History and Modern Languages
Professor Patricia Clavin is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Jesus, and teaches mainly the history of Britain and Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has published widely on the history of British, German, French and American foreign policies in the period between 1918 and 1960, and on the history of the Great Depression, 1929-1939. She has recently completed a new history of the League of Nations and is now researching the history of international development in the twentieth century.
Dr Alex Gajda is also a Fellow and Tutor in History at Jesus. She teaches sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British and European history, with specialisms on Tudor politics and religion, and religion, literature and politics in the early modern period. Her research interests lie in the political, religious and intellectual history of early modern Britain and Europe and her new book on Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex, was published in 2012.
Professor Katrin Kohl is the Fellow and Tutor in German. She teaches German literature from 1750, with a particular interest in the way literature interacts with the society and culture of its time and communicates with the reader. Her current research focuses on eighteenth and twentieth century poetry and poetics, and on the theory and practice of metaphor as a means of shaping concepts of literary communication. She also has a strong interest in language teaching and has published language courses from beginner to university level.
Dr Caroline Warman is the Fellow and Tutor in French. Her main research interests lie in the literature, history of ideas and medical discourses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her first book was on Sade and materialism (2002); she is now working on Diderot and theories of consciousness in the 1790s. She is also translating the novels of Isabelle de Charrière. She mainly teaches literature and thought in the modern period but also offers (and enjoys!) the span of first year texts, from medieval to modern. Her language teaching specialises in translation into and out of French.
Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards is Emeritus Jesus Professor of Celtic. He works on medieval Ireland and Wales, and to a lesser extent Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England. He is mainly an historian but he has also written about medieval Irish and Welsh narrative literature. His books include The Welsh Laws (1989), Early Christian Ireland (2000), Wales and the Britons, 350-1064 and The Oxford History of Wales, vol. 1, which is currently at the press. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy.
Dr Julie Curtis, a Fellow in Russian at Wolfson College, is a Lecturer for Jesus. Her research interests lie in twentieth-century Russian literature, especially Mikhail Bulgakov and Evgenii Zamiatin. She has also published on the literature of the Gorbachov era.
Dr Nicola Gardini is a Lecturer in Italian for Jesus who teaches on Renaissance and the classical legacy and XIX- and XX-century poetry. His research interests lie in the Renaissance, poetry and translation. He writes poetry and fiction and co-edits the monthly magazine "Poesia", based in Milan, and the online magazine "Il Calzerotto Marrone", based in Padua.
Dr Jonathan Thacker, a Fellow in Spanish at Merton College, is a Lecturer for Jesus who teaches mainly in the literature of the Golden Age, or early-modern period. He writes principally on the drama produced by Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca and their contemporaries, and on the works of Cervantes.
Dr Conrad Leyser is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Worcester College, who also teaches at Jesus College. His interests lie in the religious and social history of the Latin West, 300-1100; law, memory and narrative.
About the Course
This course allows you to study subjects in history and a European language which relate to each other significantly. An interest in 19th-century French literature, for example, 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. Not only can the literature be related to its historical context, but the agenda of the historians can be reassessed by engagement with literary methods.
Your week's work will include tutorials in History and the language you study, language classes involving different skills and about three or four lectures. You will prepare essays for your weekly tutorials.
Students study four papers relating to their chosen language and two papers on History, on which they are examined in June at the end of their first year. The examination therefore comprises the following components:
- Two language papers involving comprehension and translation exercises generally involving prescribed texts, but depending on the language these may be studied in the context of a literary or cultural topic.
- Two literature papers.
- General History (primarily European). A choice of four options is available:
- 370-900: The Transformation of the Ancient World
- 1000-1300: Medieval Christendom and its Neighbours
- 1400-1650: Renaissance, Recovery and Reform
- 1815-1914: Society, Nation and Empire
These papers are studied thematically.
- One of the following:
- History of the British Isles. This is divided into seven chronological periods which are studied thematically, and from which you should choose one period.
- An Optional Subject which is based on primary sources translated into English where appropriate. There are over a dozen to choose from, ranging from political thought to Early Gothic France, c. 1100-c. 1150, and from Conquest and Colonization: Spain and America in the Sixteenth Century, to Revolution and Empire in France, 1789-1815, and the Rise and Crises of European Socialisms, 1881-1924.
- Either 'Historiography: Tacitus to Weber', which examines the work of some of the great historians or a Foreign Text by a great thinker such as Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville or Frederich Meinecke, which is read in the original language.
The Year Abroad
All Modern Languages courses and Joint Schools with Modern Languages last for four years, including a year abroad after the second year. It is important that you advise your LA or other funding body from the outset that you will be taking a four-year course.
A common pattern is for students to spend their year abroad as Assistants, working in a school in the country of their choice. This offers experience of working in the country, and it is organised through a scheme run by the British Council. Students may also spend the year at a university abroad; this is discussed thoroughly with the tutors in Modern Languages, and students are responsible for making arrangements themselves. Students normally stay in one country throughout the year, but if they are studying two languages, they are advised to spend periods in the country of their other language during vacations.
