Skip to content

History & Modern Languages

Cambridge’s joint degree in History and Modern Languages will give students taking the course the opportunity to develop their knowledge of a foreign language and of the past together. An abundant range of papers can be taken across both subjects, and students will be encouraged to put their language skills to use in their studying of history. Those taking the course will also spend their third year studying or working abroad, further immersing themselves in the language, culture, history and politics of a country in which they are interested.

For entry in 2025, languages options are German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish from scratch or post-A Level/post-IB Higher Level; and French post-A Level/post-IB Higher Level.


Teaching at Trinity College

Trinity is very well-placed to offer teaching in History and Modern Languages. Among its Fellows are experts in all of the languages available in the joint degree, and also historians working in many different fields, from the early middle ages to the late twentieth-century.

In Modern Languages, French is taught by Dr Jean Khalfa, who has particular interests in writing in French from North Africa and the Caribbean. German is taught by Professor Mark Chinca, who works on medieval and early modern literature. Russian is taught by Professor Emma Widdis, who studies Soviet-era cinema.  Spanish is taught by Dr Carlos Fonseca, who lectures in Latin America Literature and Culture.

Among the historians teaching at Trinity are Professor Joya Chatterji, a specialist in modern world history, including India; Profesor Boyd Hilton, who teaches eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British history; Professor Sachiko Kusukawa, who teaches early modern Europe; Dr Daniel Larsen, who works on international and intelligence history; Professor Peter Sarris, a historian of late Antiquity with particular interests in Byzantium; Dr Richard Serjeantson, who teaches the history of political thought; Professor Samita Sen, an expert in global economic history and modern South Asia; Dr Damian Valdez, who is an historian of Germany; and Professor Tessa Webber, who teaches Anglo-Saxon history.

With so much expertise students can be confident that their interests will be fully fostered and catered for.

Course Details

Course length: 4 Years
Typical offer: A*AA
Preferred A-Level subjects: No
Assessment Format: Modern Languages assessment (post-A level languages), Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes), Discursive response in English (20 minutes); Modern Languages assessment (languages from scratch (ab initio)), Discursive response in English (40 minutes), Language Aptitude Test (20 minutes)


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. An A-Level/IB Higher level in History is desirable, though not necessarily absolutely required. If a candidate proposes to study Russian from scratch, evidence of language-learning ability will be required.

The Application Process

Candidates may normally expect two interviews, one in each subject. At interview applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and potential directions they may wish to follow. Applicants should submit two examples of recent written work, which may be discussed in the interviews.  Applicants for post-A-level languages will also take a written assessment based on a short text in English. 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. No special preparation is required.  Applicants for Russian from scratch will be assessed for language aptitude at interview.

Typical Conditional Offers

Our typical conditional offer for History and Modern Languages is A*AA at A-Level. IB offers are usually for a total of 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level.

Admissions Assessment

All applicants for History and Modern Languages are required to take the at interview assessment for Modern Languages, if interviewed.


At interview – Modern Languages assessment (post-A level languages):

  • Discursive response in Foreign Language (40 minutes)
  • Discursive response in English (20 minutes)

Modern Languages Admissions Assessment Specification

At interview – Modern Languages assessment (languages from scratch (ab initio)):

  • Discursive response in English (40 minutes)
  • Language aptitude test (20 minutes)

See the sample paper (including guidance on how to prepare) and answer booklet.

You do not need to register or be registered in advance for the written assessment at interview – the College will provide details of arrangements in the emails inviting applicants to interview.

Please note that your performance in the assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.

Teaching Staff

  • Professor Mark Chinca
  • Dr Emma Claussen
  • Dr Carlos Fonseca
  • Dr Christopher Jeppeson
  • Dr Jean Khalfa
  • Professor Peter Sarris
  • Professor Samita Sen
  • Dr Richard Serjeantson
  • Professor Emma Widdis

Course statistics from recent years


Applications received


Offers made



Applications received


Offers made



Applications received


Offers made



Applications received


Offers made

Back To Top
College Crest

Contact us

        Intranet | Student Hub

Access and Outreach Hub