We welcome you to the “city of dreaming spires” and a summer at Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO). As a student in Oxford, you’ll discover what so many people across the world have found to be the most academically exhilarating experience of their life. Live in the heart of Oxford as an affiliate student of Wycliffe Hall and challenge your mind and heart.

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Dear Prospective Scholars,

Thank you for looking at Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford’s (SCIO) offerings. Whether you are considering a summer, semester, or year-long programme, we have great opportunities awaiting you.

Oxford: the name that conjures up notions of a great medieval city full of dreaming spires and stunning architecture, idiosyncratic practices, renowned authors who have made their way into the canons and literary reading lists, great theological debates, and major politicians. The mythic abounds. But even more, the concrete reality of a world-class academic institution is omnipresent: world-class research; major scientific discoveries; scholars across the disciplines whose works inform most, if not all, academic libraries; students sitting in cafés debating perennial issues and newly breaking ideas alike; and a rich and vibrant student life including music, sport, drama, and the opportunity to participate in any one of more than 600 clubs and societies.

Come sit in a tutorial where you meet one-on-one with a tutor engaged in serious conversation, testing ideas and joining together as junior and senior scholar. This is a learning experience like no other: there is no hiding (for tutee or tutor!), and you probe and digest ideas, coming to your own conclusions with the requirement to demonstrate that your view is valid and solid, even where it diverges from the views of other scholars or your tutor. To accomplish that goal, you will have access to one of the world’s great library systems. The Bodleian library is the centerpiece of a group of more than 100 libraries with holdings in excess of 13 million items.

With a base in Wycliffe Hall, one of Oxford’s permanent private halls, join a rich community of scholars who share life together in a variety of forms: from the life of the mind; to cooking a meal together; to traveling on SCIO trips to interesting places like Bath and Hampton Court Palace; or making your own forays into London, up to Scotland, or over to the continent during the mid-term break. Join, too, a community of faith that is engaged in serious learning, affirming the ability to participate in scholarship as Christians dealing with difficult and profound issues.

SCIO offers you the way into Oxford to participate in a great academic experience, prepare for graduate studies (for those headed in that direction), and build your CV with a recognized educational experience that matters to academic institutions and employers alike. As you review the materials on the website, we hope you see the possibilities and consider joining us. With the CCCU GlobalEd staff, you will have a resource at hand to help you put your best foot forward as you apply.

Yours with every best wish,

Stan Rosenberg
Director

Stan Rosenberg, PhD

Stan Rosenberg, PhD

Executive Director

Ana-Maria Pascal, PHD

Academic Director and Senior Tutor
Jordan Smith_SCIO Headshot

Jordan Smith, MA

Director of Administration and Student Affairs
Jonathan Kirkpatrick, DPhil

Jonathan Kirkpatrick, DPhil

Principal Lecturer and Director of Studies in Classics & the History of Art
Beatrice Widell_SCIO headshot

Beatrice Widell, PHD

Academic Administrator
Rosaria_SCIO headshot

Rosaria

Junior Dean, The Vines

Designed to uncover the relationship between Christianity and the British Isles in just one summer month, the Summer Programme at SCIO fuels intellectual minds at all levels of education: undergraduate, post-graduate, professorial, and beyond.

Required Courses Credits
3
3
Total Credits 6

Seminars & Tutorials

All students participate in two different seminars. Each seminar consists of three discussion classes, four gobbets classes, and two tutorials (gobbet is Oxford’s word for a small mouthful of text for close reading or translation and then discussion). Discussion classes (1 hour) and gobbets classes (45 minutes) are with the seminar leader and a small but varying number of participants. For each class, students read all or parts of assigned texts and then discuss them. Students are evaluated by seminar leaders on the basis of written work. Seminars can be taken for undergraduate credit.

As part of their seminars students participate in individual tutorials during the second part of the programme. While meeting one-on-one with their seminar leader, students develop, discuss, and defend an essay related to the students’ seminar topic. Tutorials are individual meetings of one hour between the seminar leader and each of the seminar participants. In preparation for each tutorial, the student reads assigned texts and writes an essay of 2,000 words in response to a question set by the seminar leader.

ALL OXFORD SUMMER PROGRAMME STUDENTS MUST COMPLETE their pre-programme reading before arriving at Oxford. Once your seminars have been confirmed, please ensure you make a prompt start with this reading or you will not be able to make the most of your discussion classes and tutorials.

Lecture Series

All students participate in the lecture series “The Christian tradition in the British Isles.” This course includes lectures and field trips to sites of major interest, providing the historical context for work undertaken in the seminars.

This course explores key moments in the development of Christianity in the British Isles, from the Celtic peoples of Britain to the Roman province of Britannia, to the Anglo-Saxons, the medieval Church, and the emergence of a variety of traditions in the Reformation and beyond. Through studying the Christian tradition, central to British culture until the last few decades, participants also get a glimpse into the development of British culture as a whole across time. The course includes field trips to sites of major interest.

The programme varies from year to year but past lecture topics have included:

  • Celtic Christianity
  • Anselm and his influence on medieval theology and literature
  • Field trip lecture: Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and Salisbury
  • Julian of Norwich and the late medieval English mystical tradition
  • Medieval drama
  • Reformation and Christianity
  • Field trip lecture: Bath and the development of consumer culture
  • Jane Austen and her literary antecedents
  • The theology of the metaphysical poets
  • The Oxford Movement
  • English social justice in the nineteenth century
  • Planet Narnia
  • The theological imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • Climate change, stewardship, and mission
  • Field trip lecture: Glastonbury and Wells
  • Field trip lecture: Coventry

Field trips are day-long excursions led by an expert guide to places such as Stonehenge, Salisbury, Glastonbury, Wells, Bath, and Coventry.

Your Oxford Summer Programme seminars give you the chance to explore your chosen subject in-depth with an expert member of faculty and a small group of committed students. On this page you will find detailed syllabuses and reading lists so that, once your seminar allocation has been confirmed, you will be able to start some preparatory reading.

All students participate in two different seminars. Each seminar consists of three discussion classes, four gobbets classes, and two tutorials (gobbet is Oxford’s word for a small mouthful of text for close reading or translation and then discussion). Discussion classes (1 hour) and gobbets classes (45 minutes) are with the seminar leader and a small but varying number of participants. For each class students read all or parts of assigned texts and then discuss them. Students are evaluated by seminar leaders on the basis of written work.

All Oxford Summer Programme students must complete their pre-programme reading before arriving at Oxford. Once your seminars have been confirmed, please ensure you make a prompt start with this reading or you will not be able to make the most of your discussion classes and tutorials.

Study

Welcome to the home of some of history’s greatest thinkers. With discussion classes, lectures, one-on-one tutorials, and access to the world-renowned Bodleian Libraries, every student spends a lot of the time reading … and reading … and reading! If working at one of the best research establishments in the world excites you, then this is the programme for you! The only thing you will do as much as read, is write.

During each tutorial you answer a different question working with an extensive reading list. All students appreciate the chance to focus and specialize. It is exhilarating, head-spinning, and, sometimes, feels a little overwhelming, which is why the programme staff spend so much time making themselves available not only to support and encourage, but also to challenge you to push for new levels of academic achievement.

Housing

The Vines, a modest mansion on the crest of Headington Hill, is situated on 1.5 acres of garden with stunning views of Oxford’s spires. Running parallel to the path of C.S. Lewis’s former commute, The Vines is a 35-minute walk into Oxford city centre, a 10-minute cycle ride, or a 5-minute walk to the nearest bus stop (with buses passing by every 6–7 minutes). Equipped with a large kitchen, laundry facilities, and a well-appointed common room and bathrooms for every 2-3 rooms, The Vines will be your home away from home during the programme.

  • Free laundry facilities
  • Library with work stations and free printing facilities
  • Large common room
  • Dining room
  • Large kitchen
  • Wheelchair access and disability accommodation
  • Prayer room
  • Free WiFi throughout the property
SCIO Housing - The Vines

Further details for The Vines

SCIO is a member of ANUK (Accreditation Network UK) which promotes high standards in private rented residential accommodation. Wycliffe Hall operates under a similar system to promote high standards in its residential accommodation. In student housing matters, SCIO abides by ANUK’s guidelines on equality, and works to ensure that no person will be treated less favourably than any other person or group of persons on grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, gender, disability, appearance, age, marital status, sexual status, or social status. In addition, at The Vines and its Lodge, SCIO abides by ANUK’s code of standards for larger residential developments which governs practical matters. Its performance, with respect to equality in housing matters and to practical matters at The Vines and its Lodge, is regularly reviewed by an independent assessor approved by ANUK. 

The Vines has been adapted to accommodate students with physical disabilities. This includes the following ground floor facilities: accessible single and double occupancy rooms, an accessible bathroom, all common rooms, kitchen, and both main entrances are equipped with ramps for wheelchair access. SCIO is committed to making reasonable arrangements to enable students to participate as fully as possible in all areas of the programme. Further information about accessibility accommodations are available upon request. Please send any queries to globaled@cccu.org.

The Vines is mixed gender housing, with both single and shared rooms available.  Students are only assigned roommates of the same gender and, likewise, bathrooms facilities are only shared with students of the same gender.

