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Course options

  • Qualification

    MSt - Master of Studies

  • Location

    University of Oxford

  • Study mode

    Full time

  • Start date


  • Duration

    9 months

Course summary

About the course

This course is intended to give you experience in reading a range of primary exegetical texts in Classical Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac; help you develop research methodologies through the writing of a 15,000-word dissertation; and to provide you with a solid basis in the subject area if you are considering to going on to do original research.

Teaching for the compulsory core course is covered by a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials covering the principal sources for exegesis of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and select topics will be covered in Michaelmas and Hilary terms. These may include ancient Bible translations, Qumran texts, the New Testament, Rabbinic hermeneutics, Greek and Latin patristics, or early Syriac commentaries. They will be explored in the essays set which you will present in meetings with your tutor, either in one-to-one sessions or with one or two other students in related subjects (such sessions are known as ‘tutorials’).

For your other two papers, you will select two options from the following five.

  • Hebrew biblical and exegetical texts
  • Aramaic biblical, exegetical and Targum texts
  • Syriac biblical and exegetical texts
  • Greek biblical and exegetical texts
  • Latin biblical and exegetical texts.


Assessment takes place at the end of the academic year, and takes the form of three 3-hour examination papers (one on the compulsory core paper, and the other two on prescribed texts), plus a 15,000-word dissertation on some aspect of Bible interpretation in antiquity. The topic and title of the dissertation are chosen in consultation with your supervisor, and the dissertation itself will be submitted at the end of the fourth week of Trinity term, before the examinations for the other papers.

The first examination paper consists of essay questions for the compulsory core paper on early translations and interpretations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; you are required to answer three essay questions (out of at least seven that are set). On both of the two papers chosen as options you will be asked to translate into English three passages out of four from the set texts and comment on points of exegetical and other interest in them, and also to write one essay (out of a choice of four) on the background or aspects of the set texts. You will normally also be examined orally (viva voce), unless individually excused by the examiners.

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.

Tuition fees

Students living in United States
(international fees)

£ 27,460overall cost

Tuition fees shown are for indicative purposes and may vary. Please check with the institution for most up to date details.

University information

University of Oxford

  • University League Table


  • Campus address

    University of Oxford, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2JD, England

Subject rankings

  • Subject ranking

    2nd out of 29

    2nd out of 33 1

  • Entry standards

    / Max 222
    194 94%


  • Graduate prospects

    / Max 100
    80 80%


  • Student satisfaction

    / Max 5

  • Entry standards

    / Max 197
    179 92%


  • Graduate prospects

    / Max 100
    80 80%


  • Student satisfaction

    / Max 5

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