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English and Modern Languages

English and Modern Languages is a course designed to give students the opportunity to investigate and reflect on the literary and linguistic relations between Great Britain and the continent.

Professor Katrin Kohl is the overall co-ordinator for English and Modern Languages. In this role she discusses subject choices with each undergraduate in order to ensure that the two sides of the course complement each other in accordance with the student’s interests.

N.B. English and Modern Languages is a four-year course including a compulsory year abroad during the third year.

Both the English and the Modern Languages Faculties at Oxford are among the largest in the country, and include major scholars in all areas of the respective subjects. Students thus have the opportunity to receive teaching from a range of expert tutors.

Library provision at Oxford is excellent: all students have access to the English Faculty Library, the Taylor Institution Library (for modern languages), the Bodleian Library, and their own college libraries. Both faculties have well-equipped computer rooms and all colleges have computing facilities.

Teaching takes the form of tutorials and classes, which will usually be organized and taken by the Fellows and Lecturers of the College (although those pursuing some of the more specialized options may receive tutorials from an outside tutor). Attendance at, and production of work for, tutorials and classes is compulsory, and must be given priority over all other activities. The University organizes courses of lectures which cover the syllabus, but which are not compulsory. Tutors will, however, be happy to advise undergraduates concerning which lectures are likely to prove most beneficial.

Two main courses are available for the English section of the syllabus; Course I (which most candidates will take) offers the usual range of literary options, while Course II allows more specialization in early periods of languages and literature.

The Preliminary Examination is taken after three terms. On the Modern Languages side, candidates are required to offer two language examinations (‘papers’), and two literature papers on prescribed books. On the English side, two papers must be offered. The first of these is An Introduction to Language and Literature. For the second paper, candidates may choose Victorian Literature, Modern Literature or Early Medieval Literature. All papers are taught through a mix of tutorials, small classes, and faculty lectures.

The third year of the course is spent abroad, with most students taking a posting as an ‘assistant’ in a foreign school. On your return, you may choose from options including special author papers and special topic papers in both English and your modern language.

The Final Examination, taken at the end of four years, allows great flexibility on both sides of the course. On the Modern Languages side there are compulsory papers in translation from and into the language, as well as an oral examination. Two further Modern Languages papers must be offered, again chosen from a wide range of literary and linguistic options. Candidates also select three subject papers from the English side; one of these may be an interdisciplinary paper.

All candidates also complete a dissertation, which can be on an interdisciplinary topic.

Cultural and Intellectual Life

Students at Jesus find themselves welcomed into a serious, lively, and good-humoured academic community with every opportunity to discuss their thoughts in tutorials, seminars, and College events. All English and Modern Languages students are, by default, members of the Herbert English Society, which provides a forum for exchange of ideas and discussion of literature, criticism, and the arts. The Society invites poets, playwrights, novelists, academics, journalists, and cultural historians. Our recent speakers have included Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri, Marina Warner, Philip Pullman, Bernard O’Donoghue, Craig Raine, Hermione Lee, Sally Shuttleworth, William St Clair, Blair Worden, and the acclaimed poet Geoffrey Hill.

Joint Schools

English and Modern Languages can also be studied as individual degree subjects.


Professor Paulina Kewes, Fellow and Tutor in English, teaches English literature from the Renaissance to the Romantics, including Shakespeare. Paulina’s research interests are in early modern literature (especially drama), history, and politics, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her publications include Authorship and Appropriation: Writing for the Stage in England, 1660-1710 (1998) and several edited or co-edited volumes: Plagiarism in Early Modern England (2003), The Uses of History in Early Modern England (2006), The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles (2013), Doubtful and Dangerous: The Question of Succession in Late Elizabethan England (2014), Stuart Succession Literature: Moments and Transformations (2019) as well as numerous articles on Shakespeare, Dryden, early modern drama, translation, plagiarism, historical writings, royal iconography, and political thought. She is currently writing the first interdisciplinary study of debates about the royal succession in the period from Henry VIII’s death in 1547 to the accession of James VI/I and union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603, from a comparative British and European perspective. The book is contracted to Oxford University Press.

Professor Marion Turner, Fellow and Tutor in English, teaches literature from 650-1550. Her biography of Chaucer – Chaucer: A European Life – was published by Princeton University Press in 2019 and shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2020. Her other publications include Chaucerian Conflict (2007) and A Handbook of Middle English Studies (2013), and she also works on literature and medicine and on life-writing. Her current book project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, is about medieval women, focusing on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath across time. Marion is committed to public engagement and outreach, and frequently speaks in schools, at literary festivals, and on television and radio.

Professor Dirk Van Hulle teaches Bibliography, Genetic Criticism, Book History and (Digital) Scholarly Editing. His research interests are in modern manuscripts, notably by James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. With Mark Nixon, he is co-director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, series editor of the Cambridge UP series ‘Elements in Beckett Studies’ and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. He is editor of the online journal Genetic Joyce Studies and member of the editorial board of the International Journal for Digital Humanities (Springer). His publications include Textual Awareness (Michigan UP, 2004), Modern Manuscripts (2014), Samuel Beckett’s Library (CUP, 2013, with Mark Nixon), The New Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (CUP, 2015), James Joyce’s Work in Progress (Routledge, 2016), several volumes in the ‘Making of’ series (Bloomsbury) and genetic editions in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, including the Beckett Digital Library. His current projects include a monograph on Genetic Criticism for OUP, a digital edition of Samuel Beckett’s Murphy, the co-editing of a Comparative History of the Literary Draft (John Benjamins), and of the Oxford Handbook of Samuel Beckett (OUP).

Professor Katrin Kohl is a Fellow and Tutor in German. She teaches German literature from 1750. Her research focuses on poetry and poetics, and on the theory and practice of metaphor. Currently she is on research leave, leading an interdisciplinary research project on Creative Multilingualism for the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.

Professor Caroline Warman is Fellow and Tutor in French. She teaches and researches eighteenth and nineteenth-century French literature and thought, and has translated novels and essays from French. She has just finished a book about Enlightenment philosopher Diderot and co-organised a congress on the Enlightenment for 1500 people from all over the world. She teaches French literature and thought and also translation to all years.


Dr Amanda Holton, Stipendiary Lecturer in English Language, teaches a paper on the English language at Jesus. She also teaches literature from 650 to 1550. Her principal research interests and publications are in Chaucer, the medieval and sixteenth-century love lyric, and poetics, with an emphasis on how form precedes and generates meaning. She is interested in interrogating the agendas which drive the taxonomy of poetic form, and in challenging the division still made between medieval and early modern literature.

Dr Ayoush Lazikani is a Departmental Lecturer during Professor Marion Turner’s leave. She is a SEDA accredited tutor, teaching and lecturing in Old English and Middle English. As a researcher, Ayoush works in the history of emotions, specializing in devotional writing of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Her research considers English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin texts, and she has particular interests in literature written for religious recluses. Ayoush’s first book, Cultivating the Heart: Feeling and Emotion in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Religious Texts (University of Wales Press, 2015), studied the languages of feeling – especially the interrelated affections of compassion, love, and sorrow – in texts and church wall paintings. Her second book, Emotion in Christian and Islamic Contemplative Texts, c. 1100-1250, is due to be published in 2021.

Dr William Ghosh, Career Development Fellow in English, teaches Victorian and Modern literature and literary theory at Jesus. His research explores the literature and intellectual history of Britain and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. His interests include comparative literature, critical theory, linguistics, and prose forms.

Professor Peter Davidson is Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall and teaches renaissance, baroque and romantic literature for Jesus College. He has edited the seventeenth century poet Richard Fanshawe for OUP, as well as the two Oxford anthologies, Poetry and Revolution, and Early Modern Women Poets. His study of early-modern international culture The Universal Baroque was published in 2007. He is general editor for the Oxford Edition of the works of St Robert Southwell. He has wide interests in early modern cultural history and also teaches for History of Art. He has taught the Epic bridge paper for Classics and English, and has supervised for History and English. He has another identity as a writer of literary nonfiction and verse: The Idea of North (2005); The Palace of Oblivion (2008); Distance and Memory (2013); the Last of the Light (2015).

Dr Julie Curtis, a Fellow of Wolfson College, is a Lecturer in Russian 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 Kirstin Gwyer is a Departmental Lecturer in German at Jesus. She teaches German literature from the eighteenth century to the present, with a special interest in twentieth- and twenty-first-century prose fiction, and translation into and out of German. Her research interests are in the first-generation Holocaust novel, contemporary German-Jewish and American-Jewish literature, German memory writing since 1945, and postmodernism and post-postmodernism.

Dr Elena Lombardi, a Fellow of Balliol College, is a Lecturer in Italian for Jesus College. Her teaching interests focus on Dante, early Italian poetry, and Medieval Studies.

Dr Daniela Omlor, Fellow in Spanish at Lincoln College, also looks after Jesus students. Her research focuses on contemporary Spanish literature, with a particular emphasis on memory, trauma and exile. Her first book examined the role of memory and self-representation in the works of Jorge Semprún. Currently, she is exploring the interaction between memory and fiction in recent novels by Javier Cercas, Javier Marías and Antonio Muñoz Molina and others, in order to investigate how the recovery of historical memory in Spanish novels increasingly extends beyond the Spanish Civil War.

In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 6 are offered places in a typical year to read English or English and Modern Languages. 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.

Academic requirements:

Offers made to candidates will be conditional upon A-level results (AAA, with an A in English Literature or English language and Literature, and an A in the language to be taken, if currently studied) or equivalent qualifications. Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature, and to have the language or languages to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent.

Written tests:

All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) on 3 November 2021 and the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) on 4 November 2021. Please note that separate registration is required for each of the two tests and the deadline for doing this is 15 October 2021. Further details of these tests can be found at:

Written work:

Candidates are required to submit the following written work:

  • a piece of written work in English for the English part of the course. This essay should be on an English literature topic and should not be a short timed essay, piece of creative writing, or critical commentary.
  • a piece of written work in your chosen Modern Language unless you are applying to study a language as a beginner.
  • a piece of written work in English for the Modern Languages part of the course. If you have a piece of written work in English that you think would be suitable for both subjects, please send two copies of this piece of work; you do not need to submit two different pieces of work in English.

All written work must be submitted by 10 November 2021. Further information can be viewed here.

Deferred Entry:

Applications for deferred entry to Jesus College are accepted. 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 deferred place 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 via

The Graduate School of the Oxford Faculty of English is large and dynamic. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:

  • DPhil in English Language and Literature
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (650 -1550)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1550-1700)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1700-1830)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1830-1914)
  • M.St. English Language and Literature (1900- Present)
  • M.St. English and American Studies
  • M.Phil. English Studies (Medieval Period)
  • M.St. World Literatures in English

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 degrees in Medieval and Modern Languages:

  • MSt or MPhil Modern Languages
  • DPhil Medieval and Modern Languages
  • MSt Women’s Studies

Beyond the subject-specific aims, the undergraduate 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.

Graduates in English and Modern Languages go on to a great variety of careers, including broadcasting, publishing, teaching, journalism, acting, administration, management, advertising, translation, librarianship and law. Knowledge of a modern language opens up opportunities for internationally focused careers and working with international companies or organisations.

Further information about English and Modern Languages at Oxford can be found on the faculty websites:


Modern Languages

Information about Admissions is available here.