Bedrooms

Students are placed in rooms based on their answers to a housing questionnaire that is part of the application process. Rooms range in capacity from singles to quadruples. Below are some examples of typical rooms in the Vines:

Common rooms

In addition to students bedrooms, there are many common rooms that are shared with everyone living at the Vines. At the Vines offers areas for students cook, study, and relax together in a tight knit community.

Lounge room

Library and study room

Kitchen

Dining room

The grounds

Students have full access to the grounds at The Vines. This includes a large back garden with tables and chairs for studying and eating and plenty of space for sporting activities and relaxing.

large grass area with tables and chairs with large house in background large grass area with tables and chairs

Internet Access

Free high speed broadband internet is available throughout the Vines. The Vines has an average download speeds of 50mbps and an upload speed of 18mbps. Login information for the Vines will be provided to you when you move in and is posted throughout the property. The wireless network is checked regularly to ensure there is proper coverage throughout the property.

Environmental Sustainability at the Vines

SCIO is committed to reducing our environmental impact and we encourage our students to follow sustainable practices. We do this through:

  • Providing recycling and composting bins and guidance on how to properly recycle at our student housing. Instructions for what can be recycled and composted is posted on the notice board by the main kitchen. An orientation about recycling and composting will be provided by the Junior Dean during the start of the programme.
  • Encouraging students to walk and cycle while travelling around Oxford and to take mass public transit while traveling greater distances. Bicycles are provided free of charge to all residents of the Vines to use throughout the programme term.

Bicycles

Students housed at The Vines can rent a bike without charge. If there are enough bikes, students living at Wycliffe Hall may also opt into this scheme at a subsidized cost on a first-come first-served basis. You will receive more information about bicycle rental upon acceptance to the program.

Libraries and Special Collections

Oxford Summer Programme students have access to one of the greatest libraries in the world. Make use of Bodleian libraries and its large and rapidly growing physical and digital resources.

Additionally, Oxford’s museums and collections are world renowned and provide an important resource for scholars around the world.

Museums and Special Collections

  • The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology houses the University’s extensive collections of art and antiquities. Established in 1683, it is the oldest museum in the U.K. and one of the oldest in the world. It also houses an exceptional collection of prints which can be viewed by any member of the public upon special arrangement.
  • The University Museum of Natural History houses the University’s scientific collections. With 4.5 million specimens it is the largest collection of its type outside the national collections.
  • The Pitt Rivers Museum holds one of the finest collections of anthropology and archaeology.
  • The Museum of the History of Science is housed in the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building. It contains an excellent collection of historic scientific instruments from around the world.
  • The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments celebrates the development of musical instruments in the western classical tradition from the medieval period to the present. 
  • The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Britain. It contains the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world.
  • The Harcourt Arboretum is an informal garden, where the public can enjoy walks and riding their bicycles. It is six miles south of Oxford and forms an integral part of the Botanic Garden’s plant collection.
  • The Christ Church Picture Gallery houses an important collection of Old Master paintings and almost 2,000 drawings in a gallery of considerable architectural interest.
  • Modern Art Oxford is the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the Southeast region of Britain.

Spiritual Life

SCIO’s spiritual mission is first to demonstrate that personal faith in Christ can flourish within an academically rigorous environment; can operate in a public university; and interacts with scholarship but not necessarily in ways that are obvious and easily labelled. Second, to help students acquire the maturity, vision, confidence, and skills to study in a public research university and to encourage scholarly reflection in religious contexts and in a public, non-religious environment.

Learning to study alongside and under those of different religious beliefs (or, in many cases, none) is challenging. We encourage this by offering ourselves as mentors/examples, creating an atmosphere of independence in which students can develop such a vision and ability, and offering nurture by staff who are engaged and committed.

All students are encouraged to find a church home in Oxford. Apart from the spiritual nourishment that comes from remaining involved in regular worship, church is a great place to meet other students and residents of the town, and creates opportunities for you to get to know the people in your community. Many students on the programme make a point of attending a church whose style is markedly different from that which they usually attend at home, while other students find it a great comfort to attend a service whose style is more familiar, and all students should think about what might best suit them while they are here.

See, Experience, Explore

Alongside the field trips organized as part of the programme, a number of optional field trips are arranged by Oxford staff. These trips change from summer to summer. The costs associated with optional field trips are the responsibility of each student but every effort is made to ensure costs are minimal. In the past, these outings have proven to be a great break from studying, a chance to explore more of the British landscape, and an opportunity to share in the community life of SSO. You may also wish to follow an itinerary below on your own or with a friend!

Field Trips

Oxford

Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With your University card you will have access to its 100+ libraries, and colleges that have been established for over 800 years, as well as its museums, bookshops, and ice cream parlours. Discover some of the amazing art available on view in Oxford with an art-walk: explore Christ Church Picture Gallery, see the Pre-Raphaelite murals in the Oxford Union, and visit the famous “Light of the World” by Edward Burne-Jones hidden away in the chapel at Keble College. Over your time at Oxford, various plays are put on in the evenings, which are fun to attend as a group.

Blenheim Palace

Spend the day wandering the grounds of Blenheim Palace: a world heritage site, home of the eleventh duke of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace dates from 1705 and is set in a park designed by Capability Brown. Next to the grounds is the village of Bladon, where we visit Winston Churchill’s grave. Complete the afternoon with tea at the wonderful Bladon Tea Rooms in Woodstock.

Port Meadow

Enjoy a beautiful afternoon stroll (weather permitting) through Oxford’s Port Meadow—frequented by grazing horses—and end at the famous Trout Inn for a meal of fish and chips.

Bodleian Library Tour

As you start to get comfortable with the Bodleian library system, spend the afternoon on a behind-the-scenes tour learning about what really goes on when you “order up” a book from this world-famous collection.

Bath

Stroll through the Roman streets of Bath, taking in all of its architectural beauty. Visit the Roman Baths and the great Abbey, and follow in the footsteps of one of Bath’s most famous inhabitants, Jane Austen. End the day with tea at Sally Lunn’s tea-room in the oldest house in Bath.

C.S. Lewis’s Home

Enjoy an afternoon visit to The Kilns, C.S. Lewis’s home in Headington. After touring the house and grounds, visit his parish church, Holy Trinity, where he is buried and commemorated with beautifully etched Narnia windows.

Burford

Burford is a small historic village with one of the most prized parish churches the country, dating from the 1100s (although the site has been a place of Christian worship since the 600s). Walk through the countryside to visit the deserted medieval village of Widford, a once-thriving community that was wiped out by the plague during the 14th century and never recovered. The 12th-century church is all that remains, and is situated in the middle of a field without any access except by foot.

Dorchester

Once a major political and ecclesiastical centre, Dorchester is now a sleepy town with one of the most fascinating churches (once an abbey) in the country. Walk through the woods and up an Iron Age hill fort (dating from the 4th century BC) with some of the most spectacular views in Oxfordshire. Plus another f14th-century church to explore along the way! Cross the Little Wittenham Bridge, used for the official World Poohsticks Championships.

London

Over the semester many students find themselves drawn to sites and attractions in London, which is less than an hour by train, or 90 minutes by bus. In one day, students often manage to explore aristocratic London and the royal parks, and go past Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster, and Downing Street before stopping to spend some time in the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery at Trafalger Square. After lunch, you can walk around some of the older part of the City of London, including an optional climb up the Monument (a large Corinthian column with panoramic views over London from its top) and a walk past the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Then go to St Paul’s Cathedral for evensong, where you can hear one of the finest all-boys choirs in the world. Don’t forget to have dinner before heading back home. Phew! And that is only a minute selection of the many opportunities there are to explore whatever might be your heart’s desire in this remarkable city. Some students have chosen to supplement their research by taking advantage of their free access to the holdings of the British Library in London and the National Archives at Kew, near London.

Weather

Summers in Oxford are typically cool and mild and compare to what you could experience in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. You will enjoy plenty of moments full of sunshine, allowing you to read and study outside in the sleepy warm sun. You should also be prepared for some rain and misty days though, so be sure you have a rain jacket and trusty umbrella.

Tea (and Food)

Drinking tea is a vital element in the rhythm of the English person’s day, and all students are encouraged to discover this for themselves. Its popularity is perhaps explained in part by the cakes and biscuits that traditionally accompany this drink. Students will be invited to tea at regular times during the week, and it is an important time to relax, catch up with each other, and recharge for the rest of the day!

Apart from a few lunches and dinners organized as part of the programme, all students will need to prepare their own meals while in Oxford. This means shopping at one of the main supermarkets, going to the weekly fresh farmer’s market, or visiting the Covered Market, established in 1774. Many students form food groups that take turns to cook for each other and eat together at the end of each day. It is a great way to share with others what they have discovered that day, and also to hear what everyone else has been doing!

There are plenty of places to eat out in Oxford, ranging from the affordable to the expensive. The café in St Mary’s Church is a fun place to visit, as the café itself is in the Old Congregation House, and was the University’s first “official” building. It dates from the 14th century and was built a couple of hundred years after the colleges first started taking in students.

