Course Directory

A zoology student extracts DNA from a sample.The Speech and Debate class final debate in the Cambridge Union.
Our students choose any two courses on the following pages, one as a MAJOR course and one as a MINOR. Major courses meet six mornings a week and, depending on the course, include in-class time for fieldwork, labs, workshops, guest speakers, group discussions, and one-on-one instruction. They also include homework and require project and preparation time outside of class. Minor courses meet three afternoons a week, with no homework and all work contained within the class session. A Minor course offers a sample of a different subject than the Major and most students find their Minor a welcome opportunity to try a new subject for the first time.


There is no final application deadline. We accept applications on a rolling basis until a program is full, but we do have Course Guarantee Dates. Students who apply to The Cambridge Tradition on or before January 20, 2017 and are accepted to the program have their first choice of courses guaranteed, subject to enrollment minima. As we begin receiving applications in September, we recommend that students apply as soon as possible for courses that may fill early.


  • Through frequent visits to museums and galleries to study canonical works, students receive a broad introduction to major schools of art and art theory, with special emphasis placed upon exploring a variety of critical and analytical approaches. Students learn to read works of art and analyze them according to different historical, cultural, and visual criteria.

  • This course examines some of the great works of English literature amidst the evocative surroundings of Cambridge. Students engage with a wealth of writers in the literary pantheon to improve their skills in close reading and clear, persuasive writing. Each student engages in a study of a Shakespeare play and presents a special project in the final week.

  • From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Joyce’s Ulysses, via Plato’s Symposium and Machiavelli’s Prince, each class addresses one of humanity’s canonical texts. By combining close readings of key extracts, examinations of the social and intellectual contexts that generated the texts, analyses of the authors’ intentions, of the texts’ reception, and of their long-term influence, students emerge with a renewed understanding of the history and evolution of the ideas that have formed the world.

  • Students analyze the people and processes that have shaped contemporary societies since 1750. A rich spread of historical topics touches upon everything from the fights for mastery in Europe to the Space Race. In the uniquely academic setting of Cambridge, students can expect this course to develop their analytical and rhetorical skills as well as their understanding of the present.

Sciences & Social Sciences

  • Addressing the omnipresence of advertising and marketing, students assess the power of suggestion, persuasion, and product placement. Using a range of case studies and creative examples, they explore early salesmanship, modern advertising, branding, and the use of new media. Balancing creative skills with business acumen, they engage in branding exercises, interactive sales games, and the design and development of their own advertising campaign.

  • Aerospace Engineering is about the creation of aircraft and spacecraft – quite literally “rocket science!” Participants examine the disciplines most important to the industry, including aerodynamics, electronics, mechanics, operations systems, statistics, and thermodynamics. The course culminates with the replication of real design offices of either aircraft or spacecraft companies. Students go through every stage in the creation of a new vehicle, including aerodynamic profiling, engine sizing, and structural design.

  • How do people make the most financial assets, whether as private individuals or as managers of massive hedge funds? Students on this course are introduced to asset management - its evolution, rules, and strategies. They test different approaches by overseeing their own investment portfolios during the month. These include how to invest in bonds, commodities, equities, and property, as well as radical approaches such as art. The controversial role hedge funds have played in transforming returns on assets is also discussed.

  • Cambridge is the ideal observatory from which to explore fundamental questions about the universe. How did it begin, and what is our place within it? What is time, and will it ever come to an end? This course takes students on a journey through space, from the infinitesimally small components of atoms to the unimaginably large. It addresses topics including the Big Bang, galaxy formation, the history of our own solar system, orbital mechanics, and string theory.

  • Mixing economics with psychology and game theory, this course seeks to understand what drives individual economic decisions. What psychological and emotional factors induce people to buy a $5 cup of coffee? How can we explain consumers’ decisions when they depart from the expectations of standard economic models? How do risk and uncertainty impact people’s spending? Students investigate areas such as luxury goods, healthcare, insurance, and labor.

  • Students learn how to solve problems and design algorithms, and work on translating these algorithms into functional computer programs. Exploring this rapidly-evolving craft exposes them to the various careers in computing and how machines will shape the future. They work in teams to identify a need, develop a concept, work out user requirements, and create a design which they transfer to the screen. Lab fee of $150 US for the Major, $75 US for the Minor.

  • Through workshops, debates, and visits to police stations and criminal courts, students explore individual and social theories of crime, philosophies of punishment, criminal profiling, incident analysis, and basic forensic science. They consider the causes of crime, the influence of the media upon crime, and issues of race and gender within the context of the British and American criminal justice systems.

  • Cambridge has produced almost as many eminent economists as it has scientists. Students follow in the footsteps of John Maynard Keynes and Amartya Sen, and are introduced to the theories that govern contemporary economic thought. They also discover the fundamentals and methodologies of economic modeling. They go on to test their knowledge against contemporary economic problems in order to understand how the world economy might evolve.

  • Students learn the principles of engineering science. Both world-renowned and local examples are examined, and the findings are applied to a variety of case studies to solve mechanical, structural, and architectural problems. They complete the course by designing a model engineering project of their own.

  • At the University from which the Cambridge Five were recruited, and in which the world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond, studied, this course, which blends politics and history with practice, examines the methods and techniques of the great intelligence services – Mossad, the KGB, the CIA, MI5, and MI6. Students address the future of intelligence operations, the challenges of field work, and the ethics of espionage in terms of international cooperation, competition, and conflict.

