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Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Sidney

Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Cambridge

Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) combines Politics, International Relations, Sociology and Social Anthropology. It allows students to take a range of interrelated subjects in the first year, before focusing on one or two main areas of interest in the second and third years. The flexibility of the Tripos means that students can explore several areas (some of which may be new to them) in the first year before deciding which topic to pursue as their main focus. It also encourages students to consider each individual subject in an interdisciplinary context.

Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Sidney

Hear from a student...

  HSPS is unique, I think, among social science degrees. It offers both breadth and the opportunity to specialise in whatever combination of things you’re interested in. It offers variety, choice, and the space to experiment, without compromising on depth or specificity. Coming to Cambridge with science A-levels, I was relieved to be able to try out different disciplines and pull diverse lessons from all of them before choosing my subject track in second year, and by how much control I still had after making that decision.

Sidney was more than where I lived while I studied, it is the frame and context for the things I learned, and the source of most of my favourite memories of Cambridge. Like most places, I mostly think of it through the people I knew there and the experiences we shared in our three years and after. A collegiate system seemed daunting and outdated before I arrived – I imagined it as a boarding school where students’ lives were organised by obscure rules and precedents I wouldn’t understand. What I found instead is that a college offered a smaller version of the university, preventing me from nervously sticking to people from my course or whoever I might have ended up living next to in first year. Living in a smaller community made sure I had friends from across the university, who studied many subjects at all levels and had different interests to mine.

The third part of my Cambridge experience was the time I spent at the Cambridge Union, probably among the more forbidding and frankly odd of the many student societies. For me, it acted mostly as a route to the inter national debating circuit and allowed me to travel across Asia, America and Europe, making friends across the world. As much as my degree, the skills and confidence I learned through debating prepared me to apply for jobs and scholarships, even though I still felt drastically underqualified for them. Learning to stand on my feet and argue back, both in a supervision and behind a lectern, is something I don’t think I would have learned except at Cambridge, and I hope to use it throughout my career.

 Ruby Holmes, Sidney HSPS graduate

Further Reading

The faculty has provided a preparatory reading list which you may find useful, but we will not expect you to have read all of these books before your interviews. Instead, you should see this list as a starting point for your own exploration of the topics that particularly interest you.


Director of Studies (DoS)

Dr Robbie Duschinsky (Fellow)

Dr Mette Eilstrup Sangiovanni (Fellow)

Dr Sheila Kohring

Professor James Mayall (Fellow)

Dr Rupert Stasch (Fellow)


Dr Janice Stargardt

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

4 - 6

Standard Entry Requirements

A*AA at A Level, or 40-42 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.

No specific subjects are preferred. HSPS is a broad course, and a range of subjects can provide a good background, from Mathematics to social sciences (e.g. Psychology, Politics, Geography) to arts (e.g. English, History, modern languages).

Admissions Process

Written work

Two essays (on relevant subjects, where possible). We will send out more specific information about what is required after the UCAS deadline.

Admissions Assessments

2-hour pre-interview assessment, including: Comprehension (60 minutes) Essay/text response element (60 minutes). Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website.


Two interviews, which may cover the breadth of the course but will be particularly focused on the HSPS tracks that you wish to study. There will be a passage to study before one interview.

Find out more

HSPS course website

University website HSPS course page

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 (