Why study History at Christ's?

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Christ’s is proud to boast a distinguished reputation for History. Quentin Skinner, Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson, Sir David Cannadine, Linda Colley, Geoffrey Parker, Sir John Plumb and Roy Porter have all been students or Fellows of our College – and not forgetting Sacha Baron Cohen.

And we’re one of Cambridge’s leading colleges for the subject, thanks to our substantial community of historians. Each year we have around 25 undergraduates and 20-30 postgraduates pursuing Master’s or doctoral degrees. Christ’s is also home to the student-run Seeley Society, which brings our historical community together for talks, debates and an annual History dinner.

On this course you gain an in-depth understanding of the past and develop valuable transferable skills: the ability to research complex material quickly, think critically and excel at written and verbal communication. Recent Christ’s graduates have gone on to professions including law, the civil service, banking, management consultancy, media, higher education, teaching, administration and PR.
 

Course structure and content

The History degree (or ‘tripos’) is a three-year degree. Please visit the University website for full details of the History course content and structure.

 

Teaching

Your lectures and exams are organised by the University’s Faculty of History. Here at College, we teach in ‘supervisions’ (tutorial sessions 1-to-1 or in pairs) to give you personally-tailored tuition and support – a major advantage of a Cambridge education.

Our current History fellows have a broad range of interests:

Here in College our library boasts an excellent history collection, and you can apply to Christ’s generous educational and travel funds for support with independent study, such as research trips for dissertations. Our Levy-Plumb Humanities Fund offers grants for a range of resources including book and creative arts.
 

What do our students think?

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Read about the experiences of Alice, Max, Isobel, James and Sathya studying History at Christ’s.

You may also find the profiles by students doing History joint degrees helpful. See the accounts by Eebbaa, Nik and Victoria.

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

How to apply

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.

Subjects: what do you need?

We expect you to study History at A-level, IB Higher Level or equivalent as one of your post-16 subjects. Apart from that, there is no ‘ideal’ combination of subjects. Our successful applicants have taken subjects ranging from maths and sciences to arts and social sciences. These all teach skills useful to the undergraduate historian.

We’re looking for students who like reading, writing and thinking about the past in all its forms. You should be able to study independently, enjoy working with peers and relish discussion and debate.

Written work

After we receive your application, we ask you to send us one essay you feel accurately reflects your abilities and interests. This should be no more than 2500 words, written during the normal course of your studies and already marked by a teacher. We recommend you keep a copy for your own reference as we may discuss it at interview.

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

Interviews

If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. Those invited for Cambridge interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in History.  In one interview, we normally talk about your written work. In the other, we give you a text (or texts) to study on the day and then discuss during the interview.

Read the information and watch the short films on Cambridge admissions interviews for an idea of what to expect when you come. More specifically, we recommend this film in which current Cambridge History students discuss their interview experiences. Remember that your interviews may cover different things to the students speaking.

Written assessment (College registered)

If we invite you for interview, we ask you to take the History Admissions Assessment in the second half of November (this will not normally be on the same day as your interviews). We arrange your assessment automatically so you don’t need to register. Information about the Admissions Assessment for History is available on the Undergraduate History course information.

Offers

At Christ's we don’t have fixed quotas for places, so the number of students we admit in any year depends on the strengths of the applicants. In History we aim to admit 8 to 10 students each year.

We define the terms of each offer individually, though our typical conditional offer is:

  • A*AA at A-level including History – sometimes we may specify the A* (or equivalent) is in History
  • 42 points overall in the International Baccalaureate with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects including History

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 Baccalauréat: at least 17/20 overall, with 17 or 18 in relevant subjects including History
  • European Baccalaureate: at least 85% overall, with 9/10 in relevant subjects including History

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

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

Helpful resources

History Virtual Classroom Information and interactive exercises for Year 12 and 13 History students
Reading advice from Cambridge Faculty of History
HistoryExtra BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine
History Podcasts

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time
History of England
Historical Association podcasts timeline (organised by year)
HistoryExtra

Gresham College History lectures Lectures available online
Alpha History Includes short subject articles e.g. Why study History; Concepts; Research; Writing; Images; Historiography; Problems; Quotes
Best of History websites Collection of History websites, organised by topic, with brief paragraphs on each website resource listed.
Black Cultural Archives A website on Black British experience. More specific to Cambridge, there is an interesting Black Cantabs: History makers series which documents the stories of some of the earliest black students and academics in Cambridge, including Christ's fellow Davidson Nicol.
Essay competitions
E.g. Vellacott; Robson; Sheffield; Julia Wood
Entering an essay competition is a good way to find out more about a topic and get some extra practice in writing a convincing and well-structured essay.
FutureLearn courses Short online History courses e.g. Tudor History; Nineteenth Century Radicalism and Reform; Fifteenth Century England
British Library resources

Including Modern British History, World War One, Magna Carta, Medieval England and France and Timelines: sources from History.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook Full text sources
Internet Modern Sourcebook Full text sources
CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you work.
Christ's Old Library Timeline You may be aware that we have an Old Library as well as the modern working library. This timeline shows some highlights of the collection.
HE+ History Website for secondary school students who would like to explore HIstory.

 

Attend an Open Day / Event

Our open days and events page advertises regular online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge. If you can, sign up for a College Open Day (our October, February and September events normally include a meeting with a History subject specialist). As part of our outreach programme, we run an annual taster series for students from UK state schools who are interested in History - see Lady Margaret Beaufort - the mother of all Tudors for details and the eligibility criteria. Between February and August we also run regular webinars:

  • Subject Matters: The importance of post-16 subject choices (this one is also run Sept - Nov)
  • Cambridge for Beginners
  • Christ's College: A look at the Grounds and Facilities
  • Personal Statements and preparing for an application

Further subject-specific opportunities you might wish to consider include Subject Masterclasses organised by Cambridge Admissions Office, and subject-specific talks in the July Cambridge Open Days. If you are a UK student from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you can apply to attend a Sutton Trust Summer School in History or to shadow a current undergraduate studying History via the Cambridge SU Shadowing Scheme (do be aware that there's a high proportion of applicants to places for both of these last two opportunities so please don't be discouraged if you don't get a place).

 

Need more information?

For more detail of what the course involves, read Undergraduate History admissions on the University website. Take a look at the Faculty of History information for prospective students too.

And if you have any other questions, please send them to us at admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.

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