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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge


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History at Cambridge

History at Cambridge is exciting and varied.  It is particularly strong in the wide range of geographical areas and time periods on offer, reflecting the outstanding historical expertise in the History Faculty and the colleges of the University.  The degree is currently structured so that students move from a broad introductory first year to gradually more specialised papers that emphasise primary sources and more conceptual approaches.  In the final year students may choose to write a dissertation on a subject of their choice. 

Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website.

History in Murray Edwards College 

We welcome around 8 undergraduate students in History each year.  Within the College as a whole this means we have around 24 History undergraduates.  We currently have three Fellows in History, as well as a number of fellows in related areas, such as History and Philosophy of Science, Classics, and Archaeology. 

The College provides a stimulating and supportive environment for students to get the most out of their History degree at Cambridge.  This includes:

Direction of Study - Your Director of Studies (DoS) advises you on your choice of papers, and keeps in close touch with your academic progress. The History fellows share directing studies across all three year groups. We get to know you well, and help you to develop the skills you need to do your best at Cambridge.

Supervision - The College provides supervisions for your chosen papers.  All students have a weekly supervision, for which they write an essay in advance, and then discuss the topic in detail with a supervisor, in small groups or pairs of students.  Where possible you will be supervised by a fellow of the college, so we get to know your work well; otherwise we find you a subject specialist from another college.  The supervision is a very important part of teaching at Cambridge and at the heart of college provision.

Seminar groups -  In addition, we enjoy teaching in seminars, emphasising group discussion, presentation, and collaboration. Where possible we encourage students from different year groups to share experiences and good practice.

Murray Edwards History Society -  We have an active History Society, run by the students, and which provides a forum for us to get together regularly.  Often this is to hear an invited speaker, followed by formal dinners.  Speakers recently have included Dr Lucy Delap on men and feminism in the 1970s and 1980s; Dr Annabel Brett on how seventeenth century philosophers incorporated animals in their theories of politics; and Professor Ulinka Rublack on fashion for men in 1500s Germany.  We also hold film nights (the college library has a good collection of films with a historical interest) and recently offered a field trip to the Wellcome Library in London for students planning their dissertations.

Results - Our students achieve good results, and in recent years we have been one of the top performing colleges in History.  In 2012, 5 out of 7 students achieved a First; in 2013, 5 out of 10 did  the same; all of our students have achieved a 2:1 or above in finals.  Importantly, too, our students enjoy their time at Murray Edwards College and speak very highly of their experience.


Dr Lucy Delap, University Lecturer in Modern British History

Lucy Delap specializes in twentieth century British history, and teaches the modern British social, economic and political papers.  She has written widely on the history of gender and feminism, and her research ranges from shipwrecks to the history of child sexual abuse.  She is Deputy Director of History & Policy, and joined Murray Edwards in 2015.

Dr Rachel Leow, University Lecturer in Modern East Asian History

Rachel Leow specializes in twentieth century East Asian history, with an emphasis on Southeast Asian cultural, social and intellectual interactions with China and the world. She teaches on the World History papers. She is an affiliate of the Joint Center for History and Economics at Harvard and Cambridge, and joined Murray Edwards in 2013.

Dr Kate Peters, Senior College Lecturer in History 

Kate Peters specializes in early modern British history, mainly the English Civil Wars and Revolution (1642-1660).  She has written print culture and radical politics in the English revolution.  Currently she is working on the politics of record-keeping in the seventeenth century.  Previously she lectured at the University of Birmingham and UCL, and joined Murray Edwards in 2009.

Applying to study here  

We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and have achieved highly in their examinations to date. At interview we will be looking for evidence of some of the following qualities:

  • very strong written work (we ask you to submit school essays prior to interview).We need to know you are good at building an argument, as well as writing accurately and engagingly;
  • wide reading, of history as well as related subjects like literature or current affairs;
  • an engagement with history and an appreciation of its wider significance.

We usually set standard/typical offers at A level or equivalent ie usually A*AA. Full details of the entry requirements and selection processes in History across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.

Moving into your career 

Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some stay closely involved with their subject interest while others apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities.  

Recent history graduates of the college have gone on to postgraduate study and research, teaching, the civil service, law, museums and management consultancy.

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more. You are welcome to do so.

New joint degrees

You may also be interested two new joint degrees which will be offered from October 2017: History and Politics, History and Modern Languages.

Fellows in this subject