History and Modern Languages at Cambridge
The Cambridge course provides insight into the cultures of other countries, and understanding of the past and present in international contexts.
Our four-year degree encompasses intensive study in language, culture, film, the history of political thought and a wide variety of modern British, European, American and world history. Like other language students, you spend the third year abroad – studying or working in a foreign country and immersing yourself in the language, culture and history.
When you graduate, you’ll have near native-speaker skills in your language and a deep knowledge and understanding of the regions in which that language is used. You’ll also have acquired a wider knowledge of European and extra-European history.
Languages options are German, Italian, Russian and Spanish from scratch or post-A Level/post-IB Higher Level; Portuguese from scratch; and French post-A Level/post-IB Higher Level.
You should indicate in your SAQ which language you’re interested in studying. If you want to take up a new language from scratch, you should select the 'ab initio' option for the relevant language in your SAQ. If you want to take one of the post-A Level/post-IB Higher Level language options, you must have an A Level/IB Higher Level (or equivalent) in that language.
Facilities and resources
For both history and modern languages, our exceptional teaching and research are globally respected. In these subject areas, the University consistently features at the top of national and global league tables – for example, first in the country in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and in the top three in the QS World University Rankings 2017 – and more than 80 per cent of submissions from these Faculties were deemed 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent) in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
Students can benefit from access to the facilities and resources available across both Faculties (which are adjacent to each other on the Sidgwick Site), as well as those offered at the neighbouring University Library and the University’s Language Centre.
The Faculty of History's Seeley Library is one of the largest history libraries in the world; holding around 95,000 books and publications, and subscriptions to more than 100 journals. In addition, the collections in the University Library, College libraries and online are extensive and include a wealth of rare materials and manuscripts, as well as standard texts.
The Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) also has a well-stocked library of around 118,000 books and 3,500 videos, DVDs, CDs and audio recordings – boasting excellent coverage of the literature, film, history and thought of key language areas, from the middle ages to the present day – as well as the Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Facility, the Media Centre, a phonetics lab and a dedicated Year Abroad Office.
Additional course costs
There are no compulsory additional course costs for History and Politics. Full course details are available on the Faculty of History website and if you have any queries about resources/materials, please contact the Faculty.
It’s possible to change from History and ML after Part IB (Year 2) to the History course or to the Modern and Medieval Languages course. In some cases, it may be possible to change to other courses (providing any subject pre-requisites and other conditions are met).
Students on other courses may be able to change to History and ML after either Part IA or Part IB, providing they have the necessary language skills.
If you think you may wish to change course, it’s best to discuss this with the College you intend to apply to before submitting your application.
To be able to change course, you need the agreement of your College that any change is in your educational interests, and you must have the necessary background in the subject to which you wish to change – in some cases you may be required to undertake some catch-up work or take up the new course from the start/an earlier year. If you think you may wish to change course, we encourage you to contact a College admissions office for advice. You should also consider if/how changing course may affect any financial support arrangements.
History and ML graduates will be well equipped to appeal to a wide range of potential employers – advanced language skills and experience of living abroad are transferable skills that are often in great demand.
Recent History graduates and Modern Languages graduates have progressed to careers in the media, PR, law, public administration, consultancy, teaching and the charity sector. See the History course and Modern and Medieval Languages course pages and the Careers website for more information about what our students go on to after Cambridge.
The course also provides good preparation for further study in either history or the language.