Hieroglyphs inscribed on a stone tablet
Hieroglyphs inscribed on an artefact in the Ashmolean Museum
(Image Credit: Adrian Pratt / Flickr)

MPhil in Egyptology

About the course

The MPhil in Egyptology is a two-year taught graduate degree that offers a satisfying, advanced course of study in the languages, cultures, and history of ancient Egypt. While the MPhil functions as a course in its own right, it is also designed to take students to the stage where they can embark on doctoral research in Egyptology.

The MPhil in Egyptology normally has two paths through the curriculum. The first, Syllabus A, allows those with previous training in Egyptology to pursue their study of the subject to a higher level, to gain specialised expertise, and to begin advanced research in an area of their choice. The second, Syllabus B, enables graduates in another discipline to convert to Egyptology through a graduate level course that offers a certain amount of specialisation, including a significant element of advanced research. In both cases, syllabuses are tailored to the interests of individual students. 

The study of ancient Egyptian language and textual culture lies at the heart of the degree and is generally a major component of Syllabus A. The principal focus throughout both syllabuses is on detailed familiarity with the primary sources, studied in the original language and through the original manuscripts where possible, and with various methods and approaches. Use of a range of interpretive and analytical approaches to the primary sources is integral to the course, including, for example, historiographical and/or literary-critical frameworks; overall there is an emphasis on texts as artefacts in a material context.

The syllabuses can also be designed with an archaeological and/or material-culture focus. You will have the opportunity to develop your skills in working with Egyptian artefacts from the extensive and diverse collections of the Ashmolean Museum. 

The MPhil is a very intensive course. For example, you must treat the university vacations as integral parts of your work time and you will be expected to take relatively limited holidays. From the start of your course you should also think about whether you need to do fieldwork in Egypt or elsewhere and when this will best be done. Where possible, if you have not been to Egypt before you should ideally try to visit before the end of the course, to experience something of the landscape and country.

The number of students accepted for the course each year is very small. This ensures that teaching can be tailored to the research interests and training requirements of individual students. Teaching is also very much focused around small groups and one-on-one tutorials and supervisions for which small cohorts are vital. In the first year you will share language classes and lectures on history and culture with first year undergraduates. Some other classes may also be shared with undergraduates and graduates on other degrees where appropriate for your research training needs.

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Students can expect to meet with their supervisor 2-3 times per term in the first year and in the second year, every second week of term, with further meetings outside term as needed and if possible.

Assessment 

Students on Syllabus A are normally required to sit one or two qualifying examinations in the language(s) and/or language phase(s) they are specialising in, during or after the end of Trinity term of their first year. Students on Syllabus B will sit two qualifying examinations in Middle Egyptian during or after the end of Trinity term of their first year.

During the second year, you will write a dissertation. This will give you the opportunity to identify and design your own research project and to develop advanced research skills. You should expect to spend the Easter vacation finishing your dissertation, which must be submitted half way through Trinity term.

Two research essays developed out of work done for one part of the course must be submitted by the end of Hilary term of the second year. Depending on the course design, there can also be a take-home examination at the start of Trinity term of the second year.

The final examinations are sat towards the end of Trinity term. Different examination provision may be made for students who have chosen options that are offered in other faculties, such as Classics or Archaeology.

Further information on the course, and the examination process, can be found in the course handbook via the course webpage on the faculty's website.

Graduate destinations

Asian and Middle Eastern studies graduates have found employment in many diverse fields including business, finance law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.

Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Asian and Middle Eastern studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a relevant subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience 

Publications are not expected.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

References

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.

All applicants who meet the criteria are usually interviewed, either in Oxford or remotely, and the timing will be agreed on an individual basis. The interview can take up to 45 minutes and might include a short passage of ancient text in English translation for discussion. If a passage is used, it will be given to you ten minutes before the interview begins (no knowledge of the original language is required). A minimum of two interviewers will be present.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.

References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Resources

You will have access to the facilities and resources of the Griffith Institute, which is home to one of the most significant Egyptological archives in the world and two major research projects, the Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, and the Online Egyptological Bibliography. It is possible for archive holdings to form the basis of dissertation work or special fields.

Volunteering in the archive or for the institute's projects offers excellent training in the management of primary sources as well as archival practices. 

The Griffith Institute, as well as teaching rooms and staff offices, is located in a wing of the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library. This library houses the principal collection of books on Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and is one of the finest libraries for the subject in the world. The Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library also includes general archaeology, Classical civilisation, and Western and Eastern art.

A further vital University resource in Egyptology is the Ashmolean Museum. You will be strongly encouraged to make yourself familiar with the collections, both on display and in the stores. You may like to consider working with a specific category of material in the museum for a special field or dissertation. It may also be possible to gain museum work experience on a voluntary basis in the Department of Antiquities. Artefact classes for Egyptology undergraduates are held in the museum, and MPhil students are strongly encouraged to attend these where possible. Another Oxford museum with an Egyptian collection is the Pitt Rivers Museum. You may wish to explore the possibility of working with its collection, as well as those of other museums in the UK, such as the British Museum.

As well as these facilities, you will also be able to use the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Bodleian Asian and Middle Eastern Collections. You will have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies' IT Officer, and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Among subjects in the Humanities, Asian and Middle Eastern studies is unique in offering advanced study of cultures and civilisations in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

The courses offered by the faculty present both the major traditions of the regions studied and, in most cases, their modern developments. All courses include language, literature, history and culture, and there are a wide range of options in such fields as art and architecture, archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion and modern social studies. The following are the principal areas of study:

  • The Islamic World
  • Hebrew and Jewish studies
  • Eastern Christianity
  • Egyptology and Ancient Near East
  • South and Inner Asia
  • East Asian studies.

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies has a long history in Oxford: the Laudian Chair of Arabic, for instance, was established in 1636. The Bodleian and other libraries have acquired magnificent collections. The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, China Centre, Bodleian Japanese and Indian Institute libraries offer loan collections in their respective fields. Adjacent to the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections. The Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library includes the principal library for Islamic Art, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern studies.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£16,170
Overseas£32,640

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

College preference

Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs). 

If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.

The following colleges accept students on the MPhil in Egyptology:

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students

If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.

For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.

If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Referees
Three overall, academic preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Whilst it is appreciated that obtaining academic references will be difficult for some candidates, academic references are requested because it is necessary to establish whether a candidate is intellectually prepared for a course. It is unlikely that this is something that can be established from a professional or personal reference, so you should only submit such references if there is absolutely no alternative.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and fitness for chosen course of study.

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 1,500 words

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in. The overall word count should not include any bibliography.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying, especially to Oxford
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • commitment to the subject
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work at a high intellectual level
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas at a rapid pace.

Your statement should focus on your research rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
Two essays of a maximum of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct and defend an argument
  • powers of analysis
  • powers of expression
  • clarity and accuracy of thought and writing
  • conceptual sophistication
  • critical skills
  • control of relevant primary and secondary sources
  • presentation of material in the appropriate scholarly form.

It is helpful if written work relates closely to the proposed area of study, though it is not compulsory, as there are many things that the assessors look for in the written work which are not specific to the subject area, such as the qualities listed above.

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply

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