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History and Modern Languages

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.

First Year

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. Further information on the choice of papers available can be viewed here.

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. 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.

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.

Details of the courses and papers

3 available in years 2 and 4 can be found here.

Joint Schools

History and Modern Languages can be taken as separate degree courses as well as together as a joint course.


Professor Patricia Clavin is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Jesus. She has written books on the history of international economic diplomacy between the two world wars, the history of the Great Depression in Europe, a history of Europe from 1789 to the present (with Asa Briggs), and edited a history of Internationalism in the Twentieth Century (with Glenda Sluga). She has also published some thirty articles and book chapters on the international history of the twentieth century. Her book Securing the World Economy. The Reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920-1946, published by Oxford University Press in 2013, was awarded the British Academy Medal. Professor Clavin is also a Fellow of the British Academy. Her latest book project, supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, explores the history of human security in the twentieth century. Patricia teaches European and Global history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and offers specialist teaching on the history of the two world war wars and the history of international and transnational co-operation in the twentieth century.

Dr Alexandra Gajda is also a Fellow and Tutor in History at Jesus. She teaches sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British and European history. Her research interests lie in the political, religious and intellectual history of early modern Britain and Europe. She is currently writing a book about the evolution of the parliaments of the British Isles during Reformation.

Dr Aled Davies is a Career Development Fellow in History at Jesus College. He is a political and economic historian of post-war Britain, and his research is particularly focused on the growth of the financial sector and the history of neoliberalism. He teaches Modern British, European and World History.

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, 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 Conrad Leyser is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Worcester College, who will be teaching at Jesus College from October 2008. His interests lie in the religious and social history of the Latin West, 300-1100; law, memory and narrative.

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 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. She teaches 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, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read History and related joint schools. 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 including an A in the subject the candidate is applying to study to degree level) or equivalent qualifications.

Written tests:

Candidates must take the the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) on 3 November 2021 and the History Aptitude Test (HAT) on 4 November 2021. Both the HAT and the language tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. Separate registration is required for each of the two tests and the deadline for this is 15 October 2021. Further details of these tests can be found at:

Written work:

For History, candidates are required to submit one piece of written work on a historical topic, which will be used for discussion at interview. For Modern Languages, candidates are required to submit 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). The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2021.
Further information can be viewed here.


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.

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.

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 political, social, and cultural history, History at Oxford embraces more specialised 4 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 or MPhil Modern Languages
  • DPhil Medieval and Modern Languages
  • MSt Women’s 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.

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


Modern Languages

Information about Admissions is available here.