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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. For the latest information on all course details and options see the History and Modern Languages websites.


Dr Alexandra Gajda

Dr Alexandra Gajda is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Jesus. She has published on 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 the Reformation and other projects on early modern historiography. Alexandra teaches sixteenth- and seventeenth- century British and European history, with specialisms in Tudor politics and religion, and literature and politics in the early modern period.

Dr Matthew Kerry

Dr Mathew Kerry is Zeitlyn Fellow and Tutor in History and Associate Professor of European History since 1870. Matthew is a social and cultural historian of modern Spain. His work examines the meaning and practice of politics in everyday life. He has written on the revolutionary insurrection in the Asturias in October 1934, during the Spanish Second Republic, and essays and articles on secularisation, anticlerical violence, antifascism and boycotts as a form of popular justice. He is currently working on the history of political engagement in in twentieth-century Spain, primarily through a history of sound and mass politics from the 1890s to the Second Republic. Matthew teaches European and Global history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Professor Susan Doran

Professor Susan Doran is a Senior Research Fellow in History at Jesus College. She teaches early modern (c1400 – 1700) British and European undergraduate papers, and her research specialism is in Elizabethan religion and politics.

Professor Caroline Warman

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.Professor Katrin Kohl

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.


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.

Ms Hannah Scheithauer

Ms Hannah Scheithauer is a lecturer at Jesus College teaching German Literature since 1730. Her research interests are Modern and contemporary literature in French and German, memory studies, post-Holocaust and postcolonial literature, transnational and comparative literature, Ingeborg Bachmann, Assia Djebar.

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, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read History and related joint schools.

Academic requirements

Academic requirements for this course can be found here.

Selection criteria

The specific selection criteria are given on the Faculty of History and Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages websites.

Admissions tests

Further information of Admissions tests can be found here.

Written work

All candidates are required to send in an essay on an historical topic, written in their own time as part of their normal school or college work. The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2023. Further information on the written work requirements 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

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.

Joint Schools

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

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. For a full list of the postgraduate courses offered by the Faculty of History, please click here.

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

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.

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