History Paper Choices Watch

Vexille
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I have a few queries about choosing my papers for Prelims and would really appreciate any advice.

I start at New in October and have to select my British and Approaches/Historiography/Language paper asap.

As far as the British paper goes I have always wanted to study the 17th century but unfortunately I studied the Tudors for my last two years at school so the paper IV 1500-1700 appears to include too much rehashing of the same stuff. I spoke to my tutor about this and he said that although he is not teaching next year (David Parrott - news to me but perhaps he is going on sabbatical) his main teaching replacement Dr Helen Jacobsen is a specialist in late 17th century political and cultural history and would "would be quite happy to focus on the latter half of 1500-1700". This would seem to solve my problem, what do you think? Would also be grateful for any info on Dr Jacobsen?

Have also been considering either papers II or III. I realise that you have to do a second British paper in your second year but perhaps I should choose one where I am most interested in the whole period specified rather than just half of it the first time round. Thought II looked good with the Norman Conquest, Civil War (Mathilda/Stephen), Magna Carta, but III also looks interesting. Any feedback greatly appreciated.

As regards my Approaches/Historiography/Languages paper had been leaning towards the Language options, specifically the Machiavelli as I spent 5 months of my gap year in Italy studying Italian. Does anyone have any experience of this paper, is it as interesting as the French De Tocqueville seems to be? My tutor said that I would be outsourced probably to Dr Gervase Rosser from St Catz, does anyone know anything about him?

Greatly appreciate any advice on any of these topics! Thank you to everyone in advance.
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sovawanea
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British IV is a very interesting period, and with your grounding in Tudor history you'll find it a decent introduction to British History. Also, doing that paper will satisfy the need to do an early modern paper, which gives you more flexbility at finals. In these 'outline' papers it is perfectly normal to concentrate on one part of the period, and so if you primarily wanted to study 1600 - 1700 that would be fine, especially as you are already aware of the primary shifts of 1500 - 1600. To be honest, I think you'd find it a bit of an easier introduction to do British IV rather than II or III because you already have an introduction to the period under your belt, which means you're not jumping straight into a period about which you know nothing.
That said, maybe try reading a simple textbook or two from the reading list (found here http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/currentu...es.htm#modbrit ) and see whether you find it interesting. There's no harm in doing something about which you know very little when you first come up - most people will be in that position.

I did the German languages paper for prelims and very much enjoyed it. However, I would warn you that your language needs to be at an already high level in order to study it, otherwise you really will struggle. I think they recommend being A at A Level standard in order to do the paper.
There are a couple of benefits to the languages, aside from the general interest of studying an original text. You do gobbets (bit like the source commentary paper for A Level) which is a useful introduction, as you do them again in 3rd year. Also, I know this is a bit ahead of you, but it looks bloody impressive to employers - when I applied for jobs they all wanted to know about my language skills, and having done a paper in a foreign language was very impressive to lots of companies.

