The History course allows candidates to cover a wide range of options from ancient to contemporary history, with a slight concentration on the history of the British Isles but with the possibility of studying most parts of the world.
The History Faculty is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. For more information about the History course at Cambridge, see the University website.
History FAQs with Mr Scott Mandelbrote
History at Peterhouse
Peterhouse historians such as Herbert Butterfield, David Knowles, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Tony Wrigley have played a prominent role in the intellectual development of the modern historical profession. The College currently has five Fellows in History and allied subjects who cover, between them, ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern history, and who teach a number of papers in British and European history, and the history of political thought. As a result, many supervisions in your first and second year, and some in your final year, will take place in College.
Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe specializes in late Roman history, with a focus on early Christian life and thought; Magnus Ryan works on the history of political ideas, especially in the Middle Ages, and the relationship between law and politics between roughly 1100 and 1600; Scott Mandelbrote’s interests range across early modern British and European intellectual history, in particular the history of scholarship and the history of science; Brendan Simms works on modern European history, with interests in the German Question, Britain and Europe, humanitarian intervention and state construction. Geraint Thomas is a historian of twentieth-century Britain with special interests in the social experience of democracy and state development.
The Peterhouse History Society meets regularly and is organized by our undergraduates. It invites distinguished speakers from outside Cambridge to talk about their work in an informal setting. The Ward Library – named after one of the editors of The Cambridge Modern History – houses one of the most complete collections of modern historical literature in the University, tailored to the needs of undergraduate historians.
Applicants for History will normally have studied some period of history to A level or equivalent; however A level History is not a requirement. One or more essay-based subjects are desirable, particularly if they have looked at topics from a historical perspective.
The application process
Candidates should expect two interviews. One interview will be based largely on discussion of written work – for this, we ask candidates to submit two examples of recent written work. For this, essays are preferable to a source-criticism exercise or similar. A second interview will consider the candidate’s comprehension and analysis of a short written text, which will have been made available to the candidate shortly before the interview. No preparation or specialist knowledge is required – we wish to assess how you read and cope with unfamiliar material of the kind that you will regularly encounter in your historical work as an undergraduate.
Applicants will sit the History Admissions Assessment (HAA) in November. The assessment lasts 60 minutes and asks candidates to compare two short extracts on a historical theme. Applicants do not need to register for this assessment in advance and will be contacted by the Admissions Office with further information. Sample papers and further information can be found on the University website.
Typical conditional offers
Our typical conditional offer for History is A*AA at A level. IB offers are usually for a minimum of 40-42 points, to include 776 or 777 at Higher level in relevant subjects. Offers are designed to be realistic, taking into account individual circumstances, and to reflect potential and likely levels of achievement. Most of those who receive offers will attain the grades required.