The College has an exchange scheme with the University of Trier, which accommodates one student a year. All undergraduate members of the College are eligible to apply for this exchange.
The Later Years
Students combine a variety of options from the parent subjects, deepening their literary and historical sensibilities. Study for the final examinations is punctuated by the year abroad during which students have an opportunity to hone their language skills by working overseas.
Students work on the following course elements:
- A period of General History (chosen from some seventeen periods, which cover the whole of European history and its engagement with the non-European world from the fall of Rome until 1973, with additional papers in American history and the history of the wider world in the nineteenth century).
- A period of literature (medieval period or 16th-18th centuries or modern).
- One paper from a choice of two papers on linguistic studies, or three papers on key texts in the literary canon of the language, or a Special Subject in Modern Languages.
- Translation into the language.
- Translation from the language into English.
- Oral work in the language.
- Either the paper and the extended essay required of one of the twenty-three History Special Subjects, and one of the options listed below, or the three items listed below:
- A Further Subject (chosen from a large number of specialist topics).
- One of the seven papers on the History of the British Isles.
- An extended essay in a Modern Language subject or another of the papers described in the third item above.
- A bridge essay, drawing together interests and skills from both sides of the course.
History and Modern Languages can be taken as separate degree courses as well as together as a joint course.
Candidates are selected on the basis of academic record (e.g. GCSEs) and potential, as shown by their UCAS reference, submitted written work, performance in written tests, and in interviews if shortlisted.
Written tests: Candidates will be required to take written tests in schools on 7 November 2012. All candidates are required to take the History Aptitude Test (HAT). Please see www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/tests and the History Faculty website for details about the History Aptitude Test. The HAT will comprise two passages for commentary, and will be used to help to determine which candidates will be interviewed. Candidates may also be required to take a language-specific test on the same date (if currently studying the language to A2 level or equivalent). For details see www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/tests and click on ‘check the requirements for your course’ in the Modern Languages section. The language tests consists of a monolingual exercise and a number of non-consecutive sentences for translation from and into the language, and are primarily intended to test knowledge of basic grammar rather than vocabulary. Both the HAT and the language tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment. The registration deadline is 15 October 2012.
For History, candidates should submit one piece of written work on a historical topic, which will be used for discussion at interview. For Modern Languages, candidates will also be required to one piece of work written in the language applied for, if currently studied, and one essay written in English (the piece submitted for History may be used for this, or you may submit an additional piece, e.g. from your English Literature course).
About 80% of candidates are usually interviewed. Tutors wish to test your capacity for independent thought, your flexibility, your skills in conceptualising and relating ideas, the precision of your thinking, and your linguistic accuracy. We may also ask candidates to read and discuss a passage.
In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read History and related joint schools. Offers made to pre-A level candidates will be conditional upon A level results (normally AAA, with an A in each subject the candidate is applying to study to degree level). Offers made to post-A level candidates will usually be unconditional.
Deferred Entry: Applications for deferred entry to Jesus College are welcomed. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made. Please refer to departmental web sites for subject-specific advice. You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the strongest of the cohort for their subject. We would not usually offer more than one or two deferred places per subject in order not to disadvantage the following year's candidates. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead. If you require any further advice, please contact the Admissions Officer.
Postgraduate Studies and Careers
The Faculty of History offers a range of taught graduate courses at master's level and two research programmes leading to the degrees of Master of Letters or Doctor of Philosophy. In addition to the traditional fields of historical research, in political, social, and cultural history, History at Oxford embraces more specialised areas, such as medieval history, economic and social history, the history of science, medicine, and technology, and the history of art.
Oxford has a large, varied, and active teaching and research community in Modern Languages. There are over ninety members of the Faculty, with research interests spread across the full chronological range of the languages and into most areas of linguistics and literary study. The College welcomes applicants for the following postgraduate degrees:
- MSt, MPhil or DPhil Medieval and Modern Languages
- MSt, MPhil or DPhil Celtic Studies
- MSt or MPhil Slavonic Studies
- MSt Women's Studies
- MSt Yiddish Studies
The undergraduate course in Modern Languages at Oxford is intended to transmit an awareness of one or more foreign cultures in relation to students' native culture and to equip students with a sophisticated command of the language or languages they study. Beyond these subject-specific aims, the course trains students' critical faculties and gives them a wide range of other 'transferable skills'. Students learn to organise their time and cope with working under pressure, and the course provides intensive training in communication skills: weekly essays demand quick assimilation of material and foster writing skills, while discussion in tutorials and classes develops confidence in presenting an independent view clearly and comprehensibly.
Recent studies indicate that an increasing number of British employers are realising the value of recruiting trained linguists, and Oxford Modern Languages graduates regularly go into highly competitive areas such as law, management consultancy, accountancy, international press agencies, the media, advertising, the Foreign Office and the performing arts. Employers value language skills combined with the many transferable skills of a History and Modern Languages degree.
Preliminary Reading and Further Information
Further information about History and Modern Languages at Oxford can be found on the Faculty of History and Faculty of Modern Languages websites. Information about admissions is available from the University's Undergraduate Courses pages.
Last updated May 2012