History & Modern Languages (new Tripos)
The new joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area; options in some languages also include film and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.
For 2017 entry, the languages available for study will be as follows:
- German, Italian, Spanish and Russian may be learned from scratch or studied following on from an A Level (or equivalent).
- French may only be studied following on from an A Level (or equivalent).
- Portuguese may be learned from scratch.
Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. 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 Modern Languages Faculty is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as one of the best. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages.
With extremely strong traditions in both Modern Languages and History, St Catharine’s is an ideal place to study this joint degree. We have Fellows in French, Spanish and Italian; in History, we have three Fellows covering a wide scope of eras and approaches. This means that you will receive a great deal of your teaching in College from supervisors who know you well.
Both subjects organise College seminars in which students have the opportunity to discuss their studies and approaches to them in more detail with their peers and supervisors. Our College library is exceptionally well-stocked in both subjects. The MML and History students run subject-specific societies, as well as organising social occasions.
Applicants will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them. We require A Level/IB Higher level in History and in the relevant language (if to be studied post-A-level). We normally require students applying to study a language from scratch to be taking an A Level or equivalent qualification in a language other than English.
The application process
Candidates will have two interviews. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow. Applicants should submit two examples of recent work, one from each subject, which will be available to interviewers and may be discussed at the interview. Prior to the interview in Cambridge applicants will take an admissions assessment in history. Applicants for post-A Level languages will also take a written assessment in College, based on a short text in English that we will supply. This hour-long assessment is designed to assess writing skills in a foreign language, the ability to understand an intellectual argument, and to write in English. No special preparation or prior knowledge is required. Applicants for Russian from scratch will be assessed for language aptitude in interview.
Typical conditional offers
Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA at A Level. IB offers are usually for a total of 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level.
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 Abigail Brundin
Dr Abigail Brundin joined the college in 2000 and is a lecturer in Italian in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. She teaches students of Italian across all years at St Catharine's, and directs studies for students in the range of languages offered by the faculty. Her own research is focused on the Renaissance period: she has published on various aspects of sixteenth-century culture, including poetry, women writers, and reform thought.
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 Miranda Griffin
Dr Miranda Griffin is the Senior Tutor at St Catharine's. Her academic specialism is medieval French literature. She has published a book on the Vulgate Cycle, a thirteenth-century cycle of French stories about King Arthur, his knights and the Holy Grail. Her second book is about stories of transformation and shape-shifting in medieval French literature, and includes studies of werewolves, snake-women and Merlin. Her next project focuses on journeys and landscape in medieval literature.
Dr Geoffrey Kantaris
Dr Geoffrey Kantaris is Fellow in Spanish, and a Reader in Latin American Culture in the MML Faculty. He specializes in contemporary Latin American film and literature (mostly Spanish language). However, he also teaches all first-year students of Spanish (Part Ia, post-A Level and ab initio literature) for their introductory literary/cultural courses, and any students taking Latin American papers in subsequent years. He has published books and essays in the fields of post-dictatorship women’s writing in Latin America, Latin American popular culture, and Latin American urban cinema, and enjoys teaching these areas as well as Latin American literature more widely.
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.