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Director of Studies:
Dr Yvonne Cornish  
Dr Susan Doran

History at Oxford

Oxford is celebrated for the broad chronological sweep of its courses and the enormous amount of choice offered to students. You can study options on any part of British and European history from the declining years of the Roman Empire to the present day. The geographical range is also broad: there are options on North American, Latin American, Asian and African history (for further details on the range of papers visit the faculty website: http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/prospective/undergraduate.html). The Oxford History Faculty is at the forefront of research and is strong on political, intellectual and cultural history options. Students are encouraged to adopt a variety of interdisciplinary approaches to their work.

History at St Benet’s Hall

St Benet’s Hall admits up to four undergraduates in History each year. The teaching at St Benet’s is in line with that of the other colleges, with some papers being taught by our own tutors while others are taught across the University by members of the History Faculty. To ensure a sound start to the course, we prefer to teach our first years students within the Hall for the first two terms. We offer them a choice of four out of the seven British History papers and three out of the General History papers. Those periods not offered in the first year are available in the second year. All first year History students also take the Historiography: Tacitus to Weber paper. In the third term, students are able to choose from the full range of optional papers. Many of the books needed for the core papers are available in our library and funding is provided to continually increase and update the provision of history books.

There are two history fellows at St Benet’s: Dr Yvonne Cornish and Dr Susan Doran, and their expertise in modern and early modern history is supplemented by medievalist Dr Rowena Archer, Fellow of Brasenose College. Apart from first and second year British History and General History papers, Dr Cornish teaches the core papers of Historiography in the first year and Disciplines of History tin the second and third years. The Hall also offers a range of Study Skills classes which cover topics such as essay writing, note taking, footnoting, gobbets and the use of primary source material. This ensures that our students are well prepared and supported for each stage of their course.

The close contact and support that St Benet’s students receive from their tutors is one of our great strengths. We offer a range of learning experiences from one-to-one tutorials through to larger class teaching and have the flexibility to address the needs of individual students.

The History Tutors

Dr Yvonne Cornish is the Director of Studies in History and has responsibility for the History students’ academic needs. She is a modernist and teaches papers on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her research focuses on the cultural and social history of eighteenth-century England, with particular reference to celebrity and the print trades. She is currently working on a joint study of Anglo-Persia relations from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century.

Dr Susan Doran is an early modernist and teaches papers covering the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. She is a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College and regularly contributes to the marking of Final School examination papers. Dr Doran has a substantial publishing record which reflects a particular interest in the religious and political history of the Tudors, especially Elizabeth I.

Dr Rowena E. Archer is a Fellow of Brasenose College. a Lecturer at Christ Church and she has a long-standing relationship with St Benet’s Hall. Her contribution to the History Faculty includes lecturing, convening specialist papers and examination marking. Dr Archer’s research focuses on late medieval English history with special interest in the nobility and gentry. She is currently working on a life of Alice Chaucer, duchess of Suffolk (d.1475).

JOINT SCHOOLS: Ancient and Modern History; History and Politics

It is also possible to study History as part of a joint honours course and St Benet’s invites applications for Ancient and Modern History and History and Politics. Aspects of these courses are coordinated with the Hall’s tutors in Classics and PPE and the students that opt for joint schools benefit from a shared interest with those studying these disciplines.

Student Profile

Lance Baynham

First Year, History

"Coming up to study in Oxford is, for most people, a worrying experience.  The teaching of History at Benet's, however, has allayed all concerns.  It is not only academically stimulating, but also has been delivered in a friendly and welcoming manner. Fundamentally, however, the teaching of History at St Benet's achieves that primary objective of more than adequately preparing candidates for their examinations, and providing them with the intellectual grounding which can be built upon in the second and third years".

Edward Sparrrow

First Year, History

"I've enjoyed the breadth of courses on offer in your first year in Oxford, when one can study the Reformation in England and the Conquest of the Americas in the same year, along with everything in between.  Also the effort that is put into getting us the best tutors, such as Sue Doran, Rowena Archer or Nick Davidson is hugely appreciated".

Carles Cuart

Third Year, History

‘What I really love about studying history at St Benet’s is the support that we get from our tutors. Friends at other colleges don’t seem to have much contact with their tutors outside of their tutorials but I see mine regularly. They are always happy to chat over lunch or dinner and I know I can seek their advice whenever I need it.’