Old courses at Oxbridge?Watch
Modern History, rather than just History used to be offered at Cambridge. A lawyer I know studied it. He studied it in 1968 and it covered the years 1830 to 1945- quite a narrow chronological range and focus for a top university.
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We don't have the detailed syllabuses online. These are in another publication the Examination Regulations and I can't find an online copy.
An examination generally taken before matriculation. This tested school knowledge but was quite apart from the scholarship and entrance examinations run by colleges. A common entrance examination for all the colleges was decades away. Responsions was known as "Smalls". However, an increasing number of applicants were able to be dispensed from Responsions by passing teh new school examinations. Responsions was eventually abolished and replaced by a matriculation requirement of 2 Higher School Certificate/ A level passes and 5 O level/GCSE passes to include a classical or modern language, English and either maths or a science. The last vestige of Responsions can be found in this footnote in the current Regulations http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/0..._MEMBERS.shtml
First Public Examination
Everyone had to do an examination in scripture (called Divvers) unless he objected in which case he could offer a Greek text or Asian in which case he could offer a Sanskrit, Arabic, Pali or Old Chinese text.
Thereafter candidates divided into those studying for a pass degree (the overwhelming majority) and those studying for an honours degree. Those studying for a pass degree offered Greek and Latin texts, Greek and Latin translation, Latin composition, Euclid and Algebra. Again Asians could offer an Eastern language instead of either Greek or Latin. Honours students had to do either Honour Mods in classics or maths. I think the next mods along (after this time) were the (non-honour) Law Mods and eventually every subject had its own Honour Mods (excepting law which kept its pass mods) or Prelims. In recent years many subjects have switched from mods to Prelims. However, as you will see, originally Prelims was not a substitute for mods but an additional examination.
Second Public Examination
Candidates again had a choice between the Pass School or one of the honour schools but to sit for an honour school one had to sit Honour Mods.
These Regulations from 1906 reflect the reforms of 1871 with the two original Honour schools of Literae Humaniores (Greats) and Mathematics and the split schools of Modern History and Jurisprudence which prior to 1871 were joined together. The new schools from the late 19th century, Theology (added because the theological content of degrees in general had much reduced), Natural Science, English and Oriental Studies followed with Modern Languages being brand new. Natural Science, then as now, was a composite subject with the expectation that candidates would offer only one of physics, chemistry, animal physiology, zoology, botany, geology and astronomy. This book preceded the creation of Modern Greats (PPE). Each candidate had to do a preliminary examination and a final examination in the relevant subject.
However most candidates would do the Pass School. The Pass School had no finals. Candidates were prepared for each subject and sat the exam in the term when they were ready. There was a very wide variety of subjects on offer (and in many cases the exams were the Prelim in the equivalent honour school. Each candidate had to pass in three subjects from a combination of the papers on offer. The number of Pass School candidates declined throughout the 20th century and in the latter part, a candidate only offered himself once every few years, but the Pass School limped on until 2007. Personally I think it would have been wonderful to have had the chance of doing a degree in Sanskrit, botany and military engineering and topography.