History - Sarah Evans
Originally from Stockport, Sarah studied for A Levels in Ancient History, English Literature, Philosophy and French at Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College, before coming to St John’s in 2006. Graduating with a 2:1 in 2009, she also read for an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies at St John’s, gaining a Distinction. She is currently reading for a PhD at University of the West of England, Bristol, in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers.
'I've immensely enjoyed my time at St John's, both as an undergraduate and as a Masters student. The history undergraduate course at Cambridge is unrivalled for the opportunities that it provides, both in the range of options on offer and in the chance in your final year to explore some of them in great depth. Not only can you study vastly disparate periods of history, from ancient Europe to modern global history and everything in between, you can also take an eclectic mix of papers, so that you can tailor the course to your own particular interests. There's also plenty of support to help keep you on track and play to your strengths, including the History Faculty, the College Fellows and your friends.
There are also fantastic opportunities for original research in your final year, when your dissertation supervisor is often quite literally the world expert on your field of study. I really enjoyed working on my undergraduate dissertation, which considered part of the borderland created between India and what is now Bangladesh in the 1947 Partition of British India, when those countries gained their independence alongside Pakistan. There's really nothing quite like getting to grips with original and often previously unexamined material and chasing long-forgotten ghosts through the dusty pages.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to stay on to do an MPhil at St John's. I continued my research into the Partition-created borderlands whilst also getting a thorough grounding in several aspects of South Asian history, culture and politics. It was a revelation just how much better at engaging with the material and critically evaluating the issues involved I became over the course of the year. Being part of a truly international graduate community made the whole experience even better. The opportunities for continuing on to fruitful and rewarding further study at St John's are certainly there, and there'll be plenty of support if you choose to pursue them. I hope to put these skills to good use as I continue to PhD.
St John's also has a wonderful array of extracurricular activities, and not just the deservedly well-known sports teams, choir and musical societies. I've been involved with the Film Society since my first year to varying extents, which has been a more than welcome distraction at times, and the source of some of my fondest memories of Cambridge. Combine that with access to excellent libraries, beautiful candlelit dinners, the world-renowned May Ball (in June) and some of the loveliest grounds in Cambridge, and you couldn't really find a better place to read for a degree.'
- Sarah Evans, graduated 2009