Jesus First year English undergraduates examine one of the college's treasures, Jesus MS 29, a thirteenth-century manuscript, at a class at the Bodleian library.

About the Course

Jesus College currently has 28 undergraduates reading English, including 5 in the joint schools with Classics, History, and Modern Languages. There are also 8 graduates studying for Masters and doctoral degrees (please see below for further information on Postgraduate Studies and Careers). 

The College has an excellent record of academic achievement in English and the Joint Schools - in 2012, for example, all six of our English finalists gained Firsts and in 2014 five of our first years won distinctions in Prelims- with a tradition of fostering a love of literature and independent thought. Theatre trips, poetry readings, and English society events (detailed below) all contribute to a densely textured intellectual life at Jesus. Jesus College is located a two-minute walk from the Bodleian Library, an eight-minute walk from the English Faculty Library and itself offers excellent library and computer facilities.

Professors Terri Bourus and Gary Taylor

Prof Terri Bourus and Prof Gary Taylor, editors of the New Oxford Shakespeare, speak to Jesus English undergraduates about their new edition.

All degree courses should help students to learn how to think, and the English course at Oxford is particularly well equipped to do so. Each student will study different texts, pursue personal interests, and shape his or her degree in exciting and challenging ways. The study of English starts from a love of
literature and language, and branches out to encounter or encompass other subjects and fields of enquiry. English is a subject which lends itself to diverse approaches and theories of interpretation, from Aristotle’s Poetics to Derridean deconstruction.

Here at Jesus we encourage students to work in interdisciplinary ways, and to explore a range of approaches to literature, while never forgetting the centrality of the text. Studying English involves the development of analytical skills and the accumulation of a great deal of knowledge: you need to be able to read widely but also in close detail; to understand the sweep of historical change while also being able to meditate on the nuances of a single word.

The English course is extremely demanding, and you must be ready to work hard. Our students think in original and imaginative ways, and are willing to pursue ideas, themes, and approaches to texts independently. Much of our teaching is conducted in tutorials (one or two students with the Tutor) and
small groups, and you must be prepared to discuss your ideas and reading with tutors and other students, and to respond spontaneously to criticism or new ideas introduced by them. You must be excited by the challenges of literary study, and dedicated to developing the skills of reading, writing,
interpretation, and research.

Subject notes

To see the latest subject notes for English - which contain information about our tutorial fellows, the admissions process and the course itself - please consult the below link.