University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

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History and English

A BA in 3 years

UCAS code: VQ13

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 65%

Successful: 10%

Intake: 7

Entrance requirements

A-levels: AAA

Advanced Highers: AA/AAB

IB: 38 (including core points) with 666 at HL

Or any other equivalent

Candidates are expected to have English Literature, or English Language and Literature to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. It is also highly recommended for candidates to have History to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: HAT on 5 November 2014

Written Work: Three pieces

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

More Information


+44 (0) 1865 615020


+44 (0) 1865 271055

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014

What is History and English?

A joint degree in History and English requires students to think critically about how we define ‘history’ and ‘literature’, and about how the two disciplines interrelate and, in large measure, overlap. Close attention is given to changing methodologies, to the nature of evidence and to styles of argument. It is assumed that historical documents are just as much ‘texts’ as are poems, plays or novels, and are therefore subject to interpretation as works of narrative, rhetoric and, fundamentally, language. Equally, it is assumed that poems, plays and novels represent historically grounded ways of interpreting a culture.

History and English at Oxford

The History and English Faculties are the largest in Britain, with long and distinguished traditions of teaching and research. Students are offered a great deal of choice in the course over their three years, and whether their interests are in the medieval period, the Renaissance or the later periods, intellectually fruitful combinations are always possible.

The course structure at Oxford is intended to enable students to relate literary and historical ideas as effectively as possible in the investigation of their chosen historical periods, topics or authors, while recognising that some students will wish to opt for variety rather than close congruity between their historical and literary papers. Interdisciplinarity is embedded in each year of the course with dedicated classes in the first year as part of the Introduction to English Language and Literature paper, a ‘bridge paper’ taken in the second year and examined by extended essay, and an interdisciplinary dissertation in the final year.

Oxford possesses unmatched library provision for both subjects in the Bodleian Library, the History Faculty and English Faculty libraries, other faculty libraries and the college libraries.

A typical weekly timetable

Most students have up to two tutorials a week and are often, but not always, working on two papers simultaneously. Most students attend three to four lecture courses a week. In the first and second years, students will also attend interdisciplinary classes with both English and History tutors present, in preparation for the interdisciplinary bridge paper. For the final year dissertation they will have an adviser from each discipline.

What are tutors looking for?

For information about the selection criteria please see:

Shortlisted candidates will usually be given at least two interviews, one with the History tutor or tutors in the college, and one with the English tutor or tutors. In the English interview, the candidate may be asked to discuss a piece of prose or verse, provided before or at the interview. Successful candidates will read widely, will enjoy writing and talking about history, literature and language, and will be interested in pursuing a comparative approach to historical and literary texts.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Archaeology and Anthropology, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, other English courses, other History courses or History of Art.


By studying this degree you will acquire a range of skills valued by recruiters including: the ability to work independently, to evaluate the significance of evidence and to present arguments clearly and persuasively. Recent graduates from this course have worked in the media, legal professions, public administration, teaching and financial careers.

Jo, who graduated in 2008, says: Since graduating, I have worked in the City in both finance and law. I joined the London office of Skadden Arps, a US firm, in September 2011 as a trainee solicitor.

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].


1st year


Four papers are taken:

  • Introduction to English Language and Literature (portfolio paper with one compulsory interdisciplinary question)

  • One of: Approaches to History; Historiography; optional subject (from single honours History)


Three written papers form the First University Examination, together with a submitted portfolio of two exam essays of 2,000 words each for ‘Introduction to English Language and Literature’.

All exams must be passed, but marks do not count towards the final degree

2nd and 3rd years


Seven papers are taken:

  • One interdisciplinary bridge essay (6,000 words)

  • Two of papers 1–6 from single honours English Language and Literature

  • One British period paper from single honours History

  • Either:

One History Special Subject (counts as two papers)

  • Or two from:

1. General history paper from single honours History

2. Further subject from single honours History

3. British History period paper from single honours History

4. One of papers 1–6 from single honours English Language and Literature

  • Interdisciplinary dissertation (10,000 words)


Up to four papers for the Final Honour school can be examined as coursework (extended essays and dissertation). Between three and five papers will then be examined by final written examinations at the end of the third year

Student statement

We’re all horrendous bookworms - there’s no point trying to lie about it! You’ve got to enjoy reading books and exploring texts and seeing what they offer. Alex

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