History and Politics Tripos Course Structure from 2022

Undergraduates who join us from 2022 will study a redesigned History and Politics degree course containing new and significantly enhanced History papers in Years 1 and 2.

The changes have been planned in consultation with current undergraduates and are designed to help students develop their skills more effectively, with clearer progression between the three years of the Tripos. The structure of the degree programme from 2022 onwards is set out below.

Course outline

You take four papers in each year. Teaching is provided through University lectures and classes and College supervisions, for which you typically write an essay and which give you the opportunity to discuss your ideas with a senior academic. In the first year, you can expect between eight and 10 hours of lectures and classes a week, along with one or two supervisions.

You’re assessed at the end of every year – mostly by three-hour written exams, though some papers are assessed by coursework and in the final year you can replace one paper with a dissertation.

Year 1 (Part IA)

In Year 1, you choose a History Outline paper from a wide range of options, typically including papers on British, European, American, African, and Asian history. You also take two Politics papers – The Modern State and its Alternatives, and International Conflict, Order and Justice – plus a core interdisciplinary paper in Evidence and Argument.

Year 2 (Part IB)

In Year 2, students choose one paper in each of the following categories:

•             a paper in International Organisation or Comparative Politics

•             a paper in the History of Political Thought

•             a further History Topic paper from a variety of options, reflecting the diverse research interests within the History Faculty

For the fourth paper, you write a long essay of up to 5,000 words on a question drawn from a wide range of subjects in History and Politics.

Year 3 (Part II)

You choose three papers from a wide range of possible combinations, including third-year Politics and International Relations papers (shared with HSPS) and History Special Subjects and Specified Subjects. The papers available each year may vary and numbers are restricted on some papers. Alternatively, you can replace one of these three papers with a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic of your choice within the scope of the course.

All 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.


Applicants for 2021 entry should refer to information about the current course structure.