fact that you have been invited to interview means you have the potential to come to Cambridge, so try to relax and let your interest and enthusiasm for the subject shine!

Inside Uni

A student-led website, InsideUni, compiles tips from over 700 successful applicants for your benefit. You can read their tips for HSPS interviews here, and you can follow their YouTube Channel for live Q&A sessions.

Up-to-date Information

Finally, we recommend all students carefully check over the general information available about the interview process on the Cambridge University website.

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