Like most other subjects, History at Cambridge is taught at both Faculty and College level. The History Faculty is responsible for lectures and examinations, but the main focus of teaching activity is the College. The College organizes your weekly supervisions and monitors your academic activities; it is also likely to be the centre of your academic and social life. This means that your choice of College is very important.
Faculty website: http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk
During the three years you spend studying History at St Catharine's (or 'Catz'), you will be taught by Fellows of the College and, where appropriate, other specialists with a record of teaching excellence. In the event that you require supervision in one of the subjects outside the fields covered by the Fellowship, the Director of Studies will ensure that you receive the best teaching the University has to offer. In addition to supervisions and lectures, History undergraduates at St Catharine's attend College seminars. These are intended as opportunities for the relaxed discussion of specific historical issues. Since most of the history teaching at Cambridge consists of one-to-one supervisions, the seminars are a valuable forum for discussion with your peers.
St Catharine's has an attractive and spacious library with excellent resources in history. The history section is regularly updated with new publications in the main fields of undergraduate study and is regarded by undergraduates from other Colleges as one of the best in Cambridge.
The College History Society is run by undergraduate historians. It invites historians from Cambridge and beyond to address the Society and meet our students. The tone is informal and friendly. The Society also organizes the annual History Dinner, and an annual historians’ garden party - occasions for Fellows and undergraduates to get to know each other outside of formal teaching.
If you come to interview at St Catharine's, we hope that you find the whole experience welcoming and not too nerve-racking. We are looking for students who can show us their enthusiasm for history, their intellectual curiosity, and their ability to think on their feet. We ask challenging questions, but only in the interests of seeing how thoughtful or flexible the response is. We may give you a text to look at, which might be from any period, but we are not expecting you to have any particular background knowledge. Candidates are invited to submit a couple of essays in advance; these will form a part of the discussion in interview. We'll also be interested in what you've been reading - and an appetite for reading is essential to getting the most out of History at Cambridge. Overall, coming to interview should be a chance for you to 'shine', and we will be giving you every opportunity we can to do that.
Our history graduates go into an enormous range of careers, ranging across politics, law, journalism, government and a variety of private sector occupations. A number of historians from the College have gone on to take a doctorate in History, and to distinguished academic careers.
Professor Nora Berend
Dr Nora Berend is Professor of European History at the Faculty of History. She has worked on medieval social and religious history, including minorities and state building. At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and Pagans in Medieval Hungary c. 1000 - c. 1300, which won the Gladstone Prize, explores the relationship between Christians and non-Christians in a kingdom on the frontier of Latin Europe. The edited volume Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy: Scandinavia, Central Europe and Rus' c. 900-1200 analyses the interconnected processes of Christianization and the establishment of political power. The co-authored Central Europe in the High Middle Ages is an overview of the medieval history of Bohemia, Hungary and Poland. Currently, she works on the formation of identity in medieval and modern times. She supervises for the European history papers 14 and 15.
Dr Valentina Caldari
Dr Valentina Caldari studied History in Rome before completing a joint PhD at the Universities of Kent (Canterbury, UK) and Porto (Portugal). She joined St Catharine’s in September 2018 after spending three years as a Departmental Lecturer in History at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Her research addresses early modern European politics and diplomacy, and the ways in which they were informed by global events in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While preparing her book manuscript on The Global Spanish Match for publication, she has co-edited a volume of essays on Stuart Marriage Diplomacy (Boydell and Brewer, 2018). Valentina is Director of Studies for Part I and supervises for Papers 4, 16, and 21.
Professor Sir Chris Clark
Professor Christopher Clark's research interests are centered on the history of nineteenth-century Germany and continental Europe. His books include Iron Kingdom: the Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 (2006), which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2012), which won the LA Times Book Prize (History) in 2013. In September 2014, he succeeded Richard Evans as the Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge. He was made Knight Bachelor in the 2015 birthday honours list for services to British-German relations. Chris supervises for paper 17, 'European History 1715-1890'.
Dr Niamh Gallagher
Niamh Gallagher comes from Co. Armagh in Northern Ireland. She read Anthropology and Geography at UCL before completing her postgraduate studies at the Faculty of History at Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis (and forthcoming book with I. B. Tauris, now Bloomsbury) is a revisionist history of Irish involvement in the Great War, which won the St Catharine’s Prize for Distinction in Research when Niamh was a postgraduate student at the College. She returns to Catz as a Lecturer at the Faculty of History specialising in British and Irish political and social history since 1880. Niamh also masquerades as a professional fiddle player. She has performed with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance and other well-known artists within the world of Irish traditional music.
Dr Tim Rogan
Dr Tim Rogan specialises in modern British history and modern intellectual history. He is working on a book about social and political thought in twentieth-century Britain. He supervises for the modern British history papers 6, 10 and 11, and for the modern political thought paper 5 (in Part II), and directs studies for Part I.
The History course is brilliantly flexible. You can essentially study whatever you want. The Themes and Sources paper gives you the chance to do extended writing, and if this is something you enjoy, there’s a further chance to do a dissertation in third year.
The Fellows at Catz are all really approachable. We have arguably Cambridge’s best department, including Chris Clark, the Regius Professor of Modern History. You’ll develop a strong working and pastoral relationship with your Director of Studies, who you’ll meet in group classes every week. Most of the time someone else in your year will be studying the same paper as you, which means there’s always someone to chat to and discuss essays and ideas with. This also allows you to get to know your year really well and develop discussion skills.
Lectures are really worth going to most of them are useful for weekly essays and even if you don’t end up doing topics you’ve had lectures on they’re still really interesting. The Sidgwick site is also super-close to both Catz and Chad’s, which is really nice.
Because there is usually only one deadline a week, the way you go about work can be pretty flexible – there’s definitely enough time for you to commit to all kinds of activities including sport, drama and music. The regularity of weekly work allows you to learn your optimal working patterns. You can do work on your terms and the college has a 24/7 library.
The intellectual benefits of engaging in one on one discussion with top academics cannot be exaggerated. Supervisors manage to push you and subtly bring your standard of thought and expression far further than you may have believed possible. The range of Fellows at Catz means that you will often be able to have supervisions in college, as well.
Asher Rosen and Sarah Hess, second-year Historians