Course Guide

History & Politics

Introducing your Student Rep

Adriana Midkiff

Hi! My name is Adriana and I am the 2022-23 History and Politics Academic Rep. I am a current international student at Magdalene and dedicated to improving the academic experience of my course. My role includes facilitating communication between students and the history and politics faculty, to address any concerns including academic and accessibility issues. My primary goal is to implement direct student feedback into the development of next year’s papers, as well as bridge the gap between the politics and history department.

Key Facts

Average offer: A*AA

3 years

Available at all colleges

Key subjects for admission: Some colleges may require History

Written assessment (HAA) if interviewed

No inclusive prayer space :(


Why did you want to study HisPol?


In high school I developed a keen interest in history after an immersive course on the Cold War and Soviet expansion. Coming from a Czech background, I found the remnants of this era present in my every day life and was fascinated by its historical impacts on current day Czech politics. I therefore wanted to pursue a subject that combined the study of history with politics, providing much needed context to its application.

How is the HisPol course structured?


In the first year the course is structured into four papers: your choice of history paper (ranging from medieval to modern), Politics 1 which examines the modern state and alternate perceptions of it, Politics 2 which covers the development and nature of international order and conflict, and finally, Evidence and Argument. The final paper is unique to the history and politics course and acts as a bridge between the two subjects. It culminates in the writing of a 4000 word “Long Essay” which assesses your ability to interpret historical sources in the context of political or intellectual narratives. Each term you are required to write 3 or more essays for your history and politics papers. You receive feedback during supervisions which informs the development of your writing and analysis skills. At the end of this, you are assessed by three separate examinations, with history being a handwritten three hour exam and the politics papers being done online (a recent change).

What is the faculty building like?


As a history and politics student the two buildings I visit the most in regards to my course are the History faculty known as the Stirling building, and a branch of the politics department named the Alison Richards Building. The Stirling Building is home to the Seeley Library, an immersive and expansive space that is often used for studying. It has two separate floors and is filled with columns of books that you may need to borrow during the duration of your course. The upstairs floor provides individual desk space with added privacy whilst the bottom floor adheres to a more open floor concept, with desks being near each other and oftentimes facing other study areas. Lectures take place in a different section of the building (often on the second or third floor) in smaller rooms designed to fit around 30-40 students. The Alison Richards building is more modern in design and hosts a number of small office spaces used for supervisions, as well as larger communal areas such as the ground floor. Both buildings are located at the Sidgwick site, which makes commuting between lectures very convenient.

What is the workload like?


Normally a history and politics student will have between 7-10 lectures a week. Two of those are specific to your history paper whilst four are exclusively politics related. The rest are related to the study of historiography which forms a key component of the course. History supervisions take place each week, either to provide feedback on essays or host educational activities on non essay weeks. In addition to this, there may be an evidence and argument specific supervision, in which you discuss an assigned topic in groups of around 10 people. Politics supervisions vary, but typically happen three times a term for each paper. History and politics lectures tend to be in the morning, whilst lectures related to historiography happen in the afternoon. This gives most students a busy but flexible schedule to which they can adapt their study routines to.

What about your course would you change?


Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my course this year, there are a number of changes I would wish to implement. The first of these would be to give students more choice in selecting their papers. Despite having options for the history paper, politics 1 and 2 are mandatory in the first year. This also means that the course is more heavily skewed towards politics rather than history, an arrangement some students may appreciate more than others. The ability to choose all papers in the course would give students the chance to determine whether they would prefer a more historical or politics based approach. I would also consider reevaluating the necessity of the evidence and argument paper as part of the course. It would seem more convenient for students to take the historical thinking paper instead, which is already a mandatory part of the standard history degree. This would allow for increased collaboration between history and hispol (history and politics) students as well as provide a useful channel for developing source based skills that directly relate to the topics covered by the course. Finally, a large concern voiced by myself and my peers is the amount of reading assigned per topic. On a weekly basis this seems to vary and can range from around 200 pages per paper to more than 500. A developed consistency to this would aid students in managing their time and allow them to balance the workload between the dual focuses of study in their degree.


Have more questions? Talk to an academic rep

Email to be put in contact.

Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.