Human, Social and Political Sciences

If you're interested in studying Social Anthropology, International Relations, Politics or Sociology at Cambridge, this course lets you explore a wide variety of subject combinations and specialist options. All lead to a world-class degree which equips you with highly sought-after skills.

Why study Human, Social and Political Sciences at Christ's?

This Cambridge degree is supported by excellent teachers and resources, including two dedicated subject libraries and the city's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. On this course you develop attributes desired by all kinds of employers: analytical and critical skills, intellectual versatility, multicultural sensitivity and an international outlook.

Recent graduates have gone on to careers in research (both academic and policy research), Civil Service (including Foreign Office), journalism, management consultancy, museums, conservation and heritage management, national and international NGOs and development agencies, the law, teaching, publishing, health management and PR.


Course content and structure

What makes this three-year degree (or 'tripos') so flexible is that you can pursue your own interests by choosing to follow different tracks through the course.

Please visit the University website for full details of the Human, Social and Political Sciences course content and structure.



Teaching is in lectures and seminars at the University. Some subjects also include practical or laboratory classes and fieldwork. You also have weekly ‘supervisions’ – small group teaching sessions organised by your Director of Studies to provide personalised feedback on your work. Christ’s Directors of Studies on this course are: 

  • Professor Susan Bayly Social Anthropologist whose research focuses on colonialism and its cultural afterlife in Asia's former French and British colonies  
  • Professor Duncan Bell Specialist in history of modern political thought and contemporary (international) political theory

Other Fellows in HSPS:

  • Professor Sarah Franklin a world-leading expert on the social aspects of reproductive and genetic technologies, IVF, cloning, embryo research, and stem cells 
  • Dr Sean Fleming interested in the extension of ‘artificial personhood’ to non-corporate entities, such as nature and robots 
  • Dr Geoffrey Ingham University Emeritus Reader in Sociology and Political Economy 
  • Dr Giovanni Mantilla interested in international relations theory and the history of international law
  • Dr Rosie Jones McVey is a social anthropologist with research interests in the anthropology of ethics, human/animal relations, and cognition
  • Dr Nazmul Sultana political theorist with particular interests in the history of anticolonial political thought, popular sovereignty, and empire and international thought


Student Q&A film
  Watch the Christ's student Q&A film

What do our students think?

Roslynn, Jack, Diana, Rufus and Fred study Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) here at Christ's College. They have written about their experiences of studying HSPS in their student profiles:

If you would like to hear more from Christ's students, please watch the Christ's student Q&A film, and visit our Student Profiles page.

How to apply to Christ's College

Visit How to Apply for full details and a timeline of the application process. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and school types, all over the world. If you're applying from outside the UK, please read our international students section.


For students applying this year, once you have submitted your UCAS application, information for the next stages is in the current applicants section. For information specific to Human, Social and Political Sciences applicants, you'll see that included in Stage 3: Information for 22 Oct – 5 Nov, there is subject information, which will be updated as details for this year become available. Note that there may be changes this year to some details below (which sets out what normally happens).

Subjects: what do I need?

You don't need to take any specific subjects to study HSPS, though it can help if your subjects relate to the course you hope to specialise in. For example, if you're interested in Social Anthropology, take History or Sociology. That said, most subjects are relevant and we welcome a mix of science and arts subjects.

Written work

After we receive your application, we ask you to send us two essays you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests. One should be work written during the normal course of your studies and already marked by a teacher. The other should have been written under timed conditions. We recommend you keep a copy for your own reference, as we may discuss them at interview.

We publish full guidelines on written work in the Current Applicants section on 20 September each year.


University-wide statement: In order to minimise Covid-related risks to our applicants, students and staff in the coming undergraduate admissions round, we are making plans to interview applicants this year without requiring them to travel to Cambridge in December. We will release further details about alternative arrangements as soon as we can. This does mean that there may be changes to the details of interviews below (which sets out what normally happens).

If we invite you for interview in Cambridge, you usually have two academic interviews late November or early December.

Read the information and watch the short films on Cambridge admissions interviews for an idea of what to expect when you come. We also hold interviews in various locations overseas for international students.

There will be no Admissions Assessment taken at interview for HSPS at Christ's College.


At Christ's we don't have fixed quotas for places. In HSPS we admit 4 to 6 students each year.

Our typical conditional offer is:

  • A*AA at A-level
  • 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects
  • If you're taking another qualification, we expect you to be working at or close to the top of the mark range i.e.
    • Option Internationale du Baccalaureat: at least 17/20 overall, with 17 or 18 in relevant subjects
    • European Baccalaureate: at least 85% overall, with 9/10 in relevant subjects

Read about offer levels in other exam systems and international entrance requirements.

If you will have finished school when you apply, read about post-qualification applications


Helpful resources

Introductory reading list This list is designed to give you a brief introduction to any of the subjects in HSPS, to help you find out more about what you might like to study.  It can be used to prepare for interview, but is not required reading. 
What is Social Anthropology?  An introduction from the Department of Social Anthropology
The Cambridge Social Anthropology podcast Cambridge podcast on social anthropology
Talking Politics Cambridge podcast on politics
An introduction to International Relations Cambridge Subject Masterclass talk
What we learned from the 2019 election Cambridge Subject Masterclass talk
Student views and sample lecture From the Department of Politics and International Studies
Thinking Allowed BBC Radio 4 Sociology series
Student testimonals From the department of Sociology

HE+ Politics
HE+ Sociology

Resources for secondary school students who would like to explore.
Essay Competitions Entering an essay competition is a good way to find out more about a relevant topic and get some extra practice in writing a convincing and well-structured essay.
Orwell Youth Prize, Trinity College R.A. Butler Politics Prize, British Sociological Association Competition
Model United Nations Exercises developing public speaking and negociation skills as well as knowledge of current affairs.
CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working


Come to an Open Day or Online Event

Online events: Our open days and events page advertises online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge.

If you'd like to find out more about Christ's and discuss the Human, Social and Political Sciences course in person, come and see us on a College Open Day.


Need more information?

For more detail of what the course involves, read Undergraduate Human, Social & Political Sciences (HSPS) admissions on the University website and look at the HSPS Faculty information for prospective students too.

If you have any queries, please contact us at and we'll be glad to help.

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