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#OxbridgeApplications – Choosing history at Oxford

Why one of our tutors picked history at Oxford and how they describe the interview experience:

I have always believed myself to be a bit of an all-rounder. Naturally, this made it somewhat challenging to find a subject that I would be willing to exclusively devote three years of study (or more) to. However, history has always been a subject I had taken great pleasure in  learning about, both at school and in my spare time. I believe this great interest in the subject in fact stems from my all-round interest in a diverse range of areas. This is because I had the realization that history is something that encompasses everything. There are histories of almost all topics under the sun and everything has been influenced, shaped and molded by its own history and that of others. Therefore, within history, I have always been enthusiastic about the great crossovers between diverse subject areas, such as the use of psychology, geography or statistics to try to better understand events, processes and actions in history.

It was with this in mind that I decided to speak about the Norman Kingdom of Sicily in my college interview for the topic of my own choice. Through the lens of medieval Sicily, I was able to explore the attitudes and perceived issues of multiculturalism (that are sadly still dangerously relevant today) since the 11th and 12th-century Kingdom saw extraordinary harmony between the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Muslin communities. The fact that I emphasized my interest in the intersection of different disciplines by  pointing out the evidence of multiculturalism in the combination of Islamic ceilings and Byzantine mosaics in the Palatine Chapel was, naturally, greatly appreciated by the architectural historian who I realized was to be interviewing me! It is this enthusiasm of seeing the variety, relevance and diverse aspects of history (which is such a strong part of my experience of the subject) that I really hope to pass on to others!