Oriental Studies

Oriental Studies at Balliol College

Located right in the centre of Oxford, Balliol is close to the Oriental Institute just a few minutes’ walk away in Pusey Street. The superb collections of the Ashmolean Museum and the Sackler Library, as well as the Griffith Institute for Egyptology, are round the corner in George Street. The Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies is not much farther away in Walton Street, as is the China Centre, in Canterbury Road.

One Balliol Fellow specialises in Sanskrit and Indian studies (the Boden Chair in Sanskrit has been attached to the College since 1880), and there is a weekly Sanskrit lunch in Hall. He offers teaching to Oriental Studies undergraduates, sometimes in the College, alongside the instruction they receive at the Oriental Institute and, for some subjects, in the other centres. There is also a postdoctoral fellow in Classical Indology. Balliol’s tutor for Early Modern History is a specialist in Ottoman History.

Balliol has a small but now increasing number of students reading Oriental Studies. This suits those who enjoy being part of a community where others are reading a wide range of different subjects in the arts and sciences. As the standard of instruction is extremely high, many graduates make full use of their language and cultural expertise straight away. One recent graduate in Japanese, for example, is now working for a consultancy firm in Japan; another went on to work in Taiwan for a firm specialising in online education. 

Number of places at Balliol: 2.

Student experience

Tara Heuze (photo: Rob Judges)‘Being part of a small group of Orientalists means that you get the best of both worlds – not only do you form close friendships with those also studying Oriental Studies in different years, you also get to know loads of people from a range of different backgrounds and disciplines. Balliol offers lots of opportunities to get involved, be it through debating, sport, or even simply hanging out in our great JCR; the community spirit is wonderful, and I really couldn’t have asked for a more supportive or cosy environment!’ Tara Heuzé (Balliol 2013, Sanskrit)

Oriental Studies student Shreya Lakhani (Balliol 2016, Sanskrit) describes what it’s like being at Balliol in our undergraduate admissions video.


Christopher Minkowski
Boden Professor of Sanskrit and Professorial Fellow
Balliol crest black and white
Departmental Lecturer in Oriental Studies (Buddhist Studies)

About the course

The course options are Arabic, Chinese, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Hebrew, Japanese, Jewish Studies, Persian, Sanskrit, Turkish. All courses include a combination of linguistic, literary, historic and cultural studies and there is a wide range of options in fields such as art and archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion and modern social studies. The courses in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Persian feature a year abroad programme as part of the course.  

Please see the Oriental Institute website and the University’s course pages for further information, including a typical week for an Oriential Studies student.

Course requirements and selection criteria

Please see:

How to apply to read Oriental Studies at Balliol College