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Oriental Studies and Joint Schools


BA (Hons) Oriental Studies
BA (Hons) Classics and Oriental Studies
BA (Hons) European and Middle Eastern Languages


At Queen’s there is a tradition of more than a century in Oriental Studies and a firm commitment to the subject as an aspect of the College’s long-standing strength in language-based subjects. Orientalists constitute a significant group within the College and find themselves fully involved in the life of the College, which forms a friendly and supportive base for their social and academic activities. The College normally admits about 5 students each year for Oriental Studies courses. With Fellows in Chinese and Japanese, as well as the Professor of Egyptology, the College has a special interest in Chinese, Japanese, and Egyptology, but it welcomes applications for all Oriental languages taught at Oxford and for all subject-combinations apart from Theology and Oriental Studies.

The courses

Oriental Studies embraces a very wide range of courses, including Arabic, Chinese, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Hebrew Studies, Japanese, Jewish Studies, Persian, Sanskrit, and Turkish. Most of these courses last four years and include a period of one year spent in the relevant country, normally in the second year of the course. The College has generous funds available to support the period abroad for language study.

Candidates are not expected to have prior knowledge of any Near, Middle or Far Eastern language, although some candidates may have had an opportunity to study these beforehand, and sometimes up to A-level standard. The BA course is designed to accommodate such differences, and the intensive nature of the teaching means that undergraduates with no previous knowledge soon catch up with those who have studied before. While it is helpful to have a foreign language at A-level, it is not a requirement as long as a candidate can show genuine interest and linguistic aptitude. Both the College and the Oriental Institute can advise on the suitability of A-level subjects. Courses leading to the BA in Oriental Studies vary according to the language chosen.


In the case of Chinese and Japanese, teaching is provided both in College and in the Institute for Chinese Studies or Oriental Institute, while for other Oriental languages all teaching takes place in the Oriental Institute, the Griffith Institute, or the Ashmolean Museum. Facilities within the College include the collection of books relating to a wide range of Oriental languages in the College library and the Peet Library in Egyptology. The teaching provided by Dirk Meyer, the Fellow in Chinese, covers classical Chinese language, culture and philosophy, whilst Jennifer Guest covers pre-modern Japanese literature and culture; Hu Bo teaches modern Chinese. Richard Parkinson teaches most aspects of the course in Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.


Candidates for course combinations which include Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew and Persian will need to take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT). The registration deadline is 15th October. As at all colleges, candidates are required to submit two pieces of written work, preferably of two different kinds, of which at least one should be in English. This should normally be marked schoolwork.

There will be at least two interviews, normally one subject-related interview at the Oriental Institute or Institute for Chinese Studies and one interview at the College. The college interview will include discussion of a short text that will be supplied beforehand. The discussion of the text will lead on to a general discussion of why the candidate has chosen the course in question, and what literature she or he has read. We are looking for candidates with a genuine commitment to cultural and linguistic study, openness to studying new territories, and an ability to form independent judgements on what they have read. It is not necessary to have studied any Asian language or culture at school. Above all, we are seeking to assess potential.