Graduate Admissions

Masters Courses

Our taught degrees vary in length from 9 to 21 months, consisting of a mixture of course work and a self-motivated dissertation project. All our master’s degrees are designed for postgraduates who wish to deepen their knowledge of a period or area of history and who wish to obtain experience and training in research, these include programmes which allow graduates to familiarize themselves with specialist subject areas and their distinctive methodologies.

The wide variety of postgraduate master’s programmes reflects both the diversity and the clustering of research interests within the faculty. Some programmes can be taken in one or two-year forms: the MSt/MPhil in History, the MSc/MPhil in History of Science, Medicine and Technology, the MSc/MPhil in Economic and Social History,  and the MSt/MPhil in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies. The two-year courses afford students the chance to take more specialist options, and also to complete a more substantial dissertation.


MSt and MPhil in History

Both the MSt and the MPhil are umbrella programmes, containing six strands - Read More

These strands are:



This strand offers a unique balance of breadth and depth in the study of the medieval history of Britain and Europe.  It can be taken either as a free-standing degree course or as the first step towards doctoral study.  Its emphasis is on historical skills and knowledge; applicants interested in a developing their knowledge of medieval languages or acquiring a greater level of expertise in medieval palaeography and manuscript studies are advised also to consider applying for the separate MSt programme in Medieval Studies or the MSt/MPhil programme in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, both of which are also proven routes to a doctorate in Medieval History.

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This exciting course introduces you to the latest developments in the study of British, European and World History between c. 1450 and 1800.  From the Reformation and Counter-Reformation to the Enlightenment, we look at how the world was transformed by the new encounters between civilisations. We explore the visual and material culture of the Renaissance and Baroque, we ask how the idea of the self developed, we track changes in warfare and the growth of the state, and we examine how gender relations were transformed and social hierarchies challenged.

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Recent generations of historians have risen to the challenge of finding ways of characterising this period that transcend older notions of a passage from ‘traditional’ to ‘modern’.  How best to characterise Enlightenment, and what it meant to whom, continues to attract controversy, as do the causes, nature and effects of revolutions, political and other. There has been lively interest in developments in state forms and in the ‘public sphere’, in attempts to promote new systems of ‘manners’ (whether industrious, polite or democratic) and increasingly in interactions between Europe and the wider world.

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In recent years, the history of modern Britain has been transformed by a greater awareness of the multiple and varied communities that have shaped that history, with labour history, Four Nations history, the history of women, and the history of BAME communities all prompting new interpretations of developments in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain.  There has been controversy over the character and timing of industrial development and its impact, and lively interest in the emergence of new forms of political culture, the role of the state, in the ways in which Britain was constituted as an imperial nation, and in what it meant to be British over the course of the period.  The possibilities of oral history have opened up opportunities to explore the very recent past and the history of communities and individuals often neglected by the official record. 

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Oxford has a unique concentration of academic expertise in modern European history, with the largest number of permanent postholders working in the field of any university in the western world.

It has particular strengths in cultural, intellectual, transnational and social history. But above all it encourages diversity and asking new questions, from how peasants told folk tales in nineteenth-century France to the emotional commitments of activists in the 1968 protest movements on both sides of the Iron Curtain; from the rise of liberal humanitarianism in the mid-nineteenth century to the persecution of gay men sent to the Soviet Gulag; from the persistence of religious belief in the French Third Republic to the nature of patriotism in Nazi Germany. In this spirit, Oxford encourages graduates to follow their own intellectual interests within the degree and equip them with the best supervision and skills to do so.

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This programme is intended to immerse you in the historiography and current debates in American history and to provide you with rigorous training in historical research, writing and argumentation. Ranging from the emergence of Native America to the history of the present, the course allows you to discover the richness and dynamism of past and contemporary American historical writing and develop intellectual familiarity with advanced research in American history. In addition to emphasising the unique intellectual and methodological contributions driven by the American historical profession, this course emphasises American history’s openness to inter-disciplinarity and to global intellectual currents that have shaped the discipline of history as a whole. This deep historiographical grounding equips candidates to undertake their own research design and master the long-term development of historical writing in the field of American history.

