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Studying history at Cambridge


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The aim of studying history at university is to further your understanding and knowledge of the past and your ability to present that understanding and knowledge with clarity, insight and discrimination.

The historian has to mine a large body of material efficiently; to evaluate its significance and utility in answering important questions about societies, institutions, cultures and individuals; and to order her or his thoughts on these matters succinctly, clearly, yet with sensitivity. The teaching that you will receive over the next three years is designed to develop these skills.

They will be examined in a number of ways: by outline papers and by the Themes and Sources paper in Part I, and by Special and Specified Subjects and a general paper in Historical Argument and Practice in Part II. You will also have the opportunity to substitute a dissertation on a subject of your choice for one of your Part II Specified Subject papers.

The function of the History Faculty is to develop the course structure, to organise and oversee its working, to set and mark the Tripos examinations - and to offer lectures, which play a crucial role in defining the content of each paper. In addition, Themes and Sources options and Special Subjects are taught by Faculty classes.

The role of colleges, in particular your college Director of Studies, is to arrange the teaching of all other papers and to help you get the most out of it. Your Director of Studies is responsible for overseeing your academic progress, and is the person to whom you should turn if you are having difficulties with work or with understanding what is expected of you. Never be afraid to approach him or her with your problems.