History

History – Oxford Interview Questions

“How can I prepare when the interviewer could ask me absolutely anything about History?”

By understanding how the interview works and, crucially, what it is that the interviewer is looking for. The interviewer is not looking to catch you out, but rather for you to demonstrate your curiosity, knowledge and passion for History.

“How am I able to do that?”

Demonstrate your enthusiasm and personality

You might be asked general interview questions so that the interviewer can learn more about you – review our list of General Interview questions to prepare.

Show that you enjoy studying History independently
The easiest way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for History is to show that you are self-motivated and have studied the subject in your free-time for enjoyment – for example through online lectures and independent reading. If you don’t know where to start, review our suggested reading list below.

Demonstrate your subject knowledge about and passion for History
The key to answering these questions is to always demonstrate your thought process aloud. The interviewer does not expect you to be able to answer every question immediately, but rather wants to determine that you are able to think about and work on unknown topics with confidence, intelligence and clarity – and they won’t be able to do that if you sit in silence! Use the list of questions below to prepare. Perhaps you can have a friend or relative ask you these questions so that you can develop your skills of thinking under time pressure and speaking out loud.

Subject Interview Guide – History

Our Subject Interview Guides help you to prepare and go into your interview with confidence.

OIQ Interview Guides

Each guide discusses ten Oxford Interview Questions in depth with answers and approaches – along with possible points of discussion to further demonstrate your knowledge. They have been specially edited for applicants for each subject by a team of Oxford and Cambridge graduates.

Download a sample page from our Physics Guide here.

Please Note: Currently “The Oxford Interview Guide” is available for Chemistry and Physics (available to download below). Other subjects will be available for download in November 2016 – please enter your email below to receive a notification when your subject guide is available for download.

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History Suggested Reading

General

Classic Narrative Histories

Works of particular societies and epochs

History Interview Questions

How do you organise a successful revolution?
Is there such thing as ‘race’?
How would you compare Henry VIII and Stalin?
Can history stop the next war?
In the 1920s did the invention of the Henry Ford car lead to a national sub-culture or was it just an aspect of one?
Should historians be allowed to read sci-fi novels?
Do you think that all of History is a History of Thought?
Would History be worth studying if it didn’t repeat itself?
What trees did Disraeli plant at Hughenden Manor?
Why are you sitting in this chair?
When was the English monarchy at its strongest?
Do you think the Bavarian peasants of 1848 had an ideology?
Why did Henry VIII call his son Arthur?
Why is it OK for one country to intervene in another?
Who writes history?
Is History moving away from the study of great men to that of ordinary people?
Do you think the government should spend money preserving historical sites?
How would you research illiterate medieval craftsmen?
Is national character a useful concept in History?
How can one define a revolution?
What are the origins of your Christian name?
How would a biography of a major political figure written while they are alive differ from one written after their death? Which would be the more accurate assessment of their contribution to history?
What is the difference between modern history and modern politics?
What is the position of the individual in history?
How do historians obtain evidence?
Do you feel historical artefacts belong in the country of their origin?
What is the most useful source for a historian?
Can we still learn lessons from 18th century warfare?
What are the problems that come up when analysing colonial societies from a postcolonial context?
All historical records in the world are lost to a natural disaster. All that remains is historical records on sport. How much of the past could we relearn?
Are verbal sources more useful than written sources?
Assess the role of dance in history?
Can losers ever write history? How?
Can we take anything written in a classical source at face value?
Compare and contrast the French and Russian revolutions.
Compare and contrast the rule of Hitler and Stalin
Compare and contrast WWI and WWII.
Compare the French Revolution with a modem event.
Did the 9/11 attacks change the way we write history?
Do we ever learn from the past?
Do you consider history a science?
Do you think that all history is the history of great men?
Do you think eras such as Progressive, Romantic, etc should be written with a capital letter?
Do you think history can have any practical purpose?
Do you think that all of History is a History of Thought?
Do you think that Ancient History should be seen as a different subject from Modem History?
Do you think the government should spend money preserving historical sites?
Does History repeat itself?
Does Keynes still influence economic policy today?
How can we justify public funding of the study of history?
How can one define a revolution?
How do we know what people in the past really though?
How is the Arab Spring similar to the Russian Revolution?
How should we remember World War One?
How would you have stopped Hitler?
How would you research illiterate medieval craftsmen?
If you could have dinner with anybody that has ever lived, who would it be and why?
Is there any justification to the argument that we can learn ‘lessons’ from history?
Is class a useful concept for historians?
Is History moving away from the study of great men to that of ordinary people?
Is Marxist history still worth studying?
Is Medieval history relevant to us today?
Is national character a useful concept in History?
Is race a useful concept for historians?
Is religion important for modem historians?
Is there such thing as ideology?
Should we simply narrate the past?
Should we study contemporary history?
To what extent can a historian remain impartial?
What do you need to consider when evaluating the reliability of a source?
What are the main differences between Modern and Classical sources?
What do shoes tell us about the past?
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘nostalgia’?
What is a Revolution?
What is the difference between a terrorist and a patriot?
What is the role of student uprisings in historical progress?
When was the British Empire at its strongest?
When was the monarchy at its strongest?
Where does history end?
Who was a better leader Alexander the Great or Napoleon?
Who writes history?
Why is there a United States of America but not a United States of Europe?
Why do you want to study history?
Why is it OK for one country to intervene in another?
Would History be worth studying if it didn’t repeat itself?