Interviewers in History look for evidence of a candidate’s motivation, intellectual curiosity, capacity for sustained academic work, ability to reason and communication skills.
- Intellectual curiosity
- Conceptual clarity
- Flexibility – the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and/or new information
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- Critical engagement
- Capacity for hard work
- Enthusiasm for History
- Evidence of historical imagination and understanding, in particular, the ability to speculate and compare, alongside the possession of appropriate historical knowledge and the capacity to deploy it.
When applying to Oxbridge, you will have to complete a UCAS form before the October 15th deadline. Candidates are only allowed to apply to one of Oxford or Cambridge, and they can choose to apply to a particular college, or make an open application. As part of the UCAS form, you will have to write a 4000 character personal statement, and a teacher will have to provide a reference.
The UCAS code for undergraduate History at Oxford is V100 and V100 BA/H at Cambridge. The institution code for Cambridge is CAM C05 and for Oxford is O33. Applicants may only apply for Oxford or Cambridge, but not both. It is usual to stipulate a choice of college in the UCAS application, although both universities allow you to make an ‘open’ application via that university’s central admissions office which will then allocate you to a particular. Those wishing to make and open application should enter a ‘9’ in the campus choice box on their UCAS form.
Cambridge Undergraduate Course requirements:
Typical Offer: For applicants taking three subjects at A level the agreed minimum offer is three A grades (with one at A*) and there is no specific subject requirement. The course tends to attract those who have taken A-Level subjects requiring critical analysis and structured appraisal and presentation of an argument.
Requirements for Scottish Highers and International Baccalaureate – IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
The History Admissions Assessment (HAA) is an admissions exam created by the University of Cambridge’s admissions testing service in place since 2016. Each candidate applying to read History will be required to sit this exam in early November. The aim of this exam is to assist the admissions tutors in selecting the most capable applicants, where so many candidates have the required A-level scores. It helps to differentiate candidates particularly in the domains of critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills.
The exam is in two sections; section 1 is an assessment of candidates’ reading skills, including their ability to read critically, understand main ideas in texts, analyse detail and grasp implicit meaning, and is in multiple-choice format. Section 2 requires a written response from candidates, and asks them to compare and contrast two passages from historical texts. This section is designed to assess candidates’ ability to read closely and deploy arguments effectively. Scores will be used together with the other elements of a candidate’s application to invite candidates to interview, as well after interview in some cases, to ensure places are awarded to candidates who will excel in this challenging course.
Note: History and Modern languages / Medieval languages students will also be required to take the Modern Languages Assessment, involving a written 1 hour test in English and a foreign language.
Oxford Undergraduate Course requirements:
The typical conditional offer is A*AA (taken at one sitting). IB: 39 including core points (with at least 7,6,6 at HL)
Candidate must study at least three A-levels, which can be in any subject although General studies is not accepted. A Maths GCSE is necessary to demonstrate some degree of numeracy.
All candidates are required to send in an essay on an historical topic of A2 level, or equivalent, written in their own time as part of their normal school or college. This should be something that the candidate is willing to talk about at interview and will likely be a starting point for most interviews. This should be an ordinary essay, not a structured question, source-based response or personal study.
Candidates must also take the History Aptitude Test (HAT).
The HAT is a two-hour test, which requires candidates to read two extracts and answer a total of four questions about them. One of the extracts will be from a work of History; candidates will be asked questions to test their comprehension of the arguments and ideas in it, their capacity to apply those ideas to historical situations they know about, and their ability to think and make judgments about the extract as a piece of historical writing. The other extract will be from a primary source, and candidates will be asked to offer thoughtful interpretations of its content without knowing anything about its context.
The HAT is a test of skills, not substantive historical knowledge. It is designed so that candidates should find it equally challenging, regardless of what period(s) they have studied or what school examinations they are taking.
There is also a possibility to study joint schools with history.Candidates should have a clear reason why they want to study the 2 together, and of how they feel it will add to their studies.
- Ancient and Modern History
- History and Economics – submit 1 extra coursework
- History and English – submit 2 additional marked essays
- History and Modern Language – submit two additional pieces written work (preferably of different kinds), 30-minute written test in the target language
- History and Politics – some colleges may ask candidates for an additional piece of writing.
Common questions regarding the Oxford and Cambridge History Courses:
Is there a difference between Oxford and Cambridge?
How do I know I’m clever enough for such an academic degree?
Will tutors be looking to see if I will make a good Historian or are they only looking at my grades?
Do I have to be hoping for a career in History in order to apply?
Mentors will be answering these and any other questions at Schools’ Interview Preparation Days or during Private tuition. Alternatively, read some of our blog entries from Oxbridge History or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to help you out as best we can.