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History

‘History’ at Oxford encompasses the history of the wider European and Mediterranean world since circa 300 AD, and of most of the rest of the world from the early modern period. Some of the topics included within it border on other fields of study:

  • Economic and Social History
  • History of Science and Medicine
  • History of Art

In that context, History recruits some students and borrows some staff from other disciplinary backgrounds. The Faculty administers and contributes to the teaching of a number of explicitly interdisciplinary Master’s programmes in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies and Medieval Studies.

Research programmes

DPhil and MLitt in History

Course Code | 000871

DPhil and MLitt in History (History of Science and Medicine & Economics and Social History)

Course Code | 003950

The whole range of the Faculty's research interests is covered including History of Science, History of Medicine and Economic History.

The DPhil entails the writing of a thesis of up to 100,000 words which may involve either the finding of new or re-examination of known sources. The DPhil programme is normally undertaken on a full-time basis but the History Faculty is able to accept a limited number of doctoral applicants as part-time students if their profession or employment arrangements allow for the necessary commitment of time and regular participation and contribution to the academic life of the Faculty, and as long as they do not require a visa for studying in the United Kingdom.  

The MLitt involves writing a thesis of up to 50,000 words which is usually based on original sources, printed or manuscript. 

During the first year and for part of the second year, candidates for either degree pursue a mixed course of skills training (palaeography, statistics etc. as appropriate), seminars and paper writing, while preparing a detailed outline of their thesis under the guidance of a supervisor. They may be required to attend certain classes provided for the various taught graduate programmes described below.

How to Apply

The deadline for the DPhil in History are 22 November 2013 and 24 January 2014.

The deadlines for the DPhil in History (History of Science and Medicine, Economic and Social History) are 22 November 2013, 24 January 2014 and 14 March 2014.

All those seeking funding from Research Council, University, Faculty, or Faculty-College linked resources must apply by the January deadline at the latest.

The standard set of materials you should send with any application to a research course comprises:

In addition to the standard documents above, applicants to either of the DPhil programmes in History should provide two (2) relevant academic essays or other writing samples from their most recent qualification of 2,000 words each, or 2,000-word extracts of longer work.

Alternatively, applicants to these programmes may provide one (1) longer writing sample of 4,000 to 5,000 words.  

The research proposal for applicants to all DPhil programmes in History is expected to supply your research question, discuss its historiographical context, give an indication of the kinds of sources you have identified and expect to use, and outline your methodological approach to dealing with the sources and constructing your thesis. 

Please follow the detailed instructions in the Application Guide, and consult the History website for any additional guidance.

Taught programmes

Course navigation

The Master’s programmes offered by the History Faculty provide an entry route into Oxford research degrees, but may also function as free-standing programmes of study. They provide a grounding in research methods in some given field of historical knowledge.

Taught programmes last for 9, 11 and 12 months (for MSts, MScs) and 21 months (for MPhils). Students completing the substantial dissertation required for an MPhil may apply for readmission to the DPhil programme and develop their MPhil thesis into a doctoral thesis by extending their primary research base in an additional one or two years.

MSt in Medieval History

Course Code | 003780 

This programme provides the normal entry route to research degrees for all medieval historians not already holding relevant Master’s degrees, or seeking qualification through an interdisciplinary programme such as the MSt or MPhil in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies or MSt in Medieval Studies. It balances taught classes, language training and independent research. Oxford’s strength in medieval history means that almost any area of medieval European history can be studied. Language training is available in Latin, most modern languages, medieval languages (including Celtic, Romance and Germanic languages), and Greek.

The taught classes consist of a core course in the first term focusing on historical methods, and a choice of optional subjects in the second term, with a chronological spread across the Middle Ages. Candidates will also work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted in August.

MSt in Modern British & European History

Course Code | 000893

This Master’s programme meets the needs of students seeking the experience of graduate study and research in post-medieval history of the area, including those wishing to prepare themselves for doctoral work.

Research training in historical theory, methods, sources and resources is combined with the focussed study of options which showcase recent historiography and approaches.

This class work parallels supervised pursuit of a research project. Candidates will work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted for examination in late May.

MSt in Global and Imperial History

Course Code | 000892

This programme meets the needs of students seeking the experience of graduate study and research in either Commonwealth and Imperial, or South Asian, or East Asian history, including those wishing to prepare themselves for doctoral work. In each stream, research training is combined with broad conceptual approaches that encourage students to learn from the recent historiographies of different periods and areas and with focused studies of periods or themes. This class work parallels supervised pursuit of a research project. Candidates will work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted for examination in late May.

MSt in Modern South Asian Studies

Course Code | 003749

This is a joint course between the faculties of History and Oriental Studies. Students on the course are able to combine intensive language learning with the study of the histories, societies and cultures of South Asia and neighbouring regions.

