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The MPhil course is a two-year degree which enables candidates to develop their interests in even greater depth than the MSt.

Spread over six terms of study, the MPhil consists of five compulsory components: three Special Subjects (taught in the first (Michaelmas), second (Hilary), and fourth (Michaelmas, year two) term, respectively; one seminar chosen from the list of Methods of Criticism or Scholarship seminars (taught across the first and second term); and a dissertation which is written in the second year of study.

Course Content

Year One

Michaelmas Term Hilary Term Trinity Term
Special Subject 1 Special Subject 2 Dissertation
Theory Option

Year Two

Michaelmas Term Hilary Term Trinity Term
Special Subject 3    
Dissertation (20-25,000 words)

MPhil Programmes of Special Subjects

Special Subjects are grouped into language specific and comparative programmes or wider area of study and will be taught in small groups or seminars. The subjects correspond to areas of particular teaching and research strength in Oxford and courses are offered across different language strands and specialisms, subject to the availability of the relevant supervisors in any particular year. Students choose three of these options.


Popular language-specific options typically offered include: Women’s Writing in Medieval Germany, Problems in Dante Interpretation, Francophone Literature, Realism and Its Alternatives in Spanish American Narrative, Latin American Cinema, Lusophone Women Writers, Contemporary Brazilian Fiction, Late Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Literature, Modern Greek Literature in Comparative Frames, Walter Benjamin in Weimar, Conscience and Consciousness in French and Francophone Literature.


As part of our comparative literature pathways, you may also study designated cross-linguistic options including European Enlightenment, Cultural Studies, Contesting Colonialisms, and Posthuman Subjectivities. This year’s selection of Special Subjects can be found here:

Language specific Comparative
French European Enlightenment
German Cultural Studies
Italian Comparative Literature
Spanish Medieval Literature
Byzantine & Modern Greek  

Methods of Criticism or Scholarship Seminars

This option provides all students with training in the theoretical and methodological issues relevant to their studies. The lectures and seminars will run over two terms, Michaelmas and Hilary, and include:

  • Palaeography, History of the Book and Digital Humanities (which offers training in dealing with manuscripts and books across different historical periods and European languages)
  • Key Questions in Critical Thought (covering a range of topics including feminism and gender, post-colonialism and globalisation, affect theory, eco-criticism and the new materialism, ethical criticism, and the debate about humanities and education). Reading List.
  • Spaces of Comparison (addressing topics such as National literatures – World literature?, The Ancients and the Moderns – the Role of the Canon, Translation, Adaptation, Version; Place and Displacement)
  • History of Ideas in Germany from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries (dealing with writers such as Kant, Schiller, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Benjamin, Wittgenstein, Arendt and Adorno)


All candidates prepare a dissertation of 20,000 to 25,000 words which must be submitted in the sixth week of the last term of study. The subject may be related to one or more of your Special Subjects, or to your theoretical or methodological option. It allows you to use and extend the reading you have done for your Special Subjects, to apply the theoretical reflections or methodological approaches acquired in your first year of study, and to undertake a substantial piece of research that shows your independence of thought and scholarship.


Special Subjects: You will select what you and your supervisor(s) think are the best essay or essays and submit it or them as a portfolio for examination. Special Subject submissions may comprise one or two essays to a total maximum word length of between 5,000 — 7,000 words.

Methods of Criticism or Scholarship Seminars: submission of an essay of 5,000 to 7,000 words for examination at the end of the second term.

Dissertation: Submission of a dissertation of 20,000 — 25,000 words in the sixth week of the last term of study.