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Hebrew Studies (Taught)

MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Hebrew Studies)

Our MPhil is a one-year course, which aims to give graduate students an opportunity to develop their analytical, research and writing skills in preparation for further academic research or entry to professions requiring such skills. All prospective MPhil applicants are advised to peruse the staff profiles on our website to familiarize themselves with the research and teaching interests of staff members. Applicants should contact potential supervisors by email and discuss potential MPhil dissertation topics. Each member of our staff has wide academic interests, so you should explore potential topics of interest freely.

Language Requirements

Applicants must have good reading skills in the language appropriate to their chosen topic.
All applicants must have an excellent command of the English language (evidenced by the appropriate English-language test scores). 

The following two MPhil Pathway Options will be offered for the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Hebrew Studies) for 2015 - 2016:

(OPTION 1) - 'The Cairo Genizah': 1.The Cairo Genizah: Paleography and Codicology, 2. Genizah Genres and 3. Genizah languages

Cairo Genizah

Papers for the Cairo Genizah MPhil pathway include:

1. The Cairo Genizah: Paleography and Codicology

This module will open with an introduction that will cover the history of the Cairo Genizah, its scope and contents, its discovery by western scholars, the dispersal of its materials to "Genizah collections" in Europe and the United States, and their occasional re-discovery in these collections. The main focus of the module will be on the fundamentals of Hebrew codicology and paleography, especially as these two disciplines relate to the Genizah manuscripts. Students will be introduced to the main concepts underlying the production of Hebrew codices and other written formats in the medieval Middle East. They will also learn to recognize the main varieties of Hebrew script that are encountered in the Genizah.

2. Genizah Genres

In this module students will read Genizah manuscripts of texts relating to selected genres. These will include documents and poetry. The aim is to expose students both to a selection of the primary text materials with which a given field operates and provide them with an introduction to the research current in the discipline on the basis of secondary literature. If students have a knowledge of Arabic, they will have the opportunity to read Judaeo-Arabic documentary texts.

3. Genizah languages

In conjunction with their choice of genre, each student will select a language of specialization. Alongside work with the chosen genre, the student will then undertake an advanced study of the language in which the genre is composed, viz. Medieval Hebrew or Judaeo-Arabic. This module has the aim of improving language skills as well as exposing the student to a sample of literature composed in the selected language beyond the material that is available in the Genizah.


(OPTION 2) - 'Modern Hebrew Culture': 1. Historical Perspectives, 2. Thematic Perspectives, 3. Generic Varieties.

Papers for the Modern Hebrew Culture MPhil pathway include:

1. Historical Perspectives

An introduction to the history of modern Hebrew literature and culture, their scope and contents, their development in Eastern Europe and eventual migration outside of Europe, primarily to the Land of Israel. The module examines a variety of representative works (literary, poetic, cinematic, aesthetic) from the last 150 or so years that highlight different aspects of the major changes that marked Jewish history and society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, primarily the breakdown of tradition and the transformation from a predominantly religious society in eastern Europe to the secular and more pluralistic culture of the State of Israel today.

2. Thematic Perspectives

Students in this module examine more closely specific themes that preoccupy Israeli literature, cinema or cultural production. The module looks at literature, cinema, or other modern Hebrew cultural products (language, music, visual culture, material culture etc.) as media that both reflect and shape it by focusing primarily on aspects of ideology and history. By focusing on a limited number of works that engage with one major issue or theme students develop a deeper understanding of Israeli culture and the various forces that shaped it.

3. Generic Varieties

In conjunction with the previous two modules and based on the materials in both students in this module explore major genres in modern Hebrew culture—literary, cinematic, aesthetic—and the challenges these genres posed for writers, film-makers and cultural innovators. The first part of the module consists of an introduction to generic varieties in modern Hebrew literature and culture in their historical context. In the second part of the module, each student selects one medium and genre and develops a deeper acquaintance and understanding of it based on primary materials as well as secondary readings (theoretical and critical). The aim of the module is to expose students both to the varieties of modern Hebrew cultural media and genres as well as give them an opportunity for more focused critical work.


Applicants for both MPhil Pathway options must have a sufficient knowledge of Hebrew to read medieval Hebrew primary sources. Students must take each of the three papers listed in either of the two options offered and submit a 15,000 word dissertation in mid-August.


The one-year MPhil in Hebrew Studies has the following structure:

  • (i) three modules which will each be assessed by written examinations in June. The cumulative score of these three papers will be worth 50 percent of the final mark.
  • (ii) a 15,000 word dissertation which will constitute the other 50 percent for this course.


The dissertation provides an opportunity to learn the process of carrying out research and will help train students to be a future researcher (in academia or elsewhere). Applicants should consider carefully the formulation of a potential MPhil dissertation topic before applying. They should be in touch with members of staff who would act as supervisors before submitting the final version of their dissertation proposal.


Applicants for the PhD will be expected to have scored at least 67% or above (or the equivalent from an overseas University) in their Master's degree which should be related to the PhD programme they wish to pursue. All applicants should submit with their GRADSAF (graduate application) a workable and interesting research proposal and demonstrate that they have the required academic knowledge and skills to carry out their project.

Admission is at the discretion of the Degree Committee, which judges each graduate applicant on his or her own merits and in accordance with its own set rules and regulations.


For further information about this course and how to apply, please refer to the following webpage(s) on the Graduate Admissions website: