Human, Social and Political Sciences

Directors of Studies

  • Professor Susan Bayly is a Social Anthropologist. Her research focuses on colonialism and its cultural afterlife in Asia's former French and British colonies.
  • Professor Duncan Bell, a specialist in the history of modern political thought and contemporary (international) political theory. 

Other Fellows in HSPS:

  • Professor Sarah Franklin is one of the world's leading experts on the social aspects of reproductive and genetic technologies, IVF, cloning, embryo research, and stem cells.
  • Dr Geoffrey Ingham is a University Emeritus Reader in Sociology and Political Economy
  • Mr Sean Fleming’s next project will be about the extension of ‘artificial personhood’ to non-corporate entities, such as nature and robots.
  • Dr Giovanni Mantilla’s research combines an interest in international relations theory and the history of international law, with substantive emphasis on the law of armed conflict (or humanitarian law) and human rights law.
  • Dr Bernardo Zacka's research interests include contemporary normative political theory, political anthropology, organization theory, theories of architecture and space, and 20th century European political thought

Number of students admitted each year: 4 – 6

University Website
Department Website


Welcome to the Christ's College Human, Social and Political Sciences page. If you want to study  Anthropology, International Relations, Politics, or Sociology at Cambridge this is the course for you. It offers a wide variety of subject combinations and specialist options.

HSPS at Cambridge

The flexibility of Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge allows you to explore a variety of subjects, many of which may be new to you, like International Relations, Politics, or Social Anthropology, before pursuing advanced study in either one or two specific subjects in your second and third years. Alternatively, if you already know the subject(s) in which you want to specialise, you can tailor the course to suit your interests right from the start while retaining the option to take individual options in other subjects as well. You will graduate from Cambridge having specialised in one or two subjects but will also have the advantage of a broad background in the human, social, and political sciences.

Cambridge offers a world-class undergraduate education. We have excellent teachers and teaching resources. The course is supported by two dedicated subject libraries and excellent teaching resources including the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, computing facilities, multi-media equipped teaching rooms, purpose-built laboratories and a rare collection of ethnographic films.

The analytical and critical skills, intellectual versatility, multicultural sensitivity and international outlook you develop through this course are widely sought after by employers. Recent graduates have pursued careers in research (both academic and policy research), the Civil Service (including the Foreign Office), journalism, management consultancy, museums, conservation and heritage management, national and international NGOs and development agencies, the Law, teaching, publishing, health management, and public relations.

Course outline

A detailed course outline is available in the HSPS course information (see the course outline tab). This includes information about the different 'tracks' you can take through the course according to your interests, and it sets out the papers (options) available to you. 

Teaching is provided through lectures, supervisions, and seminars. Some subjects also include practical or laboratory classes and fieldwork. In the first year, you have around eight lectures and one or two supervisions a week.

Assessment takes place at the end of each year. In most cases this takes the form of a three-hour written examination for each paper, though some are assessed by coursework. In the final year, you can choose to substitute one paper for a dissertation of up to 10,000 words.

For further information about studying Human, Social, and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge see the Human, Social, and Political Sciences website.

Student Profiles

Jack, Rufus and Roslynn are all studying Human, Social and Political Sciences 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

We welcome applications for HSPS at Christ's 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 HSPS.

Subject advice

No particular subjects at A level (or equivalent) are required for HSPS. It may be helpful if your subjects relate to the area of the course in which you are hoping to specialise, eg History or Sociology for Social Anthropology etc. However, most subjects are relevant and a mix of science and arts subjects is positively welcomed.

Pre-interview Admissions Assessment

All students applying to the University of Cambridge for HSPS must sit a pre-interview admissions assessment called the HSPS Admissions Assessment (HSPSAA). 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 HSPS Admissions Assessment 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 HSPS applicants applying in 2019 must be registered to take the HSPS Admissions Assessment 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 HSPS 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.

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:

  • One of your essays should be work which has been prepared during the normal course of your studies and has already been marked by a teacher. 
  • One of your essays must have been written under timed conditions. 

We recommend that you keep a copy of the work that 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 very late November or December. Normally, you will have two subject interviews. 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


For those selected for a conditional offer at Christ’s, the typical offer is A*AA at A-level, 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects, or the equivalent for other examination systems. 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 Human, Social and Political Sciences course in person. If you are not able to come to an Open Day, we will be happy to answer any queries you may have by email (

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