Churchill Archives Centre Display Cabinet containing historical documents and photographs

Historical documents and photographs from the Churchill Papers Collection held at the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College.

History at Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the world’s great History faculties with over 100 academics who publish world-class research. Many have won prestigious prizes for their work.

The life of a successful Cambridge History student is a very busy one. You will be expected to attend up to eight lectures a week and participate in one or two classes (for which preparation is necessary); and each week you will have to read extensively and intensively on a specific subject and write an essay. This essay (typically 2000 words in length) is not formally assessed as it might be at other universities. Rather, it forms the basis for discussion in your weekly supervision. Your supervisor will be less interested in what you know than in the ideas thrown up by your reading, however under-developed or trivial they may seem to you.

Full details are provided on the Faculty of History website, and summarised in the University Undergraduate Prospectus.

History at Churchill

Historians try to reconstruct the lives, minds, and cultures of people in the past, and historians at Churchill College are no exception. Studying History here involves imagination and a good measure of scepticism, requiring you to keep questioning and testing the limits of what we can reasonably know about other societies and eras. These are questions you can explore on a broad canvas: examining the experiences of the powerful and the weak; imagining long-lost mental worlds, whether political, philosophical or mystical; from empires to cities to villages; in Mexico, Mozambique or Manchester. You can investigate why people killed for Christ in the Crusades, why they hunted witches in the seventeenth century, why they voted for Thatcher in the 1980s, or what the Victorians thought about sex. These diverse topics all present searching problems about how we should understand our ancestors and ourselves in time.

For the first two years of the course you will tackle such problems, weighing up the validity of historical sources: the scribal, the literary, the visual, the oral. By your third year you will reach the frontiers of professional historical research in a Special Subject using primary sources, or in a dissertation based on your own archival research - perhaps using papers in the Churchill Archives Centre, with its 3000 boxes of the great war leader's papers and over 570 other collections besides.

While Churchill is well-known for being a college devoted to sciences, mathematics and engineering, 30% of our undergraduate students study arts and humanities subjects. History students at Churchill can expect to draw upon considerable strengths of expertise and experience in teaching and research. These include; Archives Centre staff, numerous postgraduate History students, one or more Junior Research Fellows, and usually a handful of Visiting Fellows. Amongst the teaching staff, History at Churchill is represented by Professor Mark Goldie, Dr Leigh Denault, and Dr Peter Sloman, who all have a strong commitment to social, economic, political and cultural History.

No Cambridge college is able to depend entirely on its Fellowship in History to supervise all of its own undergraduates. The demand for variety within the Tripos will always exceed the specialisms of the teaching staff and it is common for students be sent to supervisors at other colleges to be supervised. Students will also spend a great deal of time in departmental and University libraries, and attending lectures and classes at the Faculty.

Churchill sets the highest standards and expects the greatest degree of commitment from its students, while providing the best quality teaching and guidance. At the same time, this is a friendly and relaxed environment in which to live and learn, where you will feel enthused and energized into studying, not stressed and intimidated.


To apply to Churchill, you need to love libraries and books, reading and writing, to have the patience to investigate, to have the discipline to govern your own time, and to care about the details as well as the big ideas.

There is no secret about what Churchill looks for in its students. We need bright, energetic, hard-working, enthusiastic, open-minded, committed students with an uncommon passion for reading, thinking, writing and discussing History. We want the right students (not necessarily the most brainy or the best-taught) for the way we teach and learn in this College and this University. So if you have these attributes we would very much like to meet you.

Subject pre-requisites

Essential Highly desirable/useful
A Level / IB Higher Level History No specific subjects

For details about potential A Level and IB offer conditions in your target degree, see our Typical Offers webpage and select your course from the University's Course Listing homepage then check out the "Subject Requirements and Typical Offers" link in the Entry Requirements tab.

For other qualifications, see our Typical Offers page.

Admissions assessment

We do not use a common format written admissions assessment in this subject, before or at interview.

Written work

We will ask you to submit two examples of teacher-marked History essays on different topics.


If called, you will normally have two interviews, both with academic Fellows of the College. The conversations will focus very much upon your own interests. Before one interview, you will be allowed time to study a short passage of historical or related writing for discussion, but we are interested only in your reaction to that, not your ability to date it or identify its provenance - interviews are not oral examinations to test knowledge. We understand that interviews can be nerve-racking so we will do what we can to put you at your ease and help you show yourself in the best light.


You may find it useful to do some preparatory reading, and — most importantly — to think about what you have read. Here are some suggestions:


The range of careers open to History graduates is vast and varied. Some of Churchill's recent History graduates have secured management training contracts or have taken law conversion courses after graduation. Others have gone into teaching, and at least one has stayed on to further his historical research at doctoral level. Three years studying History at Churchill is about much more than just gaining a degree. The effects the experience will have on your thinking, your personality, and your outlook on life are likely to be profound and will last forever.


For more information and for all admissions enquiries, please contact the Admissions Office.

Admissions Office

Fellows in History

Dr Leigh Denault

Director of Studies (Part I) and College Lecturer in History

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Dr Peter Sloman

College Lecturer in History

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Dr Mark Goldie

Fellow & College Lecturer in History

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