Oriental Studies MSt

L0032394 Oriental Calligraphy Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

The MSt in Oriental Studies at Oxford aims to provide tailor-made courses for training graduate students at the beginning of their research in different areas of Oriental studies. The course is aimed at intending doctoral students who need some additional training before commencing their doctoral studies. Only specified teaching staff in Oriental studies accept students for this degree, who are listed below. Once you and your prospective supervisor have agreed on your course of study it is not normally possible to make any changes.

The MSt in Oriental Studies is designed for students who hold a BA in the same field as that of their proposed research, or one closely related. As an example, most students who wish to study Arabic for this MSt will have either a BA in Arabic or one in which Arabic has been a majority of the course. The decision on whether a candidate's BA qualifies for the course is taken by the Faculty Board.

The precise content of the course followed by you is fixed by your supervisor in consultation with yourself in order to provide the most useful training for you. The course content is in each case designed to advance your progress towards a research degree after the completion of the MSt. You may therefore be required by the supervisor, under the direction of the Faculty Board, to attend lecture courses, seminars, language classes and tutorials, and also to write more extended pieces of written work.

The course may be taught in a variety of ways, depending on your needs.

If you wish to learn a language these are normally taught in classes. If you wish to concentrate on historical issues these may be taught primarily in regular tutorials for which you are expected to write essays. Evaluation of the course takes place entirely during the third term, through a combination of essays, examination papers and a dissertation.

Further information on the examination procedure for the MSt in Oriental Studies can be found in the Course Handbook.


You must contact a prospective supervisor before you apply to secure their agreement in principle to supervise you whilst pursuing the course. 

Please note that only specified teaching staff in the Faculty of Oriental Studies are able to accept students for this degree. A list of these staff is below. 

Admission is always subject to the assessment of a full application and a supervisor available and willing to oversee your work.

Teaching staff accepting MSt in Oriental Studies students for entry in 2020-21:

Jan Joosten

Research Interests:

  • Hebrew grammar.
  • the Septuagint translation.
  • Biblical rhetoric.
  • Syriac versions of the Bible.

John Lowe

Research Interests:

  • Ancient Indo-Iranian languages: Sanskrit, Avestan, Old Persian, Prakrit.
  • Indo-Iranian and Indo-European philology.
  • The ancient Indian grammatical tradition.
  • Linguistics: syntax and semantics, including the historical syntax and semantics of Indo-Iranian languages.

Laurent Mignon

Research Interests:

  • Modern Turkish literature.
  • Minority literatures of Turkey and the Ottoman world.
  • Esotericism and new religions in Turkey.

Maren Schentuleit

Research Interests:

  • demotic and Greek papyrology, especially the socio-economic history of Graeco-Roman Egypt
  • bi-/multilingualism
  • prosopography and onomastic 
  • relationship between religion and politics

Zoe Waxman

Research Interests:

  • The Holocaust.
  • Gender.
  • Genocide.
  • Memory and trauma theory.


The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Oriental Institute 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 Oriental Institute.

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 a field relevant to the proposed area of study.

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

  • For the MSt in Oriental Studies, the course content is in each case designed to advance your progress towards a research degree after the completion of the MSt, and the topic of the MSt dissertation will normally be chosen in preparation for a subsequent DPhil. You should therefore also demonstrate clear potential for DPhil level work in your application.

Graduate Destinations

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.

Further Information

For further information please see the Graduate Course Handbook.