Interdisciplinary Summer Programme

2016 ISP BR 200x155 72dpi

Term I: 3 16 July 2016
Term II: 17  30 July 2016
Term III: 31 July 13 August 2016
Programme Director: Sarah J Ormrod

The three terms of our Interdisciplinary Programme offer courses covering a wide variety of subjects including philosophy, economics, international politics and relations, literature, history, archaeology, art history and history of science. You can select courses in the same discipline or study more widely by choosing courses in differing subject areas.

The academic programme

  • Two or three special subject courses
  • Plenary lecture series: Ideas and Influence
  • Evening talks

Special subject courses

Courses consist of classroom sessions held on weekdays. Almost all are limited to 25 participants. You choose either two or three courses, each from a different group: A, B, C in Term I, II or III.

Term I:

Group A: 9.00am 10.15am

A11 - International politics in a global age I
A12 - Britain and the Great War
A13 - Russia: from Lenin to Putin
A14 - The English Renaissance: myth, magic and make-believe
A15 - British political thought, 1600-1800
A16 - Shakespeare: Hamlet and Measure for Measure
A17 - The Scientific Revolution 

Group B: 11.45am  1.00pm

B11 - International politics in a global age I
B12 - International development: key issues in today's world
B13 - Britain's global decline, 1900-2000
B14 - Religion, revenge and revolt in the English Renaissance
B15 - Politicising art, 1500-1970
B16 - Fairy tales and visions: the Romantics and Jane Austen
B17 - Great ancient and medieval philosophers 

Group C: 2.00pm  3.15pm

C11 - International politics in a global age I
C12 - Landscape history of England
C13 - Civil War and revolution: Britain divided, 1640-60
C14 - An introduction to academic writing
C15 - Painting Paris: French painting, 1860-90
C16 - Villains in literature: "something wicked this way comes"

Term II:

Group A: 9.00am  10.15am

A21 - International politics in a global age II
A22 - The British Empire in literature and film
A23 - Understanding poetry
A24 - Why the English Renaissance killed chivalry
A25 - Words, deeds and democracy: British political thought, 1800 to the present
A26 - Economics of public policy
A27 - An introduction to animal behaviour
A28 - Advanced academic writing

Group B: 11.45am  1.00pm

B21 - International politics in a global age II
B22 - The imperial French: Napoleon and after
B23 - The philosophy of mind
B24 - Art and power: how value is made
B25 - Living film - a life in pictures?
B26 - An introduction to macroeconomics
B27 - Ancient engineering
B28 - Three great Tragedies: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Macbeth and King Lear

Group C: 2.00pm  3.15pm

C21 - International politics in a global age II
C22 - Disreputable reading: 19th-century sensation and detective fiction
C23 - Great modern philosophers 
C24 - Ancient medicine 
C25 - Making film: media theory and practice  
C26 - J R R Tolkien and modern fantasy

Term III:

Group A: 9.00am  10.15am

A31 - International politics in a global age III
A32 - Great short stories
A33 - Monuments in the landscape: from Stonehenge to the Shard
A34 - The English Renaissance: myth, magic and make-believe
A35 - The Church at war with itself: religion in 16th- and 17th-century England
A36 - Britain’s leaders: the challenge of governing in the 21st century
A37 - Introducing psychology: mind, mental process and behaviour

Group B: 11.45am  1.00pm

B31 - International politics in a global age III
B32 - English houses and gardens: defining 'Englishness' from 1130 to 2016
B33 - Rome and China
B34 - Religion, revenge and revolt in the English Renaissance
B35 - The metropolis: imaging the city
B36 - Galileo and his world
B37 - More's Utopia: a 500th anniversary review
B38 - The abnormal mind: an introduction to psychopathology

Group C: 2.00pm  3.15pm

C31 - International politics in a global age III
C32 - Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown: transforming England’s great estates
C33 - The Aztecs: conquerors and conquered
C34 - Loves in literature from Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney
C35 - Women painters: breaking taboos 
C36 - Early Islamic science 

Plenary lectures

The morning plenary lecture series focuses on Ideas and Influence. Talks will consider significant literary, artistic, historical and scientific influences. Invited speakers and provisional topics include:

Dr Laura Moretti: Japanese book illustrations: influences of picture scrolls on manga
Professor Sir Mike Gregory: Making the most of ideas
Dr Karen Ottewell: History of English
Dr Karen Ottewell: Regional influences on spoken English: British dialects
Professor Peter Robinson: Emotionally intelligent computers
Dr John Robb: The changing idea of the body
Professor François Penz: The culture of the image
Dr Michael Ramage: Natural structure, form and force
Professor Barry Strauss: Caesar, Shakespeare and Us: from ancient history to modern legend
Dr Frank Woodman: 1066 and the influence of the Norman Invasion
Lee de-Witt: How can psychological ideas influence public policy formation and politics?
Carina O’Reilly: International relations and the European crisis
Dr Frank Woodman: The Crusades and their influence on Western castle design and warfare
Dr Andrew Lacey: The Great Fire of London, 1666: sparking ideas and influences
Dr Pedro Saffi: How finance influences the economy
Dr Catherine Alexander: Creating tragedy: Othello
John Jackson: The impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Europe

Evening and afternoon talks

Invited speakers and members of the University will present a varied evening (and occasional afternoon) programme, covering a wide range of subjects. Planned talks include:

Professor Lord Rowan Williams: Antigone, Ancient and Modern: from Sophocles to Anouilh and beyond
Dr Lucilla Burn: Celebrating 200 years: the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1816-2016
Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: New light on Rome
Michael Wood: Travels on the Silk Road
Professor Paul Cartledge: The roots of democracy
Dr James Grime: The Enigma code-breaking machine
Louis de Bernières: A conversation with Louis de Bernières
Dr Catherine Alexander: Remembering Shakespeare
Dr Fred Parker: An Introduction to Macbeth
Professor Chris Lintott: I want to believe: an astronomer’s view of aliens
John Jackson: The impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on her neighbours
Dr John Lennard: Introduction to A Midsummer Night's Dream
Dr Catherine Alexander: An introduction to Cymbeline
Vivien Heilbron and David Rintoul: Exits and entrances
Dr Karen Ottewell: How English works

A typical day

If you have opted to do three special subject courses, each weekday morning you attend a class from Group A, followed by a plenary lecture, followed by a class from Group B. In the afternoons you attend a class from Group C. General interest lectures are offered in the evenings.

College accommodation

Accommodation is available for participants who want to stay in a Cambridge College. Please see the accommodation options and accommodation fees available for this programme.

Non-residential attendance is also available if participants prefer to find their own lodgings.

Information for applicants

Programme calendar (pdf version, 32KB)
Who can apply
How to apply (pdf version, 90KB)
What happens next?
Tuition and accommodation fees (pdf versions, 46KB and 42KB)
Language requirements
Visa guidance
Booking terms and conditions


The quickest way to apply is by using our secure online booking system. You can also apply by downloading an application form (pdf) and sending it by post or fax.