  • Students learn about the instruments and institutions that make up the modern economy and are vital to budding entrepreneurs, such as bonds, capital markets, derivatives, and stock markets. They also familiarize themselves with the principles of corporate accounting and reporting that assist businesses in their decision-making processes. Major course projects include real-life case studies, a stock exchange investment competition, and the design of a start-up.

  • In the university that cracked the DNA code, students discover the exciting disciplines that are transforming medicine. Working on projects with researchers, they discover medical genetics, genetic linkage, DNA manipulation, sequencing, genomics, and study inherited diseases. They go on to analyze the factors underlying diseases and explore the significance of, and ethical issues surrounding, genetic engineering, cloning, and gene therapy.

  • Students explore the tools and structures of international commerce, focusing on free enterprise, economic development, and engagement with the global marketplace. Visiting the renowned Cambridge Judge Business School, students obtain first-hand experience of a cutting-edge business education. Course projects include real-life case studies, a stock exchange investment game, and the design of a start-up venture.

  • This course addresses International Relations through its theoretical bases and by focusing on key current issues. Subjects covered include globalization and its political, economic, and social effects; environmental challenges; new forms of war and peace; the changing nature of security challenges; mass-migration; the complexities of areas like the Middle East and South-East Asia; and the relationships and rivalries that define global order today.

  • Students discover how the British and American legal systems reflect the values and institutions of their respective societies. They consider precedent-setting cases and delve into various branches of legal practice. Through meetings with lawyers, legal scholars, and human rights advocates, and through visits to working courtrooms, they discover how lawyers turn theory into practice. The Major course culminates in a formal moot court competition.

  • This hands-on course introduces students to key aspects of medical science and modern medical practice. Combining specialist lectures with experiments and class discussions, students learn the principles of human anatomy and physiology, the pathology and significance of certain diseases, the main challenges that medical science faces today, and are introduced to the wide and growing range of possible careers in medicine.

  • Students examine the development of medicine with a focus on neuroscience. They learn the main principles of cognitive psychology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, clinical methods and practices, and study the technology behind such diagnostic tools as CT and MRI scanners.

  • Students investigate a wide range of psychological topics, including dreams, memory, consciousness, anxiety, body language, gender, and sexuality. Alongside, they uncover the history of the subject, study case histories, learn about various mental disorders, and different research methodologies. They go on to design their own experiments under the guidance of research specialists and practicing clinicians.

  • This course examines the history of the discipline, its main exponents, and its potential spin-offs in everyday life. Students assess its impact on individual performance as well as on teams facing choices that can bring them shame or glory. Other topics include why athletes so often fail to cope with life after the limelight, controversies surrounding performance-enhancing drugs and the extent to which they are state sponsored, and the effects of sports on fans.

  • What does it mean to solve a problem? What makes a mathematical solution watertight? And how does mathematical proof contrast with evidence in science or engineering? In this interdisciplinary course, participants explore the process of solving mathematical conundrums by engaging with key historical issues and moments in the subject. This twin approach provides the basis for examining the work of famous mathematician-philosophers, such as George Pólya and Imre Lakatos, on the nature of problem-solving itself.

  • This course examines the spectacular diversity of animal forms and behavior in the natural world. Students take trips in the surrounding countryside, through nature trails, and to Cambridge University’s Museum of Zoology. These complement coverage of molecular biology, natural selection, animal communication, theories of instinct and innate behavior, imprinting, predation, protection, and behavioral development.

Production & Workshop

  • Cambridge’s beauty provides students with the perfect environment in which to find inspiration, appreciate architectural history and aesthetics, and improve their design and model-making skills. They develop a portfolio of sketches before turning ideas and designs into three-dimensional models to display in the program’s Arts Exhibition. Lab fee of $150 US for the Major; $75 US for the Minor.

  • Students compose fiction and poetry under the guidance of a published writer, with Cambridge’s rich literary history as their inspiration. They explore their own potential by experimenting with new forms and styles of writing. Successful poets and writers give workshops in which students learn about the creative process and the practicalities of publication. Students develop a portfolio of their best writing and collaborate to design, edit, and publish a literary magazine.

  • Taught by classically-trained actors and directors, and addressing areas as diverse as improvisation, mime, movement, script analysis, technique, theory, and voice, students master the nuances of Shakespearean verse and interpretation in order to prepare for a full performance at the end of the program. From auditions and casting to rehearsals and the final curtain call, Major class students participate in a full-scale Shakespeare production in the same way as a professional repertory company. Production fee of $125 US for Majors only.

  • The course is an introduction to and appreciation of creative photography with the emphasis on a practical and hands-on approach to black and white photography. Class time includes lectures and discussions on technical, aesthetic and theoretical aspects of photography. The students receive one-on-one instruction and regular critiques of their work. Visits to galleries and viewing other photographic works form an integral part of the course. Students spend a substantial amount of time taking photographs and in the darkroom developing and printing their assignments and learning a variety of darkroom techniques. There is an exhibition of the student’s best work at the end of the course, which the students curate and hang, and to which all the student body and faculty are invited.

  • Students practice major debating styles and strategies, engage in daily speaking exercises, orations, dialogues, and prepare and present regular debates. The culmination of the course is a formal debate in the historic debating chamber of The Cambridge Union Society. It is the oldest of its kind in the world, having been founded in 1815.

  • Students on this course spend much of their time outside the studio. They sketch medieval towers, capture pastoral landscapes, practice their portrait skills, and discover masterpieces in locations like the Fitzwilliam Museum. Meanwhile they receive formal, professional instruction in sketching and painting in a variety of media. Their best work is exhibited at the end of the program. Materials fee of $250 US for Majors; $150 US for Minors.