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History and Politics

History and Politics is a Joint School which allows undergraduates to inform themselves about, and 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:
1. a period of British History
2. ‘Theories of the State’ or ‘Theories of the Democratic State’
3. a choice between:
a) Historiography (the evolution of history writing from Tacitus to Weber)
b) an in-depth study of one of seven historical texts in a foreign language (Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian)
4. An introduction to the Practice of Politics, where you will study how democracies function in terms of the formal institutions, political parties and voters

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 to pick two of the following papers: Comparative Government, British Politics and Government in the 20th Century, Theory of Politics, International Relations 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.

Joint Schools

History can be studied as a single discipline. Politics cannot be studied on its own, but may also be studied as part of Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE).


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 the history 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. She has published on the political, intellectual and religious history of English and European history in the early modern period. She is currently writing a book about the evolution of the parliaments of the British Isles during the 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.

Dr Stuart White is a Fellow and Tutor in Politics. He teaches the political theory side of Politics Prelims, Theories of the State, Theory of Politics, Political Thought: Plato to Rousseau, Political Thought: Bentham to Weber, and Marx and Marxism. His research focuses on democratic citizenship and the economy and integrates political philosophy, public policy and the history of political thought.

Professor James Tilley, also a Fellow and Tutor in Politics, teaches the empirical side of Politics Prelims, Comparative Government and Political Sociology. His research interests lie in the fields of political sociology, political psychology 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 for Jesus College. His interests lie in the religious and social history of the Latin West, 300-1100; law, memory and narrative.

In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places in a typical year to read courses containing Politics. 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) or equivalent qualifications. It is highly recommended for candidates to have History to A-level or any other equivalent. Sociology, Politics or Government and Politics can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.

Written test:

All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) on 4 November 2021. The HAT is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, and the registration deadline is 15 October 2021. Please note that there is no written test for Politics. For further details, please see here.

Written work:

Candidates are required to 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. The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2020. 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 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 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:

  • DPhil in Politics
  • MPhil in: Comparative Government; Political Theory; European Politics and Society
  • MSc in: Politics 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.

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



Information about Admissions is available here.