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History at Cambridge

Cambridge has one of the largest and best history faculties in the world, and our course reflects the quality and breadth of interest of our teaching staff. The History degree gives you the opportunity to explore the past from many different angles – including political, economic, social and cultural history – and to explore the interaction between history and other disciplines, such as politics, anthropology and archaeology. There’s ample scope throughout to pursue personal interests and experiment with different historical approaches. Some paper options are shared with other courses, such as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Classics, and Politics and International Relations and specialist papers allow you to work with a variety of source materials as varied as Hollywood movies and Renaissance art.

History at Sidney

History at Sidney Sussex combines the friendly atmosphere that you might expect from one of the smaller colleges with an array of resources and expertise which you could hardly hope to find in one of the largest. Students benefit not only from our outstandingly wide-ranging concentration of History Fellows, but also from an exceptionally active History society, a well-stocked library and a number of funds available for travel, study and language learning alike.

Sidney’s History society: Confraternitas Historica

New historians at Sidney join a close-knit group of students, which not only studies together but also enjoys a great deal of less formal interaction at meetings of the College’s student-run History society, the Confraternitas Historica (known to all these days as ‘Confrat’). Every historian in the College, from first-year undergraduates to professors, is a member of Confrat. The society meets around eight times a year, inviting a range of distinguished speakers – from internationally-recognized historians and Sidney Fellows to journalists and politicians – to talk about their research and to join them for dinner afterwards. You can find more information about Confrat, past and present, at its own website .

Confrat is the oldest society of its kind in Cambridge, and provides a direct link with Sidney’s strong tradition in History. As far back as the seventeenth century, Sidney Sussex was providing King Charles II with persons to occupy the position of Historiographer Royal; while in most recent times, the College has housed scholars like Asa Briggs, John Brewer, David Thomson and Otto Smail. Many Sidney historians retain a close connection with the College – so much so that three of our current professors were History undergraduates at this very college.

Hear from a student... 

     There is a great, welcoming community at Sidney, meaning that no matter where you’re from you will settle right in. History is a great course and you’ll find that during your time here, you will be both challenged and excited from the broad range of modules on offer. Each week, you will be expected to complete an essay which is the best way to stretch your knowledge and skills.

Don’t worry if you’re apprehensive about completing essays every week because you are supplied with enough guidance and support that you will feel comfortable with the workload. Whilst completing your essays, you will also be expected to attend lecture courses for the three modules that you have chosen for this year. These are great to consolidate your knowledge and grasp a broad understanding of the topic.

There are many new terms at Cambridge which you will hear frequently when you arrive - don’t be scared when you hear terms like ‘HAP’ and ‘DoS’ because very quickly, these kinds of words become common knowledge to you. Just remember that everyone faces the same challenges when arriving in Cambridge and it’s surprising how quickly it begins to feel like home.

Aside from academia, whatever your interests, you’ll find there’s a wide range of clubs, societies and projects for you to be involved in outside of your course. Be open to new opportunities because this is the time for you to get involved in things which you never previously could do before.

Ella Nixon, Sidney History undergraduate


Director of Studies (DoS) and Fellows

Dr Bernhard Fulda

Dr Tom Lambert


Professor Derek Beales

Professor Eugenio Biagini

Dr Jennifer Bishop (Research Fellow)

Professor Tim Blanning

Dr Rhys Jones (Research Fellow)

Professor Gary Gerstle

Professor Rosamond McKitterick

Bye Fellow

Dr Helen Castor

All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.

Typical Intake

6 - 10

Standard Entry Requirements

A*AA at A Level

41-42 points in the IB, with 776 at Higher Level

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

At Sidney we expect applicants to be taking A Level or IB Higher Level History. We are open to any other combination of subjects, but often our successful candidates come with two or more of the following: English Literature; Government & Politics; a language; Classical Civilization; Geography; Mathematics; Economics; one of the Natural Sciences.

Admissions Process

Written work

Two essays. The essays should be on two different historial subjects. One essay will be discussed at interview, and the candidate will be asked to specify which essay they would like to be discussed at interview. The other essay will not be discussed at interview, but will be placed in the application file.

The essays should be written as part of your normal school work and should be marked by a teacher.

We will send out more specific information about what is required after the UCAS deadline.

Admissions Assessments

Pre-interview assessment. Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website.


Two interviews. One will be spent discussing a historical source, which might come from any given period and which the candidate will not be expected to have seen in advance, but which the candidate studies alone for 30 minutes before the interview begins. The other will revolve around your submitted written work. Both interviews may also ask questions relating to your personal statement.

Find out more

Faculty of History

University website History course page

History at Sidney

Reading suggestions

Confraternitas Historica

Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (