Sakor_998
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Hello. I figured this would be a reasonable place to get some answers regarding my application to study history at Oxford. The course threads are largely inactive, so I decided to start a thread on the main board. I created my Student Room account expressly for this purpose, so maybe I'm missing something.

Nonetheless, here they are:

1) What is the 'revolving door' mechanism between the main History course and subsidiary courses (History & Politics, History & Economics)? I am considering History (Ancient & Modern), but see that it is a small course, with a 2014 intake of only 18 students. Yet it is also noted that "Applicants... may instead be offered a place for History". I assume that applying to Ancient & Modern doesn't place you in the same pool as all History students - wouldn't everyone better their chances by applying to it, then? Do we know how this system works? Have people here applied to a History subsidiary course and received an offer from the main thing?

2) More generally, is it worth applying to a course like Ancient & Modern, rather than the main route? With such a diminutive intake, are they looking for highly specialised students (latin-speaking, ancient history wonks)? My IB education did not provide me with the opportunity to tackle topics from ancient history, but I have been self-studying Latin and taking auxiliary AP History courses. All that in mind, I'm still not likely to be a top-candidate for Ancient & Modern, so is it still worth giving it a go, or are my chances better when applying to straight-up History?

3) On the submitted written work - would an Ancient & Modern application tacitly require written work that touches on both time periods? I know some joint-degree course applications are twofold (at least during the interview stage), wherein a candidate's abilities in both parts of the course are assessed independently. Again, my IB school curriculum does not provide any opportunities to write a paper connecting ancient history with the present. Will submitting a text solely about modern times put me at a disadvantage?

Would really appreciate anyone helping me out with these. Best of luck for everyone with their upcoming applications. Cheers.
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colourtheory
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(Original post by Sakor_998)
Hello. I figured this would be a reasonable place to get some answers regarding my application to study history at Oxford. The course threads are largely inactive, so I decided to start a thread on the main board. I created my Student Room account expressly for this purpose, so maybe I'm missing something.

Nonetheless, here they are:

1) What is the 'revolving door' mechanism between the main History course and subsidiary courses (History & Politics, History & Economics)? I am considering History (Ancient & Modern), but see that it is a small course, with a 2014 intake of only 18 students. Yet it is also noted that "Applicants... may instead be offered a place for History". I assume that applying to Ancient & Modern doesn't place you in the same pool as all History students - wouldn't everyone better their chances by applying to it, then? Do we know how this system works? Have people here applied to a History subsidiary course and received an offer from the main thing?

2) More generally, is it worth applying to a course like Ancient & Modern, rather than the main route? With such a diminutive intake, are they looking for highly specialised students (latin-speaking, ancient history wonks)? My IB education did not provide me with the opportunity to tackle topics from ancient history, but I have been self-studying Latin and taking auxiliary AP History courses. All that in mind, I'm still not likely to be a top-candidate for Ancient & Modern, so is it still worth giving it a go, or are my chances better when applying to straight-up History?

3) On the submitted written work - would an Ancient & Modern application tacitly require written work that touches on both time periods? I know some joint-degree course applications are twofold (at least during the interview stage), wherein a candidate's abilities in both parts of the course are assessed independently. Again, my IB school curriculum does not provide any opportunities to write a paper connecting ancient history with the present. Will submitting a text solely about modern times put me at a disadvantage?

Would really appreciate anyone helping me out with these. Best of luck for everyone with their upcoming applications. Cheers.
1) I'm not entirely sure on this, but each college has a specific number of places for all history students (including joint schools) and they may have a maximum number of joint schools based on the professors working at the college. For example, 8 history students max, of those 1 History and Modern languages max, 1 History and politics max. The total number of History and joint schools students will be set by the university department.

Some colleges only take straight history students because of the professors working there, others take many more joint schools students.

In order to be accepted to joint schools you have to be equally good in both, if you're better at straight history you'll get the offer for that. You still have to be of a particular standard so it's not actually easier to get in for joint schools.

2) Check the website for the minimum requirements. It's best to have some experience in ancient history and modern history as you'll have interviews for both. Remember though that the straight history degree has plenty of opportunity to specialise. There are Latin papers you can take, as well as late antique and medieval papers. You can always use your grade in these to switch after your first year to the Ancient and Modern course (as long as your college agrees and they offer the course).

3) Check the website for the requirements for submitted work. I don't think you'd need to submit an ancient history essay. It's the same discipline after all; they're looking for work that demonstrates the ways in which you think about history (whether it's ancient or modern). It's different for history and languages applicants as they are applying to study two different disciplines, tutors for history will look at their history submitted work, and language tutors the language essays. They then have a discussion about the comparative strengths of the applicant and whether they should get an offer for the joint course, or one of the subjects (depending on their strengths).

hope that helps.
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Sakor_998
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(Original post by colourtheory)
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Thanks a bunch for the reply. The way I see it, Ancient & Modern is set up in a rather confusing manner. It does not really classify as a proper joint-degree course, because both of the subjects studied still land within the realm of history; and the mainstream History course, as you say, has plenty of options for specialisation. A lot of the specifics are kept under wraps, I suspect. Are there really two interviews, as there would be for a joint-degree course? Say I was to perform well in the ancient history interview, but did poorly with the modern. How would that land me a place in the proper History course? It makes sense for a History & Economics applicant to be offered a place in History after floundering through the Econ interview. For Ancient & Modern, I suppose it would be more complicated.

