History and Politics
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.
Dr Stuart White is a Fellow and Tutor in Politics who teaches the Theory and Practice of Democracy, the Theory of Politics, Classical Political Thought, the Foundations of Modern Social and Political Thought and Marxism. His research interests lie in normative political theory, public policy and the history of political thought.
Dr James Tilley, also a Fellow and Tutor in Politics, teaches Analysis of Democratic Institutions, Comparative Government, Political Sociology and Modern British Government. His research interests lie in the fields of political sociology and public opinion, with a focus on British politics.
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
History and Politics is a joint School which allows undergraduates to inform themselves about, and eventually also to participate in, many of the most exciting theoretical and practical debates in the disciplines of History and Politics. It is a challenging course covering many of the areas where the latest research is transforming the parent Schools.
Teaching takes the form of tutorials and classes, many of which will be organised and taken by the Fellows and Lecturers of the College. You will receive tuition from Fellows and Lecturers of other colleges, especially on the History side of the course. Attendance at, and production of work for, tutorials and classes is compulsory, and must be given priority over all other activities. The University organises courses of lectures which cover the syllabus, but which are not compulsory, and which are not designed to prepare candidates for a particular examination paper. Tutors will, however, be happy to advise undergraduates concerning which lectures are likely to prove most beneficial.
The first year examination, Prelims, is taken in June at the end of the first year. Candidates must offer four subjects for examination:
- a period of British History
- 'Theories of the State', in which you will study the works of Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau and Marx
- a choice between
- one of twelve 'Optional Subjects' on offer (themes include 'Conquest and Colonisation of Mexico and Peru' and 'Revolution and Empire in France')
- Historiography (the evolution of history writing from Tacitus to Weber)
- an in-depth study of one of seven historical texts in a foreign language (Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian)
- Analysis of Democratic Institutions, where you will study the politics and government of the UK, US, France and Germany in the second half of this century.
The Final Examination (known as the Final Honour School) is taken at the end of three years. In History, you must study two further subjects of British or European History as outlined above under (1), taking a term for each subject. You will also spend two terms working on Politics, where you have a wide choice of topics including ‘Comparative Government’, ‘British Politics and Government in the 20th Century’, ‘Theory of Politics’, ‘International Relations since the Cold War’, and ‘Political Sociology’.
You can then bias your study towards Politics and History: though you have to do one more paper in History and one in Politics, you may wish to focus on a specialised paper in History (involving extensive study of primary texts and chosen from 26 topics on offer: e.g. ‘The Development of the Third Reich’, ‘The Great Society’ [1960s America] , ‘English Architecture 1660-1720’) and take a general course in Politics, or you may wish to take a more specialised course in Politics, and take a more general course in History.
Finally, you must write a dissertation based on your own research, supported by tutorials, of up to 12,000 words in length, in either History or Politics.
This brief introduction has not been able to do full justice to the sheer breadth and variety of subjects that are on offer, made possible by one of the world’s largest History and Politics faculties. We only ask that you take full advantage of this opportunity: History and Politics should not be seen as an easy option to concentrate solely on the World since 1800 and ignore everything that happened before.
You will be expected to attend about five lectures per week during the first year, participate in regular meetings with tutors to discuss work, research in libraries, and write at least one essay a week. You will be required to submit a thesis which will enable you to do a piece of independent research during your second and third years. You are very much in charge of your own timetable, which means that if you are well organised you can easily fit in all the other activities for which Oxford students are renowned. Jesus College students, for example, run a lively History association, the J. R. Green Society, the oldest student History Society in Oxford. It hosts informal talks and organises a number of social events each year.
Normally we expect an A2 or AS level in History. The other subjects do not matter particularly, though an A2/AS level in a classical or modern language is of particular use.
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.
Candidates will be required to take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) in schools on 7 November 2012. The HAT is administered by Cambridge Assessment, and the registration deadline is 15 October 2012. The HAT will comprise two passages for commentary, and will be used to help to determine which candidates will be interviewed. Please see the Tests page on the University's website for further details. There is no written test for Politics.
Candidates should submit one piece of written work on a historical topic, which will be used for discussion at interview. No additional written work is required for Politics, although the submitted work may of course be on a political history topic.
In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read courses containing Politics. Offers made to pre-A level candidates will be conditional upon A level results (normally AAA, with an A in History). 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.
The Department of Politics and International Relations is internationally renowned as a centre for excellence in teaching and research. Its reputation attracts students and senior academics from across the world. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:
- MLitt or DPhil in Politics
- MPhil in: Comparative Government; Political Theory; European Politics and Society
- MSc in: Politics and International Relations Research; Political Theory Research
Although the History degree is not vocational in any strict sense (and many students undertake the course for reasons of sheer intellectual pleasure) it does equip students with a set of transferable skills applicable to many careers. Historians are used to the sifting of large quantities of often conflicting information; they are skilled in the evaluation of differing interpretations; they are trained in presenting complex issues in a lucid and convincing fashion; their verbal and critical skills are highly developed. These qualities have enabled generations of Oxford historians to excel in a wide range of careers. Oxford historians typically move on to careers in business, the law, investment banking and consultancies, advertising, accountancy, the civil service, publishing, journalism and the media, global charity work, museums, librarianship and archive work, and teaching.
Preliminary Reading and Further Information
Further information about History and Politics at Oxford can be found on the History Faculty and Department of Politics and International Relations web sites and the University's Undergraduate Courses pages.
Last updated May 2012