History

History is one of Peterhouse's strongest subjects, and in turn Peterhouse is one of the university's top colleges for History. We have four fellows who between them can teach about a third of the papers available at Part I, along with a large contingent of History students amongst the undergraduates, usually of 10-12 per year. The college library is also exceptionally well-stocked in historical material, so you'll be able to find a lot of the books you require without going to the UL or Faculty library.

Depending on your choice of papers, it is possible that you will not have supervisions with any Peterhouse fellows for the duration of your course, but you will nonetheless be very much aware of their presence. One of them will be your Director of Studies and will monitor your progress, find you supervisors, and deal with any course-related problems you may have. The historians in your year group will also have classes with one or more of the fellows to teach the Historical Argument and Practice (HAP) paper that you take in third year. Peterhouse historians form a fairly strong social group in college, with a History Society meeting a few times a term for talks and drinks, as well as an annual dinner that is a celebrated event on the Petrean calendar.

In terms of contact hours, History has far fewer than most other subjects, with about eight hours of lectures/classes a week and a weekly supervision lasting one hour. Supervisions, for which you are required to produce an essay of 2000-3000 words, are absolutely compulsory: it's just you (and perhaps one or two other students) and your supervisor, and absence will most definitely be noticed. Attendance at lectures, on the other hand, is not checked and few History students go to all of them. Although this is often a result of laziness, it is not necessarily advisable to attend all lectures, as they are of variable quality, and you are likely only to cover a fraction of the possible topics of a paper with your supervisor, whereas the lectures put on by the Faculty will cover everything.

Thanks to this lecture-light timetable, the science students may tease you mercilessly for your 'doss degree', and you may smugly revel in lie-ins while they are going to 9am lectures six days a week. In reality, though, the amount of work you will be expected to do in your own time is higher than in the science subjects, as the majority of your degree is learnt by reading and note-taking. The amount of time you spend reading will be determined in part by the speed at which you work, but to a greater extent by the proportion of your time you wish to devote to your subject. You can really make what you want of a History degree: it is possible to do reasonably well without a huge amount of work, but if you want to do really well or simply enjoy the subject, there is ample scope (if not time) to read more widely.