Books & Study Life

MSt at Oxford

When I wrote about my graduation at KCL I had no idea that I will write about my Masters’ so soon after. I was waiting for the final confirmation before sharing the news, which happened last week. I am going to do a MSt in European History at Oxford. It had only a few places on this strand, about 10, and an overall intake of about 60, and over 300 applicants. I am so incredibly grateful and I know that I’m privileged to receive a place at Oxford.
I am going to give a short timeline and talk a bit about the college I picked.

MSt at Oxford

The MSt includes various modules, but the most important one is the dissertation. While applications can be made without knowing what the topic of the dissertation will be, I imagine it’s less likely to receive an offer from Oxford without a clear idea why someone wants to study at Oxford.

The timeline goes like this:
– summer 2022: deciding on the topic of Holodomor – which is soviet genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s. It was a man-made famine which saw almost 4 million people die of hunger. There are various estimates, but 4 million is the one on which historian experts in this area are agreeing upon.

– Oct-Nov 2022: choosing and contacting the supervisor I liked. I had two choices, after researching various universities. Oxford was one and St. Andrews in Scotland was the second one. I had a chat with my tutor from KCL about this as well. He studied at Oxford, so it was helpful from that point of view too.

– Nov 2022: draft the proposal/statement. The statement has a maximum of 1,000 words. It’s very short, so everything included in this statement needs to have a point.
I asked for references, as I needed 3. Other universities need only 1 or 2, but Oxford asks for 3.
I also started the application online.

– Dec 2022: discussing the topic with my supervisor and redrawing the proposal, as the scope was too large the first time. He was happy with my views and told me to make clear some aspects, such as what language are the primary sources in. As I don’t read Ukrainian, all my sources will be in English. The topic will encompass British coverage of Holodomor, so naturally all is in English. We talked about some of the secondary sources and I think my supervisor was happy that I obviously read the books we chatted about.
I finalised the bibliography for the proposal, which included 12 primary and 17 secondary sources. This is a basic bibliography, with only a few items, of course. I imagine the final bibliography will have way over 100 items, comparing to what I had for my dissertation.
Lastly in December, I decided on the college I will apply to. It wasn’t necessary, but, as you can see, I’m pretty organised.

– Early Jan 2023: application sent. The deadline was the 6th.

– March 2023: I received a conditional offer. Afterwards I received a place from my college of choice. The conditions were met and in October I will start my studies.

Oriel College

Now, a few words about Oriel College. It’s the 5th oldest, founded in 1326, under the reign of Edward II. This picture was taken on High Street. Walking for less than 5 minutes takes you to the Bodleian library or to Examination Schools, where the lectures are being held.
Oriel has under 600 students, graduates and undergraduates combined, which is close to the average number of students.

At Oriel there are Formal Hall dinners six days a week, which is a formal three-course meal. This means evening dress and gown for students. The prices are subsidised, the meal is £7.50 on their website, so it might be a bit higher for the next academic year, but still it’s incredibly cheap.
The dinner starts with a blessing in Latin, which is something I’m actually looking forward too. I see it as a tradition and not as religious. This is why I prefer Latin to English, as it feels ceremonial.
I will have to chat with them about vegan options, as they need be notified in advance, but that’s the case for most Oxford colleges. Of course there is the option of attending the earlier option of informal hall, where there isn’t the requirement for evening attire and gown. I think I will do a mix of both informal and formal throughout the year.

This is my update. If anyone reading this is considering applying to Oxford, please email me and I will reply with answers and suggestions.

11 Comment

  1. Many congratulations Anca! I think you are very talented to have got onto this course! You are so amazingly organised and I am super impressed that you knew so clearly what you wanted to study for your dissertation. I am in awe. When we had to propose our undergraduate dissertations, I really struggled to know what I wanted to write about and in the end, my tutor chose me a topic (I am very grateful she did as I really enjoyed the topic and did well.) . I regret not having applied or gone to a more historic university for my studies. Both my undergraduate and post graduate were both in London – City university and the Institute of Education. I love the idea of the ceremony and dinners of this college. Oriel is an excellent college to choose! Will you be living in Oxford or will you be commuting at all? I presume it is a full time course this time. I am very excited for you and look forward to reading your posts about Oxford life!

    1. Thank you very much. I will live in Oxford, the course is full-time and I will have a lot of in person teaching throughout the week. In the last term it will be different, but until then I will live in Oxford.

  2. WOW! Congratulations, Anca! This is just fantastic. I can see why you were chosen with such detailed planning and execution of your proposal and dissertation topic. It sounds very interesting and something of which I know nothing, so I look forward to your sharing more on it when you get to your classes. I love the idea of the dinners, too! I’d want to do a mix of both also.

  3. Congratulations on beating off the competition to get the subject placement and college you were hoping for. It sounds as though you chose wisely with you supervisor too, I think you are going to get plenty of good guidance and advice from them. How long is the course? – I’m not too sure about the formal dressing for dinner, but that is all part of the experience and you should embrace it fully. Here’s to another new chapter in your life – Good Luck! 🙂

    1. The course is for 1 year, full-time. There was an option for 2 years, but still a Masters’, so I’ve decided to go for the 1 year option.
      I picked a college that puts emphasis on formal dinners and traditions, which is normal as a college that is almost 700 years old. There are other colleges that don’t have formal dinners each week, only for occasions. As a historian, I love traditions and ceremonies. I am looking forward to the grace in Latin (and I’m an atheist!). 😀
      Thank you xx

  4. Is Oriel the same college at which you did your earlier work? It’s interesting that so much detail had to go into the application process regarding your dissertation.

    I look forward to following this new journey of yours!
    Kelly recently posted…Altheas and Sinead O’ConnorMy Profile

    1. When I was at Oxford previously, it was a part-time study at undergraduate level, so I wasn’t in a college. There was a cafe in the Department where I met my colleagues and we studied there or in the library, so it was similar in a way. We also had some formal meals, but, of course, with covid, we didn’t do all of them.
      The work for the dissertation topic was first to make sure I want to study that topic for my Masters’. I also feel better if I can plan in advance, which in this case surely helped. While my first proposal was very interesting, it was too big for a Masters’ and that would have had a negative impact on my application for sure.
      I love planning, for my BA dissertation on pandemics I’ve decided on the topic in March-April of last year, before I picked the module. The same with the essay on the Spanish civil war, I’ve had a list of sources, both primary and secondary, and the first part of my title since early March of last year. 😀

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