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 Geoffrey Ingham University Emeritus Reader in Sociology and Political Economy
  • Mr Sean Fleming interested in the extension of ‘artificial personhood’ to non-corporate entities, such as nature and robots
  • Dr Giovanni Mantilla interested in international relations theory and the history of international law


Student Profiles

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 read more accounts from Christ's students, please see the 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.

Qualifications: 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.

Pre-interview Admissions Assessment

Whichever college you apply to, you sit a pre-interview assessment called the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA). It takes place in your school, college or local testing centre.

The Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment forms part of our holistic admissions process and examines your academic abilities, knowledge-base and potential, rather than looking for any set score. When applying, please be aware of the registration and assessment dates.

All Human, Social and Political Sciences applicants applying in 2019 must:

  • Be registered to take the Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment by 18:00 UK time on 15 October 2019. How to get 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.
  • 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 HSPS 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 HSPS in Section 2.

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.


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.


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
  • H1/H1/H1/H2/H2/H2 for Higher Level subjects in the Irish Leaving Certificate
  • AAA in Scottish Advanced Highers
  • 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
Thinking Allowed BBC Radio 4 Sociology series
HE+ Resources If you're applying to university, this site helps you explore subjects beyond the school curriculum


Come to an Open Day

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.

Back to the subject list / How to apply / Why choose Christ's?