Academic Programmes at Oxford

Course & Options in English & English Literature Studies

General Introduction


The English Faculty in the University of Oxford is one of the oldest and most highly respected in the world. Such figures as John Donne, Samuel Johnson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Graham Greene, W. H. Auden, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Philip Larkin - to name but a few- are all Oxford alumni. As a Summer School participant coming to study English Literature your studies will be influenced by this rich and long-standing tradition. The Course offers two Options, each looking at a key author and or period in English Literary history. You will have access to the world-famous Bodleian library and your tutors will include experienced members of the English Faculty. Taught in a stimulating combination of tutorial and seminar formats and with integral field excursions, each Option seeks to provide a vigorous, challenging, and fun approach to its subject.


The Structure of the Course


Your work during the Summer School will focus around your chosen Option. You will, therefore, need to decide carefully between the four available Options:



• Rediscovering Shakespeare

• Jane Austen in Text & Context

• The Inklings in Oxford (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.C Lewis et al.)

• Introduction to Topics in the English Language



Details of each of these Options are enclosed. We ask you to identify your order of preference for these Options so that we can balance the seminar and tutorial groups; we try to ensure that participants are allocated to their first choice, and most will be so.



Seminars and Tutorials


You will meet twice a week with your Option tutor in a combination of seminars and tutorials. All those studying a particular option meet for seminars, involving group discussion and presentations on pre-assigned topics. The tutorial meeting comprises a 1-2 hour meeting of a small group (a maximum of 5 students). The tutorial is the traditional Oxford teaching environment, and in most weeks you will be required to write an essay which may be read out in the tutorial. This may seem a dauntingly intimate procedure, but you need to bear in mind that this gives you, the student, the maximum space and time to discuss your interests and to develop your arguments in active partnership with both tutor and tutorial partners. It is an invigorating, rather than intimidating challenge! You will be required to produce five pieces of written work or their equivalent over the course. The usual division of assignments will be three tutorial essays and two seminar presentations, but individual tutors will discuss the precise details of assignments on your arrival.




There will also be occasional lectures which all those participating in the English Literature Summer Programme will attend. Given by leading specialists and scholars in their field, lectures will be linked to the Options, but of a general interest to all participants.


Field Excursions


One-day Field Excursions are also attended by all participants in the Programme. Your experiences and observations on these elements of the programme are not formally assessed, but are designed to enrich your studies both by reference to your chosen option and to introduce you to sites of exceptional importance in England’s literary heritage. Details are finalised in the spring, but the projected excursions in 2015 will include 2-3 of the following:


• Shakespeare’s Globe on the banks of the Thames in London. A guided tour of the theatre and its related museums will be followed by an afternoon performance.

• Charleston House in Sussex, a beautiful retreat for Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and others of the ‘Bloomsbury’ set.

• The City of Bath

• Winchester and Jane Austen’s house and museum in Chawton, Hampshire.

• Stratford Upon Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Company.


Participants are also able to take the optional 4-day Excursion Development of British Landscapes depending on availability of places (see appropriate document in this pack).


Assessment and Credit


Your overall performance for the course (contributions to class, essays and presentations) is assessed and your tutor will assign a grade and write an individual report on your progress and achievement. Oxford criteria, filtered through an American grading system, are applied. Subject to the approval and regulation of your home institution, 6 credits are awarded for successful completion of the course.


© Dr Ken Addison, St.Peter's College, University of Oxford: for 2018


Courses & Options

A range of available Academic Courses and Options are available, see below, and follow the links for further information.

Intending participants select the Course of their choice and are then asked to elect to study one of its particular Options in order of preference. Most students are likely to secure their first-choice Option.

The Medieval Studies Course also has an Interdisciplinary Seminar studied by all participants, irrespective of their Option choice.


English literature

Option 1: Rediscovering Shakespeare

Option 2: Jane Austen in Text and Context

Option 3: The Inklings In Oxford (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis et al.)

Option 4: Introduction to Topics in the English Language


Option 5: Prison Literature : The Freedom of Imprisonment


Environmental studies

Option 1: Climate Change In The Anthropocene : Global Catastrophic Risk & Management

Option 2: Environmental Change & British Landscape Development 11,500 BP -1700 AD


Residential Field Programme: The Development of British Landscapes (required for Environmentalists, Medievalists; optional for others)

Medieval studies

Option 1: Conquest and Colonisation : England and her neighbours: 1016-1296

Option 2: Death, Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Literature

Option 3: Medieval Margins: Identity and Otherness


Interdisciplinary Seminar: The Arthurian Tradition (required study taken by all Medievalists)