Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period MPhil


Please note that there will be no admissions for the MPhil in Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period for entry in 2024-2025. 

We apologize for any disappointment or inconvenience

Statue to Menander, Theatre of Dionysos, Athens, Greece. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The MPhil in Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period aims to provide you with a good general knowledge of Jewish history, religion and culture in the period from 200 BCE to 425 CE, the period of the Second Temple and the Talmud. The course will introduce you to the range of primary sources for Jewish history in this period and equip you with both the understanding and the ability to use a range of historiographical and critical methods in the treatment of such primary sources.

The course consists of instruction in the history and institutions of the Jews and in three specialised areas of Jewish studies which involve close study of particular types of primary texts. 

Teaching comprises of a mixture of tutorials and classes. Tutorials consist normally of one-to-one discussions with your  tutor  and written work produced by yourself. The general paper on Jewish history and institutions is taught entirely by a series of weekly tutorials (usually eight) in this manner. The classes provide instruction in the translation and interpretation of most but not necessarily all of the set texts which you are required to study for your specialised papers. General questions about these texts are discussed in tutorials.

You can expect to be engaged on academic work for at least thirty-five hours a week during the full term and you will be required to carry out a considerable amount of work during the vacations. 

Most work for the written examinations is normally completed in the first year of the course, so that most of the second year can be devoted to the dissertation, but some text work may be carried over into the second year if this is convenient. You will be required to choose, in consultation with your supervisor, the special subjects that you wish to study during your first term so that set texts can be approved by the Faculty Board towards the end of that term.

After approval by the Faculty Board, set texts will be published in the Course Handbook, which can be accessed via the faculty's course webpage. There is less urgency in choosing a thesis topic, but you should have a general idea of the field you wish to work in by the middle of your second term so that thesis supervision can be arranged by your general supervisor. You should have a clear idea of your thesis topic by the end of the Trinity term in your first year so that you can work on your thesis over the summer vacation.

Asian and Middle Eastern studies graduates have found employment in many diverse fields including business, finance law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.

Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Asian and Middle Eastern studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.


The course is examined at the end of the sixth term by four timed examinations and by a thesis of 30,000 words.

At the end of the first year of the course, you will be required, unless specifically exempted by the Faculty Board, to sit a qualifying examination to confirm your suitability to continue to the second year.

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 has been an important Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies since the sixteenth century. There are unrivalled collections of Hebrew manuscripts and printed books in the Bodleian Library. The Leopold Muller Memorial Library is housed at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in the Clarendon Institute and has a collection specialising mainly in the areas of Jewish history and Hebrew literature.

As well as the Bodleian Library and Leopold Muller library, you will have access to the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies which contains Biblical, Jewish, Islamic and other Oriental works. Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum which, amongst its many other superb collections, houses material on the archaeology and material culture of the land of Israel.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that focus on Asian and Middle Eastern studies, such as:

The Sackler 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 also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 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 fulfill the eligibility criteria. 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.