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History Course at Oxford vs at Cambridge

Greetings everyone!!

My reason for making this post is that I've (rather suddenly) come across the dilemma of choosing between Oxford or Cambridge to apply for History-History and French (still contemplating)

*Brief Backstory* Up until a few days ago I was deadset on applying to Oxford and had been since I was around 13 for reasons I'm not entirely sure. I think it must have stemmed from a fascination with the sheer age of the University and simply knowing of it first, but I couldn't say definitively.

However, recently I decided to have a look at the courses at Cambridge so I could be content that I was making the right decision for me and was quite surprised with the range of different modules offered within each component of the Tripos system (which I only know a little about since I've just since started researching it). It made Oxford's selection seem a lot smaller in comparison, especially with the mandatory modules that Cambridge didn't appear to have.

Although the information I found about Cambridge's history course was through their faculty website I couldn't find any course-specific information on Oxford's history faculty site (this may be user error), which has led me to wonder if there's just something I'm missing. Or if the difference between the two in terms of the History course is much greater than I originally believed.

What I also find confusing is that I've heard similar statements such as 'this course at x is more flexible than at y' made in favour of both universities, which hasn't helped me to understand.

I feel I should also mention that statistics such as which college focuses more on GSCEs aren't my focus when choosing a university as I'm Australian so they don't apply to me. From what I understand their methods are highly similar (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) so I would like my decision to be as course focused as possible.

If anyone would be able to help me fully understand the differences, or if any Oxbridge History/ History & ML students/applicants would share why they chose their college/college they're applying to it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :smile:
Hello again! I don't know if you have seen these pages but this would be the most detailed course information for oxford:

https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/ba-history
https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/ba-history-and-modern-languages

Oxford do have mandatory components like 'History of the British Isles' but there are options within that that you choose to study. To my knowledge the Oxford history course has the most options to study in the country, and thus they are not all available to see online. Even the 'historical methods' module has four different choices in it. Also the options available change from year to year. I do not know what kind of breadth is offered by Cambridge as I applied to Oxford and did not really research Cambridge, but there is definitely not less choice at Oxford.
Original post by onesiphorous
Hello again! I don't know if you have seen these pages but this would be the most detailed course information for oxford:

https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/ba-history
https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/ba-history-and-modern-languages

Oxford do have mandatory components like 'History of the British Isles' but there are oNice ptions within that that you choose to study. To my knowledge the Oxford history course has the most options to study in the country, and thus they are not all available to see online. Even the 'historical methods' module has four different choices in it. Also the options available change from year to year. I do not know what kind of breadth is offered by Cambridge as I applied to Oxford and did not really research Cambridge, but there is definitely not less choice at Oxford.

It's nice to see you again! :smile: I had not seen those pages but they are very helpful, thank you. I had a feeling there had to be somewhere with more information that I just couldn't find. This is some very reassuring news as my entire plan for where I wanted to study was thrown into limbo so I'm glad to hear that the choice is roughly the same if not even more. I appreciate your help!! If you don't mind, may I ask why you chose Oxford yourself? Like I said I can't really explain my reasoning so I would like to know that of others.
Original post by closetarchivist
It's nice to see you again! :smile: I had not seen those pages but they are very helpful, thank you. I had a feeling there had to be somewhere with more information that I just couldn't find. This is some very reassuring news as my entire plan for where I wanted to study was thrown into limbo so I'm glad to hear that the choice is roughly the same if not even more. I appreciate your help!! If you don't mind, may I ask why you chose Oxford yourself? Like I said I can't really explain my reasoning so I would like to know that of others.

I chose Oxford after having visited the natural history museum before I was thinking about universities and liked the architecture (I visited other universities when deciding where to apply and just did not like the super-modern campuses), although for me it was definitely a local choice as I am only an hour away from Oxford by train or a 40 min drive. Plus, applying for history I found the entry requirements for Oxford more easy to understand with plentiful resources on the HAT and all that kind of thing. Architecture you can get at Cambridge as well of course and travel time doesn't really matter to you I guess because you'll be coming in by airport. It's just a personal choice for everyone I guess, they are very similar.
Original post by closetarchivist
Greetings everyone!!

My reason for making this post is that I've (rather suddenly) come across the dilemma of choosing between Oxford or Cambridge to apply for History-History and French (still contemplating)

*Brief Backstory* Up until a few days ago I was deadset on applying to Oxford and had been since I was around 13 for reasons I'm not entirely sure. I think it must have stemmed from a fascination with the sheer age of the University and simply knowing of it first, but I couldn't say definitively.

However, recently I decided to have a look at the courses at Cambridge so I could be content that I was making the right decision for me and was quite surprised with the range of different modules offered within each component of the Tripos system (which I only know a little about since I've just since started researching it). It made Oxford's selection seem a lot smaller in comparison, especially with the mandatory modules that Cambridge didn't appear to have.

Although the information I found about Cambridge's history course was through their faculty website I couldn't find any course-specific information on Oxford's history faculty site (this may be user error), which has led me to wonder if there's just something I'm missing. Or if the difference between the two in terms of the History course is much greater than I originally believed.

What I also find confusing is that I've heard similar statements such as 'this course at x is more flexible than at y' made in favour of both universities, which hasn't helped me to understand.

I feel I should also mention that statistics such as which college focuses more on GSCEs aren't my focus when choosing a university as I'm Australian so they don't apply to me. From what I understand their methods are highly similar (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) so I would like my decision to be as course focused as possible.

If anyone would be able to help me fully understand the differences, or if any Oxbridge History/ History & ML students/applicants would share why they chose their college/college they're applying to it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :smile:

It's worth checking which modules at Oxford are just compulsory for prelims, as you only do these in first year and they don't count towards your final degree classification. The degree really opens up in second year, and there are a *lot* of choices available. I'm having a great time studying history here, I would really recommend it.
Original post by emilyalexandria
It's worth checking which modules at Oxford are just compulsory for prelims, as you only do these in first year and they don't count towards your final degree classification. The degree really opens up in second year, and there are a *lot* of choices available. I'm having a great time studying history here, I would really recommend it.

Thank-you for responding! I’m not super familiar with the term ‘prelims’ (I did just google it) but I’m assuming that Cambridge would have them too? After looking at the links that were posted here I think I’m starting to get it though my brain that compulsory doesn’t automatically equal less choice. May I ask you also what prompted you to choose Oxford?
Original post by closetarchivist
Thank-you for responding! I’m not super familiar with the term ‘prelims’ (I did just google it) but I’m assuming that Cambridge would have them too? After looking at the links that were posted here I think I’m starting to get it though my brain that compulsory doesn’t automatically equal less choice. May I ask you also what prompted you to choose Oxford?

Prelims are just the name of the exams you do in first year, you just need to pass them to continue to final honours school. I think most courses at Cambridge are similar. I chose Oxford primarily due to personal circumstances, as they seemed to care much more about socioeconomic disadvantage, and my status as a care leaver. Cambridge also had higher entry requirements for my course, and I worried about how covid might affect my final results. A few friends failed to meet their Cambridge offers on results day, and it really put me off. Either way, I've never met anyone that wished they'd applied to the other university - for most people it's just personal preference.
Original post by closetarchivist
Greetings everyone!!

My reason for making this post is that I've (rather suddenly) come across the dilemma of choosing between Oxford or Cambridge to apply for History-History and French (still contemplating)

*Brief Backstory* Up until a few days ago I was deadset on applying to Oxford and had been since I was around 13 for reasons I'm not entirely sure. I think it must have stemmed from a fascination with the sheer age of the University and simply knowing of it first, but I couldn't say definitively.

However, recently I decided to have a look at the courses at Cambridge so I could be content that I was making the right decision for me and was quite surprised with the range of different modules offered within each component of the Tripos system (which I only know a little about since I've just since started researching it). It made Oxford's selection seem a lot smaller in comparison, especially with the mandatory modules that Cambridge didn't appear to have.

Although the information I found about Cambridge's history course was through their faculty website I couldn't find any course-specific information on Oxford's history faculty site (this may be user error), which has led me to wonder if there's just something I'm missing. Or if the difference between the two in terms of the History course is much greater than I originally believed.

What I also find confusing is that I've heard similar statements such as 'this course at x is more flexible than at y' made in favour of both universities, which hasn't helped me to understand.

I feel I should also mention that statistics such as which college focuses more on GSCEs aren't my focus when choosing a university as I'm Australian so they don't apply to me. From what I understand their methods are highly similar (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) so I would like my decision to be as course focused as possible.

If anyone would be able to help me fully understand the differences, or if any Oxbridge History/ History & ML students/applicants would share why they chose their college/college they're applying to it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you :smile:

I didn't do History, but did Law, which has a similar exam structure (Mods/ Prelims in first year, no exams in second year, and Finals in third year).

If I had to reapply again, I would seriously consider applying to Cambridge just because the Tripos system requires yearly exams and your final degree classification is determined by an algorithm which presumably takes into account your performance across all years, although Cambridge doesn't explicitly state this (you could write to the Cambridge History Faculty to clarify this). Oxford Finals covers content across two years, which means a) more content to cover and b) more pressure because your entire degree classification hinges on one set of exams.

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