History and Modern Languages


Number of students per year: 1 -2 


Typical offer: A*AA at A-level or 7 7 6 (42+ overall) in the IB. For other qualifications, please click here.


Essential subjects: 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.

Submitted work: Please send in two history essays. 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 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.

Key People


Dr Elizabeth Foyster

College Lecturer & Director of Studies (Part I)

Dr Foyster's field of research is the social history of Britain from the seventeenth to the mid nineteenth century. She specialises in family and gender history. 

She has published on topics such as children and marriage breakdown, remarriage, and parenting.  Her most recent research has been investigating the impact on eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English families of caring for people with learning difficulties and mental illness.

Her most recent book examines the life of the 3rd earl of Portsmouth, who was the subject of a sensational Commission of Lunacy in 1823.

Modern Languages Teaching Fellows


Dr Timothy Chesters

University Senior Lecturer in Sixteenth-Century French Studies

Dr Chesters is a specialist in sixteenth-century French literature and thought. He is the author of Ghost Stories in Late Renaissance France: Walking by Night (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), as well as of a number of articles on early modern French demonology, Ronsard, and Montaigne.

Other research interests and publications bear on attitudes to the French Renaissance among nineteenth-century writers and thinkers (with a particular emphasis on Flaubert), and on cognitive approaches to literature, especially in Renaissance contexts. He has reviewed for French Studies, Modern Language Review, and the Times Literary Supplement.