History & Politics BA (Tripos)

What's special about the course?

Cambridge is uniquely placed to teach History and Politics together. Staff in the Faculty of History and the Department of Politics and International Studies have a wide range of shared interests in political history, international relations, and the history of political ideas, and draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Our joint degree balances a strong grounding in the two component subjects with the chance to explore the ways in which historical and political understanding together illuminate the modern world.

One of the strengths of the History and Politics degree at Cambridge is the quality of the teaching: you will have the opportunity to learn from some of the most eminent academics in the field. The degree is taught through a mixture of departmental lectures, seminars and classes, and college ‘supervisions’, in which students discuss their essays with a senior academic individually or in very small groups. Supervisions provide a wonderful opportunity for students to receive individual feedback on their work and to discuss the problems and ideas thrown up by the lectures and further reading.

At a glance

UCAS code VL12

Entry requirements and admissions tests

Typical A level offer A*AA. Some colleges require A' level History
Typical IB offer: 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level
Some colleges may require pre-interview written assessment.
See Course entry in Cambridge prospectus for more information

Average entry

Available at all Colleges



Further information If you have any questions about the admissions process, please contact the Cambridge Admissions Office. If you have specific enquiries relating to the course, please contact the History Faculty Office by email at gen.enq@hist.cam.ac.uk.

Undergraduate students and staff talk about studying the course

The Course (2021)

This information is for current students and those starting the course in October 2021. Prospective applicants should note that the structure of the Tripos is changing from October 2022. More information can be found here

You will take four papers (courses) in each year, and normally write between six and eight supervision essays for each paper. In the first year, you can typically expect between eight and ten hours of lectures and classes a week, along with one or two supervisions.

How the course is assessed

First year (Part IA) - The first year provides a core grounding in history, politics, and international relations. Students can choose their history paper from a range of options, and all students write a coursework essay on Evidence and Argument.

Second year (Part IB) - The second year offers more specialised papers in the history of political thought, international relations, comparative politics, and European and global history. All students also take a coursework paper in history, politics, or statistics and methods.

Third year (Part II) - Third year students choose from a wide range of specialised papers (including more than 50 options in 2020/21), many of them based on research carried out in the History Faculty and the Department of Politics and International Studies. Students either choose three optional papers, or take two optional papers plus a dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words on a topic of their choice within the scope of the course. Many students find the experience of writing a dissertation immensely rewarding, but it is not compulsory. All third-year students also take a core paper called Theory and Practice in History and Politics, which engages with key issues such as democracy, inequality, and war in the light of work throughout the degree course.


Explore Part II

First-year students take four papers, as follows:

One History outline paper chosen from a range of options including:

  • British political history 1485-1714
  • British political history 1688-1886
  • British political history since 1880     
  • European history 1715-1890
  • European history since 1890
  • North American history from c.1500 to 1865

Key facts

  • You do not need to have studied Politics or International Relations before, though some colleges require A Level/IB Higher Level History or at least one essay-based subject.
  • A typical offer is A*AA at A Level or 40-42 IB points, with 776 in Higher Level subjects.
  • At least 45 places are available for next year's entry, and we hope to admit as many qualified applicants as possible.
  • Candidates who are not accepted for History and Politics may be considered for places in History or HSPS.

After Cambridge

Students who take this degree will have acquired a range of skills that are attractive to employers. They learn to work independently; to evaluate and discriminate between different types of evidence; to cope with large amounts of information; to work independently and with others; and to present arguments clearly and persuasively.

Recent graduates from the single honours History degree and from the Politics and International Relations track of the HSPS degree have gone on to careers in the media, politics, law, international organisations, public policy and administration, social research,  finance, teaching, and the charity sector.

Further information

Discover more about studying History at Cambridge by following the links to other pages of this website. If you would like further information about studying Politics and International Relations, visit the website of the Department of Politics and International Studies.

Information on how to apply for this course can be found on the University's Undergraduate Study pages.