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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS)

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Human, Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge 

The Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) course at Cambridge is an exciting and varied course.  Options available in the first year include Politics, International Relations, Sociology, Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Psychology, Archaeology, and others. In the second and third year you can chose whether to continue to study more than one discipline, or to specialise in one main area of interest. The course also offers the opportunity for independent research through long-essays (in some subjects) and a third-year dissertation (in all subjects). Full details about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website

HSPS in Murray Edwards College 

We welcome around 8 undergraduate students in HSPS each year.  Within the College we have around 25 undergraduate students across the three years of the course, 10 postgraduate students, and five Fellows and Bye-Fellows interested in HSPS or in closely related subject areas. 

The College thus provides Directors of Studies for Part I and for Part II courses, who provide you with academic guidance and oversee the organisation of supervisions. Some of the supervisions are provided by College Fellows in HSPS subjects, especially for some first year subjects (Politics, Sociology, Social Anthropology and Psychology). The College has also has a thriving student-run ‘Social Sciences Society’ (MESS) that organises social events and talks at various points during the academic year. Because of the College’s long tradition of admitting Fellows and students in the subjects now included in HSPS, the library is very well-stocked for all the subjects comprised within the degree.

Our students achieve good results, with 100% in the past five years achieving either a 2:1 or a First. Our students also speak enthusiastically about their experience:

‘Murray Edwards is a great place to study anthropology, we have a number of amazing female anthropologists as 'ancestors', and the college runs a student-focused seminar group to make sure you are getting the most out of your degree.' Alice

'I have absolutely loved studying politics and sociology at Murray Edwards College. The college provides an incredibly supportive and friendly community in which to thrive. What I have particularly enjoyed is finding my own voice - you are constantly encouraged to develop your own thoughts, voice your opinions and become an independent thinker, and this is something which has helped me a tremendous amount in my degree. Overall, my experience at Murray Edwards has been fantastic.' Megan

Our academic Fellows are also active in research. Their interests include the following: Dr Paola Filippucci is a social anthropologist studying war memory and commemoration in present-day Europe; Dr Evaleila Pesaran is a political scientist specialising in the contemporary politics of the Middle East, Iran in particular. Dr Marcus Morgan is a sociologist specialising on the circulation of theories and paradigms in post-war social sciences and humanities; while Dr Juliet Foster, a social psychologist, studies the sharing of knowledge, and understandings of mental health and illness.

Applying to study here 

We look for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, motivated to learn more and who have achieved highly in their examinations to date.  At interview we will be looking for evidence of some of the following qualities:  a keen curiosity about local and global political, social and cultural issues now and/or in the past, and a willingness to think critically and creatively about society, politics and culture. At interview this may be demonstrated by independent reading in one or more of the subjects that make up HSPS; by familiarity with and interest in current affairs; and/or by having or planning subject-related practical experience (for instance, working with your local MP; getting involved with international or local aid organisations; carrying out voluntary work in community-based, heritage or conservation projects in the UK or abroad). In preparing to apply or for your interview it is a good idea to think about where your particular interests lie and what you have already done to purse this further (e.g. by wider reading or internet-based research).  

We usually set standard/typical offers at A level or their equivalent ie usually A*AA. Full details of the entry requirements and selection processes in HSPS 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 will want to stay closely involved with their subject interest, while others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Those who have studied HSPS have gone on to work in international aid organisations, the Civil Service, media and journalism, heritage and museums, nature conservation, politics, film, social work, teaching, social policy, the law and other professions; a good number have continued to graduate-level study in Cambridge and elsewhere in a range of subjects, including in law, business and management as well as subjects more directly related to HSPS such as Human Rights or Gender Studies.

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.

Fellows in this subject