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History – Adam Storring (PhD student)

Adam took A-levels in History, Latin and Politics before coming to St. John’s to read History in 2001. He graduated with a Double First in 2004, returning to St. John’s to do an MPhil in Historical Studies in 2006-7. After several years working mainly in the Civil Service, at the Department of Health and Department for Education, as well as some time doing development work abroad, he returned to St. John’s in 2013 to start a PhD focusing on eighteenth-century German history.

"Studying history as an undergraduate at St John’s was a dream.  The amount you learn is huge.  The Part I courses (taken in your first two years) take you through whole periods of history at a cracking pace, studying the Spanish Empire one week, the Dutch Republic the next, Peter the Great’s Russia the week after.  In particular, you have the huge privilege of an hour’s one-on-one supervision with a top academic every week to discuss what you’ve learnt and what to make of it.  Many of the skills you learn as a Cambridge undergraduate historian are exactly the ones you need in the Civil Service, where the ability to digest information quickly and provide concise and well-written advice for ministers is a key part of the policy-making process.

St John’s provides an excellent environment for undergraduate historians.  The Directors of Studies make sure that students are sent to the best supervisors across the University: not just to the most senior academics, but to those who are best at teaching undergraduates.  The College also has a particularly large library.  St John’s is generous in giving students grants for books and other learning materials, and there is an array of prizes for historians to compete for. Beyond this, the College has a rich extra-curricular life, with a number of top-quality sports teams and many other societiesLiving in the beautiful college site in the middle of Cambridge, as all undergraduates do for the whole length of their course, is a particularly special experience, and one that you never forget.

Having made the decision to return to academia and start a PhD, I decided to come back to St John’s because it has particularly good facilities for graduate students.  Most importantly, for married students like me, there is plentiful family and couples’ accommodation.  With 24-hour access, the John’s library provides an important work space: more private than the university and faculty libraries, and away from the distractions of home.  The very pleasant graduate common room is a comfortable place to grab a quick break from working, and to meet all sorts of other graduate students from many different subjects.  Alongside this, the College’s generous grants for travel and research-related activities are important in shoring up the shaky finances of graduate students. 

St John’s has always had a particularly strong cohort of graduate historians, many of them very distinguished, and many of them playing an active part in the History Faculty’s graduate community.  This provides a strong network, helping Johnian historians to break out of the isolation of graduate research and to make contacts with other historians across the University."

Adam Storring, May 2014