Students attend master classes at Cambridge University

Over the last two weeks, Corpus Christi – a constituent college of the University of Cambridge – held multiple subject Masterclasses for A level students to attend via Zoom. Subject masterclasses spanned across many different areas including Philosophy, Engineering, Geography and Medicine. In the Easter holidays, 8 King’s Academy students attended their respective classes in order to gain an understanding of their subject in further detail, discover more about university life at Corpus Christi and have any queries they had about their subject or Cambridge, answered. Our KA students who attended these masterclasses have all reported positive feedback about their experiences.

On Monday 29th of March, I attended the Philosophy masterclass as I am interested in possibly studying it at University. It wasn’t a subject I was overly knowledgeable of, having never studied it at school/ college, but this Masterclass gave me an overview and detailed understanding of the course. The first subject talk was on the topic of ‘Three Problems of Truth’. This was an interesting beginning to the topic of Logic that focused around the idea of ‘propositions’ and the issues faced by this simplified principle. For example, the statement ‘what I am saying now is false’ is a particularly challenging problem due to its contradictory nature. Though the initial introduction of proposition was rather basic, when looking into the issues, it became intriguing and puzzling. Audience participation was welcomed, so many of the participants (including myself) raised ideas, queries and asked questions to develop their understanding and engage with the topic. The talk was led by John, a philosopher at the college, who also gave out recommended texts/ philosophers to further our philosophy knowledge, such as Descartes, J.S. Mill and the book ‘Think’ by Simon Blackburn.

After a short break the masterclass continued with a Q&A with current undergraduate students, followed by a virtual tour of the college. The Q&A was extremely useful for learning about life at Corpus Christi as well as delving further into the topic of philosophy, the core modules and tips on, for example, how to prepare for university learning. The virtual tour, which can be accessed via Corpus Christi’s website, was a significant part of the masterclass since it allowed us to see the workings of the college and gain a proper understanding of how academic, social and everyday life was at this prestigious university.

The third element of the masterclass focused on making a competitive application to Cambridge University and the 3 main parts of the application process (personal statement, examination and interview). The most pertinent piece of advice was to be truly passionate about your subject and be prepared to discuss it in the interview, as well as to be an approachable and teachable student. This talk was incredibly useful as it gave a framework for Cambridge preparations and the ways to possibly be accepted. King’s Academy student Emma Walton also said that “the talk about the interview process was helpful as it shed some light on what it would be like and how we should prepare for it.”

The final section of the masterclass was a second subject talk, this time on ‘The Nature of Self Deception’. This was an intriguing discussion into the realm of human-nature and the conflicts in the understanding of self-deception. Self-deception is a unique part of ourselves, where we take on the role of the deceiver as well as the victim, which creates the Static Paradox – how can one person hold contradictory beliefs? As well as the Dynamic paradox – how can one deceive oneself without rendering one’s intentions ineffective? Such thoughts became increasingly interesting to me as the talk went on and it really engrossed me in the subject of philosophy, as these masterclasses did for the other King’s Academy students, in their respective subjects.

A level student Francis Sayer said that “it was a very insightful event, looking into careers beyond what is taught in the A-level curriculum. The evolutionary robotics talk was particularly interesting, understanding its use and development in current fields of research, and its progress towards possible applications in the future. I have undeniably benefited from the university application discussion, and I am pleased to have taken part in such a thoroughly enjoyable experience.” These classes have proven to be immensely inspiring to our students when considering their futures.

This was particularly the case for Greg Dixon – “I think the experience was very inspiring and allowed me to realise that medicine is the course I definitely want to continue onto after Sixth Form. I think being given the opportunity to gain tips for the application and interview stage directly from the Admissions Office was definitely a highlight of the day, and now I feel more ready to write my application for UCAS”.

For our students aspiring to apply to prestigious universities such as Cambridge, these masterclasses have given a useful insight into their possible futures and allowed them to progress in their university decision process. I, for one, have benefitted greatly from this experience and have a stronger idea of my post-18 education pathway. I would like to thank Corpus Christi for giving us this opportunity, as all our students are grateful to have been given the chance to delve deeper into their chosen subjects and come to crucial conclusions regarding their education.

By Nathan Gamble

The King's Academy