History and Modern Languages

The new joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area; options in some languages also include film and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.

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Languages options are German, Italian, Russian and Spanish from scratch or post-A Level; Portuguese from scratch; and French post-A Level. You should indicate in your additional application questionnaire which language you’re interested in studying with History.

Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. The History Faculty (http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/) is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. The Modern Languages Faculty (http://www.mml.cam.ac.uk/) is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as one of the best. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages.

St John’s is an ideal environment to study History and Modern Languages. The College is able to provide tuition in all of the areas taught by the MML Faculty, and there are Fellows of St John’s who teach French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese. We offer students a supportive atmosphere where they are encouraged to develop an independent and rigorous mind-set. There are active College societies in both History and Modern Languages and through supervisions, talks and social events students foster firm friendships and intellectual camaraderie.

The College has an excellent library with good student computing facilities and a wide selection of foreign language DVDs to aid students in their study. The library has many of the books, journals and electronic resources that will be needed to prepare for your weekly supervisions, and students can also benefit from an introduction to archival material with the Archivist.

In addition to Scholarships and Prizes awarded for academic distinction, special book grants and funds for travel and courses and conferences are also available. These combine to make St John’s an excellent setting for undergraduate studies in History and Modern Languages.

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Entry Details

Typical Minimum Entry Requirements

A Level: A*AA

International Baccalaureate: 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Essential Subjects: A Level/IB Higher level in the relevant language (for languages to be studied post A Level)

If you would like to study Russian from scratch, evidence of language ability will be required.

Submitted Work: Two pieces of written work. The first of these should be a piece of work you have written as part of your school History course, or for another essay subject. Typically, this will take the form of an essay. This can include coursework, extended projects, and timed work written in class as well as homework essays.

If you are applying to study a language at Cambridge which you are studying for A level or equivalent, the second piece of work should be written in that language. If you are applying to study a language from scratch (ab initio), the second piece of work should be in any other foreign language you are currently studying, or in English if you are not studying any languages at present.

Admissions Assessment (Cambridge College registered): Candidates are required to sit the following assessment at interview:

- For post-A Level languages: Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes); Discursive response in English (20 minutes)

- For languages from scratch (ab initio): Discursive response in English (40 minutes); Language Aptitude Test (20 minutes)


Admissions Interviews

Those invited to interview will typically have two interviews of approximately 25 minutes each with Teaching Fellows in History and Modern Languages. The interviews are a discussion and an exchange of ideas, not interrogations. They are conducted in a friendly and informal manner and you should not feel daunted by the prospect.

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. Immediately prior to the Modern Languages interview, applicants are typically asked to read a language passage for discussion at interview.

No single aspect of the application process takes precedence and we will take into consideration all evidence of your academic potential in reaching our final decision