Examination guidance and past papers

All examinations will be 'open book' format in 2021-2.

First year History students take the Prelim to Part I examination at the beginning of the Easter term.

This is not classed, and does not count towards Part I. It is intended to provide you with informal guidance about your progress to date. To appear on the list of successful candidates, students must pass an examination in three papers: the first two of the Part I outline papers that they have studied, together with Historical Argument and Practice (HAP).

  • Prelim to Part I papers 2–18 correspond exactly with Papers 2-18 in Part I of the Tripos.
  • Prelim to Part I Paper 19 is specifically designed to examine any first year students who choose to study one of the World History papers (Part I Papers 21 or 23).

Part I papers 19 and 20 (Political Thought) and 22 and 24 (American history) are not available in the Prelim to Part I examination.

The Part I and Part II examinations are in late May and early June. Each examination paper has equal weighting in the assessment.

Students who began their degrees from October 2020 onwards are affected by the University-wide introduction of a cumulative degree class upon graduation. Prior to this, Cambridge students did not technically receive a final degree result; instead, they were given a separate classification for each Part of a Tripos. Under the new arrangements, students in History and History and Politics who matriculated in 2020 and 2021 will receive a cumulative degree classification using the following weighting for each year of study: 0:0:100. This means that marks awarded in your first and second year do not count towards your final degree result, though they will appear on your transcript, and all Parts of each Tripos will continue to be classed.

The Part I examination usually consists of five 3-hour examinations (one for each of your outline papers) and one long essay, for Themes and Sources, which is submitted in the January of your second year; the exams have been extended to 5 hours in 2021-2.

The Part II examination usually comprises three or four 3-hour examinations (depending on whether you offer a dissertation) and one long essay; the exams have been extended to 5 hours in 2021-2. For each Part II Specified Subject, you take one paper and answer three questions. Part II Special Subjects are examined by means of a Long Essay and a five hour examination on 'gobbets' taken from the set sources. For the Historical Argument and Practice examination, you sit one paper and answer only one question.

Optional Part II Dissertations are submitted at the beginning of the Easter Term. The compulsory Part II Special Subject Long Essay is submitted at the beginning of the Easter Term.

Students taking Part II over two years (either as Affiliated Students or having transferred from another Tripos) are required to sit a Prelim to Part II examination at the end of their first year. This examination comprises Paper 1 (HAP) and two papers chosen from Sections C-D. These three papers are not classed and do not count towards Part II. The following year, these papers are re-examined, together with a Special Subject (Papers 2 & 3) and either two more papers from Sections C-D, or a dissertation and one more. The Part II classification is determined entirely by the results achieved in these examinations.

Links to guidance and further information about exams in the Faculty of History

Faculty Style Guide

This guide covers all undergraduate and postgraduate uses

Faculty style guide