Home » Applying » Subjects

History and Modern Languages

Groups:

The new joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area; options in some languages also include film and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.

For 2017 entry, the languages available for study will be French, German, Russian or Spanish. Russian may be learned from scratch or studied following on from an A-Level (or equivalent). French, German and Spanish will be post-A-Level (or equivalent) only.

Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. The History Faculty (http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/) is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. The Modern Languages Faculty (http://www.mml.cam.ac.uk/) is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as one of the best. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages.

St John’s is an ideal environment to study History and Modern Languages. The College is able to provide tuition in all of the areas taught by the MML Faculty, and there are Fellows of St John’s who teach French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese. We offer students a supportive atmosphere where they are encouraged to develop an independent and rigorous mind-set. There are active College societies in both History and Modern Languages and through supervisions, talks and social events students foster firm friendships and intellectual camaraderie.

The College has an excellent library with good student computing facilities and a wide selection of foreign language DVDs to aid students in their study. The library has many of the books, journals and electronic resources that will be needed to prepare for your weekly supervisions, and students can also benefit from an introduction to archival material with the Archivist.

In addition to Scholarships and Prizes awarded for academic distinction, special book grants and funds for travel and courses and conferences are also available. These combine to make St John’s an excellent setting for undergraduate studies in History and Modern Languages.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both Languages and History, they will be expected to demonstrate an interest and knowledge in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them. We will require A-Level/IB Higher Level in the relevant language (except Russian, which can be studied from scratch). If you would like to study Russian from scratch, evidence of language ability will be required.

Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA at A level. IB offers are usually 41-42 Overall with 776 at Higher Level.


You will be asked when applying to submit two pieces of written work. The first of these should be a piece of work you have written as part of your school History course, or for another essay subject. Typically, this will take the form of an essay. This can include coursework, extended projects, and timed work written in class as well as homework essays.

If you are applying to study a language at Cambridge which you are studying for A level or equivalent, the second piece of work should be written in that language. If you are applying to study a language from scratch (ab initio), the second piece of work should be in any other foreign language you are currently studying, or in English if you are not studying any languages at present.

Candidates should normally expect three interviews (one general interview and one in each subject). Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow.

Prior to the interview in Cambridge, applicants will take an admissions assessment in History. Applicants for post-A-level languages will also take a written assessment in College, based on a short text in English that we will supply. This hour-long assessment is designed to assess writing skills in a foreign language, the ability to understand an intellectual argument, and to write in English. No special preparation or prior knowledge is required. Applicants for Russian from scratch will be assessed for language aptitude in interview. More information can be found on the University’s webpage for Admissions Assessments.