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Land Economy

Teaching Land Economy at St John's

Two people will interview you when you apply to study Land Economy at St John's. If you are successful, you will have been chosen as someone we think has the potential, ability and motivation to succeed here in this multi-disciplinary subject. One of our main jobs once you are a student here is to encourage you to realise that potential. In the Land Economy department, teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and supervisions. Lectures tend to be formal, but supervisions involve small group teaching in which there is direct interaction between student and supervisor. For instance, you will often have to write an essay or tackle a legal or economic problem and explain your reasoning. What we are looking for when interviewing are students who can write clearly, express their ideas verbally and demonstrate an aptitude for solving problems. Enthusiasm and an enquiring mind also count for a lot, since an innate interest in the subject and intellectual curiosity are both great motivators and good indicators of real academic potential in what is a broad but highly rewarding subject area.


The Department of Land Economy is an unusual Department in Cambridge terms because of its interdisciplinary nature. Its two primary disciplines are law and economics. Its main focus is land, property, urban and regional planning and environmental protection. Its teaching programme comprises a full three-year undergraduate course (Tripos). Students reading the Land Economy Tripos obtain in their first year a solid grounding in economics, including microeconomics and macroeconomics and areas of particular interest in relation to land, such as urban economics, regional economics, finance and investment analysis and environmental economics. 

Students also get a solid grounding in law. There are papers in Public Law and, in the second year, Law of Real Property, Private Law and Landlord and Tenant Law. In Part II (year 3) the courses build on these foundations and draw together the disciplines of law, economics and environment. The programme is rigorous. Students are introduced to complex theoretical debates and to their practical implications.

There is also considerable scope for original research in the form of a third-year dissertation. It is not a programme of vocational training, yet it has the advantage of recognition by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors under a special partnership scheme. The course also carries part-exemption (by application) from the requirements of the Law Society.

Land Economists at St John’s benefit in particular from a well stocked college library and from the generous book grants and financial support.

Entry Details

UCAS Code: KL41

Entry Requirements

No specific subjects required.

Application / interview procedure 

Those invited for interview will have two interviews, a general interview with the Tutor for the subject and a subject interview with the Director of Studies. The aim of these interviews, which last around 30 minutes each, is to find out from you at first hand about your motivation and aptitude for the course you have chosen. We conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them. Although the Director of Studies will naturally want to discuss subject-related questions with you, no special preparation is necessary, or indeed desirable. Typically the questions and discussion will explore issues such as: what drives and sustains global and local differences in human welfare and levels of economic development; the causes and consequences of urban agglomeration; sustainable development in the light of current concerns about the environment; and others, as these topics do not exhaust, or define, the possibilities. There is no attempt to catch candidates out by asking very detailed technical questions. The interview is not a test of memory, or of detailed factual knowledge. It is more concerned with exploring your ability to think through a particular problem, explore different dimensions and produce a coherent and well-founded answer. An aptitude for problem solving is something we would be looking for, and good quantitative skills with a solid capacity for mathematical or scientific thinking are a definite asset, combined with excellent writing skills.

At-Interview Assessment

Applicants who are invited to interview will sit the University’s At-Interview assessment for Land Economy. More information can be found on the University’s webpage for Admissions Assessments.

Further Information

Further Information

More detail on the Department and the Land Economy Tripos is available on the Departmental website. Further information regarding the Department Open Day is available by email or phone on (01223) 337147.