Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period MPhil

Statue to Menander, Theatre of Dionysos, Athens, Greece. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The MPhil in Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period aims to provide you with a good general knowledge of Jewish history, religion and culture in the period from 200 BCE to 425 CE, the period of the Second Temple and the Talmud. The course will introduce you to the range of primary sources for Jewish history in this period and equip you with both the understanding and the ability to use a range of historiographical and critical methods in the treatment of such primary sources.

The course consists of instruction in the history and institutions of the Jews and in three specialised areas of Jewish studies which involve close study of particular types of primary texts. The course is examined at the end of the sixth term by four three-hour papers and by a thesis of not more than 30,000 words.

The course is taught by a mixture of tutorials and classes. Tutorials consist normally of one-to-one discussions with your  tutor  and written work produced by yourself. The general paper on Jewish history and institutions is taught entirely by a series of weekly tutorials (usually eight) in this manner. The classes provide instruction in the translation and interpretation of most but not necessarily all of the set texts which you are required to study for your specialised papers. General questions about these texts are discussed in tutorials.

You can expect to be engaged on academic work for at least thirty-five hours a week during the full term and you will be required to carry out a considerable amount of work during the vacations. At the end of the first year of the course, you will be required, unless specifically exempted by the Faculty Board, to sit a qualifying examination to confirm your suitability to continue to the second year. The course is examined by a series of three-hour written examinations and by a dissertation

Most work for the written examinations is normally completed in the first year of the course, so that most of the second year can be devoted to the dissertation, but some text work may be carried over into the second year if this is convenient. You will be required to choose, in consultation with your supervisor, the special subjects that you wish to study during your first term so that set texts can be approved by the Faculty Board towards the end of that term.

After approval by the Faculty Board, set texts will be published in the Course Handbook, which can be accessed via the faculty's course webpage. There is less urgency in choosing a thesis topic, but you should have a general idea of the field you wish to work in by the middle of your second term so that thesis supervision can be arranged by your general supervisor. You should have a clear idea of your thesis topic by the end of the Trinity term in your first year so that you can work on your thesis over the summer vacation.


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.

Entry Requirements

Degree-level qualifications

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.

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.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Applicants must have a working knowledge of Hebrew. Some options in the course can only be chosen by students with prior knowledge of Greek.

Graduate Destinations

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.

Further Information

For more information please refer to the MPhil in Jewish Studies in the Graeco-Roman Period 2017-18 Course Handbook.