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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.

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.


Professor Paulina Kewes

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 Dirk Van Hulle

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

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

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.


Professor Peter Davidson

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 Amanda Holton

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

Dr Ayoush Lazikani is a Departmental Lecturer during Professor Marion Turner’s leave. She is a SEDAaccredited 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 Amy Lidster

Dr Amy Lidster is a Departmental Lecturer and teaches English literature from 1550 to 1830. Her principal research interests are in Shakespeare, early modern drama, and book history, with an emphasis on conditions of theatrical and textual production and reception. Amy’s first monograph – Publishing the History Play in the Time of Shakespeare: Stationers Shaping a Genre – was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. Amy is working on two further monograph projects: Authorships and Authority in Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts is supported by a fellowship from the Society for Renaissance Studies, and considers how playbook paratexts helped to develop and negotiate ideas of ‘authorship’ during the early modern period. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Wartime Shakespeare: Performing Narratives of Conflict explores how Shakespeare has been ‘mobilized’ during periods of war from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. Amy is also co-curating an exhibition on ‘Wartime Shakespeare’, which will be held at the National Army Museum in 2023-24.

Dr Joseph Hankinson

Dr Hankinson studied English at Balliol College, completing his DPhil in 2020 under the supervision of Professor Matthew Reynolds. He has taught at St Hilda’s College, St Anne’s College, and The Queen’s College, and worked as the Co-ordinator of the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre (OCCT), based at St Anne’s, where he currently leads a research strand on Comparative African Literatures. Dr Hankinson’s research explores questions of kinship, belonging, foreignness, and style, with a particular focus on Atlantic literary culture from the period between 1860 and the present day. His work routinely involves the tracing of relations which proliferate beyond temporal and geographical boundaries, and the development of innovative comparative methodologies—two activities united in his first book, which stages an encounter between the Victorian poet Robert Browning and the contemporary Ghanaian poet and novelist Kojo Laing.

Dr Ole Hinz

Dr Ole Hinz, is a German Lektor at Jesus College. His research is situated at the intersection of literature, philosophy, and intellectual history, with an emphasis on 20th-century German literature and critical theory.

Dr Elena Lombardi

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

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.

Dr Nick Mayhew

Dr Nick Mayhew is a lecturer in Russian at Jesus College. His research focuses on gender, sexuality and religion in Russian literature and culture, with a particular focus on religious discourses of sexual deviance.

The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 16 October (please note that this date is usually 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.

Places available at Jesus College

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.

Academic requirements

Academic requirements for this subject can be found here.

Selection Criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the English and Modern Languages websites.

Admissions tests

All candidates must take the Oxford English Literature Admissions Test (Oxford ELAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for the tests is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 29 September 2023. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found can be found here.

Written work

For English, candidates are required to submit one recent piece of written work in English.

For Modern Languages, candidates are required to submit one piece of work in the target language to be studied, and one piece in English.

The deadline to submit all written work is 10 November 2023. Further information on the written work requirements can be viewed here.

Deferred Entry

Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.

The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.

You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.

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.

Joint Schools

English and Modern Languages can both be studied as a single discipline and are also available as a joint course as follows:

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 applications 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.

If you have any questions about entrance requirements, or about applying to study at Jesus College, please contact the Admissions Officer: