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 and you will be advised of this when you apply.
A list of set texts in each language is included in the Course Handbook, which can be accessed via the faculty's course webpage. 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.
The examination towards the end of Trinity term in the second year 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 (of not more than 30,000 words) 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.
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.
As a minimum, applicants should normally hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject, though applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and training necessary to follow the course.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Applicants must have a working knowledge of Classical Greek and, for those taking options in Armenian or Syriac texts, a working knowledge of either Armenian or Syriac, ie you must be able to read the language with the aid of a dictionary.
Oriental studies graduates have found employment in many 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.
For further information please refer to the MPhil Eastern Christian Studies 2018-19 Course Handbook.