The MSt in Classical Hebrew Studies lasts for one teaching year, namely from October to June. While it is a master’s degree in its own right, and may be taken by those with no future study plans beyond that point, it is designed especially for those with a basic knowledge of Biblical Hebrew (perhaps learned as part of a Theological or Biblical Studies degree) who wish to extend and deepen their linguistic and textual competence as a preparation for research.
You will sit two compulsory three-hour examinations (one on prepared and unprepared Biblical texts and the other on history and literature) and also choose two others on such subjects as Hebrew language, textual criticism, epigraphy, Aramaic, and Dead Sea Scrolls.
Within these constraints, the course offers considerable flexibility to suit your individual interests and needs. For instance, the texts selected for study can be varied from year to year, while the optional papers may, with permission, be on any relevant subject. A substantial part of the course may therefore be directed towards a possible future research topic.
The teaching takes two main forms. Firstly, there are classes on the specified texts and on advanced Hebrew language throughout the year, which you are strongly recommended to attend as a matter of priority. There may also be classes on your optional subjects, depending on what they are (Aramaic, for instance, is taught in this way). Secondly, you will receive individual supervision, usually for an hour each week, for which you are expected to prepare written work on the basis of recommended reading. Teaching for such subjects as history and literature is wholly conducted in this way, while you will also be given practice in the proper way in which to answer questions on specified texts.
During the course there are two vacations of six weeks each, during which you will be expected to keep working full time, with modest breaks for Christmas and Easter. You will be given guidance about specific projects to be tackled, but will be advised to go back over the texts and other topics studied in the previous term in order to consolidate with wider reading, filling in gaps, and so on. It is also helpful, if you are in a position to do so, to undertake preparatory work during the summer before you begin. If you have the opportunity to discuss with your potential teachers at least some of the texts that you hope to study, you will find that you derive far more benefit from the classes if you have been able to prepare them as far as you are able in advance.
Numbers of students on the course are very small (1–2 per year) and so teaching is tailored according to the needs and interests of individual students. Classes are sometimes shared with those on other similar courses, and there are also seminars covering wider subject areas that students on this course are encouraged to attend.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies.