Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Hebrew was the language of ancient Israel and Judah, and has remained one of the chief literary languages of the Jewish people. It is now the official language of the State of Israel.

The syllabuses in Hebrew and Jewish Studies span the period from biblical times to the present, taking in biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies through to Modern Hebrew literature and Jewish studies in the modern world. 

At Oxford, you may choose to focus entirely in Hebrew for a BA in Hebrew. This course deals primarily with language and literature, with study of Jewish culture and history as the necessary background. You may also study Hebrew in combination with a subsidiary language. Hebrew may also be studied as part of other degrees within the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the wider University.

The course in Jewish Studies also gives students skills in understanding Hebrew, but here the history, religion, and culture of the Jewish people are the main focus.

Visit the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies course page for more information.

BA in Hebrew

The BA in Hebrew deals primarily with languages and literature, with study of Jewish culture and history as the necessary background.

The course lasts for three or four years, depending on whether you choose to spend a year abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The year abroad is compulsory for students on the four-year track.

The primary aim of the course is to give all students a working knowledge of the main phases of the Hebrew language (classical, rabbinic and medieval, and modern). You will study this together with an introduction to the historical background and the most important literature of each period.

The wide range of options available enables students to devote particular attention to any one of these areas if they so choose.

After completing the first year of the course, you must decide whether you want to study Hebrew on its own, or whether you wish to combine it with another related language as a subsidiary language.

Hebrew with an additional Middle Eastern language

If you wish to combine Hebrew with another language you may choose one of the following subsidiary language options:

  • Akkadian
  • Arabic
  • Aramaic and Syriac
  • Egyptian
  • Persian
  • Turkish

BA Jewish Studies

This three-year course includes an element of language study (either Classical or Modern Hebrew). However, its primary focus is on the history, religion and culture of the Jewish people from biblical to modern times.

BA in European and Middle Eastern Languages - Hebrew with an additional European language

European and Middle Eastern Languages is a four-year joint degree combining Hebrew with one of the following European languages: 

  • French,
  • German,
  • Modern Greek,
  • Italian,
  • Portuguese,
  • Russian,
  • Spanish
  • Czech (with Slovak).

You will spend around half your time studying Hebrew language and literature from the Classical and Modern periods, and around half studying the European language and related literature.

In the first year, there is less literature in the European language to allow for intensive focus on the Middle Eastern language. You will normally spend your second academic year at an approved course of study in the Middle East. You are strongly advised to spend the adjacent summers where the European language of your choice is spoken.

BA in Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Hebrew can also be studied as a main or second subject in the joint degree of Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. This course allows you to combine the study of an Asian or Middle Eastern language and culture with Latin and/or Greek and the study of the ancient world.

BA in Religion and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Religion and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is a three-year course that gives you the opportunity to combine the study of Hebrew with a range of options offered by the Faculty of Theology and Religion.