Online chat with Oxford dons

7th October 2005 at 01:00
A-level history students are being given the opportunity to debate their subject with top Oxford dons through a new website.

History off the Shelf, or Hots, was originally set up by Oxford university's history faculty in a bid to encourage sixth-formers from more diverse backgrounds to apply there.

But the academics running the website soon realised that the site's message boards had the potential to promote a more general interest in the subject.

Run on a strictly anonymous basis, it allows sixth-formers to share and discuss their ideas and theories on history with academics and students from the university, and with each other, on an equal footing.

Topics cover everything from the Tudor dynasty to the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Catherine Holmes, one of the academic staff overseeing the project, said: "It has shown that the student body out there has much more diverse interests than we would have assumed. Students are more interested in medieval and ancient history than we expected."

Some topics on the site are started by the sixth-formers themselves. They have included "Nazi Germany - are we obsessed?" and "What was best, the British empire or the Aztec?"

The site also gives tips on study skills and information about how to get into Oxford.

Originally piloted with 30 state schools, it is now available to all sixth-formers. For more details see

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today