History, BA History and Politics, BA History and Modern Languages

Director of Studies: Dr John Mueller

Course Overview

There are three ways to study History at Cambridge: as a single Honours subject, or jointly with either Politics or Modern Languages.

BA History

The course is divided into two parts: Part I (years 1 and 2) and Part II.

Part IA lasts one year and you take five papers. Two of these are outline papers which survey a long period and broad geographical area. You will also study a Sources paper, an Historical Thinking Paper and an Historical Skills paper.

In Part 1B (Year 2), you take four papers including two Topic papers, a Research Project and a second Historical Thinking paper.

In Part II (Year 3), you take five papers, three of which are compulsory:

  • Historical Thinking II – a general methods paper building on IA and IB, encouraging you to reflect critically on major historical concepts encountered throughout your degree. These range from empire to gender, and from revolutions to race.
  • a Special Subject – consisting of two papers (one assessed by a long essay of 6,000-7,000 words, the other by a written examination) that provide an opportunity for advanced in-depth study of an important historical period, process or problem (eg the Angevin Empire, Indian democracy, the Black Death, the history of Ireland) through detailed examination of primary sources

For your remaining papers, you can either choose two Specified Subjects from a selection of topics or comparable themes in history, or choose one Specified Subject paper and write a dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words on a topic you have devised.

Further information is available on the University and Faculty webpages.

BA History and Modern Languages

Year 1 (Part IA)

You receive intensive language training (including translation and conversation) and take an introductory paper on the literature, history, film and philosophy of the country where your language is spoken. You also choose one History Outline paper, which will introduce you to broad themes within a a substantial historical period. You will also study the Historical Thinking 1A paper, which investigates how historians work.

Year 2 (Part IB)

You continue with classes to improve your language skills, and also choose three advanced papers – a further paper related to your language, a History Topics paper and either an additional MMLL paper or the History 1B Research Project which allows you to carry out a small piece of independent research.

Years 3 and 4 (Part II)

Year 3

You spend the third year abroad – studying, teaching or on a work placement while gaining near-native proficiency in your language. You also complete a project, normally on a topic related to the history of the country you’re staying in.

Year 4

In the fourth year, you continue with advanced language work,  and take three specialised papers from a range of topics related to your language (eg literature, history, film, thought) and history (covering a variety of periods and parts of the world). You must take at least one from each subject. For further information about studying History and Modern Languages at the University of Cambridge see the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages website.

BA History and Politics

Year 1 (Part IA)

The first year provides a core grounding in historical knowledge, intellectual history, political science and international relations.

In Year 1, all students take three compulsory papers: Evidence and Argument; The Modern State and its Alternatives; and International Conflict, Order and Justice.

Your fourth paper is chosen from the following:

  • British Political History 1688-1886

  • British Political History Since 1880

  • European History 1715-1890

  • European History Since 1890

Year 2 (Part IB)

The second year offers more specialised papers in the history of political thought, international relations, comparative politics, and European and extra-European history.

You choose one of two History of Political Thought papers, either covering the period from the ancient Greeks to c1700, or c1700-c1890. For the second paper you take either International Organisation or Comparative Politics; and you select your third from four further history papers, covering periods of world history, American history or British social and economic history.

Your final paper is chosen from:

  • Statistics and Methods

  • Conceptual Issues in Politics and International Relations – exploring an aspect of politics and/or international relations (assessed by two 5,000 word essays)

  • a history project (leading to two 5,000 word essays)

Year 3 (Part II)

All students take an interdisciplinary paper that considers general and thematic issues in history and politics and the relationship between them.

You then choose three papers from a range from the Politics and International Relations and History courses which allow you to specialise further. The papers available each year may vary – see the website for those currently offered.

Alternatively, you can replace one of these three papers with a dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words on a topic of your choice within the scope of the course.

There is further information about the course on the University and Faculty webpages.

Entry Requirements

BA History:

Applications from mature students taking A levels or Access courses are welcome. There are no specific subject entry requirements for the course but most applicants have studied History at A level or in an equivalent qualification. Entry requirements can be found here. You will be asked to submit 2 pieces of written work as part of your application.

BA History with Modern Languages:

Applications from mature students taking A levels or Access courses are welcome. There are no specific subject entry requirements for the course but most applicants have studied History at A level or in an equivalent qualification You will be asked to submit 2 pieces of written work as part of your application – If you are applying for a post A-Level language, one of these pieces of written work should be in the language you intend to study. Applicants must hold A Levels or equivalent in their preferred language. Entry requirements can be found here.

BA History with Politics:

Applications from mature students taking A levels or Access courses are welcome. There are no specific subject entry requirements for the course but most applicants have studied History at A level or in an equivalent qualification. Entry requirements can be found here. You will be asked to submit 2 pieces of written work as part of your application.

Admissions Assessment

All applicants for the History, History with Modern Languages, and History and Politics Triposes at St Edmund’s will be required to take an admissions test a week or so before their interview.  Further information about this will be provided. You will be registered for the assessment by us if you are invited to interview; candidates do not need to register themselves.
Please note that your performance in the assessment at interview will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.