History

  • UCAS Code: V100 BA/H
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Places per year: 7-8

There are at least two good reasons for studying History: one social and the other personal. The social argument arises from the great importance of the past for present political and social life. What happened during the fall of Rome, the English Reformation, or the Industrial Revolution continues to colour the way we see ourselves today. Israelis and Arabs, Bosnian Serbs and Muslims, Azeris and Armenians, Irish Protestants and Catholics claim the same soil and assert their respective rights on historical grounds.

Course Overview

It is our job as historians to investigate those and other questions with the tools perfected in the course of the past century or so: accuracy and faithfulness in transcription and attribution; precision and clarity in citation; and lucidity and charm in expression. We study the past using reason, not prejudice, and offer the small voice of sanity in a violent and crazy world. The social importance of history can be seen in the way dictators of every culture immediately try to control and direct its practice.

The other good reason for studying History is what it does for us. History belongs both to the social sciences and to the humanities. Just as individual people are both objects and subjects, so is History, in that it incorporates the study of both art and science. In History we sometimes have to count or crunch numbers; sometimes we imagine what a place might have looked like to its inhabitants. How we do this tells us who we are.

Our choice of subject matter, our approach to it, our assumptions and blind spots, all reflect our nature. The past acts as a kind of glass in which we see ourselves and in so doing it can help us transcend ourselves. We take a few steps away from the narrowness of our age, gender, class, background, culture, language, religion, region and epoch, and in this struggle for self-awareness we become more conscious, more thoughtful and more human.

How You Learn

As with other subjects, the Director of Studies is responsible for guiding undergraduates in their choice of subjects and their general intellectual development within the subject. Lectures are organised by the History Faculty, in its amazing building, and they are attended by students from all colleges. Each college arranges teaching for the weekly essay, which is your major commitment.

One of the most exciting aspects of Cambridge is the opportunity to discuss your essays and ideas with experts and to get to know them well. You will be taught by historians from other colleges as well, just as students from elsewhere will come to Trinity Hall to find out about 17th-century political thought, colonial America, or modern Italy. Your Director of Studies helps each student devise a custom-built course and finds appropriate supervisors. The Faculty has over 100 teaching staff who teach undergraduate historians, and achieved top ratings in a recent comparative research assessment of all University History Faculties in the UK.

Undergraduate historians are also encouraged to embark on or brush up on foreign languages and have access to both the University Language Centre and language teaching.

Although a good deal of work is done on your own initiative, Trinity Hall historians are a friendly group who work together both informally and in seminars covering more general topics. We also have an enthusiastic History Society where invited speakers can be heard and questioned in comfortable and civilised surroundings.

Trinity Hall historians also enjoy themselves in the wider context of College and University societies, and they contribute in numerous ways to College life. Historians have provided more than their fair share of recent Presidents of the JCR as well as being very active in College music, theatre and sport. Trinity Hall historians also receive excellent academic results and go on to a wide array of top-level professions and careers.

Going beyond what you learn at school and engaging with super-curricular resources is a great way to develop your knowledge of your subject and demonstrate your passion at interview.

Watch this video of Dr Clare Jackson, History professor at Trinity Hall, discussing Stuart Britain in its European context with Andrew Marr.

Typical Offer Conditions

A-Level:

A*AA

IB

41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Other:

See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements 

Essential:

A-Level/IB Higher Level History

Desirable:
None

 

Written Work

Two school essays, written as part of your History course. For further information on submitting written work, please read our How to Apply page.

Admissions Assessment

Applicants for History are required to take a written assessment if shortlisted for interview. The College will register you automatically for this assessment.