I have checked the website, but it indicates only what they require, not desire or even expect. As it stands now, unless some clarity comes my way, I'll just take my chances with a straight-History application and not muck around with Ancient & Modern.
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colourtheory
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(Original post by Sakor_998)
Thanks a bunch for the reply. The way I see it, Ancient & Modern is set up in a rather confusing manner. It does not really classify as a proper joint-degree course, because both of the subjects studied still land within the realm of history; and the mainstream History course, as you say, has plenty of options for specialisation. A lot of the specifics are kept under wraps, I suspect. Are there really two interviews, as there would be for a joint-degree course? Say I was to perform well in the ancient history interview, but did poorly with the modern. How would that land me a place in the proper History course? It makes sense for a History & Economics applicant to be offered a place in History after floundering through the Econ interview. For Ancient & Modern, I suppose it would be more complicated.

I have checked the website, but it indicates only what they require, not desire or even expect. As it stands now, unless some clarity comes my way, I'll just take my chances with a straight-History application and not muck around with Ancient & Modern.
Here goes:

The Ancient and Modern History degree has the same structure as the Single Honours History course. The difference is that you'll have to study a mix of ancient and 'modern' (post 300 AD) topics. You have more choice than a Single Honours student (although we still have TONNES of options). The degree is not split into half like with History and MFL. It's the same discipline after-all.

Instead of a period of British History you'll have to study a period of Greek or Roman history.

You also have a couple of choices to make. You can study an Optional Subject like a Single Honours History student, or you can choose to study 'The World of Homer and Hesiod'. You can also choose between studying a Greek / Roman text based paper, Greek / Roman language and the usual Single Honours History texts (written post 300 AD), Approaches to History, or Foreign Text paper options.

Yes, you will have an ancient history interview and a modern history interview. If you do well in an ancient history interview, but not in a modern, you might be offered a space on Classical Archaeology and Ancient History etc. Vice versa you might get an offer for Single Honours History.

DO NOT attempt to play any admissions game. Ancient history tutors and modern history tutors are essentially looking for the same skills; doing badly in your ancient history interview might suggest that you're not right for a history degree at Oxford in general. It is still the same discipline in general. There are many qualified students applying for each space so it's not a good idea to assume that tutors will shift and move you around. Apply for what you want to study.

If any of that is confusing, please don't hesitate to ask me for clarification. Also, there's an open day in September on the 18th. The history department and colleges will all be open so please come along if you can. Also, don't hesitate to contact the admissions team at either the undergrad college you're interested in, or the department itself. Andrea is in charge of admissions for history and she's very good at addressing any issues people might have.
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Sakor_998
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(Original post by colourtheory)
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Thanks. I missed the Classical Archaeology and Ancient History bit since it's not really made clear on the website, didn't think I could be landed there. Not playing an 'admissions game' just trying to make sure that I'm not unwittingly applying to an unorthodox niche course that puts me at a disadvantage.

Just a note: I'm well aware of the "skills" the tutors are looking for. Yet, as a successful applicant, would you say that a successful Oxford History interview would be based on knowledge of the historical periods discussed? Out-of-the-box, on-your-feet thinking and successful engagement of texts are well and good, but, personally, how much were you aided by the factual knowledge you brought into the room? I feel capable in talking about historiography, but do not want to be caught off guard on some possible blind-spot (say, the Schmalkaldic League or Hittites or something).

Again, I appreciate the time you took.
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colourtheory
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(Original post by Sakor_998)
Not playing an 'admissions game' just trying to make sure that I'm not unwittingly applying to an unorthodox niche course that puts me at a disadvantage.
I'm not really sure what you mean by this. As degrees go, Ancient and Modern History is certainly not one of the more obscure ones. There are 18 spaces available each year, but the teaching is conducted that same as if there were 200 so you won't notice a difference (in fact, you'll have classes with Classical Archaeologists and Ancient Historians, as well as Classicists etc.). I think it's best to view Ancient and Modern History as the same as Single Honours History, but with more choice. You have the same Modern History tutors as I have and your Ancient History tutors will most likely also teach Classics and Classical Archaeology and Ancient History etc. The number of spaces available is more likely to be dictated by such arbitrary factors as the relative popularity of the course and the availability of professors to mark exams and supervise examinations as well as the number of ancient history professors with time to take on additional undergraduates.

Tutors are quite clear on the fact that they do not expect you to know any thing specific (unless you've mentioned it in your PS). They expect you to think flexibly, to be able to formulate new interpretations in light of new information, and to defend your views. Often tutors will give you a piece of information and see how you respond to it, or they might give you an unseen source and see how you pick it apart. Admissions tutors want the best from prospective students and they're not trying to catch you out.

I hope that's cleared up a few things for you
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colourtheory
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(Original post by Sakor_998)
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By the by, well known TV historian Dr Lucy Worsley (who I absolutely adore!) studied Ancient and Modern History at Oxford
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