Chinese and Geography Cambridge Trinity College Interview Questions

Chinese 2005/ Geography 2007 at Cambridge Trinity College Interview Questions:

Trinity College/ Chinese – Dr Daruvala, Dr Steryx/

Geography – Dr Spencer, Dr Mawdsley ,

1st interview.

  • Asked to look at a sheet of Chinese characters and pick out a selection of characters to prove recognition skills

  • Probed in depth about books I had mentioned in my application. Interviewer tried to trick me several times to check I had read and understood the content. Then we discussed the region in which the book was set at length, including ethnic tensions, natural resources, domestic/ foreign policy.

  • Asked me to encapsulate in thirty seconds what I think summed China up.

  • Asked me to imagine what my existence as a factory worker in the cultural revolution would have been like.

  • Asked me to justify in detail why I wanted to take a gap year. Was I going to visit China? If so, why and how would it help me with the course.

2nd interview

  • My rationale for choosing Chinese and Trinity College

  • Where did I see myself in 10 years time

  • What I thought I could contribute to college life

  • When in my life, outside of my academic career, have I put all of my energies into a challenge to achieve my desired result

  • Which dynasty or period of history most interested me and why.

  • Why did I choose to read the books I mentioned in my letter; what did they teach me about the subject matter.

  • If I was going to write a book, what would I write about and why.

  • What are my interests outside of academics and how do I justify spending time on them.


  • What did I understand by the word Geography.

  • Is there any justification for studying the subject

  • Identify and explain a significant example of conflict over resources in the last hundred years.

  • What is a tribe and am I a member of one

  • What are the ethical arguments against being a vegetarian

  • If I was a British colonialist in 19th Egypt and wrote a travel diary, what sort of observations might I make.

  • How do people find directions in the Arctic and what are the potential effects of global warming upon their ability to find their way.

Advice for future candidates:

Be up to date with current affairs, the news etc. (The Economist, New York Times, Guardian are great places to start)

Know the content of your personal statement back to front.

Actually read the books you mentioned in your personal statement.

Don’t be too smart and don’t lie whatever you do. They will catch you out.