The MPhil in Egyptology is a two-year taught graduate degree that offers a satisfying, advanced course of study in the languages, cultures, and history of ancient Egypt. While the MPhil functions as a course in its own right, it is also designed to take students to the stage where they can embark on doctoral research in Egyptology.
The MPhil in Egyptology normally has two paths through the curriculum. The first, Syllabus A, allows those with previous training in Egyptology to pursue their study of the subject to a higher level, to gain specialised expertise, and to begin advanced research in an area of their choice. The second, Syllabus B, enables graduates in another discipline to convert to Egyptology through a graduate level course that offers a certain amount of specialisation, including a significant element of advanced research. In both cases, syllabuses are tailored to the interests of individual students.
The study of ancient Egyptian language and textual culture lies at the heart of the degree and is generally a major component of Syllabus A. The principal focus throughout is on detailed familiarity with the primary sources, studied in the original language and through the original manuscripts where possible, and with various methods and approaches. Use of a range of interpretive and analytical approaches to the primary sources is integral to the course, including, for example, historiographical and/or literary-critical frameworks; overall there is an emphasis on texts as artefacts in a material context.
The syllabus can also be designed with an archaeological and/or material-culture focus. You will have the opportunity to develop your skills in working with Egyptian artefacts from the extensive and diverse collections of the Ashmolean Museum. The MPhil dissertation, written during the second year, will give you the opportunity to identify and design your own research project and to develop advanced research skills.
The MPhil is a very intensive course. For example, you must treat the university vacations as integral parts of your work time and you will be expected to take relatively limited holidays. From the start of your course you should also think about whether you need to do fieldwork in Egypt or elsewhere and when this will best be done. Where possible, if you have not been to Egypt before you should ideally try to visit before the end of the course, even as a tourist.
In the second year, you should expect to spend the Easter vacation finishing your dissertation, which must be submitted half way through Trinity term. Depending on the course design, there can also be a take-home examination at the start of Trinity term of the second year. Research essays that are to be revised and assessed for another element in the course must also be completed and handed in by the end of Hilary term of the second year.
The final examinations are sat during and/or after the end of Trinity term. In some cases the syllabus may be varied to enable students to take and be examined in options that are offered at the same time for other courses. Similarly, different examination provision may also be made for students who have chosen options that are offered in other departments, such as Classics or archaeology.
The number of students accepted for the course each year is very small. This ensures that teaching can be tailored to the research interests and training requirements of individual students. Teaching is also very much focused around small groups and one-on-one tutorials and supervisions for which small cohorts are vital. In the first year you will share language classes and lectures on history and culture with first year undergraduates. Some other classes may also be shared with undergraduates and graduates on other degrees where appropriate for your research training needs.
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.