Joint Schools

English and Modern Languages

English and Modern Languages (you choose one language to study from the range of options offered by the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages) is a challenging but highly rewarding degree – around 50% of our students achieve firsts. As well as studying English Literature and Language, you will learn and study the language of a foreign culture and its associated literature. You will also have the opportunity, if you wish, to compare and to find connections between these two cultures through their language and literature.

The joint school in English and Modern Languages offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.

The course also usually includes a year abroad, offering you the opportunity to practise your language skills on an everyday basis, as well as acquiring first-hand experience of the culture you have been studying. The Modern Languages Faculty offers help with finding placements in your chosen country.

The English and Modern Languages degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.

In your first year you will study equal amounts of English and your chosen modern language. From the modern language side, you will combine learning the language (through comprehension and translation exercises) with literary studies (through critical commentaries and wider essays on a small range of set texts. From the English side, you will take an introduction to literary studies course, and then study one period of literature selected from Early Medieval, Victorian or Modern.

In your second and final years, from the modern language side, you will continue with language work and translations in your chosen language, in addition to choosing options from a wide range of period papers, linguistic, and other language topics. From the English side, you will choose three papers from a broad range of options including period papers running from medieval times to the present day, Shakespeare and special topics. You will also offer a dissertation in any area of English Language or Literature, or combining the two aspects of your study.

For further details of all these courses, please see the websites for the single honours English course, and for the Modern Languages Faculty.

As your application and written work will be assessed by tutors in both English and Modern Languages and you will be interviewed by tutors from both Faculties, you should consult the admissions criteria provided on both Faculties’ websites.

Your UCAS form, English written work, and interview with the English tutors will be assessed by English tutors according to the criteria advertised for admission to the BA in English Language and Literature here.

Your UCAS form, Modern Languages written work, and interview with the Modern Language tutors will be assessed by Modern Language tutors according to the criteria advertised for admissions to the BA in Modern Languages here.

Application requirements: All candidates must take both the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT) and the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT). Candidates are also required to submit a piece of written work in English for the English part of the course and also a piece of written work in English for the Modern Languages part of the course (along with work in the chosen Modern Language).

More information can be found here.

Classics and English

Classics and English often appeals to those with a particular interest in literary and cultural interactions; the course reflects the close relationship that has always existed between Classical and English literature and culture.

The joint school in Classics and English offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.

English may be taken with Latin or Greek or both. For candidates with an A-level or equivalent in either Latin or Greek or both, this is a three-year course (Course I). For those who have not had the opportunity to study either language at school or college there is a preliminary year in which they learn either Latin or Greek, combined with some study of classical literature; for them the course lasts four years (Course II).

The Classics and English degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.

If you have not studied Latin or Greek at school or college, then your first year will consist of an introduction to your chosen language and its literature. You will then enter the first year of the main course.

In the first year, you will take an introductory course in Language and Literature as well as a course in English specially designed for the joint school, focussing on literature of the period 1550–1660, a period when classical influences were particularly strong. From the Classics side, you will study your chosen language to a higher level (examined by translation), and study a range of literature in your chosen language, including the Iliad for Greek students and the Aeneid for Latin students.

In your second and third years, the focus of the course is on two interdisciplinary papers, including a compulsory course in Epic and a choice from Tragedy, Comedy, and a course on modern receptions of classical literature. You can then select two papers from those available to single honours English students, and two from the Classics Faculty. Finally, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your own choosing (connected to either, or both of the ‘parent schools).

As your application and written work will be assessed by tutors in both Classics and English, and interviews are conducted by tutors from both Faculties, you should consult the admissions criteria provided on both Faculties’ websites.

Your UCAS form, English written work, and interview for English will be assessed by English tutors according to the criteria advertised for admission to the BA in English Language and Literature here.

Your UCAS form, Classics written work, and interview for Classics will be assessed by Classics tutors according to the criteria advertised for admission to the BA in Classics here.

Application Requirements: All candidates must take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT), and the Classics Admissions Test (CAT). It is not a requirement to have studied either Greek or Latin. Candidates are also required to submit two pieces of written work, where possible one relevant to Classics and one to English, although candidates who have not studied classical languages or culture may submit two pieces relevant to English Literature.

More information can be found here.

History and English

This joint degree enables students to combine the study of history with that of English language and literature. The intersection between language, culture, and history is currently the focus of active debate within both the disciplines and you are encouraged throughout your course to relate literary and historical ideas in the investigation of your chosen periods, topics, or authors. The course is centered around the twin assumptions that historical documents are just as much ‘texts’ as are poems, plays or novels, and are therefore subject to literary interpretations, and equally that poems, plays and novels represent historically grounded ways of interpreting a culture.

The joint school in History and English offers you a very wide choice of options. It is largely open to you to design the course of study which meets your own interests: tutors in your college will offer advice and help you to select the subjects best suited to your strengths. The course trains you to set different kinds of writing, in different languages, in their full social, historical, literary and linguistic contexts. You will read widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism and will learn to analyse and to write critically about what you have read.

A History course already enriched by a strong cultural input is an ideal companion to the study of English literature. Whether your interest is in early or Middle English, the Renaissance, or the later periods, intellectually fruitful combinations are possible. The joint degree includes two explicitly interdisciplinary papers taught jointly by specialists in the two subjects.

The History and English degree will equip you with analytical and writing skills that are readily transferable into many other situations and many professions. It opens up the opportunity to go into a great variety of careers.

In your first year, you will take introductory and methodological courses in both subjects (on the History side, there is some choice in which course you take here). Together with these, you will choose one History course from a selection of periods of British history ranging from 300 A.D. to the present day, and one English course from a selection of periods of literature, namely Early Medieval Literature, 1830-1910, or 1910-present.

In your second and final years you can weight the degree slightly towards either school, if you would like. You will choose two papers from each ‘parent’ school and one further subject from either school. There is a huge degree of choice in these papers; students can either choose to specialise in a specific period or topic, or can pick and choose from the wide range of options. In addition, you will take one interdisciplinary paper and write a dissertation which will also be a piece of interdisciplinary work. Up to four of the papers you offer can be assessed by coursework rather than exam.

The specific Joint School Selection Criteria for History and English are:

  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Conceptual clarity
  • Flexibility
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Critical engagement
  • Capacity for hard work
  • Enthusiasm for History and Literature in English
  • Evidence of historical imagination and understanding
  • Articulacy
  • Sensitivity to the use of language

Application Requirements: All candidates must take the History Aptitude Test (HAT). Candidates will be required to submit one piece of written work for History on an historical topic and two pieces for English.

More information can be found here.

How are Joint Schools courses taught?

College teaching is the bedrock of the undergraduate experience at Oxford: your tutor will arrange a combination of classes and tutorials so that you benefit from discussing your ideas with your peers as well as in the tutorial situation. University lectures are provided by both Faculties, and supplement and complement the work you will do in your college.  

You normally have one tutor for one paper, and this means that the tutor gets to know you and your work well and is able to guide your progress through a paper. A tutorial generally involves you, another student and your tutor for the paper in question. A tutorial gives you the chance to explore, and clarify your ideas about the author or subject. Oxford places considerable emphasis on the production of regular written work, normally in the form of essays. This ensures that you have brought your ideas on a subject to a point where you are able to express them cogently on paper. This kind of training is also excellent preparation for many of the kinds of careers available to you after university.

For English and Modern Languages, you will also receive language classes to help you improve your abilities in your chosen languages.

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