Human, Social and Political Science

A broad course that encompasses politics, international relations, social anthropology and sociology

⚠️ This page is not complete yet. For full guidance refer to official university resources.

Preparation

General Information

Overview [Link]. A good overview of the course structure and entry requirements.

Course content [Link]. If you want some real detail on what you’ll be studying in the first year, you can find lecture and reading lists as PDFs here, deep within the HSPS faculty pages!

Best preparation before application

There are lots of ways you can show interest (or become interested in!) different parts of the course. The links below are some good places to start.

  1. Reading [Link]. The suggested HSPS reading list is a good place to start, but anything even vaguely related to HSPS (fiction or non-fiction) would be useful.
  2. Free podcasts and radio programmes Cambridge itself does some great podcasts you might want to take a look at.
  3. Talking Politics [Link]. A brilliant podcast by the Cambridge Politics Department which discusses current issues in exactly the sort of way that they like their students to think. Listen to this 100%.
  4. Camthropod [Link]. A really good podcast from the Anthropology Department on lots of interesting issues that could come up in interview and definitely will come up if you study Anthropology.
  5. Philosophy Bites [Link]. Brilliant at explaining some harder political philosophy ideas in an understandable way.
  6. Free online lectures. Things like TED lectures can be useful ways into big issues. They’re a good way into big ideas that you can then go away and read/watch more about (e.g. on YouTube).
  7. TED Politics page [Link].
  8. TED Anthropology page [Link].
  9. TED Global Issues page [Link]
  10. David Runciman's (Head of Cambridge Politics Department) lecture on politics in the age of the internet [Link].
  11. Current affairs. Read the news and be aware of what is going on. Try also not to rely on one source of news; reading across different news sources is a good way to see other perspectives even if you don’t agree with them.
  12. Google News [Link] Gives good way to access different news sources (instead of just relying on one source). It’s a good way to see other perspectives even if you don’t agree with them.

There are also very useful free experiences outside of what you can do at school or at home (although you’ll have to travel to get there). There’s absolutely no need to pay for the expensive courses often advertised online.

HSPS Masterclass days [Link]. A fantastic and free way to experience sample lectures and put your questions directly to Cambridge staff.

Open days [Link]. These are a great chance not only to go the department and speak to current staff and students, but also to look round colleges and see which ones you like the look of. It’d be a good idea to have shortlist of colleges you would like to visit before you go, because there is a lot to see in one day!

Sutton Trust Summer School [Link]. A great residential course for state school students. Would be a perfect way to experience what studying at Cambridge is really like in a pretty fun and relaxed course.

Application and Interviews

Application

HSPS Faculty Advice [Link] Useful answers to common questions what subject combinations they prefer at A-Level and what you’ll actually be expected to know at interview.

Interviews

Read interviews about Human, Social and Political Science

What to avoid. Don’t be put off by the ridiculously broad practice questions on websites like this [link]. They’re more likely to ask about things you already know something about (like your A-Level subjects or EPQ if you did one). They want to see if you’ll be a good person to teach, not catch you out with weird questions about bananas.

HSPS Faculty Video. [Link]. This official video is really useful for all humanities/social science interviews, and even recreates part of an HSPS interview in a realistic way.

Colleges

Official College Websites