History and Politics

History and Politics is a new course which balances a strong grounding in the two component subjects with the chance to explore the ways in which historical and political understanding together illuminate the modern world. Our course provides the opportunity to undertake intensive study in political science, the history of political thought, a wide variety of modern British, European, American and world history, conceptual issues in political science, and quantitative methods.

Course Structure

In the first year, you choose from a rich selection of courses offered by the History Faculty and the Department of Politics and International Studies, and you also take a course unique to the History and Politics degree, entitled ‘Evidence and Argument’. This has been specifically designed for the first year of the programme and will bring together key thinking from both disciplines.

Students will also have the chance to conduct intensive study in political science, the history of political thought, a wide variety of modern British, European, American and World history, conceptual issues in political science, and quantitative methods. In the third year, you will be able to choose from a wide range of subjects offered in Politics, International Relations and History and may also do an optional dissertation.

You will be taught in a combination of University-based lecture courses and College-based supervisions. The relationship between the two is co-ordinated by the College’s Director of Studies in History and Politics, who arranges your supervisions each term and oversees your historical and political education.

History and Politics at King's

King's is a friendly and exciting place to study History and Politics, following a distinguished College tradition in both subjects. In the middle of the twentieth century, King's was pioneering in economic history: Sir John Clapham was a lecturer, and Eric Hobsbawm an undergraduate. In recent years, the college has been particularly distinguished in the history of political thought, numbering among its Fellowship John Dunn, Istvan Hont, Michael Ignatieff, Tony Judt, Melissa Lane, Michael Sonenscher, and Gareth Stedman Jones, who between them have rewritten the subject from Plato to the present day. Economic history and political engagement continue to be the hall-marks of History at King’s.

King's will suit you wherever your interests lie within the History and Politics course. It is in College that students normally make their closest social and intellectual friendships. Many students at King's (across all the subjects) have an interest in political discussion and debate. There's a thriving student-run society, King's Politics, which provides a platform for students and academics alike to engage in debates on pressing political issues, with the arguments presented by experts in the field. These discussions arise from and continue through informal, spontaneous discussion in the bar, over dinner, and sat outside in the summer - you never know what you're going to end up discussing! The intellectual community and support and respect for difference in College is a particularly helpful and enjoyable aspect of College life for historians and politics students, and complements the strong community of students and academics in History, Politics and related subjects such as Human, Social and Political Sciences and Economics.

King's is conveniently one of the closest Colleges to the History Faculty and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) on the Sidgwick Site, a few minutes' walk away, where lectures and seminars take place. Students also find the proximity to the University Library just behind the Garden Hostels very useful. In College, King's Library is available 24/7 and provides a very pleasant place to study and work on essays and dissertations. King's Library is well-stocked for students, and the library staff are happy to order additional books when this would be useful. The King's Archive Centre is an exciting resource to explore too.

Fellows at King's in History and Politics:

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DrJohnFilling
Ordinary Fellow, Assistant Tutor

Moral and political philosophy; post-Kantian philosophy; history of political thought; ethics; freedom in Hegel and Marx.

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ProfessorJohnArnold
Professorial Fellow

Medieval religion and culture in Europe; heresy; inquisition; gender and sexuality; historiography; popular uprisings.

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DrMarkSmith
Ordinary Fellow

Modern European history; the history of the Soviet Union; housing, property, welfare and human rights; East-West links during the Cold War.

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DrCarolineGoodson
Ordinary Fellow

History and archaeology of Early Medieval Europe, especially Italy and North Africa; Material Culture; Urbanism; Environmental History.

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DrTejasParasher
Research Fellow

History of political thought; empire; anti-colonialism; modern Indian history; comparative constitutionalism; global intellectual history.

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ProfessorRichardBourke
Professorial Fellow

The history of political thought; enlightenment intellectual history; political theory; modern Irish history.

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DrFreddyFoks
Research Fellow

Modern British history; imperial history; history of the social sciences; racism; migration; white supremacy; settler colonialism.

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ProfessorGarethAustin
Professorial Fellow

Comparative and global economic history in the 19th and 20th centuries; economic history of Ghana and West Africa more widely.

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MrPeterJones
Ordinary Fellow, Fellow Librarian

Medieval and early modern science and medicine; medical books; alchemy; the circulation of medical information.

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DrMichaelSonenscher
Life Fellow

18th and 19th century European history; French political thought; the French Revolution; origins of political economy.

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ProfessorJudeBrowne
Professorial Fellow

Gender, sex segregation, political theories of equality, social dialogue, modern economies and capabilities, social and human rights.

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DrSharathSrinivasan
Ordinary Fellow

International relations in Africa; politics of international intervention; violence and armed conflict; new technologies and political activism.

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ProfessorJasonSharman
Professorial Fellow

International relations; tax havens; money laundering and corruption; global politics of the early modern world.

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ProfessorJohnDunn
Life Fellow

Modern political thought; the historical development and significance of democracy; liberal and socialist conceptions of political value.

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ProfessorRobinOsborne
Professorial Fellow

Greek political, social, economic and cultural history; the history of Greek art; classical archaeology.

Applying for History and Politics at King's

King's students come from all educational backgrounds and we welcome applications from international students as well as those at school in the UK.

Subject Requirements

We recommend that students take History or Politics at A-level, IB Higher Level or equivalent qualification. You will need a curiosity not just about the past but about how we can know about the past. During the application process, you will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both History and Politics and will be assessed on your potential to succeed in them at Cambridge.

Written Work

Once History and Politics candidates have applied through UCAS, they are asked to submit three essays, including at least two essays on History. If you are taking History at school, your two History essays should be essays completed as part of your A-Level or equivalent History course and they must contain your teacher's comments / marks.

Interviews

Most (but not all) candidates are invited for two interviews in King's, which take place in early December. The aim of the interviews is to give you a chance to show the sort of historical and political curiosity and motivation that will allow you to take advantage of the opportunities for original thinking and independent work provided by studying History and Politics at King’s.

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Thinking of applying to Cambridge? See here for details of how to apply, and why King's might be the right College for you.
assessments
Find out about how to register for your pre-interview assessment and see specimen papers from previous years.
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Candidates for some subjects are required to submit written work as part of the application process - see more here.
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It's completely normal to be nervous about coming to interview, but here's some practical advice about how to prepare for the process.

Student Perspectives

Although History and Politics is a new course, you may find the following student accounts helpful.

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Abdulla is from Bromley and studied History at King's from 2015-18. He did the IB with European History, English and Chemistry at Higher Level.
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Hannah is from Durham and studied History from 2014-17. She did A-levels in History, English Literature and Religious Studies.
Joel is from Sutton Coldfield and studied History from 2015-18. He did his A-levels in History, English Literature and Government & Politics.
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Eleni is from Nicosia in Cyprus and studied HSPS at King's from 2013-16, specialising in Politics and International Relations.
Juan is from Vaud in Switzerland and studied Politics and Political Philosophy here at King's, from 2008-11.
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Ceylon is from Bedfordshire, and studied HSPS at King's from 2014-17, specialising in Politics and International Relations, and Sociology.

Reading, Resources and Events

There is no required reading material for History and Politics applications but if you would some specific material to think about, the Director of Studies in History has provided some examples of historical writing (linked below), and you may like to explore material listed under the Politics and International Relations sections on the HSPS reading list. You will also find further reading advice, a virtual classroom and some online lectures on the faculty website.

Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, CU Masterclasses and King's Open Days. Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.

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Preparatory reading for applicants who have already been given an offer, or prospective students thinking of applying.
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Find out more about our Open Days, visiting King's at other times and informal meetings with our Admissions team, or take the virtual tour!

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