HSPS - Joshua Simons
I studied Philosophy, Maths and History at A Level and did not find it easy to decide what to study at University. In fact, I began my time at St John's studying Philosophy, but quickly realised that HSPS suited me better, with its greater historical breadth and variety of courses. I did not once regret the move.
The great strength of HSPS is the range of disciplines you encounter in three years. You are able to ask intuitive and interesting questions - What does liberalism mean? What characterises the modern state? Why has terrorism emerged? Why are some poor and others rich? - and develop answers that connect politics, history, sociology and political economy. By graduation, most have acquired a sufficiently diverse tool-box of intellectual approaches to think critically about many of the problems and challenges of modern political and social life.
This variety carries with it a considerable degree of independence. As an HSPS student at John's, you will have access to some of the best advice on how best to guide your studies. My Director of Studies could not have offered better guidance or taken more interest my progression. But you will get the most out of HSPS if you think carefully about which direction to take your own studies.
I chose to take the politics stream, focusing on political thought and political economy in particular. I took all the major political thought papers, enabling me to learn about how people have thought about politics from Ancient Athenians right through to contemporary Americans. Cambridge (and St John's) has world-class expertise in political thought and its history, so if that catches your eye, I could not recommend it enough.
With its attractive library, competitive sports teams and majestic setting, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to spend your three undergraduate years. Rooms in John's are among the best in the University and there are many possibilities for travel awards during your summer vacations.
John's also provides a supportive springboard for getting involved in many of the activities the University has to offer. I took to drama, directing three plays whilst at John's; journalism, editing Varsity and The Tab; and helped to organise events for St John's Palmerston Society and the University's HSPS Society.
If you want to get behind the headlines of current affairs, to understand the social and political world around you, then study HSPS at St John's. Once you are here, provided you throw yourself into your studies with vigour and rigour, you will not regret your choice.