The Politics, Psychology and Sociology (PPS) Tripos caters both to students with a broad interest in the social sciences and to students primarily interested in one of its constituent subjects: politics and international studies, social and developmental psychology, and sociology.
In the first year of the course (Part I), students take four papers, at least two of which come from the list of three core introductory papers (in politics, sociology, and social and developmental psychology). The other two papers consist of either the third core paper and a paper from the list of optional papers, or two papers from the list of optional papers. This list of optional papers includes papers on international relations (particularly recommended for students interested in politics and international studies), education, economic history, computer science, social anthropology, biological anthropology, and archaeology.
For the second and third years of the course (Parts IIA and IIB), students choose one of the four streams in the Tripos:
For further information on the course, including information on the papers offered, see the main website for the PPS Tripos and the links included there.
Churchill College is an exciting place to study Politics, Psychology and Sociology. We have Teaching Fellows in politics and psychology (see below), good supervisors for other aspects of the course, and the exam results of our students in recent years have been very good. Churchill may have a reputation as a College focused on science and technology, but the Arts subjects in the College are thriving and PPS is a good example of this. We admit about four students each year. The PPS community in the College is a convivial community, which regularly interacts in and outside of supervisions.
The Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College is a wonderful resource for those interests in recent politics and international affairs, housing as it does the papers of senior politicians (including Winston Churchill himself), civil servants, diplomats, military leaders and scientists of the twentieth century. Most of the catalogues are available on-line. The Centre also regularly stages events and lectures of relevance to PPS students. Interested parties should follow the link to the Centre's home page and then look at the pages relating to collections and events.
Pieter van Houten is Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and Director of Studies in PPS at Churchill. His teaching and research focuses mostly on European politics, post-conflict reconstruction, state development and territorial politics. He supervises for the first year politics paper, as well as for various other politics papers in the second and third years of the PPS course. For more information, see Pieter's profile on the POLIS department website.
Melissa Hines is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology (SDP) and director of the University's Hormones and Behaviour Research Lab. She is one of the world's leading experts on human gender development, focusing particularly on the interaction between biological and social factors in gender development. She supervises for the first year psychology paper and several other papers in the psychology stream. For more information, see Melissa's profile on the SDP department website.
We strongly encourage direct applications from candidates interested in any of the aspects of the PPS Tripos. No specific A-level subjects (or specific subjects in other forms of secondary education) are required. We are looking for candidates with strong academic interests and qualities, who are intellectually excited about the course.
Candidates need to first submit the standard Cambridge application form. Those selected for interview will then be asked to submit some examples of school work and sit – on the same day as their interviews – a logical thinking test (an adaptation of the Thinking Skills Assessment test). You will not need any special preparation for your interview. You are likely to be asked some questions about your schoolwork and school subjects, your personal statement or more general topics related to your academic background and interests, and you will be asked to discuss some social and political issues (which, however, do not require any prior factual knowledge).