History and English | University of Oxford
The Hours of Engelbert of Nassau
Illustrations from The Hours of Engelbert of Nassau, Flemish, c1470-90.
(Credit: Bodleian Library)

History and English

UCAS codeVQ13Duration3 years (BA)
Entrance requirementsAAASubject requirements  English Literature or English Language and Literature
  History
Admissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/hatWritten workThree pieces
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 64%
Successful: 15%
Intake: 13
*3-year average 2016-18

Contact

+44 (0) 1865 615013
Email History
+44 (0) 1865 271055
Email English

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

A joint degree in History and English requires students to think critically about how we define ‘history’ and ‘literature’, and about how the two disciplines interrelate and, to a large extent, overlap. Close attention is given to changing methodologies, to the nature of evidence and to styles of argument. It is assumed that historical documents are just as much ‘texts’ as poems, plays or novels, and are therefore subject to interpretation as works of narrative, rhetoric and, fundamentally, language. In turn, it is assumed that poems, plays and novels represent historically-grounded ways of interpreting a culture. Interdisciplinary study has become a thriving area in its own right as scholars have moved away from what would once have been thought of as ‘purely’ historical or literary criticism to a more comparative way of thinking about the written records of the past (including, of course, the very recent past).


The History and English Faculties are among the largest in Britain, with long and distinguished traditions of teaching and research. Students are offered a great deal of choice in the course over their three years, and whether their interests are in the medieval period, the Renaissance, or the later periods, intellectually fruitful combinations are always possible.

The course structure at Oxford is intended to enable students to relate literary and historical ideas as effectively as possible in the investigation of their chosen historical periods, topics or authors, while recognising that some students will wish to opt for variety rather than close congruity between their historical and literary papers. An interdisciplinary approach is embedded in each year of the course, with dedicated classes in the first year as part of the Introduction to English Language and Literature paper, a bridge paper taken in the second year (examined by extended essay) and an interdisciplinary dissertation in the final year. All interdisciplinary elements of this course are co-taught or co-supervised by a historian and a literary scholar.

Oxford possesses exceptional library provision for both subjects in the Bodleian Library, the History Faculty and English Faculty libraries, other faculty libraries and the college libraries.

Students studying Radcliffe Camera
“I love reading all sorts of texts from novels to biographies and wanted a subject that would allow me the greatest breadth to continue to do this. I also firmly believe that no study of literature is complete without understanding the context behind each author and their work – something I have ample opportunity to explore in my degree. I was also attracted to the variety of modules on offer across the two disciplines and in my first year have studied options as diverse as Modernist literature and Early Modern Witchcraft...There is consistent opportunity for you to explore the crossover between the two subjects, be it in your interdisciplinary module, or in your tutorial essays. You can explore big questions such as: how literary are historical documents? Is the past a narrative we can read like a literary text? Or it's equally possible to keep your two subjects more separate if you prefer.”
HOLLY
 “My degree allows me, above all, to keep studying both the subjects I love, but also to tie them together in interesting ways: by looking at the development of literature during the periods of history I study, as well as by taking bridge papers which are specifically designed to bring the two subjects together. I’m really glad I took the challenge of applying for a joint honours course, as having the opportunity to be taught by experts in both fields is so rewarding. I’d tell people who love two different subjects that not only do you NOT have to choose between them, but also studying them jointly allows you to get even more from your degree.”
JOSIE

A typical week

You will have up to two tutorials a week and will often, but not always, be working on two papers simultaneously. Most students attend three to four lectures a week. In the first and second years, you will also attend interdisciplinary classes with both English and History tutors present, in preparation for the bridge paper. For the final-year dissertation you will be allocated an adviser from each discipline. 

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 12 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

Four courses are taken:
  • Introduction to English language and literature (interdisciplinary component)
  • One period paper from single honours English Language and Literature
  • One British history paper from single honours History
  • One of: Approaches to history; Historiography; optional subject (from single honours History)

ASSESSMENT

Three written papers form the first University examination, together with a submitted portfolio of two exam essays of 2,000 words for Introduction to English language and literature. All exams must be passed, but marks do not count towards the final degree.

YEARS 2 AND 3

COURSES

Seven courses are taken:

  • One interdisciplinary bridge essay (6,000 words)
  • Two papers from single honours English Language and Literature
  • One British Isles paper from single honours History
  • Either one History special subject (counts as two papers) or two from:
    • European/World history paper from single honours History
    • Further subject from single honours History
    • British history period paper from single honours History
    • One of papers 1–6 from single honours English Language and Literature
  • Interdisciplinary dissertation (10,000 words)

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: between two and four written papers will be examined at the end of the third year; plus a combination of one portfolio of submitted essays; one or two extended essays; one bridge essay; one interdisciplinary dissertation.

For the latest information on all course details and options see the History and English websites.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:AAA 
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB 
IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL 
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Essential:  Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature, to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. 
 Recommended: It is also highly recommended for candidates to have History to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in how to apply. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

Test: HAT
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the HAT page.

Changes to HAT for 2019 entry: The HAT will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour. The format of this question will be similar to question 3 of past papers which are available on the HAT page.

Written work

Description:Candidates will be required to submit one piece of written work for History on an historical topic, and two pieces for English.
Deadline:  10 November 2019

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for intellectual curiosity, as well as a flexible approach to engaging with unfamiliar concepts or arguments and an enthusiasm for writing and talking about history, literature and language. Shortlisted candidates will usually be given at least two interviews, one with the History tutor(s) in the college, and one with the English tutor(s). In the English interview, the candidate may be asked to discuss a piece of prose or verse, provided before or at the interview. Successful candidates will read widely, and will be interested in pursuing a comparative approach to historical and literary texts. 

Careers

Studying this degree provides you with the opportunity to acquire a range of skills valued by recruiters and employers, including the ability to work independently, to evaluate the significance of evidence and to present arguments clearly and persuasively. Graduates from this course have worked in the media, legal professions, public administration, teaching and finance.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£26,235

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for History and English

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose

Was this page useful?*