The History School is among the largest at Oxford, and the undergraduate intake for the university is 300 each year, not counting the large number of students engaged in postgraduate research.
There are over 100 members of the History Faculty, most of them teaching the subject. The very extensive library resources of the University – the Bodleian Library, the Faculty Library, the separate and well-stocked College libraries – enable a wide variety of optional courses to be offered and enable the student to pursue his or her own scholarly interests in depth.
Within the general framework of the History School, there are opportunities to take subjects which might at other universities be studied under separate disciplines e.g., the History of Architecture, Art History, or the History of Literature. There is breadth as well as depth in the course.
Students are taught largely by tutorials (which take place at least once a week in the first two years) and by lectures. Classes at both college and university level are also an essential part of the teaching programme. The lecture courses are very numerous; each term the list of lectures being offered covers several pages. Lectures are voluntary; tutorials and classes are compulsory. The latter are particularly important as the major form of teaching on the Further and Special subjects in the second and third year.
The emphasis of the degree course is on the need for each student to learn for themselves, primarily by reading, but also by friendly discussion of written work with a College tutor or within a class group. Much teaching for the course is done by the Jesus College History tutors, but the wide range of optional topics makes it necessary for all historians to go also to tutors in other colleges, so each student has quite a variety of academic contacts during his or her three years.
Historians normally produce two or three tutorial essays a fortnight in their first year. During the second and third year, when the more specialised work is done, this changes to an average of one a week. Much of the penultimate term is assigned for the writing of the dissertation. Oxford terms are on the short side – eight weeks – so in the vacation students are expected to do a good deal of reading and to consolidate work undertaken during term. Further information regarding the course structure and choice of subjects can be viewed here.
Jesus College students also 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.
In these courses a candidate is allowed to concentrate more on one side of the course than the other.
The examination structure is similar to that of the main school. Prelims are taken at the end of the first year, and consist of four papers drawn from the two disciplines with added language examinations in the case of History and Modern Languages. NB History and Modern Languages is a four-year course including a compulsory year abroad during the third year. It is important that you advise your LA or other funding body from the outset that you will be taking a four-year course.
It is usually possible to construct optional papers in such a way that the two disciplines in these joint schools complement and reinforce one another. It is worth warning that those who wish to do History and Modern Languages should normally have an A grade in one or two foreign languages before contemplating this course. Those taking History and Economics should have an interest in Mathematics, and an A-level in Maths is desirable.
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 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 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 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 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.
Dr Conrad Leyser is a Fellow and Tutor in History at Worcester College, who also teaches at Jesus College. His interests lie in the religious and social history of the Latin West (300-1100) and in law, memory and narrative.
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 the History Aptitude Test (HAT) and in interviews if shortlisted (about 80% of candidates will be interviewed).
Offers made to candidates will be conditional upon A-level results (AAA with an A in History, and not including General Studies, if taken) or equivalent qualifications. We would normally expect an A-level or AS level in History. The other subjects do not matter especially, though an A-level/AS level in a classical or modern language is of particular use. For those reading Joint Honour Schools, please see above.
All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT) in schools on 4 November 2021. The HAT is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, and the registration deadline is 15 October 2021.
More information about the test, including how to register, can be found here.
Candidates are required to submit one piece of written work which will be used for discussion at interview. The deadline to submit written work is 10 November 2021. Further information can be viewed here.
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 email@example.com.
The History Faculty offers a range of taught 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.
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.
Historians at Jesus seem to enjoy the course, even though it involves a lot of sustained work. The combination of unity and diversity, and the chance (especially in the final year) to get down to really detailed work on primary sources; make it a rich and varied degree programme.