Human, Social and Political Sciences

If you want to study politics and international relations, social anthropology or sociology at Cambridge, this is the course for you. It offers several popular subject combinations as well as the opportunity to specialise in one subject area.

Fitzwilliam admits around six to eight students for Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) each year, meaning that there are as many as 24 HSPS undergraduate students in the College at any one time. 

Please note that Archaeology, previously part of the HSPS degree, is now taught separately. More information can be found on our Archaeology course page, or on the University website.

Course Structure

HSPS is a flexible course that gives you the opportunity to pursue a range of social science subjects in the first year, and then specialise in those areas that interest you the most in your second and third years.

In your first year (Part I), you are able to choose three papers from among the core subjects of HSPS: Politics, International Relations, Social Anthropology, and Sociology. Your fourth paper can be either from these core subjects, or alternatively you can choose a paper from the Archaeology Tripos or the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos. This structure gives you the opportunity to explore a variety of subjects, many of which may be new to you.

In your second and third years (Part II), you can opt to specialise in just one of the core subjects of HSPS, while retaining the option to take individual papers in other subjects as well. Alternatively, you might decide to pursue a joint track that combines study of two complementary subjects. For 2018-19, the joint tracks on offer are Politics and Sociology, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology, or Social Anthropology and Politics.


HSPS is taught through lectures, supervisions and seminar classes. All subjects require students to read widely and to regularly write essays. Assessment is by written examination as well as some course work. In your third year, you get the option to write a dissertation. In recent years, Fitzwilliam students have carried out independent research on topics as diverse as the devolution of Scotland, comprehensive education in Britain, children's peer relationships, juvenile delinquency, and counter-culture festivals.

The Director of Studies for the course is Sarah Kolopp, her role is to guide and assist Fitzwilliam students through their degree and teach them in their subjects, as well as organise supervisions with colleagues from other colleges and from across the Faculty.


Typical offers for HSPS require A*AA at A level, or 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level in IB. However, no specific A level or IB High Level subjects are required in order to study Human, Social and Political Sciences. 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 as experienced now or in the past, and an ability to think both critically and creatively.

Applicants are required to sit the HSPS admissions written assessment, prior to being invited to interview. More information can be found on the University website.

Director Of Studies

Dr Sarah Kolopp,Director of Studies for Part I; Research: power, finance and the state. 

Fellows and other teaching staff

Professor Michael Kenny, Fellow. Research: public policy 

More information

Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences >>