History and Politics

History and Politics at Cambridge is an exciting Honours degree which offers subjects from our highly-regarded History and Politics and International Relations courses, together with bespoke papers which will allow students to explore the space between the two disciplines.

Students will develop skills in analysing the operation of power across institutions and societies around the world, and explore how different forms of evidence can be used to understand the past and the present. They will be able to choose from a wide range of topics in British, European, US and World history, the history of political thought, international relations, and comparative politics.

Cambridge is uniquely placed to teach History and Politics and International Relations together. Both Faculties are widely regarded as world-leading. 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. The Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) is a medium-sized department with about 30 academics with a huge range of specialisms. It has particular research strengths in international politics, international history and international law, comparative politics and political thought.

Staff in the Faculty of History and the Department of Politics and International Studies have a wide range of shared interests in political and international history, the origins of contemporary politics and international relations, and the history of political ideas. This new degree balances a strong grounding in the two component subjects with the opportunity to explore the ways in which historical and political understanding together illuminate the modern world. A relevant reading list, which may be of interest to those interested in Politics, is included on the HSPS page.

History FAQs with Mr Scott Mandelbrote

History and Politics at Peterhouse

Peterhouse historians such as Herbert Butterfield have played a prominent role in developing the fields of modern historical scholarship and the history of political thought. Our Director of Studies for History and Politics are Dr Geraint Thomas and Dr Magnus Ryan. Dr Geraint Thomas is a historian of twentieth-century Britain, with teaching interests spanning the political, social and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. Dr Magnus Ryan is a University Lecturer in the History Faculty, teaching the history of political thought, beginning with Plato and finishing in 1600, as well as general medieval European history from 900 to 1450.

The Peterhouse History Society and the Peterhouse Politics Society, organised by our undergraduates, meet regularly to hear from distinguished speakers from outside Cambridge. The Ward Library houses one of the most complete collections of historical and related material in the University, tailored to the needs of undergraduates studying History & Politics.


Course Requirements

Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both politics and history; they will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them. Strong applicants will probably 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

We ask all applicants in History and Politics to send us two examples of recent written work, which may be discussed at interview. Candidates should normally expect two interviews: one in History and one in Politics. The former 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. In either interview, candidates should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow.

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 and Politics will be 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.


Fellows & Lecturers

Dr Geraint Thomas
Fellow, Director of Studies (1st & 2nd years)
Dr Magnus Ryan
Fellow, Director of Studies (3rd years)