Human, Social, and Political Sciences

The Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) course gives students a broad interdisciplinary introduction to the human sciences, whilst allowing for specialisation in a number of key disciplines: Politics and International Relations, Sociology, and Social Anthropology. We also offer borrowed papers from other subjects within the university, such as History, Economics, Psychology, and Natural Sciences.

Students whose primary interest is in Psychology may wish to consider the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos. Students interested in degree courses in Archaeology or Biological Anthropology should visit the pages of the Archaeology Tripos. Students may also be interested in the joint History and Politics Tripos.

The ethos for the HSPS degree is a commitment to the importance of the social sciences, broadly conceived, to understanding the emergence and development of human cultures and political societies. Some of the most important debates shaping today’s world are built on the intellectual advances within these disciplines, and academic thought and social development continue closely to interact. HSPS provides tools for understanding our world, but also encourages us to play a role in shaping it in the future.

The way the degree is organized means that it is possible for students to tailor the course to their specific interests, if they know this when they apply, or to keep their options open by taking options from the range of disciplines (politics, international relations, sociology, social anthropology) throughout their time in Cambridge. For instance, if students are primarily interested in Politics and International Studies, they can spend up to 50% of their time on key Politics papers in the first year, before concentrating exclusively in their second and third years; options available include the history and development of political thought, comparative study of regional political traditions, and international relations. Other students can follow their central interest in Sociology by taking options in contemporary social theory and global social change, or combine this with Politics or with Social Anthropology. Students motivated principally by the opportunity to study Anthropology can likewise concentrate on Social Anthropology, or study this in combination with Sociology or Politics. The great opportunity here is to become familiar with a range of essential disciplines, and to specialize in a particular tradition if and when you wish to do so.

Emmanuel College is strongly committed to the HSPS Tripos and its interdisciplinary ethos. The College offers extensive support and encouragement to undergraduates, and a friendly and welcoming environment in which to study HSPS. The College is also notable for having a highly active student society in Economics and Politics, which organizes talks at Emmanuel by very high profile speakers.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*AA; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: A1A2A2; other exam systems
Course Requirements: No specific subjects required.
Course Outline: Further course details are available on the Department's website.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Submitted Work: Applicants will be asked – following receipt of their application – to submit two pieces of written work. These should be in essay format with a word limit of up to 2,000 words per sample. The work can be extracted from coursework or an EPQ. All work must be original and not re-written or corrected for Cambridge. The deadline for submission will be early November.
Admissions Assessment: This College does not require applicants to take an assessment for this subject.
Interviews: Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 4 - Wednesday 13 December 2023. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

At interview, applicants will be given an unseen reading passage to study 20-30 minutes before each interview, which will be used to encourage an academic conversation about the human sciences and their approaches.
Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office