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History and Joint Schools

Ancient & Modern History
History & Modern Languages (also see Modern Languages)
History & Politics

Oxford has one of the largest History faculties in the world. Academics research and teach a vast range of topics covering the period since Antiquity. Consequently History students at Oxford are offered considerable choice within their degree. Students study British and European history and can choose papers that examine aspects of North American, Indian, Japanese and other non-European history. They can opt for papers that deal with such diverse subjects as Anglo-Saxon archaeology, painting and culture in Ming China, the early modern witch-hunts, global empires, revolutionary Mexico, and the Soviet Union. A History degree provides a range of transferable skills that prepare students for many different careers: historians regularly analyse disparate data and assess competing interpretations; they are used to conveying complex ideas in a clear manner; and they have strong analytical, critical, and verbal skills. While some students go on to undertake graduate degrees and research, other historians go on to successful careers in a wide range of areas, including the media, journalism, law, politics, teaching, business, and financial consultancy.

Advantages of Keble

Historians at Keble are an intellectually ambitious group, who make an active contribution to both University and College life, not only academically, but also in the fields of student journalism, politics, and the arts. In 2015 finals for example, seven of the cohort achieved first class degrees. Keble admits students for Modern History, History and Politics, History and Modern Languages (French, Italian, and Spanish) and Ancient and Modern History. History at Keble attracts applicants from every educational background and from many countries; Keble’s historians are a lively, welcoming, and diverse group. There is also an increasingly dynamic intellectual community of graduate historians, archaeologists, and political scientists. Keble's research Cluster in Medieval and Renaissance Studies holds regular events, including masterclasses and guest lectures by high profile scholars. To hear some of these lectures click here.

Keble’s History tutors are committed to realising the full potential of the students here. The development of the study skills necessary to working in Oxford is taken seriously; the tutors have a high profile; and standards are high. The College Library is strong in History; and the college also encourages students to improve their reading knowledge of foreign languages through enrolment on courses run by the University Language Teaching Centre, or we may arrange special tuition. For more information about the tutors at Keble click on the links on the right hand side.

Course structure

During the first year History students take four papers. For the first two terms all students take a broad outline paper in British History and a thematic European paper. In the third term students concentrate on an Optional Subject which allows them to study a key historical problem through original sources. Throughout the year students take a fourth paper designed to introduce a more conceptual, theoretical, and historiographical approach to the past.

During the second and third years students choose from a wide range of outline papers in British, European, North American History, and options relating to the wider world. All these papers are taught in such a way as to bring out social, economic, and cultural as well as political themes. During the third year students are able to develop interests fostered during the first and second years by studying historical problems in depth, using original sources. All students in the main school write an extended essay as part of the Special Subject as well as a thesis based on independent research on a topic of their own choosing.

Those reading for the joint schools take options chosen flexibly from the parent subjects.

More details can be found on the History Faculty website.

Typical pattern of teaching

The History tutors at Keble teach a wide range of papers. Like all Colleges, Keble also draws on the expertise of members of the Faculty based in other Colleges for some of the more specialist options. Most papers are taught through weekly tutorials (usually in pairs). Students will have written an essay, or another piece of work, in advance and will spend the tutorial discussing the essay topic with their tutor. Small classes of up to ten students are sometimes used on the historiographical papers and small classes are also integral to the teaching of several of the more specialist papers. Students are expected to attend University-based lectures, which are an essential component of History teaching.

Qualities sought for entry

A strong interest in reading widely about politics, society, culture, economics and international affairs beyond the immediate requirements of the syllabus is crucial as is further reflection upon and engagement with the ideas this raises. Undergraduate historians are in control of their own timetable and engage in directed, independent study; they therefore require considerable self-discipline and motivation. Our selection criteria are exactly the same as those published by the History Faculty.

Entrance guidelines

These are exactly the same as those published by the History Faculty. Candidates are required to take the History Aptitude Test (HAT), designed to test the skills required for the study of History. All those applying for the joint school of History and Modern Languages will be required to take a modern languages written test as part of their application (see further details about registration for pre-interview tests ).

Most applicants will also be required to attend two interviews. Oxford interviews are academic in nature and are intended to test applicants’ intellectual ability. At Keble one interview takes as its basis a discussion of the History work that the candidate has submitted; candidates may also be asked to discuss other aspects of History they have studied or their broader historical interests. The second interview is based on a passage of historical writing designed to test candidates' accuracy, comprehension and conceptual skills; candidates are given this passage to read and consider in advance of the interview.

Successful candidates applying before taking their A-levels Part 2 or other post-GCSE qualification will be given a conditional offer, normally at a minimum of AAA for A2 candidates. We welcome applications from pre- and post-qualification A-Level students and from those taking qualifications other than A-Levels.

For further information, see selection criteria,  History Admissions FAQ and information about the Faculty Open Day on the Faculty website and the History and Joint Schools pages of the Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus.


Approximate yearly intake Keble: 10
Department Website Faculty of History


Via the College Office.


Dr Ian Archer Tutorial Fellow in History (Sixteenth and seventeenth century England, particularly London)

Dr Maria Misra Tutorial Fellow in History (South Asia since the eighteenth century)

Dr Mark Philpott Fellow by Special Election in History (The medieval church, the impact of church law)

Dr Richard Bell Middlebury-CMRS Career Development Fellow in Renaissance History