How to Get into Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) is a particularly competitive course at Cambridge University. Just 38% of applicants were accepted in 2021, so it’s important to ensure your application stands out to Cambridge’s admissions officers.

If you’re thinking of applying for AMES or just curious about what it takes to get in to study languages at Cambridge, this guide contains everything you need to know – from entry requirements to tips on how to prepare from our expert AMES tutors.

The Profs’ AMES tutors have first-hand experience of the admissions process and what is required to succeed at each stage. Thanks to our expert support, students who work with The Profs are more than three times more likely to receive an offer from Cambridge University. Reach out to our team today to maximise your chances of success.

What is Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES)?

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge is a flexible course that allows you to study one or more languages and cultures from across Asia and the Middle East. As well as learning a language from scratch, you will also be given the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the language and country you’re studying from world-leading experts.

The five main languages available to AMES students are:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Arabic
  • Hebrew
  • Persian

You may also have the opportunity to combine the study of one of these languages with a European language (Modern and Medieval Languages). Alternatively, if you’re studying a Middle Eastern language, you may have the option to study Hindi or Sanskrit as well.

What are the entry requirements for AMES?

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), like all courses at Cambridge, is very competitive. The course requires applicants to achieve excellent grades, ideally in a wide range of subjects, and show great academic potential. The table below shows the entry requirements for AMES:

A LevelsA*AA
Scottish/Advanced HighersA1, A2, A2
International Baccalaureate (IB)40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level.

Note that, although the A level entry requirements for AMES are A*AA, for the entry years 2017, 2018, and 2019, the 73% of entrants achieved at least A*A*A – one grade above the entry requirements. For the same period, the majority of IB entrants achieved at least 43 points overall and/or grades 776 at Higher Level.

Worried that you won’t achieve the necessary grades to study Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge? The Profs’ A level and IB tutors can help. We have extensive experience helping students excel in their coursework and final exams and achieve the entry grades for this competitive course. Reach out to our team for support.

Which subjects are recommended?

There are no subjects you are required to have studied to apply for AMES at Cambridge. 

Cambridge states that it is “useful preparation” for the AMES course if applicants have an A level or IB Higher level in English Language, English Literature, History, and/or a Language (Ancient or Modern). Hence, Cambridge is likely to favour candidates who have this background. 

Accordingly, nearly all successful applicants (95%) took at least one of English (Language, Language & Literature, or Literature), History, or a language at A level, so it is highly recommended that you have studied at least one of these subjects to maximise your chances of an offer. 

Please note: if you are applying to study a European language as well as an Asian or Middle Eastern language, you will be required to have studied the European language to A-level or equivalent. In contrast, all Asian and Middle Eastern languages are taught from scratch, so there’s no requirement to have studied them before.

Which admissions test do you need for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES)?

Most applicants to Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge are not required to sit an admissions assessment. 

However, if you are applying to study a European language in combination with AMES, you must take the necessary MML (Modern and Medieval Languages) assessment.

Typically, applicants are not asked to submit written work but some college, though some colleges might ask for this. If this is required, details will be provided when you are invited to an interview and you will be asked to do some reading in advance. Contact the relevant college admissions office if you have any questions.

Need help with a language or with written work? Our expert tutors specialise in Cambridge admissions. We can help.

How hard is it to get into AMES at Cambridge?

Getting into Cambridge to study Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) is no mean feat. Not only do you need to achieve grades above the entry requirements, but you also need to perform well in the interview. In 2021, there were 3 applications for every 1 place available, meaning around only one third of applicants are successful.

The Profs’ Oxbridge admissions tutors can help you triple your chances of getting into Oxford to study Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES). Thanks to our network of experienced tutors, many of whom are Oxbridge graduates and ex-admissions officers themselves, we have the very latest and best knowledge on what Cambridge is looking for in top AMES applicants. Get in touch with us today to chat with a member of our team about how we can help you.

What are the fees for AMES at Cambridge?

The table below shows the fees for Cambridge’s Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) course for both home (UK) and overseas students:

Student statusCourse fees (per year)

You can find out more information about what fees you will pay on Cambridge’s fee status page. You can also use Cambridge’s fees, funding and financial assistance page to see the funding options available to you.

4 tips on how to get into Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) at Cambridge

1. Prepare thoroughly for each stage of the admissions process

When applying to study AMES at Cambridge, there are many stages of the admissions process to consider, and you should prepare for each one thoroughly.

  • Your grades – preparation for your AMES application really starts from the moment you begin your GCSEs and A-levels (or equivalent). An excellent academic track record is essential in order to be considered for a place at Cambridge, so you should be aiming for A*AA in your A-levels (or equivalent) as a minimum and A*A*A for the best chance of an offer.
  • Your UCAS application – the first official stage of your AMES application is completing your UCAS application online. As well as your grades, this includes your personal statement. This is the first chance you’ll get to showcase your suitability for AMES and prove to Cambridge that you are interested and committed to the subject areas. For tips on how to write a great personal statement, read our helpful guideYour personal statement needs to stand out from the crowd and be as specific as possible to AMES and Cambridge itself. Why are you the perfect fit for this course at Cambridge? Check out our previous article on how to write a winning personal statement.
  • Your MyCapp application – the MyCapp is another application form that’s unique to Cambridge which asks for some extra academic and personal information. It also offers the opportunity for you to submit a second personal statement which specific and unique to the AMES course at Cambridge University. You should NOT copy/paste your UCAS personal statement into this box; in fact, it would be better to write nothing. You should write directly to Cambridge. Yes, there’s more effort and work involved in writing a whole new statement but the MyCapp is an invaluable chance to stand out and sell yourself as the perfect candidate. A lot of students overlook the MyCapp application and waste or misuse their second personal statement, don’t make the same mistake! Read out previous article on the MyCapp and reach out to our expert admission tutors.
  • The admissions test/written work, if required – if you’re required to complete a test or written work, it’s important that you prepare for this in advance with an expert who knows what the examiners will be looking for. Your performance could dictate whether you get an offer. Reach out to The Profs’ admissions consultants for more information on this.
  • The interview – if your UCAS application is impressive enough, you may be invited for an interview at Cambridge. This is your last chance to impress the university and prove that you are an excellent candidate for the course. Oxbridge interviews are like oral admissions tests and there is often even a mark scheme your interviewers will be scoring you against, so it’s important to seek professional help to prepare effectively. We have a guide on completing Oxbridge interviews here. Oxbridge interviews are far different from most other university interviews and require a very specific approach, we have a lot of experience and inside information on exactly what Oxbridge interviewers are looking for.

Need some help with any of the steps above? We have experts for each niche: GCSE tutors, A level tutors, personal statement tutors, and interview tutors. We can help you smash each and every step.

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

2. Do your research on the course

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge is an extremely varied course that allows students plenty of freedom and flexibility when it comes to choosing what they study. It’s therefore important to do plenty of research on what the course entails, what your options are, and how the course will benefit you. Indicate what pathway you want to take and what modules you’re interested in choosing to show that you are truly dedicated to this course. 

That said, you don’t necessarily have to decide which language you’d definitely like to take – AMES is designed to be flexible and you can always change your mind when it comes to starting the course. However, being informed about the languages available and what studying AMES will help you to achieve will demonstrate to your admissions officers that you are a well-suited candidate. It will also show initiative and independence – qualities that are particularly important for studying at one of the top universities in the UK.

Go further by studying some of the concepts in the first and second-year modules that interest you, and get started on the reading lists. Demonstrate to Cambridge that you are already able to study AMES at university level.

Research AMES professors and the department itself and consider mentioning research, achievements or awards that excite you and why. How would you like to contribute to this department at Cambridge? Why do you want to study this course? What research or exploration would you pursue? Better yet, link this back to how this degree could shape your career or future as an academic.

3. Demonstrate a genuine interest in languages and cultures

While you won’t necessarily need to have decided which language and culture you’d like to study on the AMES course, it is important that you show a genuine interest in languages and cultures more generally. You should develop a solid understanding of what is included in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and what your options are.

You’re likely to have learnt little to nothing about Asian or Middle Eastern cultures in your school studies, even if you studied a language, History, or another related subject at A level. That’s why it’s particularly important to develop this interest and knowledge in your own time. You can do this in a variety of ways, including reading non-fiction books, keeping up to date with news throughout Asia and the Middle East, listening to informative podcasts, watching relevant documentaries and YouTube videos, and more. 

Also, take theory and apply it to current events. Show that you have the independent faculties to use your academic knowledge to process the world around you and that you want to. Appearing curious, stimulated and enthusiastic will present you as the type of student Cambridge’s AMES course wants.

For inspiration on what to read, you can look to Cambridge’s recommended reading lists. These introductory readings are tailored to each language/culture offered by Cambridge:

The best preparation is for you to explore yourself what interests you about the language and culture you choose to study.

You can appear like a keen and dedicated student by referencing a couple of the books from the above links to show that you’ve read Cambridge’s suggested reading list. But it’s best if you can go beyond their reading list and demonstrate independent thought by linking one or two of these texts to some more niche texts that you found yourself. Go beyond your syllabus by studying less-known and obscure subjects and/or texts. 

Cambridge wants to see that you are unique in the way you think and that you are an independent learner because this is a good indicator that you will remain enthusiastic and committed to your course throughout your degree!

Feeling overwhelmed by all the preparation? Unsure whether you’re doing the right things? We have skilled AMES tutors as well as Cambridge admissions tutors who can help you submit the perfect application.

4. Seek help from a Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) expert

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) is a competitive course at Cambridge and requires you to perform well in multiple stages to be in with a chance of securing an offer. Unfortunately, schools and colleges are oftentimes not equipped to provide specialist AMES or Cambridge admissions preparation due to a lack of experience, expertise or resources. As a result, we advise seeking a professional AMES or Cambridge admissions tutor to help you through the process.

The Profs’ Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) tutors have many years of experience helping students develop their academic profiles, prepare for the admissions exam, and excel in the admissions interview. Many of our Cambridge admissions tutors have studied at Cambridge or worked in Cambridge admissions. If you work with one of The Profs’ tutors, you are over three times more likely to get into Cambridge. 

Gain invaluable independent study skills that will prepare you for study at an elite UK university, as well as a deeper and broader understanding of a range of X concepts and critical thinking approaches. Reach out to our experienced team today to get started.