History (and Joint Honours)

The History course at Oxford offers students an exceptionally broad and diverse range of choices, with the opportunity to study options on any part of British, European and World History from the declining years of the Roman Empire to the present day. Our students are encouraged to think for themselves and to develop their own interests and approaches to studying the past.

Magdalen’s history tutors are enthusiastic and creative teachers who are dedicated to tutorial teaching, so as to inspire, support, and intellectually stimulate each individual student. Magdalen is fortunate to have four history tutors, a tutor in ancient history, and usually one or two research fellows in history. With such a large team, Magdalen’s history students can be tutored on the majority of the outline courses and many of the specialised papers within the College, and each year group forms a cohesive cohort who value working and learning together for the whole of the degree. Magdalen historians benefit from the very large collection of history books held in the Longwall Library. Magdalen’s generous travel and research grants also assist students in pursuing one of the highlights of the History degree: the independently researched thesis. Recent Magdalen undergraduates have researched original projects, stretching from imperial ideology in ancient Rome to educational inequalities and racism in 1970s London, and using primary sources that ranged from French Enlightenment political thought to a teenage girl’s diaries.

History can be studied as either a Single Honours or a Joint Honours course. Of the Joint Honours courses offered at Oxford, Magdalen admits students to read History and Politics, History and Modern Languages, and Ancient and Modern History. The Joint Honours courses provide the advantage of being able to study two different subject areas. Exploring the ways in which these chosen options relate and interconnect provides the satisfaction of each discipline enriching the study of the other. Magdalen’s undergraduate historians are very active in all aspects of College life, but they also convene the Macintyre Society, which offers a programme of talks and social events that bring together College’s historians.

Employers value the intellectual qualities that historians develop: a clear and flexible mind, the ability to absorb and analyse widely differing kinds of information, linguistic skills and imaginative flair. This allows our graduates to choose from many different rewarding and meaningful careers, including in the arts and media, business and finance, civil service, law, management, museums and heritage, policy-making and politics, and research and teaching. Students come to Magdalen from a very wide range of backgrounds, both within the UK and internationally. Through being part of this large and diverse community, Magdalen’s historians have the opportunity to develop their love for reading, writing, thinking, and talking about history together.

Magdalen’s four history tutors are:

Professor Avi Lifschitz (17th and 18th century European History), Professor John Nightingale (Medieval European and British history), Professor Siân Pooley (19th and 20th century British history), and Professor Nick Stargardt (19th and 20th century European history). In addition, Magdalen has a tutor in ancient history, Dr Al Moreno, and a research fellow in late medieval history, Dr Teresa Barucci.

Entry requirements


All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT).

Written work

A marked recent essay on a historical topic completed as part of schoolwork.

Specific subjects

History is highly recommended.

Deferred entry

Applications for deferred entry may be considered.

Student case study: Amy

Find out about current student Amy’s experience by reading her student profile.