Among subjects in the Humanities, Oriental Studies is unique in introducing students to cultures and civilisations that do not usually form part of the mainstream curriculum in British schools. The courses present both the major traditions of the regions studied and, in most cases, their modern developments. All courses include language, literature, history and culture,and there are a wide range of options in such fields as art and archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion and modern social studies.The following are the principal areas of study: Islamic World, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Eastern Christianity, Egyptology and Ancient Near East, South and Inner Asia and East Asian Studies.
In addition to the above subject areas, a major benefaction from the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai has fully endowed a new Chair of Buddhist Studies at Oxford.
Oriental Studies has a long history in Oxford. The Bodleian and other libraries have acquired magnificent collections. The Oriental Institute, Bodleian Japanese, Indian Institute, Bodleian K B Chen China Centre Libraries, and the Leopold Muller Memorial Library for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, offer loan collections in their respective fields. Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections. The Sackler Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
Most courses offer the opportunity to spend time in the region being studied. The Arabic courseincludes a year in the Middle East, the Persian and Turkish courses a year in Iran or Turkey respectively, the Hebrew course an optional year in Israel. Both the Chinese and Japanese coursesinclude a year abroad for all undergraduates in their second year, where they attend a course at a university which has been especially designed for Oxford’s undergraduates.