skip to content

History and Modern Languages at Sidney Sussex

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.

As of 2018 entry, the languages available for study will be:

  • French (post A Level)
  • German (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Spanish (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Italian (from scratch or post-A Level)
  • Portuguese (from scratch)
  • Russian (from scratch or post-A Level)

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 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.

History and Modern Languages at Sidney Sussex

Sidney has considerable strengths in both parts of this joint Honours degree, and students of History and Modern Languages will be fully integrated into both subject groups. There is a close-knit, friendly and hard-working community of historians, who benefit from one of the best libraries for History in all of Cambridge and from their shared involvement in the College's well-established History Society. Linguists benefit from a particularly wide-ranging Fellowship. Staff-student relations are notably friendly, with a whole host of events and activities providing students and Fellows alike with opportunities to mix more informally.

For more information about the College's Fellows and teaching, please visit the webpages for the single Honours History and Modern and Medieval Languages Triposes.

Typical Intake

1 - 2

Entry Requirements

Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA at A-Level. IB offers are usually for a total of 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level.

Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both languages and history; they will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them.

For History and French, German or Spanish, an A Level (or equivalent) in the relevant language is required. Candidates for History and Russian can apply for either the post-A Level course (for those who are taking A Level Russian) or ab initio (no prior qualification in Russian required). Candidates will normally have A Level (or equivalent) History, although we have in recent years accepted candidates without a History qualification who could demonstrate an interest and aptitude for the subject.

Admissions Process

Written work

Two essays, one of which should be on a historical topic. If applying for History and French, German, Spanish or post-A Level Russian, one essay (which does not need to be on a historical topic) should be in the relevant language.

Admissions Assessments

Prior to the interview in Cambridge applicants will take an admissions assessment in History. Applicants for will also take an MML written assessment in College, based on a short text in English that we will supply. For post-A level language candidates, 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. For applicants to study a language from scratch, the hour-long assessment will assess aptitude for language learning and ability to understand an intellectual argument, writing in English. No special preparation or prior knowledge is required. 



Candidates should normally expect two interviews, one in each subject. Before at least one interview there will be a passage to read, and this will be discussed in the interview. For post A Level language applicants, part of the language interview will be conducted in the target language.

Find out more

For more information, please see the course website.