About Us

History at Oxford

Medieval and modern history has been studied at Oxford for longer than at almost any other university: a Regius Professor of Modern History was first appointed in 1724, and undergraduate examinations began in 1850.

The History Faculty has more than 90 permanent academic staff. Of these, 15 are statutory Professors, or Readers. The majority of permanent academic staff, are joint appointees whose teaching responsibilities encompass both the Faculty and the individual college of appointment.

 The Faculty also encompasses at any one time a number of historians employed by colleges – College Lecturers and short-term Junior Research Fellows – as well as those on fixed-term employment with the Faculty: Departmental Lecturers providing teaching for postholders on research leave, and research assistants on funded research projects. Its wider membership includes colleagues in a number of other faculties and departments across the University who work as historians or in closely cognate disciplines.

The University of Oxford is one of the world's most encompassing centres for the study of history. The faculty has nearly twelve hundred undergraduates, and almost five hundred graduate students attracted from around the world.

The Chair of the Faculty Board from 2018, is: Professor John Watts

Professor of Later Medieval History, Corpus Christi College


There are about 1000 undergraduates reading for degrees in History including, the Final Honour School of History, the Joint Schools (with English, Modern Languages, Politics, Economics and Ancient History), and the History of Art.

The most striking thing about undergraduate History at Oxford is its extraordinary range and amount of choice offered to students regarding the topics they can study (there are over 100 different options), reflecting the breadth of interests and expertise among those who teach here. Oxford is rightly celebrated for the broad chronological sweep of its courses. Students can study options on any part of British, European and Global History, from the last years of the Roman Empire to the present day.

All undergraduates are encouraged to confront periods and concepts beyond those encompassed by a narrow chronological focus, and students are given the opportunity of seeing things not just in their immediate context but also in the perspective of long‑term developments.

The History Faculty has specialists working in British and European History, North American, Latin American, Asian, and African fields, making the expertise of the Faculty truly global. Oxford historians have also been in the vanguard of the assault on a narrowly Anglo‑centric approach to British History, and there are options on the English and the Celtic peoples in the later twelfth century, on Irish Nationalism from 1870 to 1921, and on the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The Faculty pushes its undergraduate students to do as well as possible, as a result of dedicated one-to-one tutorials in all courses.

There are also over 450 graduate students pursuing research for higher degrees. Oxford’s unrivalled teaching and research resources mean that the History Faculty attracts an unusually large number of high quality graduate students to work in an extended range of fields, covering a number of different time periods, themes and geographical areas. Graduate students come to study degrees of different lengths and structures. These range from taught one-year (M.St or M.Sc.) and two-year (M.Phil) degrees to rather longer research degrees, most notably the doctorate (D.Phil).

As researchers, the members of the History Faculty benefit from a dedicated team, set up as a result of strategic decisions in 2007, who guide them in making successful research grant applications; and the Faculty’s success levels are high by Humanities standards.

The Faculty is committed to making the maximum impact with its research, and many of its research projects have a high prominence, such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Professor Sir David Cannadine and several innovative comparative projects, such as Cultures of Knowledge, run by Howard Hotson, which compares intellectual activities across Europe in the seventeenth century.

The project on China’s War with Japan, run by Rana Mitter, is having a considerable effect on the way the Chinese see their own past, while the Faculty’s formation of a Global History Research Centre in June 2011, has helped to promote Global History through the support of research projects and the provision of workshops, seminars and conferences.

The Faculty has consistently proved its excellence within both the Research Assessment exercise, which ran in 2008 and more recently in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014. The REF results saw the Faculty placed was within the Top 10 History Faculties for research throughout the UK.

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