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Human, Social & Political Sciences

Human, Social & Political Sciences is a three year course that places the study of human social and political life in the widest international and comparative perspective.

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The course is exceptionally diverse. Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) is a three-year degree that gives students the chance to study politics and international relations, social anthropology or sociology.  The flexibility of the degree allows students to explore different subjects before pursuing advanced study in the one or two specific subjects that interest them most in the second and third years. The Directors of Studies at the college help students work out the best path through the degree for them as individuals and support them in seeking to develop their intellectual potential through those choices.

HSPS at Cambridge attracts a broad and diverse range of students. You will graduate from Cambridge having specialised in one or two subjects but will also have the advantage of a broad background in the human, social, and political sciences.

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Politics and International Relations engages with the nature of the political world within countries and between them. It asks questions about how and why national and international politics have developed as they have, and how people have imagined that they might be changed. It explores issues from human rights and democracy, to financial crisis and international conflict.

Sociology focuses on the nature of modern societies, how they’re organised and how they’re changing. It examines social institutions and the changing forms of power and inequality among other topics, and develops theories and conducts empirical research in order to deepen understanding of the processes that shape social life.

Social Anthropology uses studies of long-term first-hand fieldwork to understand the diversity of today’s human societies: from the lives of indigenous peoples – their cultures and their relation to nation states and the global economy – to the social and cultural life of people in the largest cities on the planet.

New Museums Site Cambridge

Academic Requirements

No particular subjects at A level (or equivalent) are required. HSPS is a broad course, therefore a range of subjects provide a good background: from Mathematics to social sciences (e.g. Psychology, Politics and Geography) to arts (e.g. English, History and modern languages).

See also Entrance requirements for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.

What we are looking for

The multi-disciplinary nature of the course means that it attracts diverse students from a range of backgrounds. What is most important, and what is looked for at interview, is a keen curiosity about the world's social, political and cultural issues and an ability to think both critically and creatively.

Wolfson aims to admit 5 - 7 students per year in HSPS, with no particular preference for which subjects they wish to study within the degree.      


Those invited for interview will have at least two interviews: a general one to discuss their application in general terms, and a specifically academic interview. Interviews are an important part of the selection process and aim to identify the candidates with the greatest potential. Candidates will also be asked to submit two pieces of written work (in any discipline) prior to the interviews. Candidates will be expected to have a genuine enthusiasm for at least one of the disciplines covered in the HSPS Tripos, but they are by no means required to be interested in all of the many topics covered in this course, nor do we expect candidates to be knowledgeable about all of these fields when they come for interview. We aim to select candidates who are able to think for themselves, and who have the commitment necessary to benefit from the courses on offer in this degree.

Applicants invited to interview will also sit a written assessment on the day of the interview. The written test lasts one hour and candidates will be asked to choose one essay to write from a range of titles. The questions in the test are general and require no specific reading or preparation.

The Director of Studies is Wolfson Fellow Dr Anna Bagnoli.

Find out more about HSPS on the faculty website and the University Undergradute Prospectus.