In the first year (Prelims) students are required to study one of the seven periods of British history, one of the four periods of General history, an Optional Subject in British or General history, and one of a range of historiographical and skills-based courses. For the Final Honour School (second and third years), undergraduates study a self-chosen mixture of two papers, one in British and one in General history, a paper on Disciplines in History, and a Special Subject and a Further Subject. They also have to research and write a dissertation of about 12,000 words on a subject of their choice. The Special and Further Subjects are based on detailed work with primary sources, and a wide variety of options are available. It is possible also to submit an additional voluntary thesis. Although a foreign language text paper is no longer compulsory in either Prelims or Finals, the tutors at Magdalen encourage their pupils to consider taking one or more of these (for Prelims, a decent GCSE level standard is usually sufficient). They provide tuition in the medieval Latin, Italian, French and German historical text papers in Prelims and can arrange tuition in other language papers; they encourage History undergraduates in the active use of a foreign language or languages in their work, since this extends the range of their choice of options and greatly deepens the interest of the course.
At Magdalen there are three tutors in History Prof Laurence Brockliss (European and British history, 16th-18th centuries) Dr John Nightingale (medieval European and British history) Prof Nick Stargardt (19th and 20th century European history) and one Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History form one of the largest establishments in the subject among the Oxford Colleges. The annual History intake at Magdalen is approximately 12, so that there are at least 36 undergraduates reading History at any one time. This makes it the largest subject intake in the College and larger than that of virtually every other College in the University. For the joint Schools, intake depends on quality of applications, but there is always at least one place available for Ancient and Modern History, and History and Modern Languages, and at least two for History and Politics. (Those reading History and Modern Languages generally take the third year abroad in the same way as those reading Modern Languages.)
Our pupils’ have careers in many areas, including, a wide range of commercial and industrial companies, both branches of the legal profession, teaching at all levels, the Civil Service and the EC, the arts, journalism, accountancy and banking. It is clear that employers in many different fields value the intellectual qualities required of historians: a clear and flexible mind, the ability to absorb and analyse widely differing kinds of information, imagination and linguistic skills.
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