History and English

History and English at Balliol College

The Joint School 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 involvement 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 English 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 to careers in the law, the civil service, journalism, television, and many other fields.

Balliol was, moreover, one of the first colleges to appoint a Fellow in English when the Honours School was established, and the subject has flourished here ever since. Students are encouraged to use their interdisciplinary skills throughout the syllabus, and to develop their academic interests in the final-year Special Papers. English graduates go on to pursue a variety of careers, including academia, journalism, teaching, media, law, and finance. Some become writers. There are College prizes for essays and for poetry; and an occasional reading party or theatre trip may be organised by tutors.

Number of places at Balliol: 1-2.


Helen Appleton (photo: Rob Judges)
Career Development Fellow in Old and Early Medieval English
Mark Baker
Career Development Fellow in Modern Global History
Martin Conway
Professor of Contemporary European History, MacLellan-Warburg Fellow and Tutor in History
John-Paul Ghobrial
Associate Professor, Lucas Fellow and Tutor in History
Helen Gittos
Associate Professor, Colyer-Fergusson Fellow and Tutor in Early Medieval History
Seamus Perry
Professor of English Literature, Massey Fellow, Tutor in English, Fellow Librarian and Fellow for Charity Matters
Associate Professor, Keen Fellow and Tutor in History
Adam Smyth
Professor of English Literature and the History of the Book, Clarendon University Lecturer, A.C. Bradley-J.C. Maxwell Fellow and Tutor in English Literature, and Tutor for Graduate Admissions
Oliver Clarkson
Departmental Lecturer in English
Roisin Watson
Lecturer in History

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About the course

Please see the Faculty of History and Faculty of English websites, and the University’s course pages.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Balliol expects candidates to study History and English to A-level or an equivalent level. Please see also the University’s entrance requirements.

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

How to apply to read History and English at Balliol College