Human, Social and Political Sciences reading list

For prospective students

A student reading in the Library

Reading in King's Library

We advise you to read the HSPS page thoroughly. For reading and preparation advice you should find the following sections particularly useful:

Do also keep an eye on the subject resources, which provide more general guidance and examples for developing your academic interests.

For offer holders

Congratulations on your offer of a place at King's. We wish you well in any remaining examinations you still need to take, and we look forward, if all goes well, to welcoming you here to begin your studies in HSPS.

Student at a waterfall

Raffaella at Victoria Falls during her fieldwork trip to Zimbabwe

Below is a list of suggested readings for the main subjects in the course. Some of these will be new to you, so it is a good idea to use some of the time you have before coming to Cambridge to sample some new subjects. This will help to inform your choice of first-year courses when you arrive.

Do not be alarmed by the length of these reading lists. There is no expectation that you will necessarily have read anything like all of the books. They are designed to give you plenty of choice, and to be useful for once you begin your studies here, as well as for general reading in advance. Most should be readily available in paperback, or from a library.


  • Timothy Darvill. 2010. Prehistoric Britain. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.
  • Clive Gamble. 2000. Archaeology: The Basics. London: Routledge.
  • Ian Hodder. 2012. Archaeological Theory Today. 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Barry Kemp. 2005. Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.
  • Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn. 2012. Archaeology: Theory, Methods, and Practice. 6th Edition. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Chris Scarre. 1998. Exploring Prehistoric Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Chris Scarre. 2009. The Human Past: World Prehistory and Development of Human Society. 2nd Edition. London: Thames & Hudson.

Biological Anthropology

  • Robert Boyd and Joan Silk. 2012. How Humans Evolved. New York: Norton.
  • Robert Foley & Roger Lewin. 2003. The Principles of Human Evolution. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson. 2004. The Fetal Matrix. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Matt Ridley. 2004. Nature via Nurture. New York: Harper Collins.
  • Chris Stringer. 2012. The Origin of our Species. London: Penguin.


  • Benedict Anderson. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the origins and Spread of Nationalism. London: Macmillan.
  • Headley Bull. 1977. The Anarchical Society. London: Macmillan.
  • John Dunn. 2005. Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy. London: Atlantic.
  • Niccolo Machiaveilli. 2003 (1532). The Prince. London: Penguin.
  • James Mayall. 2000. World Politics: Progress and its Limits. Cambridge: Polity.
  • David Runciman. 2006. Politics of Good Intentions: History, Fear, and Hypocrisy in the New World Order. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • James C Scott. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Adam Watson. 1992. The Evolution of International Society. London: Routledge.

Social Anthropology

  • Lila Abu-Lughod. 1986. Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedoin Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Adam Ashforth. 2005. Madumo: A Man Bewitched. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Rita Astuti, Jonathan Parry, and Charles Stafford. 2007. Questions of Anthropology. Berg: Oxford.
  • Thomas Boellstorff. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • John R. Bowen. 2007. Why the French Don't Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Michael Carrithers. 1993. Why Humans Have Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sharon E. Hutchinson. 1996. Nuer Dilemmas: Coping with Money, War, and the State. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Jean La Fontaine. Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in Contemporary England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Joel Robbins. 2004. Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Michael Stewart.1997. The Time of the Gypsies. Colorado: Westville Press.
  • Yunxiang Yan. 2009. The Individualization of Chinese Society. Berg: Oxford.


  • Nicholas Abercrombie. 2004. Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Anthony Giddens. 2006. Sociology (5th edition). Cambridge: Polity.
  • Anthony Giddens. 1973. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • J.A. Hughes, W.W. Sharrock, and P.J. Martin. 2003. Understanding Classical Sociology. London: Sage.
  • C. Wright Mills. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • K.J. Neubeck and D.S. Glasberg. 2005. Sociology: Diversity, Conflict, and Change. Boston: McGraw Hill.
  • W. Outhwaite (ed). 2003. The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Richard Sennett. 2006. The New Culture of Capitalism. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Further information

Reading lists | For offer holders | Undergraduate study