Course Guide


Introducing your Student Rep

Tom Plant

Hi, I’m Tom and I’m a first year historian at Downing. I was elected the history undergraduate academic rep in November 2022 and help to communicate issues between the faculty and students about the course and any potential concerns.

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 History?


I’ve always had an interest in history and my director of sixth form encouraged me to pursue it at university. I was particularly interested in Near Eastern history and Cambridge’s course was perfect for me as it offers it.

How is the History course structured?


The first year falls under the section of the course 1A in which you choose two outline papers (one modern and one older) each with two lectures per week. You receive an essay or activity based work on alternating weeks (meaning one essay per week). There is also a coursework element called Historical Thinking in which you write a report on two books (for me, it is Weber’s Protestant Ethic and Darnton’s Great Cat Massacre), and then the final term consists of the outline papers’ exams and a source material coursework essay that you choose at the beginning of the year. The following years are sections 1B and 2 which cover advanced topics and involve research projects. They also expand on the historical thinking papers from the first year as coursework.

What is the faculty building like?


It’s large but not mazey - it has all of the history lecture rooms and has a library with pretty much every book you’ll need on your course in there. There’s lots of space to sit and work and the staff are all very nice and helpful.

What is the workload like?


A Cambridge week is usually Thursday to Wednesday rather than a usual Monday to Sunday. Your lectures, for first year at least, are on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (alternating each day for each outline), and can be anytime from 9am to late afternoon - first year is usually always 9am and they typically last 50 minutes. You then have your supervisions (one for each outline) that last one hour each and will usually be scheduled at the end of each work week to go over essays or activity work set for last week’s topic. Weekends are mostly used for writing your essays (between 1500 and 2500 words on average) and a typical work day consists of roughly 4 - 6 hours of work (excluding lectures/supervisions).

What about your course would you change?


Consistent lecture recording!


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.