Students may choose from seven options, divided according to historical period (roughly from the 4th century to modern day). This is an outline paper, with a wide chronological span of British history, and introduces students to broad developments within the period.
History - Single Honours
Oxford's history course is structured as a three year degree, with work during the first year described as the Preliminary Examination and work undertaken in the final two years as Final Examinations. Students must pass the Preliminary Examination in order to proceed to study for Finals.
The Preliminary Examination (First Year)
During the first year students study a mixture of papers designed to introduce them to ways of studying the subject different from those they have encountered at school, and to equip them with skills appropriate to the work they do later in the course.
Some College tutors like to ensure that undergraduates are taught within College during their first year, and they may restrict your choice of options. It is a good idea to check with Colleges about their policy if there are particular first year options you are anxious to study. Access to some of the more over-subscribed final-year options may be limited.
Students choose four papers to study, each of which includes an examination at the end of the first year. These papers must comprise of one selection from any historical period from each of the following:
Four options are available, spanning the period from 370 to 1914. This is an outline paper, introducing long-term developments across one of the four periods, with a wider geographical scope than the British history papers. Predominantly European in focus, General History papers adopt thematic and comparative approaches.
All of the papers in this group offer a choice of introductions to the ways in which history has been and is being written. They are designed to encourage reflection on the variety of methods used by historians, and on the many forms of historical writing.
The Optional Subjects are based on close study of selected primary texts or documents, and offer an opportunity for more specialized study than is possible in the outline papers. They provide a first indication of the range of the interests of members of the Faculty, and are often taught by experts in the particular field of the subject. Over twenty options are available, but there may be some variation in the papers available from year to year.
Final Honours School (Second and Third Year)
In the two years of study for Finals students take a mixture of outline courses and more specialist ones, with the encouragement to develop interests and approaches fostered during their first year. Requirements for the final two years include:
An outline paper, students study one of the British History papers that they did not study in the first year. However, students are expected at this stage to engage more rigorously with the historical literature for their chosen period and to consider the specific issues of the period in greater depth.
A second outline paper, but with a larger choice of papers than General History at Prelims, each covering a smaller chronological span, with a greater attention to the interaction of European with extra-European history, and the opportunity to study a paper in American history.
The Further Subject is an opportunity to examine more extensively than in the outline papers topics and themes in British and General History. Papers examine a historical problem, and include extensive engagement with a range of primary material relevant to the subject. Approximately twenty subjects are available each year across a wide chronological, geographical and thematic range, reflecting the expertise and interests of Faculty expertise.
This subject is usually narrower in chronological range than the Further Subject and involves the in-depth study of a historical problem. Assessment consists of one paper and one extended essay. Approximately twenty subjects are available each year. Like the Further Subject, the Special Subject reflects expertise in the Faculty but with its close attention to historical documentation.
This paper emphasizes a broader approach to historical sources, placing them in a theoretical context. It enables the student to study comparative history, how to approach the different sources of history and different traditions in historiography and to examine the ways in which historians have tackled the writing of history and the development of historical arguments.
All students doing History as a Single Honours Course write a thesis in their final year. By doing a thesis students are able to undertake independent research based on the study of original sources with guidance from their tutors. Many students find the experience of researching and writing the thesis one of the most exciting and intellectually invigorating aspects of the whole course, and some of the best work has gone on to be published.
History - Joint Schools
The History Faculty runs joint courses with another of other Faculties around the Univeristy. See the options that are avaialble below for more informaiton:
This course enables you to extend the options of the Modern History course which begins in AD 285 to encompass important areas of Greek and Roman history. Not only does the course dispense with the arbitrary dividing line of AD 284, but it also enables students to tackle questions in Modern History which are incomprehensible without some awareness of the Greek and Roman background. You only need to think about the role played by classical examples in the French Revolution or the importance of classical thinkers to the thought of such major political theorists as Machiavelli and Hobbes to appreciate the fertile nature of this joint degree.
History and Economics brings together the traditionally separate disciplines of history and economics to form a coherent and intellectually stimulating programme. The course is sufficiently flexible to allow students to specialize in virtually any area that they choose without sacrificing the well-integrated interdisciplinary approach for which the course is known. The combination of economics, economic history and history (political as well as social) means that your studies will equip you to view contemporary issues from a variety of contrasting perspectives.
The joint School in Modern History and English was established in 1989 with the intention of encouraging students to develop their knowledge and critical skills in two closely interrelated fields. The intersection between language, culture, and history has been a focus of lively interest within both disciplines in recent decades. 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). In essence, this is a course in intellectual history.
The History and Modern Languages course is structured as a four year degree, with work during the first year described as the Preliminary Examination and work undertaken in the final three years – which include a year abroad - as Final Examinations. Students must pass the Preliminary Examination in order to proceed to study for Finals. This course is suitable for students wishing to combine the study of one European language with History. One of the great advantages of the course is that by choosing options carefully it is possible to study subjects which relate to each other significantly. Thus, for example, an interest in nineteenth-century French literature might be reinforced by the study of French and European historical options in the same period, or an interest in medieval Italian history can be enriched by a study of Dante.
This joint degree has been established in the conviction that History and Politics can offer complementary approaches to past and present aspects of human activity. The degree not only enables students to set contemporary political problems in their historical perspective, but it also equips them to approach the study of the past with the conceptual rigour derived from political science. A special feature of the Oxford course is the chance to choose subjects very broadly across the two disciplines, so that it is possible to combine medieval historical options with the analysis of contemporary political systems.