Human Social and Political Sciences
For the first year of the course in HSPS, students follow four subjects. For each of the four, they typically have two lectures a week, which introduces them to a topic. After the lecture, students will usually read a mixture of books, chapters of books and articles from academic journals to deepen their understanding.
Having been to the lectures and read the texts, roughly fortnightly, they will write an essay of around four or five sides of A4 on a chosen question. These are submitted to a supervisor and then students meet with the supervisor and usually one other student who has written on the same topic to talk about their work and the issues more generally for around one hour.
With similar schedules in four different subjects, that means students might attend 32 lectures, read 4 chapters a day, and write 12 essays for twelve supervisions during each of the first two eight–week terms. If students take one of the non-HSPS optional papers, such as Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, include more practical or hands-on elements.
During the third term, students choose topics to revise, and using their notes from the lectures, readings, their own essays and the supervisions, prepare for four three-hour exams.
In the third year of the course it is typically possible to replace one of these exams with a dissertation.