History and Modern Languages
The joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area.
Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.
For 2018 entry, the languages available for study will be French, German, Russian or Spanish. Russian may be learned from scratch or studied following on from an A-Level (or equivalent). French, German and Spanish will be post-A-Level (or equivalent) only.
If you want advanced language skills, a deep understanding of the regions in which that language is used, and a wider knowledge of European and extra-European history, this could be the degree for you.
The course lasts for four years and includes a year abroad. In the first year (Part IA), you will enhance your language skills and study a paper related to the history or culture of the relevant country. You also study two papers from the History Faculty, in European History, World History , or the History of Political Thought. You continue your advanced language study in the second year (Part IB) and study three further additional papers (at least one from History and one from MML).
Part II of the course encompasses the third and fourth years of study. Following your third year abroad you return to Cambridge for the final year of your degree. This year includes further language study, including an Advanced Oral examination, and three advanced papers chosen from a wide range in both Faculties. You also have the option of submitting a 10,000 word dissertation in place of one of these papers.
Both Cambridge Faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. The History Faculty is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. The Modern Languages Faculty is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as one of the best. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages.
Magdalene has flourishing communities of historians and linguists of which students reading History and Modern Languages will become a full part. As well as the College Lecturers (listed under the 'Teaching Staff' tab, above), there are a large number of Research and other Fellows in both History and in Modern and Medieval Languages. These include Professor Nicholas Boyle (Emeritus Professor of German), Professor Eamon Duffy (Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity), Dr Annja Naumann (Senior Research Fellow in German), and Dr Mathias Haeussler (Research Fellow in Modern European Political History).
We welcome applications for any of the possible combinations.
Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both languages and history; they will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them.
All Colleges require A-Level/IB Higher Level in the relevant language (except Russian, which can be studied from scratch). We also prefer applicants for History and Modern Languages to be studying A-Level/IB Higher Level in History. For applicants intending to study Russian from scratch, we will look for evidence of language ability. This may, for example, be a strong performance in one or more foreign languages at GCSE or AS level.
Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA (with the A* not necessarily in a specific subject) at A-Level. IB offers are usually for a total of 41-42 points, with 7,7,6 at Higher Level.
Interviews, Written Work, and Assessments
Candidates should normally expect two interviews, one with two college teachers in History and one with two linguists. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow.
Applicants should submit two examples of recent work, which will be available to interviewers. These should ideally be in the form of marked school essays. At least one should be on a historical subject.
Prior to the interview in Cambridge applicants will take an admissions assessment in history. This is a pre-interview assessment that will take place this year on 2 November 2018. It is essential that you register separately for this assessment by 15 October 2018. Information about registering for the assessment can be found here.
Applicants for post-A-level languages will also take a written assessment in College at the time of their interview, based on a short text in English that we will supply. This hour-long assessment is designed to assess writing skills in a foreign language, the ability to understand an intellectual argument, and to write in English, and no special preparation or prior knowledge is required. More information can be found here. Applicants for Russian from scratch will be assessed for language aptitude in the interview.