Welcome to the Faculty of Oriental Studies

Oriental InstituteWelcome to the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of OxfordAmong subjects in the Humanities, Oriental Studies is unique in introducing students to cultures and civilisations that do not usually form part of the mainstream curriculum in British schools. The courses present both the major traditions of the regions studied and, in most cases, their modern developments. All courses include language, literature, history and culture, and there are a wide range of options in such fields as art and archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion and modern social studies.The following are the principal areas of study:

Islamic World, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Eastern Christianity, Egyptology and Ancient Near East, South and Inner Asia and East Asian Studies.

In addition to the above subject areas, a major benefaction from the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai has fully endowed a new Chair of Buddhist Studies at Oxford. For more information please see the Buddhist Studies section of this website.

Oriental Studies has a long history in Oxford. The Bodleian and other libraries have acquired magnificent collections. The Oriental Institute, Bodleian JapaneseIndian Institute, Bodleian K B Chen China Centre Libraries, and the Leopold Muller Memorial Library for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, offer loan collections in their respective fields. Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections. The Sackler Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

Bodleian LibraryMost courses offer the opportunity to spend time in the region being studied. The Arabic course includes a year in the Middle East, the Persian and Turkish courses a year in Iran or Turkey respectively, the Hebrew course an optional year in Israel. Both the Chinese and Japanese courses include a year abroad for all undergraduates in their second year, where they attend a course at a university which has been especially designed for Oxford’s undergraduates.

Further information about individual subjects can be found on this website within the relevant subject areas, accessed via the navigation bar above the banner picture at the top of each page.


'Professions in Motion: Culture, Power and the Politics of Mobility in Eighteenth Century India'

Danson Room, Trinity College, Oxford
1-2 June 2017

The mobility of skilled service communities has been an important theme in the social history of India’s ‘long eighteenth century’.  This symposium explores the experience of service people-scholars and artists, record-keepers and revenue managers, ritualists and military men-who moved within and between the regional polities of the period.  How did the experience of migration shape their mental worlds and condition their writing?  Did new horizons of opportunity remake older strategies for the pursuit of service and patronage?  What were the social arrangements that sustained family and professional mobility?  Many scholars have suggested a remarkable ‘newness’ in the intellectual and literary life of Mughal India, when skilled service people were a key presence in its courts and polities.  But what happened to their energies in the generations that followed, as they traversed the networks connecting the new regional states of the eighteenth century, and the expanding power of the European trading companies?  Might their experience offer us new ways to understand the balance of subcontinental forces during the long eighteenth century transition to colonialism?  For further information, programme and papers, see:

Or contact: richard.williams@orinst.ox.ac.uk

With the kind support of:

Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford; John Fell Fund; Max Muller Fund; Radhakrishnan Memorial Bequest Fund; Trinity College Oxford


Christians and Jews in Ottoman Society: A Workshop in Oxford

Organiser: John-Paul Ghobrial, University of Oxford (john-paul.ghobrial@history.ox.ac.uk)
Dates: 3-5 July 2017 (two and a half days)

This workshop has the explicit purpose of the publication of a volume of collected essays. As such, we invite submissions for papers from scholars who will be able to adhere to the provisional schedule detailed on the page linked below. We are interested in papers that engage with the general subject in different ways. For example, some papers might consider aspects of everyday life among specific communities of dhimmis, while others might offer more, general accounts of the place of dhimmis in Ottoman society. The main criterion is that papers must engage with wider questions about the place of dhimmis within various contexts of Ottoman, Muslim, or imperial society. Given limits of space and time, it is unlikely that we will be able to select papers that focus only on practices within specific dhimmi communities, i.e., all papers must engage in a meaningful way with the status of these communities as Ottoman subjects.

Proposals should take the form of an Abstract (no more than 250 words, including title) and a short Cover Letter introducing yourself and including details of your current institutional affiliation and any previous publications (no more than 1 page). When preparing your proposal, we strongly encourage you to consider the section: ‘Some Propositions’ on the News and Events page.

Proposals should be sent to john-paul.ghobrial@history.ox.ac.uk no later than 20 February 2017.


 Edward Ullendorff Medal for Semitic Languages and Ethiopian Studies

The Faculty of Oriental Studies would like to congratuate Dr Sebastian Brock FBA on being awarded the Edward Ullendorff Medal for Semitic Languages and Ethiopian Studies for his extensive contribution to the study of Syriac language and literature.

The Edward Ullendorff Medal is awarded annually for scholarly distinction and achievements in the field of Semitic Languages and Ethiopian Studies. This award commemorates Professor Edward Ullendorff FBA (1920-2011). His widow, Mrs Dina Ullendorff, has generously supported the establishment of a Medal in memory of her husband in view of his long association with the Academy, which he valued greatly. 

 Dr Frances Reynolds (Shillito Fellow in Assyriology) appeared on 'In Our Time' on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 3 November as part of a panel discussing Gilgamesh, with Melvyn Bragg. To hear this via BBC iPlayer, please go BBCiPlayer Radio and follow the link here