Eastern Christian Studies MPhil

L0074208 MS.804. Saint Margaret, Virgin & Martyr ( -c. 285). Recto. Wellcome Library

The MPhil in Eastern Christian Studies is a two-year degree which is intended to give you experience in reading and interpreting a wide range of Eastern Christian texts in one of three options - Greek, Armenian with Greek, or Syriac with Greek. All students also prepare a 30,000 word thesis. This degree can be a stand-alone qualification or preparation for doctoral research.

Before arrival in Oxford you will be required to choose to study for papers in one of the three following options:

  • Greek (Patristic and Byzantine)
  • Armenian with Greek
  • Syriac with Greek

Teaching for each option may not be available in every year. In 202/23 The Greek (Patristic and Byzantine) option will not  be offered.

A list of set texts in each language is included in the Course Handbook, which can be accessed here. Set texts are agreed with candidates at the beginning of the academic year, and a list of these can be obtained from the Course Director.

Teaching takes the form of text classes, supervisions and/or seminars, and background lectures. The Armenian and Syriac set texts are read in the first year in text classes, for which you will be expected to prepare, while the Greek set texts will normally be left to you to work through alone. You will also be required to write and present essays, either for supervisions or for seminars. The second year is normally left for work on the thesis, the subject of which must be approved by the Faculty Board, and for this your supervisor will provide general guidance.


You will sit an examination towards the end of Trinity term in the second year which takes the form of four papers. These consist of:

  • essay questions on the development of doctrine and the history of the Church in the Christian East to AD 717
  • specified Armenian or Syriac historical texts
  • specified Armenian or Syriac theological texts
  • Greek ecclesiastical texts

For the specified Armenian and Syriac historical and theological texts, besides passages for translation and comment, there may also be essay questions associated with the set texts. The paper on Greek ecclesiastical texts will include some passages from unspecified, as well as specified, texts.The thesis must be presented at the end of the second week of the same Trinity term. You will be examined viva voce unless you have been individually excused by the examiners.

Further information on the course, and the examination process, can be found in the course handbook here (information is current for the academic year of publication).

Oriental studies graduates have found employment in many and diverse fields including business, finance, law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.

Many graduates have also undertaken further research into subjects linked with Oriental studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.


The University of Oxford is a world leader in the study of the history and culture of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, from the beginnings of civilisation through to the present day.

Within the Faculties of Oriental Studies, Classics, History, Theology, Philosophy and the School of Archaeology, there are unparalleled numbers of scholars and research students working on the region, and bringing with them knowledge of an extraordinary range of disciplines. This research has been further boosted in recent years by the founding of the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity, the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East, and the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. These faculties and centres provide the outstanding seminar culture for which Oxford is famous.

The University has excellent library holdings of original manuscripts and secondary literature in all of the ancient and modern languages of the region, including those of the Oriental Christian populations, as well as in all major related disciplines. The Bodleian Library is the main research collection which students for the MPhil in Eastern Christian Studies will use. The Oriental and Theology Faculties both have their own libraries, with lending facilities, and one of the world’s most important collections of books and journals relating to archaeology and the ancient world is located in the Sackler Library, next door to the Oriental Institute. Further large Oriental Christian manuscript collections are within easy reach in the British Library in London, and in the Mingana Collection in Birmingham.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that focus on Oriental studies, such as:

You will also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Oriental Institute, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Sources of funding

Applications recieved for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications fulfill the eligibility criteria. Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for.

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities.