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 MSc/MPhil in History of Science, Medicine and Technology, the MSc/MPhil in Economic and Social History, the MSt/MPhil in Modern British and European 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.

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The MSt in British and European History, from 1500 to the present, aims to improve students’ practical and intellectual grasp of research processes, their ability to conceptualise and engage with historical problems, and to enlarge their understanding of the historical and historiographical context within which their own research is set. Students will have access to a wide range of both generic and subject-specific training within the field. This course can be studied part-time.

It is open to all students whose research focuses on post-medieval Britain and Europe (which may also include non-European elements, for example European expansion, Empire building or emigration). The programme will encourage students to develop practical and intellectual familiarity with advanced research in both British and continental European history.  It can serve either as free-standing Master’s programme or as comprehensive preparation for DPhil research in the fields of history within its scope.

Students on this degree programme have access to a comprehensive menu of skills training for postgraduates, as well as a systematic schedule of introductions to the unrivalled research facilities of the University of Oxford. Students will be encouraged to develop their knowledge of a foreign language in parallel to their course work.

The MPhil  is an innovative and intensive two-year programme that provides a thorough training in historical methods. It offers a range of specialist options that draw on the latest research, and includes a sustained period devoted to archival research and writing. 

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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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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 11-month programme is the standard entry route to graduate work in Medieval History at Oxford. Students will follow core and optional courses, but will spend between a third and half of their time doing independent research. The course can be taken as a free-standing degree programme, or as the first step to doctoral research. 

The aim of the course is to enable students to understand the way their work fits into the wider developments of the subject in the last fifty years; to be critical of those developments; to understand in depth one major research field; to learn or improve a non-English language (usually Latin); and to write a developed piece of original work. This degree balances taught courses and independent research. Students will construct the contents and work pattern of the research element of the degree in close and regular discussion with their supervisor.  All medievalists will be offered Latin language training.

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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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This nine-month course is intended to immerse students in the historiography and current debates in colonial American and US history and to provide them with rigorous training in historical research, writing, and argumentation.

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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 http://www.southasia.ox.ac.uk/

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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