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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, including the course film. You will also find information on the HSPS Tripos course page. If you have further questions about course content, please contact 



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 
  • Professor Giovanni Mantilla interested in international relations theory and the history of international law
  • Dr Ori Mautner is a social anthropologist with a focus on ethics, religion, and politics—and especially on non-liberal approaches to living with difference in Israel-Palestine
  • Dr Rosie Jones McVey is a social anthropologist with research interests in the anthropology of ethics, human/animal relations, and cognition


What do our students think?

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

Ana-Maria, 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.

  • If you are considering an application in October 2024 for October 2025 (or deferred Oct 26) entry, we recommend that you sign up for the next College Open Day, which will include a Human, Social and Political Sciences meeting.
  • There is no Admissions Assessment for Human, Social and Political Sciences.

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.

We encourage students to attend one of our regular Subject Matters webinars for help with choosing Post-16 subjects for competitive university applications. This webinar is pitched for students aged 14-16 though it is also possible to attend when you have started sixth form. 

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 interviews, these usually take place in early December. At Christ's we continue do all of our interviews online, as we have done for the last three years. You can have your interviews either at home (most applicants do this) or at school (if easier). 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 Human, Social and Political Sciences.

Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section, and it's worth also having a look at supervisions (short film here), as interviews are similar to what you do every week as a Cambridge student.

There is no written assessment 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.

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

  • A*AA at A-level
  • 42 points overall in the International Baccalaureate with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects
  • A1, A2, A2 in three 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

You can look up other qualifications in the offer levels for other exam systems and international entry requirements, and if you are applying from outside the UK please read the Christ's international students section for further information and check the country pages.

If you will have finished school when you apply, please also read about post-qualification applications, taking a gap year, and, if relevant, applying from a university.


Helpful resources

Introductory reading listThis 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 podcastCambridge podcast on social anthropology
Annual Public Policy LectureCambridge Public Policy Lecture
An introduction to International RelationsCambridge Subject Masterclass talk
What we learned from the 2019 electionCambridge Subject Masterclass talk
Student views and sample lectureFrom the Department of Politics and International Studies
Thinking AllowedBBC Radio 4 Sociology series
Student testimonalsFrom the department of Sociology
Discover AnthropologyRoyal Anthropological Institute website
HE+ Politics
HE+ Sociology
Resources for secondary school students who would like to explore.

How does UK parliament work?

UK Parliament

See short films How does UK parliament work? and What is the House of Commons? as well as the UK Parliament channel on Youtube.
Essay CompetitionsEntering 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 NationsExercises developing public speaking and negotiation skills as well as knowledge of current affairs.
CamGuidesIntroducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working


Events (online / in-person)

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 subject specialist). Between February and August we 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 Human, Social and Political Sciences or to shadow a current undergraduate studying HSPS 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?

AnchorFor 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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