Whatever happens, no subject choice is final and you can always change your mind after a week or two if you really hate something - I did this with no discernible detriment to my studies. The most important thing is being interested and motivated! Good luck!
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henryt
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(Original post by Vexille)
As regards my Approaches/Historiography/Languages paper had been leaning towards the Language options, specifically the Machiavelli as I spent 5 months of my gap year in Italy studying Italian. Does anyone have any experience of this paper, is it as interesting as the French De Tocqueville seems to be? My tutor said that I would be outsourced probably to Dr Gervase Rosser from St Catz, does anyone know anything about him?
Ah. Tocqueville. I don't have personal experience of the paper (being a Mathematician), but one of my best friends took the Tocqueville paper. He said it was 'one of the biggest mistakes he's ever made'. He was permanently stressed, trying to learn L'Ancien Regime (or whatever text he was studying!) entirely in French and English and then having to learn the History behind it. I don't know whether it was his language skills not being up to scratch, or whether it's a genuinely tricky course, but needless to say, I didn't see him during Hilary at all, mainly due to Tocqueville, as far as I can see! My college wife, who is also doing Hist+Pol, took Approaches instead, to Gender and Anthropology, and said that she really enjoyed the Gender, whilst it wasn't too tricky. Anthropology was, she said, rather a non-subject (at least in an Approaches sense), and that they just use longer words to describe things. Those are my observations from two of my close friends - ignore them as far as you see fit!!
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dinkymints
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(Original post by henryt)
Ah. Tocqueville. I don't have personal experience of the paper (being a Mathematician), but one of my best friends took the Tocqueville paper. He said it was 'one of the biggest mistakes he's ever made'. He was permanently stressed, trying to learn L'Ancien Regime (or whatever text he was studying!) entirely in French and English and then having to learn the History behind it. I don't know whether it was his language skills not being up to scratch, or whether it's a genuinely tricky course, but needless to say, I didn't see him during Hilary at all, mainly due to Tocqueville, as far as I can see! My college wife, who is also doing Hist+Pol, took Approaches instead, to Gender and Anthropology, and said that she really enjoyed the Gender, whilst it wasn't too tricky. Anthropology was, she said, rather a non-subject (at least in an Approaches sense), and that they just use longer words to describe things. Those are my observations from two of my close friends - ignore them as far as you see fit!!
I think it really is a very personal thing - I have friends who loved the Tocqueville paper. I'm not a historian either, btw, just another layman's observation!
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SolInvictus
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This was actually something I wanted to discuss.

I will be at St. Anne's, so if any historians from the college could give me a shout out, I would be most obliged, especially since I hear that colleges sometimes limit options.

My ideal would be to study the early periods for both British History and General European. I have always been deeply interested in Sub-Roman Britain, and the Brythonnic History of the Isles, especially the contributions and influences they had on their conqueror kingdoms outside Wales. Y gododdin, and other sources on the Old North provide a really interesting take on the written and oral traditions that give us a unique perspective on the History of Celtic Britain under Roman 'rule.' I also find the same period interesting for Eurasia as a whole, due to the Migrations period ans seperation from the East.

I would to do the approaches papers, and think economics and art would be most interesting. I wouldn't mind doing the De Tocqueville paper, as an alternative, though as I have a bit of experience with it, and a decent handle on period French.

I am also caught between the Middles East in the Age of Justinian and Mohammed, and Witch Burnings.

Can't wait till my college sends me the information on choosing.
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Vexille
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Thanks for all the feedback! I also have a friend who did the Tocqueville paper and loved it.

However don't know anyone who has done the Machievelli so would really appreciate any feedback on that specifically as well.

Thanks again and any more advice greatly appreciated...
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Mook
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I was just given a choice of 'Approaches' modules when I selected my options a couple of weeks ago - does that mean I won't have the opportunity to study anything in another language, French in my case? I see that the 'Optional Subject' includes modules on French history, e.g. Revolution and Empire in France 1789-1815, but the sources listed in the bibliography appear to already be translated.
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history_geek
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You have to choose papers from at least 2 of these periods of History, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern, correct?

Mainly because I want to concentrate on Medieval (.i.e. post-antiquity) general and european, and Early Modern (1500-1700) British history
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sophisti_kate
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(Original post by history_geek)
You have to choose papers from at least 2 of these periods of History, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern, correct?

Mainly because I want to concentrate on Medieval (.i.e. post-antiquity) general and european, and Early Modern (1500-1700) British history
You do however need to cover all THREE in your first two years so consider whether getting the modern out of the way with easy prelims that count for nothing and going deeper in FHS in the subjects you enjoy...
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Vexille
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Just checking...what exactly counts as modern?
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sovawanea
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Post 1700, I think. Early modern is about 1400 - 1700.

As for SolInvictus - General I is a great paper, and I really enjoyed it for prelims. And I'm a modern historian! If you're interested in that period I'd really recommend doing it. Witch burnings is less interesting than it sounds, and the Justinian and Mohammed option would extremely useful for General I. It's always nice to have one or two options which are about a similar period, as it lends a sense of coherency to your course and gives you a bit more of a narrative.
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history_geek
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I might do "The American Empire 1823-1904" as my optional subject in prelims to fulfill the medieval/early modern/modern history criteria, though if people have done this course and want to recommend/discourage, go ahead
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history_geek
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(Original post by SolInvictus)
This was actually something I wanted to discuss.

I will be at St. Anne's, so if any historians from the college could give me a shout out, I would be most obliged, especially since I hear that colleges sometimes limit options.

My ideal would be to study the early periods for both British History and General European. I have always been deeply interested in Sub-Roman Britain, and the Brythonnic History of the Isles, especially the contributions and influences they had on their conqueror kingdoms outside Wales. Y gododdin, and other sources on the Old North provide a really interesting take on the written and oral traditions that give us a unique perspective on the History of Celtic Britain under Roman 'rule.' I also find the same period interesting for Eurasia as a whole, due to the Migrations period ans seperation from the East.

I would to do the approaches papers, and think economics and art would be most interesting. I wouldn't mind doing the De Tocqueville paper, as an alternative, though as I have a bit of experience with it, and a decent handle on period French.

I am also caught between the Middles East in the Age of Justinian and Mohammed, and Witch Burnings.

Can't wait till my college sends me the information on choosing.
yay, another person interested in late/post-antiquity Britain and Europe!
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rkd
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(Original post by SolInvictus)
I am also caught between the Middles East in the Age of Justinian and Mohammed, and Witch Burnings.
Is 'Near East in the Age of Justinian and Mohammed' not a second-year option?
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rkd
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(Original post by history_geek)
I might do "The American Empire 1823-1904" as my optional subject in prelims to fulfill the medieval/early modern/modern history criteria, though if people have done this course and want to recommend/discourage, go ahead
I remember reading in the handbook that optional/further/special subjects don't count towards that, only General and British papers?
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history_geek
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(Original post by rkd)
I remember reading in the handbook that optional/further/special subjects don't count towards that, only General and British papers?
Ahh, I see the post below saying "over the first TWO years", my bad. Looks like I can do "Colonisation and Conquest" as my optional after all! Maybe I'll do a modern(ish) topic as one of my british papers in 2nd year
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Vexille
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Just regarding the difficulty of the language options. I didn't do A level Italian but have spent the last five months in Italy and became really pretty fluent. I had a friend who did the de Tocqueville paper with only GCSE French and he loved it because he said you mostly work with it in English and just quote from the French. I got an A in AS French and grammatically French and Italian are almost identical.

Machievelli seems to be a good option to incorporate a bit more politics as well...

Does anyone know anything about the tutors I mentioned?

Will have to think a bit further about how to incorporate all three periods. I am also thinking of doing the 'Heirs of Rome' paper for my general as it looks amazing! Having really considered the option paper yet.
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Mayfly
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HATED Tocqueville. With a passion. Wished he'd stop banging on about liberty.

General 1 was amazing, really interesting. Plus it covers more geographical territory than some of the other papers - you get to cover elements of the middle east etc, which I found a lot more interesting than just European history. That period also covers an amazing range of cultures and civilizations, so really, very interesting.

British 4 was ok, some parts were really interesting and my tutor was great BUT they've changed the course recently, and the lectures this year matched up to the old course and not the new one, which was irritating as hell. However, apparently they are changing that this year. I would probably check first if you're like me and appreciate lectures, because really, many of them were probably very relevant to the old course but to the new one? Not so much.

Only the British and General papers count for your periods. I personally am sick to the teeth of modern British and European history (all I seemed to do at school), so I'm doing a general history option in American history for my modern option, which is an option in second year. So if anyone is in a similar situation, remember that the American options are there in second year.
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Vexille
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General I really sounds awesome. What about British II or III?

I think the American options sounds like a great idea for fulfilling the requirements.

It seems that the Language papers are a Marmite(love/hate) thing. I wonder which side I'd be on with the Machievelli?
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Peter_The_Great
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Save doing the C17th until David Parrott returns from his sabbatical. He really is one of the best history tutors in the entire University so it's worth the wait. Besides which, you've already done the period for A-level so it's worth broadening your horizons and trying something different.
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