About the Faculty

Jump to:

About the Faculty

Each year, Oxford welcomes talented graduate students from all over the globe. Our students are attracted by the chance to study at an internationally-renowned university, with outstanding academic achievement and innovation.

  • Oxford’s teaching and research is consistently in the top rank nationally and internationally, and is at the forefront of medical, scientific and technological achievement.
  • The University has excellent facilities and resources for learning in its world-famous libraries, laboratories and museums.
  • Students come to Oxford from 140 different countries and territories.
  • Oxford’s collegiate system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves.
  • Students have the opportunity to learn alongside leading researchers in their field.
  • Oxford has strong links with research institutions, business, and industry, both in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Graduate students are a valued part of the University, and make up around a third of the total student body. The University offers a wide range of taught graduate and research degrees, ranging from one to three or more years. Green Templeton, Linacre, Nuffield, St Antony’s, St Cross and Wolfson admit only graduate students, as does Kellogg, which supports the lifelong learning work of the University for adult, part-time, and professional development students.


There are 38 colleges scattered across the city, seven of which are solely dedicated to graduate students. There are also six permanent private halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations and still retain their religious character. Each college has its own distinctive identity. Some are grand and ancient, some are modern with award-winning architecture, and some are small and intimate. Many feature stunning courtyards called quadrangles (‘quads’) and have beautiful grounds and gardens.

Colleges and halls have their own libraries and study spaces, dining halls, bars and common rooms, sporting and social facilities. College teams compete with each other in sports such as rowing, hockey, cricket, netball and rugby; plays and concerts are staged in college auditoriums, chapels, gardens and quadrangles; and dinners in hall are an excellent way to get to know other members of the academic community.

Oxford is relatively small and most colleges are no more than about a 15-minute walk from the city centre. However, graduate accommodation is sometimes located away from the college and can therefore be slightly further from central Oxford.

International Links

Students can take advantage of our links with international universities, which include graduate exchange programmes, support for research-related travel, and access to visiting lecturers from other universities.

Italian links

  • All graduates participate in a joint training programme specifically for graduates run by the Italian Departments of Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Royal Holloway College and University College London.
  • A joint seminar/conference is held in alternate years with the University of Bologna and is open to our graduates to attend or give papers.
  • The Departmental Teaching Exchange with the Department of Italianistica at Padua University allows visiting academics from Padua to give lectures/seminars in Oxford.

Opportunities in Italy

Bergamo Teach English for a year or two while pursuing research.
Pavia University Teach English for a year at the prestigious Collegio Ghislieri while pursuing research.
A female graduate can teach English for a year at Collegio Nuovo (Women’s College) while pursuing research.
Follow part of Pavia’s ‘dottorati di ricerca’ for a year (Prof. Riccardi is the coordinator).
Siena University Be co-taught by tutors from Siena’s Department of Italian for a year.

German Links

Teaching and Supervision

Oxford’s approach to graduate study reflects an emphasis on a student’s ability to work independently, to take the initiative in exploring a line of research or acquire a new skill or identify and remedy a perceived area of weakness. 

Taught Programmes

Taught programmes usually involve a range of core and optional courses and the submission of a dissertation. Assessment may be by coursework, as well as by examination papers, a dissertation and oral examination. These courses reflect a mixture of traditional Oxford tutorial teaching (where one or two students discuss their work with a faculty member) with lectures, seminars and classes. The termly lists of lectures can be found online. Students should also receive formal notice of invitations to classes and seminars.


Students carrying out postgraduate research are largely self-directed. Supervisors provide advice about the specific project, the nature of research, data collection methods, and the standards expected. You will attend courses on specific research skills as well as a range of seminars and lectures.  New PRS students are likely to be supervised more closely, with supervisors perhaps requiring submissions of work quite regularly initially.  All new students should familiarise themselves with Research Degree Stages and Progression Forms found in the appropriate Handbook.

Graduate students receive a report of their termly supervision from their Supervisor through the Graduate Reporting System from Week 8 of term. This system also offers students the opportunity to contribute to their termly supervision reports by reviewing and commenting on their own academic progress.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The REF is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and was completed in 2014.

Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008

The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages has demonstrated its leading position in national and international research in the results of the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. French and German ranked top, and Russian second, in both the Quality Rankings and Research Fortnight’s ‘research power index’. Iberian and Latin American Languages, and Italian, both came fourth in the UK in the ‘research power index’. The Faculty submitted research from over 90 Faculty members. Overall, more than 60% of the Faculty’s research was assessed as either 4* — “world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour”, or 3* — “internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour”.

Oxford Top for Modern Languages in QS World Rankings

Oxford University has been consistently ranked at the top of the QS World Rankings for Modern Languages, holding the top place from 2012-16, and was most recently placed third for the 2017 rankings. Professor Richard Cooper, Chair of the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages in 2013, said:

This is a powerful and gratifying endorsement of the breadth of our syllabus in Modern Languages, the quality of our students, both undergraduate and graduate, of our research libraries, and above all of the excellence and dedication in teaching and research of the members of our Faculty.

More information on the most recent rankings can be found here.

Subscribe to Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages