Cambridge Architecture: Tips & Questions for Interview

5 min read
Cambridge Architecture interview
Studying Architecture at the University of Cambridge

In this article we will guide you on how to best prepare for your Cambridge Architecture interview, with guides on past Cambridge Architecture questions, interview tips, mock examples and real experiences from students who have sat the Cambridge Architecture interview.

This article has been made from a collection of accounts from Oxbridge applicants.

Here is a video about what to expect about the Architecture course at Cambridge

What is the Cambridge Architecture interview structure?

The Cambridge Architecture interview is split into two interviews that candidates will take. The first interview typically involves questions centred around your personal statement as well as a review through your personal portfolio. The second Cambridge Architecture interview can involve a mixture of architecture-related questions including the discussion of the architecture of presented pictures and structures

Still not sure what to expect for your interview? 

Here’s an insider Architecture mock interview guide:

What are the Cambridge Architecture interview dates?

According to the official Cambridge website, the majority of interviews will take place in the first 3 weeks of December.

Example Past Questions from Cambridge Architecture interview

  • Why do you want to study architecture?
  • How would you reduce the prevalence of crime through architecture?
  • How would you make a place peaceful in nature?
  • What is the importance of light in architecture?
  • What is your favourite building and why?
  • Who is your favourite architect and why?
  • Questions about the portfolio submitted
  • How do you think architecture and art link together?
  • Have you had a chance to look around Cambridge? What buildings stood out to you?
  • What do you think the future of architecture will look like?
  • Shown pictures of buildings and asked to talk about the layout and design features. Name a potential architect for the building. 
  • Is there a difference between building and architecture?
  • How would you describe this drawing to a friend over the phone?
  • What is the greatest challenge architects face today?
  • How can you create sustainable architecture?
  • Can you reduce crime using architecture 
  • What do you expect out of studying architecture?
  • Why is light an important aspect in architecture?
  • Why are architects and museums important in human civilization?
  • What trends are essential for architecture?
  • What is your favourite book about architecture?
  • How would you explain architecture to an alien visiting earth?
  • If you are looking at a piece of architecture inspired by Bauhaus today, would you say it looks German?
Free Oxbridge Interview Scenarios

    Insider Guides: Cambridge Architecture Interview

    What happened on the day of your interview? 

    Both my Cambridge Architecture interviews took place in person. After assembling in the waiting room where we were offered tea and biscuits. We were then led to a room for our written test, where we were expected to write a short essay based on the provided thesis statement. Following this, we did the drawing test, the theme being representing the scenery. All of this was also followed by the general interview and a subject specific interview with two fellows.

    By the way, I attended Cambridge Architecture Summer School.

    What do you have to bring to your Cambridge Architecture interview?

    For my Cambridge Architecture interview, I was advised to bring my portfolio which I submitted at the time of my application. I also carried along some pens and pencils for the sketching activity of the interview.

    What is the Cambridge Architecture interview setting and how long is it?

    For both my Architecture interviews at Cambridge, I had two tutors present in the room. 

    • The general interview is where you can highlight the extent of reading you have done. This will include questions such as the relationship between architecture and music, engineering as well as society 
    • The subject specific interview is where you will walk your interviewers through your portfolio which should consist of as many media as possible.

    Each Cambridge Architecture interview lasts approximately 30 minutes in total. 

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    What are the Cambridge Architecture interviewers like?

    My Cambridge Architecture interviews had a variety of interviewers – some were very friendly and warm whereas others were quite hard to read. However, remember to focus on what they are saying and your answers rather than their facial expressions. 

    The follow-up questions felt very free-flowing and conversational and were often based on what my previous answers were. 

    Are there any academic or challenging Architecture questions at the Cambridge interview?

    For my Architecture interview at Cambridge, I would say the challenging questions were those that required me to critically think and analyse pictures of buildings that were presented to me. You do not need to be aware of all kinds of things about architecture in order to do this – the interviewers are just assessing your thought process. I was also asked about two books that I had mentioned in my personal statement but these were open ended questions.

    Are there any personality, work experience or extracurricular based Architecture questions at the Cambridge interview?

    In my subject specific interview for my Cambridge Architecture interview, I was asked further questions about any reading, work experience, competition achievements or study trips that I had carried out in my last few years of school. The interviewers also stressed on experiences that I had mentioned in my personal statement.
    I was also asked if I had any questions to ask the interviewers. 

    Top Tips for the Cambridge Architecture interview 

    • Read your personal statement: Knowing your personal statement in and out allows you to be prepared to answer any questions your interviewers might ask in relation to subjects you have touched upon in your essay. This could be certain architects, buildings or features of architecture that you have mentioned. 
    • Do not try and predict questions: While preparing for potential questions that can get asked in your interview is certainly useful, the majority of the questions you get asked on the actual day will be based on the responses you give to the initial questions. Rather than worrying about what the questions will be, focus on reading as much information as you can and knowing your material well. 
    • Practice talking to other people: Get friends, family members and teachers to ask you a wide range of questions. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your ideas with other people so that you are able to easily put your thoughts into words and simultaneously build up your confidence.
    • Don’t rush your answers: When asked a question in your interview, take a moment to think about how you want to approach the answer. Try not to rush your thinking process and focus on explaining the same process out loud to your interviewers, especially when you are asked a challenging question. They are also looking to assess your ability to critically arrive at an answer. 
    • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to challenge your interviewers on their ideas and views about architecture. It is impressive if you can demonstrate that you also respectively and productively disagree with someone as it highlights that you can actively engage in critical discourse. 

    Top Tips for the “Why Cambridge” interview question

    1. Research Cambridge and think about why you really want to go there – this cannot be simply because it is one of the world’s top universities. You should also find something unique or rare about Cambridge that makes you want to study there.
    2. You must also think about your specific subject. For Architecture, you should research the various aspects of the course, making sure to have a few ideas pointers in mind which motivate you to come to Cambridge to study.

    My favourite things about studying Architecture at Cambridge University 

    My favourite thing about studying Architecture at Cambridge University is the environment that is created in every tutorial. I love how I leave every tutorial feeling inspired. My peers and Oxbridge tutors alike are so passionate and full of ideas and tutors encourage and facilitate us sharing our ideas.

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