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Other Available Masters Courses


The MSc programme offers a unique framework for research training in economic and social history.  It is a one-year offers a wide range of options and allows students to specialise in economic and/or social history, or historical demography, although the boundaries between these areas are deliberately permeable.

The MPhil programme follows the same principles however, it takes place over a two-year period.

The core qualifying papers provide an opportunity to evaluate a range of different approaches; they impart a common language, and create a close and friendly community, in which ideas are shared, and strong personal ties are forged, developing a community that provides a base from which to venture out and experience the other rewards of Oxford, intellectual, social, and cultural.

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The Global and Imperial History programme offers a nine-month introduction to postgraduate research. It is open to all students who wish to focus on the history of the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Australasia or the Americas (excluding the US), and who would like to explore global perspectives.  It can be taken either as a free-standing degree, or as the first step towards one of the research degrees of MLitt or DPhil.

The programme encourages students to develop intellectual and practical familiarity with advanced research in the global history of the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Australasia, and the Americas (excluding the US).  

Global and Imperial history in this context implies transoceanic and transcontinental connections, comparisons, and exchanges between cultures, polities and societies. It also examines broad patterns and systems in history, whether religious, political, economic, cultural or ecological. Global history, in other words, is history with a global scope (often including European dimensions) that emphasises comparative perspectives. It is not merely the self-contained history of places outside Europe. Students are not expected to master the histories of multiple regions, but to use a global approach to cast light on their own research area.

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Mst in History of Art and Visual Culture Handbook (2017)

This nine-month course offers a unique combination of methodological depth and access to magnificent primary sources for students who wish to develop and extend their understanding of how visual styles at different times and in different places can be understood in relation to the aesthetic, intellectual and social facets of various cultures. 

The course draws on the established strengths of the discipline of art history in formal, iconographic and contextual analysis in the History Faculty's Department of the History of Art and links them to a rigorous approach to questions of theory and method.  

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The MSc offers a range of options in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology. This is a one-year programme. 

The MPhil programme follows the same principles however, it takes place over a two-year period.

Students may specialise in the history of science and technology, or the social history of medicine, although the boundaries between these areas are deliberately permeable.

The expertise of scholars in Oxford covers most of the main areas and periods of the history of science, medicine, and technology. A varied programme of seminars, lectures, and conferences enables graduate students to obtain knowledge of subjects beyond their chosen speciality and to meet visitors from elsewhere in Britain and abroad.

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The MSt in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies takes place over one-year and has been devised as a multi-purpose introduction to the Roman world in Late Antiquity, to Byzantium, the medieval successor of the East Roman Empire, and to neighbouring peoples and their cultures. It is a nine-month taught programme that can be taken as a free-standing degree, or as the first step towards doctoral research.

The MPhil programme follows the same principles however, it takes place over a two-year period.

Students have the option of selecting a focus of study dependent on their knowledge of languages or on their primary interests in the field. Two basic pathways lead into each field of study, and graduate students are expected, in consultation with their supervisor or the programme convenor, to choose between them at the beginning of the course.

  • Language training: This is the standard option for those new to this field of specialist study and offers intensive training in any one of the following ancient and medieval languages and their literatures: Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic.
  • Training in auxiliary disciplines and engagement with an advanced option: This option is designed for those who already have considerable competence in their chosen language and whose principal interests lie in history, art and archaeology, or religion.

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This nine-month interdisciplinary programme is aimed at students who wish to follow courses in more than one discipline in medieval studies, and who are keen to extend their skills. The degree is supported by several Faculties within the Humanities Division, demonstrating the University’s tremendous wealth of scholarship in the period.

This degree equips students to draw on a variety of disciplinary approaches in their study of the Middle Ages. It places emphasis on language training as well as on the development of skills in palaeography and codicology. It also offers the opportunity to undertake the acquisition of a medieval language not previously studied.

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Please note that the MSt Modern South Asian Studies is now available for entry in 2017, in a revised form, as an MSc in Modern South Asian Studies, taught jointly by staff across the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions.  Admission is through the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies. 

