Jewish Studies MPhil

Hebrew MS A2, Ketubbah, marriage contract. Credit: Wellcome Collection

The MPhil in Jewish Studies provides a broad approach to the study of Jewish history and culture from antiquity to modern times, combined with study of Modern or Biblical Hebrew or Yiddish.

The MPhil is a taught master’s course, designed to teach the methods, sources and languages required for more specialised research within Jewish Studies.

You will be required to complete six terms of language study in the same language. You may choose to study either Modern Hebrew or Biblical Hebrew or Yiddish at elementary, intermediate or advanced level.

In addition, you will be required to select four courses from a range of options and a dissertation of up to 30,000 words. The options of this course, which vary from year to year, must be selected from those on offer.

The degree course is intensive and is based on small classes, seminars, tutorials and close faculty-student contact.

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.

Asian and Middle Eastern studies alumni are spread throughout the world, and enjoying success in a variety of professional, academic and business fields.


You will be required to pass a qualifying examination in the language chosen at the end of the first year of the course, unless exempted.

Most option courses are assessed by two essays to be handed in at the end of the vacation following the term in which they were taught, though for certain courses there is a timed examination at the end of the third term of the second year. The language studied will also be assessed by a timed examination at the end of Trinity term (summer term) of the final year of the course. Finally, a dissertation will be assessed. Conferral of the degree requires that students pass all components of the course.

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).


You will have access to the Leopold Muller Memorial Library at the Clarendon Institute which has a collection specialising mainly in the areas of Jewish history and Hebrew literature. It comprises some 90,000 Hebrew volumes and pamphlets and an archive of 400,000 newspaper cuttings mostly from the Hebrew press. A significant addition to the holdings was the library of Gedalyah Elkoshi (1910-1988), a collection containing some 17,000 books, and constituting a richly varied library in Jewish studies and Hebrew literature. The library also holds a collection of more than 900 Yizkor Books, the largest unified and open-access collection of this literature in Europe. Yizkor Books - memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust - are indispensable sources of information regarding Jews in Eastern and Central Europe.

The library contains several other important collections: the Montefiore Book Collection, one of the most significant collections of its kind in the UK and a major resource for the study of modern European Jewish history; the Coppenhagen Collection, comprising nearly 30,000 books relating to the history of Dutch Jewry from the early 17th century until the end of the 20th century; the Rabbinic library donated by Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs, in particular the sections on Kabbalah, Mysticism and Hasidism. The section on Halakhah, containing Responsa from early to modern times, provides an exceptional resource for the study of Rabbinic Judaism and is probably the only one of its kind in Europe. The Western Hebrew Library, collected by Sir Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling for the New West End Synagogue, has nearly two thousand books, the majority 17th and 18th century Hebrew prints. The Hugo Gryn Library and Archive, the Loewe Pamphlet Collection and the Loewe Archive, are important resources for the study of Anglo-Jewry.

The main sections of the library are: Bible, Bibliography, History of the Jewish People, Holocaust, Israel Judaism, Modern Hebrew Literature, Yizkor Books, and Zionism. The library is situated next to the common room for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

The Bodleian Library has unrivalled collections of Hebrew and Yiddish manuscripts and printed books. You will also benefit from the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, which contains Biblical, Jewish, Islamic and other Asian and Middle Eastern works.

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 Bodleian 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 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.