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.
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.
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:
King's students come from all educational backgrounds and we welcome applications from international students as well as those at school in the UK.
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.
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.
Most (but not all) candidates are invited for interviews in King's, which take place in early December. The aim of the interview 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.
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.