Human, Social, and Political Sciences

University of Cambridge
In Cambridge (England)

Price on request

Important information

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Cambridge (England)
  • When:

Overview Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Cambridge Explore the subjects you like and experience new ones The flexibility of Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge allows you to explore a variety of subjects, many of which may be new to you (such as international relations or social anthropology), before pursuing advanced study in one or two specific subjects in your second and third years. Alternatively, if you already know the subject(s) in which you want to specialise, you can tailor the course to suit your interests right from the start while retaining the option to take individual papers in other subjects as well. You graduate from Cambridge having specialised in one or two subjects but also have the advantage of a broad background across the human, social, and political sciences. Why choose Cambridge? Cambridge offers a world class undergraduate education, and excellent teachers and learning facilities. The course is supported by two dedicated subject libraries and superb teaching resources including the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, computing facilities, multimedia-equipped teaching rooms, purpose-built laboratories and a rare collection of ethnographic films. Additional course costs There are no compulsory additional course costs for HSPS, though please refer to the relevant course information if you wish to take any papers from other degree courses that may incur additional costs. Full course details about HSPS are available on the Faculty website and if you have any queries about resources/materials, please contact the Faculty (see fact file, right). And after Cambridge? The analytical and critical skills, intellectual versatility, multicultural sensitivity and international outlook you develop through this course are widely sought after by employers. Recent graduates have pursued careers in research (both academic and policy research), the Civil Service (including the Foreign Office),...

Important information

Requirements: Entry Requirements Typical offers require A Level: A*AAIB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages. Course requirements Required by all Colleges: no specific subjectsRequired by some Colleges: A Level/IB Higher Level in an essay-based subject All undergraduate admissions decisions are the responsibility of the Cambridge...


Where and when

Starts Location
1 Trumpington Street, CB2 1QA, Cambridgeshire , England
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What you'll learn on the course

International Relations
Social Anthropology
Social Theory

Course programme

Course Outline Human, Social, and Political Sciences Course Outline

Teaching is provided through lectures, supervisions and seminars. Some subjects also include practical or laboratory classes and fieldwork. In the first year, you have around eight lectures and one or two supervisions a week.

Assessment takes place at the end of each year. In most cases this takes the form of a three-hour written examination for each paper, though some are assessed by coursework. In the final year, you can choose to substitute one paper for a dissertation of up to 10,000 words.

Year 1 (Part I)

In the first year, you take four subjects. At least three must be from the core subject areas:

  • Politics
  • International Relations
  • Sociology
  • Social anthropology

Your fourth paper can either be another from the core subjects, or chosen from the following additional subjects:

  • Archaeology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Psychology
Years 2 and 3 (Part II)

For your second and third years, you can either choose one of three single-subject tracks, each of which enables you to take optional papers from other subjects; or you can choose one of three two-subject tracks.

The single-subject tracks are:

  • Politics and International Relations
  • Social Anthropology
  • Sociology

You take four papers in both Years 2 and 3 (details below). If you choose a single subject you can replace one optional paper with a paper from another HSPS subject, an interdisciplinary research methods paper, or a shared paper (a paper from another degree course).

The two-subject tracks are:

  • Politics and Sociology
  • Social Anthropology and Politics
  • Sociology and Social Anthropology

You take four papers in both Years 2 and 3, choosing two from a number of options available in each subject in each year. In Year 3, you can offer a dissertation as your fourth paper. See the course website for details of the two-subject tracks.

Please note that it’s not possible to change track between Years 2 and 3, unless you’re switching from a two-subject track to one of the subjects within it. Some Year 3 papers may only be available if you’ve taken the relevant paper in your second year.

Single-subject tracks Politics and International Relations

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 crises and international conflict.

Year 2

You take Comparative Politics, International Relations II, and History of Political Thought plus one of the following options:

  • another paper in politics and international relations
  • two 5,000 word essays on an aspect of politics and/or international relations
  • a paper on statistics
  • a paper offered in another HSPS subject
  • a paper offered in Archaeology, History or History and Philosophy of Science
Year 3

You study a general paper in politics and international relations, plus:

  • three optional papers chosen from a range of politics and international relations subjects, one of which can be a dissertation, or
  • two optional politics and international relations papers, plus one chosen from the other HSPS subjects or a paper from a selection offered in the Archaeology and History courses
Social Anthropology

Anthropologists address ‘what it is to be human’ by doing in-depth participatory studies (fieldwork) on the amazingly varied ways people live, think and relate to each other in every part of the modern world: from love and intimacy in online worlds, to how Amazonian communities respond to deforestation; how globalisation affects factory workers in India, to experiences of citizenship and democracy in African cities.

Year 2

You take the following three papers:

  • Comparative Social Analysis
  • The Anthropology of an Ethnographic Area
  • Anthropological Theory and Methods

Your fourth is an optional paper.

Year 3

You take two core papers in advanced social anthropology:

  • Thought, Belief and Ethics
  • Political Economy and Social Transformation

You then choose either two optional papers, or one optional paper and write a dissertation (which can be based on your own ethnographic fieldwork).

Optional paper topics in both Years 2 and 3 may include the anthropology of city life, gender, colonialism, law, development, medicine and health, and media and visual culture; as well as choices from the other HSPS subjects, and archaeology and biological anthropology subjects from the Archaeology course.


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 our understanding of the processes that shape social life.

Year 2

You take the following three papers:

  • Social Theory
  • Modern Societies II: Global Transformations
  • Concepts and Arguments in Sociology or a paper in statistics and research methods

Your fourth paper can be in sociology or can be chosen from a range available in the other HSPS subjects, Archaeology (archaeology and biological anthropology options), History, History and Philosophy of Science, or Psychological and Behavioural Sciences.

Year 3
  • You choose three papers from a range of subjects in sociology and social theory (eg advanced social theory, media and culture, gender, war and revolution, modern capitalism, health and medicine, education, criminology). If you wish, you can offer a dissertation in place of one of these.
  • Your final paper can be another in sociology, one from another HSPS subject, or one from the Archaeology or Psychological and Behavioural Sciences courses.

For further information about studying Human, Social, and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge see the Human, Social, and Political Science website.