History and Modern Languages

Director of Studies: Dr Felix Waldmann and Dr Mark Darlow

Length of course: 4 years (with the third year abroad)

University Website

University Admissions Website

The joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area; options in some languages also include film and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.

The languages available for study are:

  • French (post A Level)
  • German (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Spanish (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Italian (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Portuguese (from scratch)
  • Russian (from scratch or post-A Level)

Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. 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 Modern Languages Faculty is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as the best. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages. 

History and Modern Languages at Christ’s College

There is a strong tradition of studying history at Christ's, and the subject boasts many prominent historians among its alumni and former fellows, such as J. H. Plumb (33rd Master), David Cannadine, Linda Colley, Quentin Skinner, Simon Schama. MML has an equally distinguished history; the 36th master of Christ's having been Malcolm Bowie, the internationally renowned specialist of modern French literature, including particularly Mallarmé and Proust. Professor Bowie is commemorated by the student-run 'Malcolm Bowie society'; undergraduate historians are members of the 'Seeley Society'. MML students have directors of studies in their specific language, whichever it is, thereby ensuring strong specialised support. Extracurricular MML activities range from twice-termly critical research seminars, fourth-year talks on their Year Abroad experiences and discussions on topics such as ‘Conflict Resolution’, to drinks parties and dinners, reinforcing bonds between students across the years and Fellows. Student-led initiatives such as MML formal halls further enhance the life of MML at Christ’s.

Student Profiles

Nik and Eebbaa, current students at Christ's, have written about their experiences of studying History and Modern Languages in their student profiles:

If you would like to read more accounts from Christ's students, please see the student profiles page. 

How to apply

We welcome applications from all backgrounds and school types. Details and a timeline for the application process can be found on the how to apply page, and if you'll be applying from outside the UK, there is also a dedicated section for international students. The information below provides the additional details specific to applicants for History and Modern Languages.

Subject requirements

All applicants should be studying at A-Level, IB Higher Level or equivalent in the language for which they are applying (unless you will be studying a language from scratch), and A-Level, IB Higher Level or equivalent in History. 

Applicants for a language from scratch who are not studying an ancient or modern language at A level, IB Higher Level or equivalent should be able to produce evidence of language ability to at least GCSE standard.

Pre-interview Assessment in History

Applicants for History and Modern Languages must sit a History pre-interview admissions assessment called the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA). This will take place in your school, college or local testing centre on 30 October 2019. The same assessment is used regardless of which College you have applied to. The Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA) examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, and forms part of our holistic admissions process: there is no set score that we are looking for. When applying, it is important to be aware of the registration and assessment dates:

  • All History and Modern Languages applicants applying in 2019 must be registered to take the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA) by 18:00 UK time on 15 October 2019. See how to be registered. Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre.
  • All History and Modern Languages applicants applying in 2019 sit the assessment on 30 October 2019.

Information about the assessment including example papers and subject content is available on the University Admissions website from March each year. Note that this History assessment is administered with four other subjects within the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment question booklet. Section 1 will have identical questions. Section 2 will have subject-specific questions. Please ensure you answer the appropriate question or questions for History in Section 2.

Written work

After your application is received, you will be asked to send us two essays that you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests. This should be work which has been prepared during the normal course of your studies and has already been marked by a teacher. One piece of work should be relevant to History, the other should be in the language for which you have applied (except for ab initio languages, in which case you should send an essay written in English). We recommend that you keep copies of the work you send for your own reference as it may be discussed at interview. Full written work guidelines will be provided as part of the current applicants section on this website (published by 20 September each year).


Applicants selected for interview in Cambridge are usually interviewed in December. Candidates invited for interview in Cambridge should normally expect two interviews, one in each subject. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow. Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section.

We also hold interviews in a number of locations overseas. If this may be relevant for you, please see the international students section .

At-interview Assessment in Modern Languages

History and Modern Languages applicants invited for interview sit the one-hour MML at-interview assessment, usually on the same day as interviews. Information about the assessment including example papers and subject content is available on the University Admissions website from March each year.


Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA at A-Level including History (and a Modern Language unless you are applying for an ab initio language) or 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects including History (and a Modern Language unless you are applying for an ab initio language).

The international students section has further information about typical offers for other qualifications. If you will have already finished school when you apply, please see the page for post-qualification applications

Further Information

If you are able to come to a College Open Day, we will be glad to tell you more about Christ's and the course in person. If you are not able to come, please feel free to email any queries you have to the Christ's admissions team: admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk.

We also recommend that you read:

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