HSPS reading suggestions

Student reading in the Library

There is no expectation that applicants for Human Social and Political Sciences will be studying subjects such Politics, Sociology or Social Anthropology at school. Interviews will draw on, amongst other things, what you have done in your studies, your stated interests, and your motivations for applying for the course. There is an expectation that if you have expressed an interest in something that is not covered in your studies, you will have taken steps to pursue that interest. Here are some suggestions for introductory material that you might find interesting:


  • Anthony Giddens and Phillip Sutton (2013) Sociology. 7th Edition. Polity Press.
  • Anthony Smith (2013) Nationalism 2nd Edition. Polity.
  • Jack Goldstone. ed. (1994) Revolutions: theoretical, comparative, and historical studies. Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
  • Kristin Surak (2012) Making tea, Making Japan: Cultural nationalism in practice. Stanford University Press.
  • Nira Yuval-Davis (2011) The politics of belonging. Intersectional contentions. Sage.
  • R W Connell (2009) Gender 2nd Edition; Polity.
  • Richard Sennett (2012) Together: The rituals, pleasures, and politics of cooperation. Yale University Press.
  • Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (2010) The spirit level: why equality is better for everyone. Penguin.
  • Zygmunt Baumant (2001) Thinking Sociologically 2nd Edition; Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Browse through books that have won prizes by the American Sociological Association.

Social Anthropology

Museum exhibit
  • Adam Kuper (2014) Anthropology and anthropologists: the modern British school. Routledge.
  • Joel Robbins (2004) Becoming sinners: Christianity and moral torment in a Papua New Guinea society. Vol 4. University of California Press.
  • Lila Abu-Lughod (1986) Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society; University of California Press.
  • Michael Carrither (1992) Why Humans Have Cultures: Explaining Anthropology and Social Diversity; Oxford University Press.
  • Michael Stewart (1997) The Time of the Gypsies; Westview Press.
  • Rita Astuti, Jonathan P Parry, and Charles Stafford (eds) (2007) Questions of Anthropology; Oxford University Press.
  • Sharon E. Hutchinson (1996) Nuer Dilemas: Coping with Money, War, and the State; University of California Press.
  • Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1996) Small Places, Large Issues. Pluto Press.
  • Wacquant L.J.D (2004) Body & Soul: notebooks of an apprentice boxer. Oxford University Press.
  • King, Lily 2014. Euphoria. New York: Picador
  • Tett, Gillian 2009. Fool's Gold: How unrestricted greed corrupted a dream, shattered global markets and unleashed a catastrophe. London: Little Brown
  • Website: Anthropology of this Century ("AOTC") publishes reviews of recent works in anthropology and related disciplines, as well as occasional feature articles.  They are all open access and available online. http://aotcpress.com/archive/
  • The Cambridge Anthropology Podcast:


  • Bernard Crick (2002) Democracy: A Very Short Introduction;. Oxford University Press.
  • David Runciman (2014) Politics,, Profile Books.
  • John Dunn (1992) Western Political Theory In The Face Of The Future (revised edition); Cambridge University Press.

International Relations

  • Chris Brown and Kirsten Ainsley (2009) Understanding International Relations . 4th edition; Palgrave Macmillian.
  • Henry Kissinger (1994) Diplomacy; Simon & Schumuster.
  • James Mayall (2000) World Politics: Progress and its Limits; Polity.
  • Jussi Hanhimaki, Jospeh A. Maiolo, Kirsten Schulze, and Anthony Best (2008) An International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond 2nd Edition; Routledge.
  • Saskia Sassen, (2014) Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy; Belknap.

You should feel free to read other material. Think about your interests and explore them further. Your teachers may have suggestions, based on interests you have shown in class and homework. Remember also that there are plenty of other sources of information e.g. museums, radio programmes, television documentaries, websites, etc.

Try to think carefully about what you read. Can you explain the main ideas? Was there a particular part that really interested / surprised you? Why? Did you agree with the author?

Consider the implications of what is being proposed; the reasons to believe the argument offered, and the evidence and analysis against it. The last of these can be very hard to do if the argument is one you favour anyway. Make some notes if you wish, and maybe find someone to whom you can explain it. Thinking about the material in this way will help you understand and thus remember it. It may also help you decide what to read next.

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