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Image of 'The liberty of the subject' by James Gillray
Image: 'The liberty of the subject' by James Gillray NPG D12280, modified (by zoom) with permission from the National Portrait Gallery, London. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.


  • Number of students per year: five to seven
  • Typical offer: A*AA or equivalent
  • Essential subjects: none
  • Useful subjects: A-Level History

Jesus College has a distinguished tradition in the teaching and writing of history.

It's also a deeply historic location and community in which to pursue the study of the past. Our medieval cloister, chapel, and Old Library are surrounded by Tudor, 18th century, Victorian, and modern College buildings, recalling the periods which all students of History at Jesus will study.

Our traditions are important to us, but we are a forward looking, friendly, and open College that welcomes students from every school background and every part of the world. We're committed to widening access to Cambridge, and provide strong support and encouragement to our students to help them excel in their studies. Our first priority is to admit bright students with a genuine love of History.

The interests of the current Fellows in History range widely across different periods and places; all of the History Fellows regularly teach Jesus undergraduates. We place particular emphasis on getting to know our undergraduates and teaching them in College, as well as sending them to expert supervisors in other Colleges.

We have between 25 and 30 undergraduate historians at Jesus. There are also typically between 10 and 15 postgraduate students doing MPhil and PhD degrees in History and related subjects. Together, they form a lively and friendly community of historians.

Our student run History Society and other events give students a chance to socialise together outside of work. Recent Jesus history undergraduates have gone on to postgraduate study in History and other subjects, and to careers in areas including law, the civil service, the charity sector, management consultancy, journalism, social work, museum and gallery work, and theatre directing.

Find out more on the University webpage.


Our typical conditional offer is for an A* and two A grades at A-Level or equivalent. 

An A-Level in History is the normal qualification for reading History at Jesus. However, it's not absolutely essential. History at university level is an interdisciplinary field that draws on a variety of skills which can be acquired in different ways.

We welcome applications from students with other qualifications comparable to A Level, such as the Scottish Advanced Highers, the International Baccalaureate, and other school leaving examinations.

Written assessment

Before your interview you'll need to complete a written assessment at an authorised local centre, most likely your school or college. This assessment will take place on the 30th October. No special knowledge or preparation is needed for this, it's designed to test your historical skills and thinking. For more information see the University undergraduate History pages.


You'll have two interviews, lasting around 25 minutes each. Each interview will be with two Fellows in History from the College, or with other historians. One interview will feature discussion of source material such as images, texts, or a journal article. You'll be given one hour before the interview to study this material. The other interview will feature a more general academic discussion of the subject.

The interviews give us a chance to engage in a conversation about your interests in history. We want to assess your academic potential to study the subject, but we also want to know why you are interested in studying History, what kinds of history you enjoy and why. We may also ask you some questions about your submitted essays (see below). The interview also gives you a chance to ask us questions.

Written work

You'll be asked to submit one piece of written work. Writing skills are fundamental to success in the Cambridge History course. Please send us an example of what you consider to be your best work, preferably a coursework essay or an essay written as part of your course. Please choose something from your History A-Level, if you are taking it.

Deferred and post A-Level entry

We're happy to consider post A-Level and deferred applications in History. We also welcome applications from mature students. You will normally have already achieved A*AA at A-Level, and your application must go through the normal competitive process with the other applicants. The College is also happy to consider second time applicants without prejudice.

Find out how to apply to study at Jesus.


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