Whether continuing a foreign language, or beginning one ab initio, studying History and ML at Clare allows you to combine a language with learning about past societies and cultures.  Clare has ML Fellows with expertise in French, Spanish, Italian and Russian, and History Fellows who research British, European, American and African history.  This four-year degree also includes a third year abroad during which you can  study or work.


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

History A level/IB Higher Level or equivalent. For French, German and Spanish, all applicants must be studying their chosen language at A-level/IB Higher Level or equivalent. 

Useful subjects

If you are applying to study a language from scratch, a history of language learning is very useful. Additionally, you may find History and other essay-based subjects to be good preparation.

Written work required to apply

For applicants proposing to study a language ab initio: 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.

For applicants proposing to study a language post A level: one history essay as above and one essay in the language you are proposing to study will be required.

History and Modern Languages at Clare

Clare has a strong reputation in both History and Modern Languages. It has six History Fellows with a wide range of specialisms. In Modern Languages, Clare has the largest number of Fellows in Cambridge, and language students have consistently achieved some of the top results in their final year. Descriptions of Fellows and their interests are listed below.​

In common with other Cambridge colleges, we do not expect to be able to cover all historical and language interests, and so where appropriate we arrange for students to be supervised by fellows in other colleges.

The College arranges small-group teaching for aspects of language work, and those studying French will be able to work with a lecteur/lectrice from the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Clare is ideally situated for Cambridge’s libraries. As well as a strong College library, the University Library is adjacent to the College.

Thanks to the Ford fund (named after Philip Ford, fellow in French 1982-2013), Clare is also able to offer financial assistance with HML students’ travel and visa expenses during their Year Abroad.

Visit the University's subject page for more information.


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
Anna Berman image

Dr Berman’s research focuses on the nineteenth-century Russian and English novel and questions about family, kinship structures, love, and marriage. Her current work is on Russia’s nineteenth-century women novelists (esp. Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaya and Evgenia Tur). 

ANNA BERMAN Modern & Medieval Languages
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
Helena Sanson image

Professor Sanson’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the history of the Italian language, literature and culture in Italy, between the Renaissance and the post-Unification period. She is particularly interested in the relationship between the history of linguistic thought and the history of women, as representative of the less learned, as well as in the role of women writers and women readers, in the same period. Among Professor Sanson’s other strands of interest are conduct literature for and about women, the history of translation in Italy and the role of women translators in the circulation of new ideas, and the popularization and dissemination of knowledge in Italy.

HELENA SANSON Modern & Medieval Languages
Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages
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
Tim Chesters

Professor Timothy Chesters is a specialist in French Renaissance literature. He has published on Renaissance demonology and witchcraft, as well as authors including Rabelais, Ronsard, and Montaigne, and on cognitive approaches to literature. He teaches Clare students French literature from the Middle Ages to the present day.

TIMOTHY CHESTERS Modern & Medieval Languages
Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages, Admissions Tutor for the Arts
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
Prof Rodrigo Cacho

Professor Cacho’s research focuses on Renaissance and Baroque cultures and Spanish American colonial literature. His scholarship has been concerned with literary genres such as burlesque and epic poetry, visual culture, and the works of Francisco de Quevedo. His latest project studies Spanish American early modern poetry, in particular the emergence of literary communities in the New World.

RODRIGO CACHO Modern & Medieval Languages
Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages