About the course
This degree is offered jointly by the Faculty of Theology and Religion and the Faculty of Oriental Studies. The course is ideal for students wishing to learn more about the origins of Christianity by coming to grips with the complex evidence for the state of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman World in the first century.
An emphasis is placed on the detailed study of primary evidence for both Judaism and Christianity in the first and early second centuries CE. You will therefore require a good existing knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek.
The structure and content of the course ensures that you have the opportunity to pay equal attention to the history and primary texts of both religious traditions. The following two core modules examine the literature, history, and institutions of each tradition:
- Judaism from 200 BCE to 200 CE
- Christianity to 200 CE
You choose to specialise in one further theme within each tradition. In the case of Judaism, these themes are:
- Jewish Historiography
- Jewish Bible Interpretation
- Jewish Eschatology
- Jewish Wisdom Literature.
In the case of Christianity, these themes are:
- The Gospels and the Historical Jesus
- The Acts and the Pauline Corpus
- The Apostolic Fathers
- The Apologists.
You may choose a dissertation research topic which explores a facet of one or other tradition or inter-relating aspects of the two traditions in the period.
The Oxford Faculties of Theology and Religion and of Oriental Studies, together with Oxford’s wider library resources and collections, provide an unmatched research environment for the study of Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World. Many graduates of this course have found their in-depth engagement with the Jewish background to early Christianity an excellent preparation for doctoral study in New Testament, in the history of religions in the early Roman Empire and in Jewish studies.
Assessment consists of:
- two written exams on the literature, history, and institutions of Judaism and Christianity respectively;
- two further written exams consisting of essay questions and passages for translation and comment from set texts relating to your chosen themes in both Judaism and Christianity;
- a 20,000-word dissertation on a topic in Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World; and
- an oral examination (viva voce) on your dissertation topic and wider knowledge of Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World.
Given the selective admission and consequent small numbers of students on this course, it is difficult to offer general statistics about graduate destinations as each case is distinctive.
The great majority of graduates of the MPhil in Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World go on to pursue doctoral research, at Oxford or another leading university, in either Jewish studies, New Testament or early Christianity. A few recent graduates have pursued careers in fields including academic administration and teaching (secondary school; English as a Foreign Language).
- MPhil in Theology
- MSt in Theology
- DPhil in Theology and Religion
- MTh in Applied Theology
- MPhil in Philosophical Theology
- MSt in Study of Religion
- PGDip in Theology and Religion
- PGDip in Applied Theology
- MSt in Philosophical Theology
Changes to the course
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. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2018-19
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in theology, religious studies or another closely-related field. Entrance is very competitive.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
An emphasis is placed on the detailed study of primary evidence for both Judaism and Christianity in the first and early second centuries CE. Students therefore require a good existing knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek.
Other examination results may be submitted alongside degree qualifications. If offered, the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores normally sought are 160 in verbal reasoning, 5.0 in analytical writing and 150 in quantitative reasoning.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Applicants who are shortlisted will be given a short 20-minute interview via telephone or Skype to gain a better sense of their interests and to facilitate the appointment of an appropriate supervisor. Interviews will normally concern the scope of the applicant's proposal.
Publications are not required.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Research or work experience in areas of theology may be an advantage, if it demonstrates that you have transferable skills which may be of use during your studies.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, in conjunction with the Faculty of Oriental Studies, to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, in conjunction with the Faculty of Oriental 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 Theology and Religion and Faculty of Oriental Studies.
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 sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
Progression to the DPhil in Theology relies on a strong performance in the taught course. The faculty would normally expect a final grade of 67% or above.
The Faculty of Theology and Religion is based in the Gibson Building, which is situated in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on the Woodstock Road. Facilities there include teaching, seminar and lecture rooms, a graduate common room and graduate workspace and faculty administration. The Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library (PTFL) is located near by on the ground floor of the Radcliffe Humanities building.
Oxford has a wide and rich range of library resources for theology and religion graduates. You will not only have access to the resources of your college and faculty, but also the Bodleian Libraries. This has been a legal deposit for 400 years, which means it can claim a copy of any book or journal published in the UK or Ireland.
The Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library (PTFL) is located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter on the same site as the Gibson Building. The PTFL is a lending library primarily for staff and students of the two faculties, in support of research, teaching and learning. It has a collection of c. 30,000 books for loan on open access, with a further 20,000 available by request from remote store. It is also a delivery location for books from the Bodleian stacks for reference use in the library. Many books are now also available in electronic format; some are downloadable for 24-hour loan.
The Oxford University Language Centre (OULC) at 12 Woodstock Road offers excellent facilities and free courses to members of the University who wish to learn or improve a foreign language relevant to their academic work – or indeed for their general interest and education. Courses are offered in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Georgian, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Welsh, and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Most courses consist of two single fifty-minute classes each week or one double class.
Courses begin in October and continue throughout the academic year. If a course is required for study or research, there is a priority enrolment scheme.
There are over 1,100 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
The Ertegun Scholarship Programme and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) each provide a number of awards every year, to support graduate students across a range of disciplines. To be considered for these studentships you must apply by the relevant January admissions deadline.
Annual fees for entry in 2018-19
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The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
Tuition and college 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 tuition and college fees).
For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
The University of Oxford website is temporarily unavailable
Here is a selection of some of our popular services that may currently still be available:
In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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 following colleges accept students on the MPhil in Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World:
- Balliol College
- Brasenose College
- Campion Hall
- Christ Church
- Keble College
- Lady Margaret Hall
- Linacre College
- Lincoln College
- Mansfield College
- Oriel College
- Regent's Park College
- Ripon College
- St Benet's Hall
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Peter's College
- St Stephen's House
- Wolfson College
- Worcester College
- Wycliffe Hall
How to apply
You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Statement of purpose:
You should provide a statement of purpose, written in English, explaining your motivation and suitability for graduate study at Oxford.
This will be assessed for evidence of your commitment to the study of Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World and further indication of how you meet the required level of ability in both Hebrew and Greek. The statement may also include details of your possible future research plans, career aspirations, and what you hope to do with this Oxford qualification.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Your statement should focus on academic endeavour rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.
Two essays 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 if prefaced by a note which puts them into context.
The topic of written work should relate closely to your intended area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for an appropriate intellectual standard, including good theological understanding, conceptual sophistication, analytical and critical skill and the ability to sustain a cogent argument.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, generally academic
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.
References should generally be academic. Professional references are acceptable but limited in what they can demonstrate about academic ability; you should submit no more than one such reference.
Your references will support your academic ability, your relevant background knowledge and language skills, and overall suitability for your chosen programme of study.