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History

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. 

Tharshan Sriskantha

Tharshan Sriskantha (third-year History undergraduate)

"I have enjoyed studying history at St Catharine’s in large part due to the freedom and agency that is offered. No single student does the exact same course as another, and the fact that you can choose where your interests lay and focus your energy on these topics has been incredibly rewarding. I hope that the Tripos will continue to emphasise this freedom and choice, offering a wide variety of papers to allow history students to study what they are truly passionate about. Catz has a great community of historians, whether that is in the students or the fellows and supervisors, and I have truly appreciated the support received during my time here."
Olivia Townsend

Olivia Townsend (first-year History undergraduate)

 

"Choosing to study History at Catz has felt like the right decision ever since arriving here. Adjusting to life at university as a fresher is challenging, but feeling so interested in my paper choices has made the transition exciting for me as well. I'm a modernist at heart, and a lecture about the suffrage movement last week has been a personal highlight so far. Being taught by Cambridge academics is equally something that I still have to pinch myself about, and despite my initial nerves, supervisions have been so rewarding and engaging. Most importantly, the Catz community as a whole is so welcoming – you’re part of a group of people you can collaborate and discuss arguments with, but you’ll also find friends to watch period dramas and Strictly Come Dancing with."

Erin Dinnen (second-year History undergraduate)

"One of my favourite things was picking my papers for first year, as it felt like a real departure from the History that I had studied at school. Trying some brand new areas allowed me to feel more challenged and often surprised by the work I was doing. Now in my second year, I am continuing to try out new topics, allowing me to develop my academic voice and tease out which areas interest me the most. I am really excited for what the future holds."