Working life of an Ancient and Modern History Student

You may be wondering what the day-to-day life of an AMH student at St Hilda's is like. Your days at university are on the whole less strictly timetabled than they are at school. Nevertheless, there's a great deal to fit in on the academic side: centrally run classes and lectures, tutorials in college, classes for Latin and Greek, if you have chosen to learn a Classical language, and many hours of private study.

In the first year, AMH students take four papers:

  • a) one period of Greek or Roman history
  • b) one period of non-British history
  • c) a methodological paper (either ‘Approaches to History', or an ancient text paper on Herodotus or Sallust, or a Latin/Greek paper, or ‘Tacitus to Weber')
  • d) a paper chosen from ‘Homer and Hesiod', ‘Augustan Rome', and a wide range of modern topic papers.

In the second part of the course, there is a vast choice of papers ranging from ancient Greece to the twentieth-century. Students take a period of ancient and one of modern history, two papers studied in greater depth with particular focus on original sources, and a methodological paper about the nature and practice of historiography. They also write a thesis on any historical subject of their choice, and have the opportunity to further their work on a Classical language. For more details on the syllabus, see the History (Ancient and Modern) course description on Oxford University's website.

In the first term, your time is divided between lectures, tutorials on the Greek or Roman History period (one a week), making a start on the methodological paper (or Classical language, if appropriate) and private study.


You will usually have one or two tutorials a week. The tutorial is a meeting between a tutor and a small number of students (normally two or three) where a particular topic is discussed. Students prepare work in advance for every tutorial they attend; this is often, but not always, an essay.

Your tutor for any given subject may or may not be one of the St Hilda's team, depending on whether your choices match the particular expertise of the College tutors. If not, we arrange for you to be taught by a specialist at another college, but the number and variety of historians in St Hilda's means that we are often able to teach students ‘in house' and enjoy getting to know our students well both academically and personally in this way.


There is an extensive and exciting range of centrally-run lectures on offer every day of the term. Students are encouraged to attend lectures which are directly related to the topics they are studying, as well as to follow their own interests. As a rough guide, most AMH students go to five or six lectures every week.

Language Learning

AMH students who choose to study Latin or Greek have language classes three times a week in order to help them to make steady progress and to reach a point where they can make practical use of their knowledge in looking at original texts, legends on coins and inscriptions.

Academic Work in Vacations

Of course, with terms of only eight weeks, much of the consolidation of and preparation for papers needs to take place outside term-time and it is important that students set aside a significant proportion of the vacations for this work. Students benefit enormously from taking the opportunity to mix academic work with their holiday travels and any paid employment during the extensive Oxford vacations

Return to all Subjects and Courses

A classical ruin