For details, see

DPhil Study

The History Faculty offers the DPhil (available on a full-time or a part-time basis) in all areas of post-Classical history. This degree is granted on successful completion and defence of an individual research thesis.

The DPhil is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral examination. The thesis will be based on extensive original research and engagement with current scholarship. Full-time DPhil students are expected to submit their thesis three, or at most four, years from the date of admission. Part-time DPhil students are expected to submit their thesis six, or at most eight, years from the date of admission.

All research students in the Oxford History Faculty benefit from the advice of a specialist supervisor or supervisors, and all are encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of expertise available within the Faculty and the University more widely.  

As a DPhil student, you will have many opportunities to present your work and to share ideas through the Faculty’s wide and varied range of research seminars. You are also encouraged to gain valuable experience by establishing and convening your own networks and workshops. The Faculty and Colleges also provides some funding for field-work and attendance at conferences outside Oxford. DPhil students in the History Faculty may also gain experience in teaching and lecturing through the Introduction to Teaching scheme.

The Faculty Offers Three DPhil Degrees:

Study visits & Exchanges

We do not participate in co-tutelle arrangements, and there are only limited opportunities for History graduates who are currently enrolled in another institution to come to Oxford on a short-term visit:

Recognised Student Status is for doctoral students who want to come to Oxford for 1-3 terms. You will be working with an Oxford academic, but are not affiliated with a college. Please note that we do not require support from our Head of Department to be included with your application.

Erasmus  - check whether your institution participates in this.

Cachan exchange – this is particularly suitable for students working on French history post 1789. The contact for Oxford History is Professor Gildea.

The Faculty is now able to accept a number of students for part-time study towards a DPhil. Part-time students are fully integrated into the research culture of the History Faculty and afforded all the same opportunities and support as full-time students, and are expected to take full advantage of these opportunities.

A candidate's supervisor and the co-ordinator of part-time studies, currently the Regius Professor of History, are available to advise part-time students on how to access research and training provision. However, it may not always be possible to offer the part-time study mode in very specialized areas of research (i) where supervision could only be provided by specialists from outside the History Faculty, or (ii) where there is a real and substantial risk that the relevant expertise may not be available within Oxford for the full period of study of up to eight years.

Although there will be no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students must attend the University on a regular basis (particularly in term-time) for supervision, study and skills training. The Faculty appreciates that part-time research students will have non-standard attendance and work patterns. Research degrees are not available by distance learning. To ensure a comprehensive integration into the Faculty's and University's research culture and with their full-time peer groups a pattern of attendance at training events and research seminars would form part of the general part-time study agreement as well as the individualized arrangements between supervisor and student.

It is generally not possible for a candidate to register for a part-time degree if:

  • he or she requires a student visa for study in the United Kingdom, as current visa policy only allows registration for full-time study. The Short Term Student category is not appropriate for the course. (However, a candidate who is classified as 'overseas' by virtue of nationality and visa status, but who is employed in the UK with a work permit, may be able to register for a part-time degree, providing the extent of their current visa is greater than the minimum duration of the programme which is six years.) If a student accepts a place on the course it is on the understanding that they are able to be resident in the UK and it is their own responsibility to ensure that their visa permission will last for the duration of the course.
  • he or she resides more than a few hours' travelling time from Oxford. University and Faculty reserve the right to reject applications where insufficient evidence has been given of a candidate's willingness to engage as fully as possible with the academic life of the faculty, department and college. The Faculty will not normally approve an application for part-time study requiring travel of more than four hours' total journey time to meet the basic attendance requirements.

Part-time research students are expected to use the University's online Graduate Supervision System to report termly both on their individual progress and their participation in the University's academic life.

If an applicant is in employment, they must provide a letter from their employer stating they may take time off if necessary to attend the University as required for the duration of the course, before the Faculty can confirm their offer of a part-time place.

Please note that the University expects that students, once enrolled for full-time or part-time study, do not seek to change their mode of study in subsequent years.

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