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History and Politics

History and Politics at Cambridge is an exciting and relatively new  Honours degree which ran 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.

The course

In the first year, students take two compulsory introductory papers in Political Theory and International Relations, a general paper bringing together themes from both disciplines (including a coursework component), and one outline paper in History chosen from a range of options.  In the second year students take one paper in Political Thought, one in History and one in Politics (each chosen from a list of options), together with a fourth paper involving a coursework component.   For this last paper, most students offer two research projects largely of their choice, in either History or Politics; there is also an alternative in statistics and methods.  In the third year there are three different pathways involving various mixes of options from each course, depending on whether the student chooses to offer a History Special Subject, a lengthy dissertation (which can be in History or Politics), or just a selection of third-year courses available from either discipline.

Cambridge is uniquely placed to teach History and Politics and International Relations together. Both Faculties are widely regarded as world-leading. 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. 

History and Politics at Pembroke

Pembroke is a college enthusiastic about the study of History and Politics. Through the pre-existing degrees in History and in Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS), we are used to servicing the needs of undergraduates studying History or Politics.  We aim to take either two or three students for the joint History and Politics course each year.  The College sees these two subjects as excellent matches and we are committed to helping our students to develop an integrated approach to their whole course. From undergraduates to fellows (lecturers based in the College), Pembroke is an intellectually inquisitive, yet welcoming and unpretentious, place to enhance your understanding of the world, why it is the way it is, and your place in it. Pembroke’s students are lively and engaged: a student-run society organises debates on contemporary issues, while the College’s historians are extensively involved in editing and writing for the University’s student newspapers.

Professor Jon Parry is Director of Studies for History and Politics students.  He is an expert on British politics in the Victorian era and also has interests in Britain and Europe, and Britain and the Middle East, in that period.  The College’s fellow in POLIS, Dr Iza Hussin, works on Asian politics, specialising in the intersection of law and religion, an interest she shares with several of Pembroke’s History fellows. The College also benefits from the continuing involvement, since his retirement, of Dr Geoffrey Edwards, an expert in the European Union, and of the presence of Professor Ned Lebow, a distinguished scholar of international relations theory, a bye-fellow of Pembroke. At present, the College is home to seven History fellows, whose interests span a period from the High Middle Ages to recent times. Several have interests that intersect with those of POLIS.  These include our three Research Fellows, Dr Allegra Fryxell (modern Europe), Dr Nicki Kindersley (Africa) and Dr Chika Tonooka (modern Britain).  Dr Paul Warde’s expertise in environmental history provides a longer-term perspective on contemporary issues such as climate change and the world’s changing energy needs. Students whose interests in politics stretch further back will also encounter the College’s other early modernist, Dr Paul Cavill, and its medievalist, Dr Caroline Burt, both of whom work on the formation of the English/British state. Working as a team, Pembroke’s fellows in History and Politics do their very best to ensure that being a member of our College is the most enjoyable and enriching of experiences.



Course requirements

Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both politics and history; they will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them. To be studying History at A-level or an equivalent level is highly desirable, but not absolutely essential, for those wishing to apply for this course.

The application process

All applicants will take, before being called to interview, an admissions assessment. Candidates should normally expect two interviews, one in each subject. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow. Applicants will be asked to submit two examples of recent work, which will be made available to interviewers and could be discussed in interviews.

Go to the History and Politics faculty website