Number of students per year
Typical offer

The minimum offer is A*AA at A-level, or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) from Higher Level subjects in the IB. For other qualifications, please see the University entrance requirements page.

Essential subjects


Useful subjects

You may find Mathematics and writing intensive, essay-based subjects to be good preparation.

​Written work

Two essays will be required. We understand that not all applicants will currently be studying philosophy, so any discursive essay written at school that you think best exemplifies your work would be acceptable. These essays should not normally have been written specially for this purpose, and they should have been marked by a member of your school/college staff. That said, we understand that your most recent schoolwork may not have been marked. If this is the case, please do not worry - your application will not be disadvantaged in any way if you submit work to us that has not been marked.

We also understand that in some cases philosophy applicants may not be studying any essay-based subjects at school. Under such circumstances you may choose to submit an older piece of essay-based work, or you may elect to write something specifically for this purpose.

Philosophy at Clare

Clare College is just a stone's throw from the Sidgwick Site, where the Philosophy Faculty is located and where most philosophy lectures and classes take place.

The College library is well stocked with core readings in philosophy, and we have access to a strong network of supervisors from across the University who will be able to support learning across the full syllabus.

Cambridge University has an especially distinguished place in the history of 20th-century philosophy. It was here, in the early years of the century, that Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Frank Ramsey and others developed the analytic style of philosophy that is now prominent throughout the world.

The Faculty of Philosophy at Cambridge retains a strong commitment to this analytic style, though this does not preclude active study and teaching of the history of philosophy from Socrates to Nietzsche, and of such subjects as aesthetics and political philosophy.

Visit the University's subject page for more information.

Dr Tim Lewens' advice for prospective applicants: Philosophy is a subject that not everyone has the opportunity to study at school. If you are in that situation (or even if you are studying for A-level) then there are plenty of other ways to engage with the subject. You could start a philosophy club and work through a book or an online talk with friends. And if you are stuck for resources there are great podcasts, such as Philosophy Bites, or the more philosophical episodes of In Our Time; there are introductory books, such as Simon Blackburn’s Think; and of course you can read the classics. You will learn a lot if you read Descartes’ Meditations, or even something much more recent like Parfit’s Reasons and Persons. But also consider looking at texts that bring philosophy into dialogue with the problems posed by medicine, science and technology: books like O’Neill’s Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics; or Douglas’s Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal.

Tom McClelland image

My research covers a range of overlapping topics in philosophy of cognitive science, metaphysics, aesthetics and applied ethics. My introductory book What is Philosophy of Mind? is available from Polity Press. I'm currently focussing on the concept of affordances for mental action. Long-standing work in philosophy and psychology suggests that we see our environment in terms of the bodily actions we can perform in it e.g. you might perceive a teapot as affording gripping. I suggest we also see our environment in terms of the mental actions available to us. That is, you might perceive affordances to attend, to imagine, to deliberate etc.

College Research Associate
Clare College

From 2016 to 2019 Professor Lewens was an investigator on a large, multi-institution project 'Putting the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis to the Test', funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

He was also Principal Investigator for the ERC-funded project A Science of Human Nature? (2011–2016). From 2009 to 2015 he was a Council Member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and served on the working parties for two Nuffield Council reports: Novel Techniques for the Prevention of Mitochondrial DNA Disorders: An Ethical Review (June 2012), and Human Bodies: Donation for Medicine and Research (October 2011).

TIM LEWENS Philosophy
Director of Studies in Philosophy