History and Politics

What makes the History and Politics course at Cambridge so special?

History and Politics at Cambridge is an exciting new Honours degree which will run for the first time in October 2017. It offers subjects from our highly-regarded History and Politics and International Relations courses, together with bespoke papers which will allow students to explore the space between the two disciplines. Students will develop skills in analysing the operation of power and politics across histories, institutions, and societies around the world. Students will also be able to build strengths in understanding the nature of evidence, methodology, and approaches in both History and Politics. They will be able to choose from a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history and politics.

Cambridge is uniquely placed to teach History and Politics and International Relations together. Both Faculties are widely regarded as world-leading and are consistently top-ranked in research and teaching assessments. The History Faculty  is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study.

The Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) is a medium-sized department with about 30 academics with a huge range of specialisms. It has particular research strengths in international politics, international history and international law, comparative politics and political thought.

Staff in the Faculty of History and the Department of Politics and International Studies have a wide range of shared interests in political and international history, the origins of contemporary politics and international relations, and the history of political ideas. This new degree balances a strong grounding in the two component subjects with the opportunity to explore the ways in which historical and political understanding together illuminate the modern world.

Why choose Newnham for History and Politics?

Newnham’s pioneering work in the development of women’s education began in 1869, with a series of lectures set up by Henry Sidgwick. Women were formally admitted to full membership of the University in 1948, and Newnham’s continued academic success is reflected in the number of students who gain University prizes and Research Fellowships, and the wide variety of their chosen careers. Support facilities at the College are very good, including a particularly well-stocked library. Newnham has a strong international character, and welcomes both mature students and students with disabilities. Its liberal and independent atmosphere makes it a good place to be a part of and to work in.

Newnham is also just across the road from the History Faculty, and the University Library (a copyright library) is only ten minutes away.

How many places are available for History and Politics at Newnham?

We expect to offer up to three places for History and Politics in 2019.

How will I be taught at Newnham?

In History and Politics, the main teaching consists of weekly supervisions, arranged by the Director of Studies. Supervisions normally consist of two or more undergraduates meeting with a lecturer for discussion on topics arising from lecture courses and students will usually complete an essay for the supervision. Lectures are a vital part of a student’s learning, and attendance at them is strongly encouraged.

Can you tell me more about the History and Politics Fellows?
  • Dr Janine Maegraith (Director of Studies, Part I) is a historian of early modern central Europe focusing on social history, consumption, and gender differences in legal cultures.
  • Dr Gabriela Ramos (Director of Studies, Part II) is a historian of Latin America, specialising in the cultural, religious, and social history of the Andes.
  • Dr Duncan Needham (Special Supervisor) is an economic and political historian, specialising in twentieth-century Britain.
  • Dr Kate Fleet (Director of the Skilliter Centre) specialises in Ottoman economic and social history, and the economic history of the eastern Mediterranean in the early modern period.
  • Dr Elise Burton (Research Fellow) researches Middle Eastern Studies and Integrative Biology specialising in evolutionary genetics.
  • Dr Cécile Bushidi (Research Fellow) is a historian of Africa, focusing on debates on Africa’s transition from colonialism to independence and the role of performance in shaping discourse on identity politics.
  • Dr Gill Sutherland (Fellow Emerita) currently specialises in the social and political history of education, and the position of women, mainly in the British Isles after 1750.
  • You can find more information on special supervisors in History here.
  • Dr Ruth Scurr, Director of Studies in Politics (Robespierre, the history of social science, and feminist political theory)
  • Dr Manali Desai (state formation, political parties, social movements, development, ethnic violence, and post-colonial studies)
  • Dr Laura James (the interface between economics, politics and conflict, especially over natural resources, in the Middle East and Africa)
  • Dr Yael Navaro-Yashin (anthropology of politics, law, subjectivity)
Are there any A level subjects that are particularly useful?

You can apply with a variety of relevant examination qualifications, and these do not necessarily have to include both politics and history; you will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on your potential to succeed in them. A student does not have to take History at A-Level in order to read it at university, but an applicant who has not taken History would naturally be expected to account for this, and offer positive reasons for her choice of course. Students previously admitted have combined History with other essay-based subjects or mathematics or natural sciences.

Can I take a gap year?

We are happy to offer deferred places to applicants who have plans for a year out. Gap year projects in the past have included taking a job to build up financial resources, working or travelling abroad to improve language skills and experience another culture. Most gap year students feel they have benefited from the experience, and have no trouble getting back into the swing of academic work once they arrive; maintaining some sort of a connection with your subject is always encouraged, even if only through reading.

What does the application process involve and how can I prepare?

All applicants will take a pre-interview assessment at an authorised centre (normally your school/college). You will have to register for the assessment by 15 October, separately from your UCAS application.

You will have two interviews, one in each subject. When you apply, we will ask you to submit two examples of recent work, which will be available to interviewers. Be prepared to discuss your relevant interests and potential directions you may wish to follow.

Where can I find out more?

Further information on this course is available on the University website.

The History Subject Overview and Politics Subject Overview on the ‘My HE+’ website also provides information and resources for exploring your subject.

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