A Week in the Life of a History and Politics student at Cambridge

Carenza Price
Created: 2 years, 2 months ago
Last modified: 2 years, 2 months ago

Hi, I’m Carenza and I’m a first year HisPol (History and Politics) student. We’re one of the smaller humanities courses and one of the newest, here’s what a busy week of study looks like for me!


Keeping a routine has been one of the hardest parts of coping during the pandemic, so I try and keep the routine of watching lectures at the times they’re posted online. This morning I had a lecture on the Westphalian System for my International Relations paper, which was super interesting as it took more of a historical approach than most international relations topics. Then I had a lecture for my History paper, which covers British Political History since 1880; this is one of my favourite lecture series. I do the bulk of my independent work in the afternoons and evenings and today I was going through the set readings for a class I have tomorrow, which were on the 2019 UK general election results.


Tuesday’s morning lectures were on Marx and Engels for my Politics paper called ‘The Modern State and its Alternatives’. This paper is easily one of my favourites and for a really good taster of this course check out the ‘Talking Politics: History of Ideas’ podcast, which is done by the lecturer for this paper, David Runciman. Every fortnight, I have a class for the Evidence and Argument paper, which is unique to the History and Politics course. For once, I’ve done the reading for this class ahead of time so I use the gap before the class to work a bit on my next supervision essay, which is going to be about Welsh nationalism in the postwar period. The class starts and goes well - I actually really like these classes because I get to see my classmates (over Zoom) and they are more discussion based, rather than us solely hearing just from our class leaders.


Today I have just the one lecture for International Relations, exploring further some of the arguments around the idea of the Westphalian System (basically it never really existed). My deadline for my Welsh nationalism essay is coming up quickly at the end of the week, so I dedicate most of today to working through the reading list. The question is quite specific so I read and make notes with a tight focus on what the question asked. I do a bit of footnote chasing through sources I have access to in order to find more reading material, which actually ends up working. I always struggle to figure out when to stop reading and start writing the essay, but this week I essentially run out of online sources so I plan the essay and write out the first paragraph that evening.


Final lecture of the week, again on Marx and Engels. Even though I’m not writing a supervision essay on their work, I still take some lecture notes because Marxism turns up in most other aspects of History and Politics and I didn’t really have any prior knowledge. Now I’m back working on the Welsh nationalism essay - I never ever leave myself enough time to write these, so I really try and get my head down to write and edit the essay to be finished at a reasonable time. The last footnote gets added in the evening and I do my final checks and submit it before the deadline of tomorrow morning.


On Friday morning, I remember I have Evidence and Argument lectures from earlier this week I haven’t watched, so I watch the Political Sociology one before my supervision on the Welsh politics essay. The supervision is a one-on-one discussion about my essay and it goes well - I get some constructive feedback, I get a grilling over what I’ve read that week and we chat about the Six Nations! After a supervision, I like to try and have a break for the rest of the day, but before I do some admin and organisation stuff. I realise that, at the start of term, I put aside this weekend to try and have some time off (normally I would work through some reading), so my study week ends this Friday afternoon!