At Clare we welcome students with a curiosity about the past, and a passion for learning.  Clare History Fellows have a wide range of historical interests, including British, American and African history, which they enjoy sharing with students during supervisions and seminars.  Clare history students not only excel academically, they also contribute to College life in a variety of ways, from sport to music and drama.


Number of students per year
Typical offer

The minimum offer is A*AA at A-level, or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) from Higher Level subjects in the IB. For other qualifications, please see the University entrance requirements page.

Essential subjects

A level/IB Higher Level History or the equivalent

Useful subjects

Writing-intensive or essay-based subjects will prepare you well for studying History at Cambridge.

Written work required to apply

Two history essays will be required between roughly 1500 and 2500 words and including teachers’ comments, if possible. We will not accept short answers based on document exercises or non-history essays; nor will we accept exam answers. The essay should be on a topic which has engaged your interest, and on which you feel you have something to say. Above all it should contain an argument.

History at Clare

Clare has a strong teaching side in History, which covers a wide range of specialisms. This encourages lively seminars and discussion. In common with other Cambridge colleges, though, we do not expect to be able to cover all interests, and so where appropriate arrange for students to be supervised by fellows in other colleges.

We are proud of the academic successes of Clare history students and we have a track record of students obtaining the top grades.  But while we expect our students to find their work challenging, and so to study hard, we also don’t want them to spend all their time in the library. 

Recent and current history students at Clare have achieved a ‘blue’ by competing in University sports, have tried rowing for the first time, sung in the world-famous Clare Choir, acted and worked back-stage, and taken a variety of roles in the Union of Clare Students. A succession of Presidents of the UCS have been history students. Clare historians enjoy regular social events, including an annual dinner and a garden party.

Above all in Clare, we try to provide our historians with a milieu that is both intellectually stimulating, and friendly and supportive. We appreciate that our students may come to university with diverse expectations and experience, and their needs as individuals may vary considerably. We take account of this, and provide an environment in which students of all kinds will be able to make the most of their abilities.

Visit the University's subject page for more information.

Dr Elizabeth Foyster's advice for prospective applicants: Follow your historical interests, and don't feel you need to stick with topics and periods on your school curriculum. Of course, reading books by historians is great, but there isn't always time when you are managing A levels and extra-curricular activities. Book reviews are a great short-cut and can be found online (such as, as well as in weekend newspaper supplements. These can give you a taste of the variety of history books that are being published today, insights into historical debates and criticism, and may even encourage you to read the book they are discussing. The Rest is History is a great podcast presented by academic historians, and covers a wide range of historical themes. You can also watch many historical documentaries and films on the TV. Fiction that was written in the past can evoke the 'feel' of a historical period so read novels, plays or poems if this appeals to you. Doing History at University isn't just about studying the work by other historians, but learning the skills of being a historian. You too can do history! You might be lucky enough to live near a record office or archive, and these are free to use and might have talks on local history to attend. Researching your family tree can be eye-opening (think about the TV series Who do you think you are?) and you can practice what is called 'oral history' by asking your older relatives and friends to recall memories of their past. Investigating the history of your home, street, town or school can reveal secrets and details of the places where you live or visit everyday. Museums give you the chance to see the 'material culture' of the past, and art galleries provide visual representations of historical events and people. Be curious and ask questions about what you read and discover. The past is everywhere: you can make it come alive!

Dr Andrew Preston's advice for prospective applicants: My advice to any student, especially someone interested in studying History, is to read widely, not just about History, but also novels and literary non-fiction. They'll want to read for fun, and that's great, but getting into the habit of reading serious works isn't only enjoyable, and broadens horizons, it also makes the reader a better writer. The best way to improving one's writing skills is to read widely.

Elizabeth Foyster image 2

Dr Foyster's field of research is the social history of Britain from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century, with particular interests in the history of the family.  Her research examines historical experiences of mental health and illness, learning disabilities, and causes of mortality in early nineteenth-century Britain.

Director of Studies in History
John Guy image 2

Dr Guy's research interests include Early Modern British History (emphasis on politics, religion, art and political culture) and related aspects of Medieval History. 

He was also pleased to announce that his 2004 biography of Mary Queen of Scots is now a major film. Dr John Guy's biography My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots was adapted as a feature film with Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth.

JOHN GUY History
Fellow in History
Hubertus Jahn image

Dr Jahn's research interests include Russian and East European history, particularly Russian social and cultural history, national identity and nationalism, popular culture, poverty, deviance and crime, history of St.Petersburg, history of the South Caucasus, Caucasus studies.

Director of Studies
Andrew Preston image

I specialize in the history of American foreign relations. More specifically, my teaching and research interests lie in the intersections between the national and the international, the foreign and the domestic, including the influence that domestic politics and culture—particularly religion—have had on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

Director of Studies in History
Ruth Watson image

My interest in African history arises from having spent some of my childhood in the ancient Yoruba city of Ile-Ife, where I completed my primary schooling and also attended secondary school. After a short spell at a comprehensive school in Leeds, Yorkshire, I went back to my home country of Australia, where I developed a strong desire to return to Nigeria and discover more about its past. My PhD examined chieftaincy in the Yoruba city of Ibadan during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. My current project is titled ‘Crowds in World History’. Partly inspired by my work on African urban cultures, it explores ‘the crowd’ as a social and historical category. 

Director of Studies in History