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Course Structure

Applicants seeking deferred entry should note that the Tripos is changing from October 2021.  More information can be found here.

Currently, and for students commencing their studies in October 2020, the single honours History degree is divided into a two-year Part I and a one-year Part II. 

The basic difference between Parts I and II is that Part I concentrates on breadth of historical understanding and Part II on depth. Throughout the course there is ample scope for you to pursue your personal interests and experiment with different historical approaches. Specialist papers allow you to work with a variety of source materials: in the past few years, these have included music, art, cartoons, other visual images, and coins. At the end of Part I, students sit five three-hour written papers; one-year Part II students also take five papers (unless they write a dissertation). The Part I Themes and Sources Long Essay and a Part II Long Essay and Dissertation ensure that you have the opportunity to be assessed on work done outside the examination room. 

Lists of current papers can be found here:

Part I

Part II

History is unusual among Cambridge subjects in not setting a classed first-year examination but most history undergraduates sit a Preliminary Examination towards the end of their first year. This does not count towards your final degree but aims to give you an informal sense of your achievement to that point.

Part I and Part II examinations are held in late May and early June. Each element of the assessment process has equal weighting.

Your five Part I Papers will be examined through a three-hour examination, in which you answer three essay questions. 

Your Themes & Sources option, taken in your first year, will be examined through a 3-5,000 word 'Long Essay'. Written over the summer between your first and second years, this is submitted in Lent Term of your second year. 

In Part II, you take a Special Subject, for which you submit a 6-8,000 word 'Long Essay' on a topic chosen from a list. Written over the Easter Vacation in your third year, this is submitted at the beginning of Easter Term. You will also sit a three-hour 'gobbets' paper, in which you will be asked to comment on some of the primary sources you have studied over the course of the year. 

Historical Argument and Practice is a compulsory paper for Part II, assessed by a 3-hour written examination in which you will answer one question.

Depending on whether you have opted to submit a 10-15,000 word dissertation, you are also examined in either one or two Specified Subjects through a three-hour examination, in which you answer three essay questions.

The research for a dissertation is typically conducted over the summer between your second and third years, and the writing in Michaelmas of your third year. The dissertation is submitted in the Easter Term of your third year. 

Your Part II results alone determine the class of degree that you are awarded at the end of your course.