All History finalists and some joint-schools students write a 12,000-word thesis on a topic of their own devising. Many undergraduates find this to be the most satisfying work they do in their History degree.
The thesis offers you the opportunity to engage in primary research on a subject of your own devising, and to work out arguments which are entirely your own, not a synthesis of the conclusions of others. It enables you to work as a historical scholar in your own right and to taste the kind of academic work undertaken professionally by your tutors. For those who continue as graduate historians, the thesis will represent a first opportunity to test their abilities as creative and independent researchers, able to define and explore a historical problem on a large scale. For others a successfully accomplished thesis is a clear indication to employers and the outside world that they possess a capacity for organization, selfdiscipline and the ability to structure a substantial and complex piece of research on their own initiative. Some undergraduate theses are so good that they are ready to be published as they stand. But almost all theses give their authors considerable personal satisfaction, and will be looked back on with pride long after the authors have left Oxford and the study of History behind.
Teaching: The Faculty provides an initial lecture on framing a topic in Hilary Term of the second year, and the Thesis Fair early in Trinity Term to help suggest sources from a wide range of fields. At total of five hours of advice from college tutors and a specialist supervisor are permitted across the second and third years.