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History - Aurora Horwood

Aurora attended Biddenham Upper School in Bedford, and took A-Levels in History, English Literature and the Philosophy of Religion before coming to study History at St John’s in 2008. Graduating with a 2:1 in 2011, Aurora returned to Cambridge after a summer spent travelling in South-East Asia, to read for an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History. She is currently interning with an international development network, and following this, will travel in South China.

'I was attracted to the history course at Cambridge both for its reputation and the diverse range of options on offer, and I was not disappointed. In my first two years I was able to study a variety of different subjects in History, ranging from modern British social and economic history through to Arab nationalism and the cultural movements of Romanticism and the Enlightenment. I also covered political philosophy from Plato to Machiavelli, and wrote on the subversive nature of Mozart’s Operas. In Part II I was able to focus my studies, learning both about the politics of social identity and the role of gender in modern British politics. Along with this I studied modern political thought and intellectual history, engaging in topics such Punishment and International Relations.

The learning facilities at St John’s are superb, including a well-stocked library as well as generous book-grants and travel grants. The teaching offered by the Fellows at St John’s was always excellent, and the quality of the College’s Fellowship meant that most of my supervisions took places in College. Both Miss Tomaselli and Dr Rublack were highly supportive as Directors of Studies, whilst the frequent seminars for the Historical Argument and Practice paper were both intellectually stimulating and highly useful as preparation for the exam.

St John’s is also supportive of its students in their pursuit of extra-curricular activities, and hosts a number of different societies for students to be part of. The versatility of the history degree allowed me to organize my work around an active social life and many extra-curricular activities. Whilst at St John’s I was a member of the College JCR Committee, a publicist for the Film Society, and rowed as well as playing football and mixed lacrosse. I was also a member of the Cambridge University Amnesty International Committee, and was both a writer and photographer for the Cambridge student newspapers. 

Moreover, generous travel awards granted by St John's College enabled me to experience the very history I had studied first hand. I was able to journey through Morocco in the summer of 2010, and experience the impact of colonialism on its different cities, a topic that I had relished whilst taking a paper on ‘The West and the Third World’. During the 2011 long vacation I was also able to exercise my passion for photography and adventure as well as history whilst travelling through Indonesia. This year I have again been lucky enough to benefit from the College’s generosity, and will travel in China this September.

It was because I enjoyed my undergraduate degree so much that I returned to Cambridge to study for the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History. The undergraduate degree equips students with the ability to process large amounts of information and extract the cogent points, as well as to develop clear and reasoned arguments, and this foundation proved invaluable in the MPhil. I enjoyed the opportunity to specialise further on certain texts and issues in political thought. Exploring the limits of Rawlsian feminism was particularly fascinating, allowing me to examine the modern day tribulations of liberalism from a different perspective, and how they relate to gender issues. 

The rigors of my studies at Cambridge were critical to my intellectual development, and the analytical skills I developed have already proven highly useful. I had a wonderful time at St John’s, and with its thriving environment and supportive community it was the perfect place to study history.'

- Aurora Horwood (BA 2011; MPhil 2012)