History & Modern Languages


The joint degree in History and Modern Languages combines the best of both subjects. It offers the opportunity to develop near native-speaker skills in a foreign language while studying a range of papers relating to the culture and history of the relevant language area; options in some languages also include film, philosophy, linguistics and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through choosing from a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There are opportunities to work with historical sources in foreign languages. As for other language students, those who take this course will spend their third year studying or working abroad, thereby immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a foreign country.

The languages available for study will be French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. German, Italian, Russian or Spanish may be learned from scratch or studied following on from an A-Level (or equivalent). Portuguese can be learnt from scratch but French will be post-A-Level (or equivalent) only.

Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. The History Faculty (http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/) is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked among the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. The Modern Languages Faculty (https://www.mmll.cam.ac.uk/) is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as one of the best in the UK in teaching and research. It offers an unrivalled range of courses taught by leading scholars. The library resources in Cambridge, which support teaching and research in both Faculties, are world-class; the University also has extensive collections of films in all relevant languages.

History and Modern Languages at Queens'

Applicants will also take an MML Cambridge College registered written assessment in College, based on a short text in English that we will supply. For post-A level language candidates, this hour-long assessment is designed to assess writing skills in a foreign language, the ability to understand an intellectual argument, and to write in English. For applicants to study a language from scratch, the hour-long assessment will assess aptitude for language learning and ability to understand an intellectual argument, writing in English. No special preparation or prior knowledge is required. 

You will be requested to provide two marked essays following your application. The interview for History concentrates on your written work and general historical themes and skills. The interview for MML will also entail discussion of a piece of writing in the relevant language (or in English, in the case of those applying for a language from scratch) provided prior to the interview.

In the first year, the college organises classes to help with the transition from school to university and to introduce students to important themes in the humanities and social sciences.

Director of Studies

Dr Gareth Atkins  - History 

Professor Martin Crowley - Languages

"History and Modern Languages come together to form one of the most diverse and engaging degrees you can study at Cambridge, and the support you'll get at Queens', from both the fellows and the other historians and linguists, ensures you get the most out of that experience. Being able to pursue two subjects side by side with the wealth of resources, support and facilities that Queens’ and Cambridge have to offer is a unique experience.

Learning in small groups for language classes and supervisions helps you to really focus on any problems I have and make real and fast progress through the course. Having individual or small group supervisions helps you to form, reflect on and voice your own opinions and enhance your understanding through genuine discussion and enquiry."

Ryan, 2nd year, History and Modern Languages


"Studying History and Modern Languages offers you the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects, and you get a real chance to tailor your course to suit your interests. Also, I have found that history and French have complemented each other nicely, and understanding the historical context has often enhanced my appreciation of literature."

Chris, 2nd year, History and Modern Languages