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Department of Sociology



Ella (3rd Year HSPS)

I was immediately excited by the HSPS course because I knew it would enable me to try lots of different disciplines, with the potential of specialising in whatever I subject found most interesting. At school I had done a slightly unusual mixture of A-levels and was never completely sure what I wanted to do at university.

Although I had never studied sociology or anthropology before, I went to open days and example lectures and felt really excited by how the ideas challenged elements of social life that we assume to be natural or universal. This is what most attracted me to sociology- almost everything I studied felt relevant to my everyday life.

I frequently find that what we cover on the course comes up in conversations with friends and family, and I really think that as a sociologist I have become much more aware of how I interact with others and with the world around me.

Another element of sociology that I really enjoy is the flexibility of the course. You have a lot of control over how you want to structure your work; whether to take coursework modules or exams, if you want to take certain lecture series over others – I already feel that I have found my academic niche and hope that I can keep specialising past degree level.

I think the application process will always seem scary and intimidating, but although coming up for interview was incredibly nerve-racking, I actually really enjoyed my interview. They are structured much like supervisions, and you are encouraged to apply knowledge and work through problems that you probably won’t have seen before.

The best advice I can give in terms of preparation is to read through any current news stories that interest you, and make sure you feel confident with everything you have mentioned in your personal statement.

Although you can never predict what you will be asked, asking family, friends or teachers to give you mock interviews may help get you into the mind-set and make you feel calmer on the day.

I decided to study Sociology at Cambridge because there was no better place in the country to study this subject that I knew I was fascinated in. I loved the breadth of the course in first year, where I was able to study other social sciences and see how the other disciplines' ideas and methodologies can assist sociologists in our studies of the human world.

My favourite part of the course at the moment is that I can tailor it to my interests, and research beyond the curriculum, finding case studies that I am particularly interested in and applying them to the theories I am learning.


Alistair (3rd Year HSPS)

Belle (3rd Year HSPS)

I think the interdisciplinary nature of HSPS is fantastic, and is a rare find at a British university. I come from New Zealand where our national curriculum remains relatively wide throughout high school, unlike the British A-Level system which narrows students' scope of subjects from age sixteen.

I enjoyed studying a breadth of subjects and HSPS enabled me to continue doing so by choosing the joint Sociology and Politics track for my second and third year of university. I'm particularly interested in class and gender and this year I am writing my dissertation on class-based inequalities in the New Zealand education system.

Cambridge is an exciting and inspiring place to study sociology. The long-standing elitist and exclusive history of the university makes learning about social inequalities feel particularly pertinent, and the sociology faculty is one of the most progressive and proactive faculties at the University. For example, the Decolonise Sociology working group regularly organises discussions and events including a conversation between Angela Davis and Jackie Kay in April 2019.

If you've never studied sociology before applying - don't worry. I hadn't, and neither have the majority of students on the HSPS course. If you're passionate about inequalities and have an interest in learning about the systems and ideas which shape our social lives then I would encourage you to apply. I have found the staff in the Sociology faculty to be consistently friendly and supportive. It's a fantastic environment in which to learn, discuss, make mistakes and learn some more.

I'm currently a second year at Selwyn taking the politics and sociology double track. I love the HSPS Tripos because it has given me the opportunity to encounter a wide range of disciplines within my first year and study them in considerable depth.

From then, we can choose to specialise, but are still given some flexibility, which has allowed me to continue on with both politics and sociology. This interdisciplinary approach has allowed me to think critically about the social world in a way that no single-track degree would have prepared me for!

The sociology department provides an amazing selection of courses in the third year, and does an incredible job of providing the theoretical foundation necessary for further study in the first and second years. I have particularly enjoyed the papers on social theory, which are not only challenging on a theoretical level, but encourage an interrogation with actual social phenomena using the theoretical frameworks.

I also love that we have the option of doing a dissertation in our third year, which allows us to delve into a topic we are passionate about and get a taste of post-grad study.

Jessie (2nd Year HSPS)

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