Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS)
If you want to study Politics, International Relations, Sociology or Anthropology at Cambridge then Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) is the course for you, offering several popular subject combinations, as well as specialist options.
St John's College has a long tradition of excellence in these fields: William Wilberforce (1759-1833) and Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), both leading figures in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, Lord Palmerston (1784-1865), Statesman and Prime Minister, William Rivers (1864-1922) and Professor Graeme Barker are amongst the distinguished Johnians who contributed much to the practice and teaching of these subjects. Many of the personal papers of these Johnians have been given to the College Library and are available for students to view.
Studying HSPS at St John's, you will have access to our exceptionally well-stocked library which affords 24 hour borrowing facilities and a pleasant working environment. Recommendations from all College members of items to be purchased for the library are welcomed. Students can also benefit from an introduction to archival material session with the Archivist.
Students at St John's also run The Palmerston Society, the College's HSPS society. The society has heard from a series of very distinguished and interesting speakers, and runs events frequently during the academic year.
The College also awards generous Travel Grants to students who wish to undertake projects abroad, as well as a wealth of other grants and prizes available to students, including book grants and assistance with attending conferences.
UCAS Code: UCAS code L000 BA/HSP
Typical Minimum Entry Requirements
A Level: A*AA
International Baccalaureate: 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level
Desirable Subjects: A Level/IB Higher Level in at least one essay-based subject. Politics, Philosophy and Sociology are desirable.
Submitted Work: Two essays from your A2 work (or equivalent), one of which might be timed.
Admissions Assessment: None
Those invited for interview will typically have two interviews of approximately 25 minutes each with Teaching Fellows in HSPS. The aim of these interviews is to establish your motivation and aptitude for your proposed studies. The interviewers will expect to find an enthusiasm for HSPS going beyond the minimum requirements of the examination course. We try to conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them. They should not be seen as interrogations.
In making their decision about those candidates best suited to study at St John's, the interviewers consider all evidence of an applicant's academic potential. They take into account the applicant's academic record and predicted grades, their personal statement and academic reference, their submitted written work, and how they come across in interview. No part of the process will be considered in isolation or be decisive. The purpose of our interviewing process is to ensure that candidates have the greatest possible opportunity to demonstrate their ability.
The interviewers may use your submitted written work as a means to facilitate discussion with the candidates on their interests, and they will also be looking for signs of actual and potential ability to structure argument, to use evidence effectively, to write fluently and precisely and to think originally. An example of the type of questions that you might be asked is 'how would you determine a reliable source?'.
Directors of Studies
Dr Sylvana Tomaselli - HSPS
Dr Helen Watson - HSPS (Part II Social Anthropology)
Professor Eric Miska
Leah Downey (September 2022)
Dr Tomas Larsson
Dr Sylvana Tomaselli
Mr Ray Jobling (Retired)
Professor Christel Lane (Retired)
College Research Associates
Dr Mark Fabian
Dr Kerry A McInerney
Dr Alex McLaughlin
For more details please go to the Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Sciences
For more information about Politics, Sociology and International Politics at St John's please click here
Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science (HSPS)
Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science (HSPS): Undergraduate Admissions
St John's College Library: HSPS Subject Guide
St John's College Library: International Relations Subject Guide
St John's College Library: Archaeology & Anthropology Subject Guide