Education is one of the most powerful means for change and growth in the modern world. If you are interested in the psychology, politics or social and cultural contexts of education and learning, you can study it on the Education tripos at St John's College. 

Education at Cambridge

The course at Cambridge is a rigorous and rewarding interdisciplinary degree. You will follow one of three tracks, combining in-depth study of a particular field of interest with an examination of wider educational and social issues.


Course Outline

In your application (SAQ) you should indicate which track you are interested in studying.You attend four to six lectures and seminars and one or two hours of supervision per week in the first year. You are assessed at the end of each year. Depending on the papers studied, this will be through coursework, written examination, or a combination of both. In the third year all students also submit a dissertation.

Year 1 (Part IA):

You take four papers, including 2 compulsory Education papers:

  • Critical Debates in Education - introducing major themes in education and Faculty research

  • Language, Communication and Literacies - exploring the social, psychological and material context within which spoken language and literacy are developed

Your two remaining papers are determined by the track you are following:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Learning and Human Development and Introduction to Psychology

  • Education, Policy and International Development - Education, Global Inequalities and Social Justice, and a paper from choices in the Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) course

  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts Poetics, Aesthetics and Criticism; and either Drama Production or Literature and Culture.

Year 2 (Part IB):

In Year 2 you take five papers. Two are compulsory:

  • Designing Educational Research - introduction to the knowledge and skills to undertake educational research.
  • The Emergence of Educational Thinking and System - examines the earliest forms of ‘education’ in pre-modern societies globally and charts the rise of modern education systems and the thinkers that impacted them.


You choose your third from several other education topics.

The other two papers are dependent on the track you are taking:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Formal and Informal Contexts of Learning, and a psychology paper
  • Education, Policy and International Development - International Issues in Inclusion and Diversity in Education, and a paper from a list provided.
  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts - two of International Literatures, Arts and Cultures; Theatre Practice and Production; one paper from a range offered in the English course.

Year 3 (Part II):

You take five papers in the final year. All students take at least two papers on particular issues in education and write a dissertation of 8,000-10,000 words. For the fourth you can take another issue in education paper, submit a second dissertation, or choose a paper from the options in the other relevant courses.

Your final paper is track specific:

  • Education, Psychology and Learning - Education, Neuroscience and Society
  • Education, Policy and International Development - Critical Debates in Education, Policy and International Development
  • Education, English, Drama and the Arts - either Children's Literature, or Performance, Education, and Society


Teaching of Education at St John's

Dr Morag Morrison Helme

The Director of Studies and Fellow for Education at St John’s is Dr Morag Morrison-Helme. She will oversee your progress through the Education Tripos and arrange your supervisions. Dr Morrison-Helme supervises and lectures on undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses in Drama, Creativity and Arts Education and co-ordinates the MPhil in Arts, Culture and Education. Her research involves Applied Theatre and Arts Education pedagogy in schools, Nursing and Health Care education.

Your teaching and supervisions will be undertaken by a wide-range of world learning researchers of international standing in the field of Education, Sociology, Psychology, History and Philosophy. The Education tripos will suit any student who is interested in a flexible course that enables the study of more than one discipline. The Tripos offers the opportunity to continue onto the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, ranked as the best teacher training course in the country (The Good Teacher Training Guide 2017).

St John’s is an excellent choice if you wish to study Education. The College has a brilliant library and good student computing facilities. Apart from Scholarships and Prizes awarded for academic distinction, special book grants and funds for travel and courses and conferences are also available. These combine to make St John’s an excellent setting for undergraduate studies in Education. The College also has a number of post-graduate students pursuing PhDs in Education, and usually has several PGCE students a year who are training to be teachers.

Entry Details

UCAS Code: X300

Typical Entry Requirements

A Level: A*AA

International Baccalaureate: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Essential Subjects: Applicants for the Education, English, Drama and Arts track are required to have A-Level English Literature/English Literature and Language (or equivalent). 

Desirable Subjects: Generally applicants are welcomed with any combination of A Levels/IB or equivalent (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking). It is useful (but not essential) for applicants to have additional AS and A-levels in one or more of the social sciences, e.g. Sociology, Psychology and History.  

Submitted Work: None

At-interview Assessment: Education applicants will be required to sit an at-interview written assessment at the College.


Admissions Interviews

Details regarding the operation of admissions interviews in the 2020-2021 admissions round have yet to be confirmed. 

Further Information

Further Information

The Faculty of Education website contains full information for prospective applicants. If you are interested in the Education tripos, we strongly recommend you take the opportunity of coming to one of our Open Days and discussing the course with the Director of Studies, Dr Morag Morrison-Helme