Classical Armenian Studies MSt

L0068016 Armenian 3 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

This is an intensive one-year taught degree course. It is intended to give students experience in reading and interpreting a wide range of Armenian texts, from a choice of genres, either as a stand-alone qualification or as a solid foundation in the subject for those intending to go on to do doctoral research.

Within the long span of Armenian history, the study of Armenia at Oxford concentrates on the period when Armenian sources give valuable information not only about Armenian culture itself, but also about neighbouring peoples of the Near East.

Emphasis is given to the study of the classical and medieval forms of the language and to Armenian literature from the fifth to the seventeenth centuries.

After an initial introduction to the grammar and syntax of classical Armenian, you will read a variety of texts. An understanding of the literary culture of the period and the historical background is thus obtained directly from the original sources.

The course consists of four papers. The first is a core course on the language, literature, history, and culture of Ancient and Medieval Armenia.

The remaining three papers are core courses on key Armenian literary genres. For these papers you must choose to study texts in three of the following subjects:

  • biblical texts
  • homiletic and polemical literature
  • hagiographic texts
  • historical literature of the 5th-9th centuries
  • historical literature of the 10th-14th centuries
  • religious and secular verse
  • any other subject approved by the Faculty Board

Teaching offered consists of classes and tutorials and may include lectures and seminars.

Preparation for the core course is normally achieved through individual reading and six to eight tutorials for which essays not exceeding 2,500 words on set topics will be written and discussed.

The remaining three papers are prepared for in grammar and text reading classes for which thorough, extensive preparation is required of on average a minimum of four hours per hour in class.

Classes are normally offered for four hours a week during Michaelmas and Hilary terms (the first two terms of the academic year), as well as the first four weeks in Trinity term. These are followed by three weeks of revision by the candidate(s) during which revision classes or meetings - online or in person - may be organised before the examinations which normally take place in week eight of Trinity term.


You will prepare for four examinations.

The core course examination paper will consist of essay questions. You are generally required to answer three questions out of ten or so that are set.

The examination of the remaining three papers on key Armenian literary genres will consist of passages to be translated in the three types of text chosen by you, with brief questions on the background, content or grammar of the passages set.

Every candidate will be examined by oral examination (viva voce) unless they have been individually excused by the examiners.

Further information on the course, and the examination process, can be found in the course handbook here (information is current for the academic year of publication).


Oxford is the only university in the UK where Armenian may be studied as a main subject. The Armenian resources of the Bodleian Library are excellent, and students also use the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Adjacent to the Faculty is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford such as:

The Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and ancient Near Eastern Studies. The Khalili Research Centre is the University of Oxford's centre for research and teaching in the art and material culture of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of non-Muslim members and neighbours

You will have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the Faculty of Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies' IT Officer, and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Sources of funding

Applications received for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications meet the eligibility criteria, including the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) London Trust Scholarship.  Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for.

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities.