Key facts

Average number of students offered a place per year


Average number of applicants per year


Standard Offer Conditions

Our standard conditional offer for this subject is usually A*AA at A level or 43 points overall and 7, 7, 6 at Higher Level in IB.  All Colleges may modify offers to take account of individual circumstances.  Further information can be found here.

The Course

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 and contemporary politics. Students will also develop analytical skills in History through a wide range of topics in British, European, American and World history, as well as the history of political thought. There will be 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.

As of 2018 entry, the languages available for study will be:

French (post A Level)
German (from scratch or post-A Level)
Spanish (from scratch or post-A Level)
Italian (from scratch or post-A Level)
Portuguese (from scratch)
Russian (from scratch or post-A Level)

Both faculties are regarded worldwide as leaders in their respective fields. The History Faculty ( is one of the largest in the United Kingdom and is consistently ranked as the best in research and teaching assessments. It has internationally recognised experts in all relevant fields of study. The Modern Languages Faculty ( is the largest in the United Kingdom and also consistently rated as the best. It offers an unrivaled 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.

Course requirements

Applicants will have a variety of relevant examination qualifications, though not necessarily in both languages and history; they will be expected to demonstrate an interest in both subjects and will be assessed on their potential to succeed in them. All Colleges require A-Level/IB Higher level for the languages to be studied post-A level; and evidence of language ability for the languages studied from scratch. Downing College requires A-Level/IB Higher level in History.

The application process

Candidates should normally expect two interviews, one in each subject. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow. Applicants should submit two examples of recent work, which will be available to interviewers.   Prior to the interview in Cambridge applicants will take an admissions assessment in History. Applicants for will also take an MML 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.  

Explore further

Visit our Discover Downing website for resources related to: