News from the Faculty of Oriental Studies 2008-2009

Teaching Awards in Oriental Studies 2009

Every year the University recognises excellent or innovative teaching by individuals or groups by making ‘Teaching Awards’.

This year in Oriental Studies, for the first time, nominations for these awards were invited from students.  Students were able to nominate either one teacher, or a group of teachers, e.g. language instructors or all teachers involved in a course.  Although nominations from individual students were considered, greater weight was given where a nomination was supported by all of the relevant students in a given year. 

We are proud to announce that the following two awards have been made for teaching excellence:

1. Dr Celia Kerslake, who teaches Turkish.  She is being recognised for her outstanding teaching of Turkish language, literature, history and politics for the MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies;

2. Dr Frances Reynolds, who is the Shillito Fellow in Assyriology.  She is being recognised for her outstanding teaching of Akkadian and Sumerian Elementary languages and texts, and other Mesopotamian cultural and historical topics for Oriental Studies, Theology and Continuing Education.

We are also proud to announce the award of a second Teaching Project Grant to Mr Shio-Yun Kan, Chair of the Language Teaching Committee, which he has accepted on behalf the language instructors in Oriental Studies.  The award is for a learner-centered and computer-assisted language teaching programme, and the project will build upon work funded by the Teaching Award last year to the same group of staff.  It will promote the culture of learning, and will seek to encourage students to explore their language learning potential, so that classroom contact time can be used more effectively. 

The contribution of these staff to the faculty is much appreciated, and it is wonderful that their work is being acknowledged in this way.  The other teachers who were nominated by their students, but who did not receive a Teaching Award this year were:

Dr Nadia Jamil, Senior Instructor in Arabic
Dr Judith Pfeiffer, Lecturer in Arabic
Dr Walter Armbrust, Lecturer in Modern Middle Eastern Studies
Dr Jacob Dahl, Lecturer in Assyriology
Mr Ron Nettler, Faculty Tutor in Jewish-Muslim Relations and Islamic Studies
Ms Jing Fang, Instructor in Chinese
Ms Yang Song, Shaw Instructor in Chinese
Mr Shio-yun Kan, Senior Instructor in Chinese
Miss Bo Hu, BICC Instructor in Chinese
Mr Justin Winslett, Teacher in Chinese
Professor Mark Smith, Lecturer in Egyptology
Dr Phillip Harries, Lecturer in Japanese
Dr Nandini Gooptu, Lecturer in South Asian Studies

Professor Jeremy Johns
Chair of the Board of Oriental Studies
August 2009


We regret to announce the death of Dr Sherman on 20 March 2009

Obituary for the late Dr Joseph Sherman is published on the faculty website here.


Dr M. Antoni J. Ucerler has won the OxTalent 2009 prize awarded by OUCS for best submission in the category "use of technology in learning spaces" for his creation and use of Google Earth KML overlays displayed on a touch-sensitive SmartBoard in a multimedia classroom together with parallel PowerPoint presentations. He created the new teaching materials for his lectures on European Encounters with East Asia and History of the Book in East Asia, which were part of the Premodern East Asian Survey series for 1st-year Sinologists and 2nd-year Japanologists.


Chris Minkowski, Boden Professor of Sanskrit, appeared on In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg on the 19th February.  The program was about the "The Observatory at Jaipur - Indian Astronomy on the Cusp of Colonialism."  This large, masonry observatory was built by Sawai Jaisingh, the ruler of Amber from 1700-43, and the builder of Jaipur as a planned city. He also built observatories in four other locations in India.  Visitors to Delhi will be familiar with the observatory there, which is known popularly as the Jantar Mantar.

A downloadable podcast of the show is available here.


“The results of the 2008 RAE clearly establish Oxford as the pre-eminent national centre for Oriental Studies”

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) published the results of its Research Assessment Exercise 2008 on 18th December.

In Middle Eastern and African Studies (UoA 48), Oxford submitted 45 academics, more than any other single university and more than one third of those submitted nationally in this subject.  The research of 40% of our academics was rated ‘world-leading’ (4*), more than any other university, and 30% was judged to be ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).  In all, 31 of our researchers in the field were rated ‘world-leading or internationally excellent’ (4* or 3*), significantly more than the total number of academics submitted by any other university.

In Asian Studies (UoA 49), Oxford submitted 33 academics, more than any other single university and more than one fifth of those submitted nationally in this subject.  The research of 18 (55%) of our academics was rated ‘world-leading or internationally excellent’ (4* or 3*).

Research Fortnight’s analysis of the results placed Oxford top in Asian Studies, and well ahead of the field in Middle Eastern and African Studies with a ‘power ranking’ more than twice that of its nearest competitor.

The Chair of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Professor Jeremy Johns, said: “We are extremely pleased with these results, which accurately reflect the leading contribution that Oxford makes nationally and internationally to research in Middle Eastern, African and Asian Studies.  In terms of the quality and range of our research and the sheer number of academics at all stages of their careers who are engaged in research –– 78 academics, including 49 conducting world-leading or internationally excellent research, –– the results of the 2008 RAE clearly establish Oxford as the pre-eminent national centre for Oriental Studies”.

For further information:
HEFCE – rae2008
RAE Results – University of Oxford
Research Fortnight’s RAE 2008 Analysis
Research Fornight’s RAE 2008 Blog

Download Research Fortnight’s analysis here:
Middle Eastern & African StudiesAsian Studies


New Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies

The University of Oxford has created a new Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies with the support of a generous benefaction from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.  The new chair will be named in honour of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar. 

The post-holder will be a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and a Fellow of St Antony’s College.  The endowment will also support a programme of research and other activities, linking the Faculty, the Middle East Centre and the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s, and the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.

Further details of the new chair are available from the Campaign for Oxford and the Press Office.

The search for the first HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies has begun. Details of this post will be published on the University of Oxford’s Academic Vacancies Page.  Other posts in Chinese Literature, Early Islamic History, Islamic Art and Architecture, Islamic Studies, Modern Arabic, and Turkish will soon be advertised.