The course is designed either to be taken in preparation for doctoral work, or to offer a terminal degree in preparation for professional work in which knowledge of the societies and languages of South Asia and their associated intellectual disciplines may be an advantage.

The programme consists of four components: the core course, 'History and Culture of South Asia'; a paper in a South Asian language; an optional paper; a dissertation of no more than 15,000 words.

MSt in US History

Course Code | 000894

This programme meets the needs of students seeking the experience of graduate study and research in the history of the United States and its colonial antecedents, including those wishing to prepare themselves for doctoral work in this field.

Students receive training in methods and evidence in the history of the United States of America and study US historiography and contemporary historical debates. Teaching is through participation in classes and research seminars, enhanced by tutorial sessions.

This class work parallels supervised pursuit of a research project. Candidates will work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted for examination in late May.

MPhil in Modern British and European History

Course Code | 000895

The joint initial theoretical and methodological training with the MSt in Modern British and European History is enhanced for this degree by a class on the contemporary writing of history in the first year. In addition students expand their contextual understanding by choosing from a menu of thematic options which showcase recent historiography and approaches.

The summer vacation and second Michaelmas Term are set aside for individual research which will feed into work towards the completion of a substantial dissertation of up to 30,000 words which in many cases may form the basis of a subsequent doctoral project.

The writing up of the dissertation during the second half of the second year is supported by a master class in which students have the opportunity to address wider historiographical, theoretical and methodological issues through the medium of their own research.

MPhil in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Course Code | 000740 

This degree programme is designed to enhance history students’ knowledge and understanding of the history of science and medicine, and to enhance historical knowledge and insights of students with mainly science backgrounds.

It shares many resources with its sister programmes in economic and social history. It provides in-depth training in the methods and themes of the history of science and technology and the social history of medicine.

Students will be examined in four papers, which may comprise either four Advanced Papers focusing on particular periods and topics, or three Advanced Papers, and one paper in a related discipline or skill (such as Comparative Social Policy).

In parallel they will work towards the completion of a substantial dissertation of up to 30,000 words which in many cases may form the basis of a subsequent doctoral project.

MSc in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Course Code | 000750 

This degree programme is a more concise version of the MPhil, and provides the usual entry route into research in the fields of history of science and technology or the history of medicine.

Candidates specialising in the history of medicine may be eligible for Wellcome Trust funding in addition to other general funding sources.

Students receive an in-depth induction into the methods and themes of the history of science and technology and the social history of medicine. They are examined on two specialist papers, either two Advanced Papers focusing on particular periods and topics, or one Advanced Paper and one paper in a related discipline or skill (such as Comparative Social Policy).

Candidates will also work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted in September. 

MPhil in Economic and Social History

Course Code | 000570 

This degree programme is designed both to educate historians in the methods of social science research, and to expose students with social science backgrounds to the challenges of historical enquiry.

It offers, in addition to economic and social history in the strict sense, a choice of papers covering the history of science and technology, the social history of medicine and historical demography.

Students take two core papers on the methodologies of economic and social history and four advanced papers, selected from a wide range of options, which may include up to two papers in a related discipline or skill (such as Economics or Sociology).

In parallel they will work towards the completion of a substantial dissertation of up to 30,000 words which in many cases may form the basis of a doctoral project. 

MSc in Economic and Social History

Course Code | 000580 

This degree programme is a more concise version of the MPhil, and provides the usual entry route into research for candidates who seek funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the field of Economic and Social History.

Students take two core papers on the methodologies of economic and social history and two advanced papers, selected from a wide range of options, which may include one paper in a related discipline or skill (such as Economics or Sociology).

Candidates will also work towards a dissertation of up to 15,000 words which is to be submitted in September.

MPhil in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies

Course Code | 003770 

The structured teaching for the programme provides a multipurpose introduction to the Roman world in Late Antiquity, to Byzantium, and to neighbouring peoples and cultures. Although the two components (Late Antiquity and Byzantium) are conjoined, graduate students are expected to concentrate on one of the fields. There are two alternative pathways into each of the fields:

(i) intensive training in one of the following ancient and medieval languages, with special reference to a selection of prescribed texts (Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic) and a Special Subject paper - including the opportunity to train and be examined in a second medieval language - in the second year, or

(ii) instruction in one or two specialist Auxiliary Disciplines (papyrology, epigraphy, palaeography, numismatics, sigillography, or artefact studies) and study of one Special Subject each year in their preferred subject area (History, Art and Archaeology, Literature, or Religion).

All those taking the course (on both pathways) are required to undertake a core programme of directed study on History, Art and Archaeology, either in the Late Antique or the Byzantine field. In parallel they will work towards the completion of a substantial dissertation of up to 30,000 words which in many cases may form the basis of a subsequent doctoral project.

MSt in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies

Course Code | 003760 
The structured teaching for the programme provides a multipurpose introduction to the Roman world in Late Antiquity, to Byzantium, and to neighbouring peoples and cultures. It allows for the same two alternative pathways into each of the fields as the MPhil. Candidates who intend to continue into doctoral research, may wish to make use of the assessment option of substituting a 10,000-word dissertation for the two Special Subject essays; this provision allows students to test and demonstrate their aptitude for research.

MSt in Medieval Studies

Course Code | 003781 
This interdisciplinary programme can be taken either as a freestanding degree or as the first step towards a research degree in one of the participating disciplines. The degree provides a generic introduction to medieval studies, allowing candidates from differing backgrounds to broaden their acquaintance with medieval topics and issues as well as ensuring some in-depth exposure to specialist areas of research in the field, culminating in a final interdisciplinary dissertation of up to 12,000 words. It is aimed explicitly at students who wish to follow classes in more than one discipline, and who are keen to extend the range of their study and research skills.

How to Apply

The deadlines for the taught courses in History listed above are 22 November 2013 and 24 January 2014.

Courses in Economic and Social History and the History of Science and Medicine also use a deadline of 14 March 2014.

All those seeking funding from Research Council, University, Faculty, or Faculty-College linked resources must apply by the January deadline at the latest.

The standard set of materials you should send with any application to a taught course comprises:

In addition to the standard documents above, applicants to any of the taught courses in History listed above should provide two (2) relevant academic essays or other writing samples from their most recent qualification of 2,000 words each, or 2,000-word extracts of longer work.

Alternatively, applicants to any of the above programmes may provide one (1) longer writing sample of 4,000 to 5,000 words.  

The statement of purpose for applicants to any of the taught courses in History listed above is expected to indicate what optional or advanced paper classes you are interested in taking and give enough of an indication of your intended dissertation project to make it possible for the Faculty to identify an appropriate supervisor.

Please follow the detailed instructions in the Application Guide, and consult the History website for any additional guidance.

Academic resources

  • Outstanding collection of online electronic resources
  • Bodleian Library: printed books and western manuscripts
  • Taylor Institution Library (European languages)
  • Rhodes House (Commonwealth and African Studies)
  • Indian Institute Library
  • Vere Harmsworth Library (American Studies)
  • Institute for Chinese Studies Library
  • Bodleian Japanese Library
  • Nuffield and St Antony’s college libraries (social and area studies)
  • University Language Centre External link
  • History Faculty Library (lending library)
  • History Faculty building (IT workstations and common room)

History of Science and Medicine

History of Art

  • Sackler Library (Archaeology, Art History and Classics) 
  • Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
  • Modern Art Oxford
  • Christ Church Picture Gallery
  • Department of the History of Art External link (with its own visual resources centre)
Further information on subject-specific resources on the History website External link

Academic staff profiles

The Oxford History Faculty is certainly among the largest in the world. A list of Faculty postholders and their research interests is available on the History website.

A further 100 non-postholder members of the Faculty, including college lecturers, junior research fellows, research project staff and historians working in other Oxford faculties and institutions, some of whom also supervise graduate students, testify to the extraordinary richness and vitality of the Oxford historical research community.

Graduate destinations

About a quarter of our Master’s students proceed to doctoral work at Oxford; others continue academic study at other institutions. Other career destinations are as diverse as, but broadly in line with, undergraduate history career destinations: law, finance, management consultancy, civil service etc.

A recent survey of the destinations of doctoral students who completed theses in 2001 shows that about half are in academic posts in 9 countries; some are working in museums, or as freelance historians; others are primarily in higher administrative positions: in the civil service, university administration, banking, occasionally in publishing or law.

A preliminary survey of those who completed their doctorate in 2011 shows that around 40 per cent are currently in academic teaching or research positions on collaborative projects or as Junior Research Fellows. 

Students in specialised streams such as History of Art, History of Medicine and Economic History are more likely than others to find employment in museums, medical schools or finance.

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www.history.ox.ac.uk

+44 (0) 1865 615003
graduate.admissions
@history.ox.ac.uk

 

 

 

Main areas of research interests

Research interests on the History website External link

 

Selection criteria

Selection criteria on the History website External link


English language requirements

Higher level


Funding/awards
  • AHRC studentships
  • Clarendon awards 
  • ESRC Doctoral Training Centre studentships

Further funding information on the History website External link

 

Number of applicants
2012/13
Research degrees

238

Taught degrees

432


Number of places available
2013/14
Research degrees

66 (full-time), 10 (part-time)

Taught degrees

126

 

Statement of Provision

History - Taught and Research External link

Photograph by Brighton © CC BY 2.0