History and Politics

History and Politics at Balliol College

The Joint School was inaugurated a decade ago and draws on two of the College’s best-known and established subjects.

Balliol has long enjoyed an outstanding reputation for History teaching and research. The College’s investment in History is reflected in its provision of four Fellows in the subject, and a Library whose holdings in the subject are second to none. The College’s coverage of the syllabus is correspondingly wide, and there is no attempt to steer undergraduates towards one option rather than another. Balliol History and Politics students participate in the exciting opportunities for archival research provided by the undergraduate thesis. Between one-quarter and one-third of our undergraduates typically proceed to postgraduate work in Oxford or elsewhere, and the College maintains a thriving community of graduate students in History. Others move on into careers in the law, the Civil Service, journalism, television, and many other fields.

Balliol was, moreover, the birthplace of the degree of Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the 1920s, which is how Politics began as an academic subject at Oxford, and we remain a major centre for the study of Politics in the University, and one of few colleges to have two full Politics Fellows. This means both that students of History and Politics at Balliol are part of a substantial body of students with a collective identity and activities to match, and that our own Fellows can cover a wide range of papers ‘in-house’. The College has produced a succession of British prime ministers and politicians: H.H. Asquith, Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins and, more recently, Boris Johnson, Yvette Cooper and James Purnell all studied at Balliol. But Politics here, like the College as a whole, is also notable for its international character, and for its interest in global or international issues. We welcome applications from students with a genuine interest in combining the demands of the humanities and the social sciences in this Joint School.

Number of places at Balliol: 2.


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About the course

Please see the course page on the University website. See also, more generally, the Faculty of History website and the Department of Politics website.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Balliol highly recommends that candidates study History to A‑Level or an equivalent level (such as Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB, or another equivalent). Please see also the University’s entrance requirements.

For information on how applicants are assessed, see the Faculty of History website.

How to apply to read History and Politics at Balliol College