Alumni

When the semester is all said, done, debated, and graded, you’ll return home with a community of alumni that continually reconnect over the bond that Oxford so passionately unites. Learn more about what alumni are up to on the SCIO website.

The Oxford Summer Programme is an interdisciplinary programme that gives no preference to students in any particular field of study. However, a good academic record is necessary: generally a minimum GPA of 2.9 on a 4.0 scale is required, though in the case of non-traditional students this may be reviewed (note this GPA requirement differs from that of the Oxford Semester Programme), and OSP may accept any exceptional student it believes can meet the rigorous demands of the program.

SCIO and Wycliffe Hall aim to provide an inclusive environment which promotes equality, values diversity, and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected to assist them in reaching their full potential.

Oxford Summer Programme is designed for rising college sophomores, juniors, and seniors; non-traditional students; teachers; and those enrolled in continuing education programs.

How Do I Apply?

Simply complete an online application for the semester during which you plan to participate. Each campus makes its own policies regarding off-campus study, so you should consult your academic dean, off-campus study coordinator, and/or advising faculty member at your school to ensure completion of all campus requirements.

Before your application can be reviewed for admission, you must submit all of the following materials:

  • A completed online application form
  • $50 application fee (payable by check or credit card)
  • Two faculty references
  • One character reference
  • Official transcript(s) of all college course work
  • Off-campus approval form

Summer 2023 Semester Dates:

Rolling Admissions

Application available until (or spots are filled) June 1
SCIO begins on arrival June 16
SCIO concludes July 17

AFTER ACCEPTANCE:

Once admitted into the programme, you will be required to confirm your intent to participate by submitting a non-refundable $500 confirmation fee, which will be applied toward your program tuition.

You will also be required to complete additional confirmation and pre-departure materials, including but not limited to: waiver and liability forms, a medical information form, a housing form, and proof of international medical insurance. But don’t worry! We will send you all the details and instructions on your acceptance.

Summer 2023 Semester Dates:

Rolling Admissions

Application available until (or spots are filled) June 1
SCIO begins on arrival June 16
SCIO concludes July 17

HOW MUCH DO I PAY & WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Deposits:
Typically, the only expenses Oxford Summer Programme participants pay directly to the CCCU are the application fee ($50) and the non-refundable confirmation fee ($500, deducted from the total housing fee at invoicing).

Program Fees:
About six weeks before the term begins, the CCCU sends participation invoices to each home campus. For the 2022-23 school year, that bill will feature the below Oxford Summer Programme fees. Please note, that all Oxford Summer Programme participants will hold an Associate Member Status during the programme.

OXFORD SUMMER PROGRAMME FEES
Instructional Fees $4,960
Room $2,500
TOTAL SUMMER FEES $7,460
Confirmation Deposit ($500)
BALANCE OF SUMMER FEES $6,960

Keep in mind the total programme costs billed to you through your school may differ, depending on your campus’s policies.

Note: Schools or individuals who pay with a credit card will also be charged a credit card service fee.

Expenses Covered by Oxford Summer Programme Fees:

  • Tuition for recommended 6 hours of credit, including one-on-one tutorials, seminar classes, and a lecture series
  • Room and partial meals
  • All necessary expenses for official field trips
  • Use of programme computers, unlimited wireless internet access, and printing facilities
  • Free on-site laundry facilities (must provide own detergent, etc.)
  • Social events including afternoon teas with staff and other funded student events
  • Optional bike rental for Vines’ residents

Additional Anticipated Expenses*:

  • Travel between home and Oxford (estimated $800-1,200 from U.S.)
  • Books
  • International medical insurance (can be purchased through CCCU GlobalEd) valid in the U.K. for length of stay/programme dates. This is required for participation in CCCU GlobalEd’s international programs. Note: Some campuses will provide this for students studying abroad; check with your study abroad office to see if this is provided by your home campus.
  • Personal medical expenses, if incurred, including preparatory vaccinations
  • Local transportation, if not class-related
  • Personal discretionary expenditures
  • Partial meals
  • Cost of passport, if you don’t already have one

International Travel

Participants are responsible for arranging travel to and from Oxford. Student housing check-in time is between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on arrival day; departure is before 11 a.m. on checkout day. Student accommodations are closed outside of official programme dates/times. Travel information from London’s major airports to Oxford Summer Programme housing is provided in a pre-departure packet.

HOW DOES BILLING WORK FOR OXFORD SUMMER PROGRAMME PARTICIPATION?

The Oxford Summer Programme is an extension campus of each member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU); each school grants the academic credit for program participation.

The CCCU invoices campuses for the cost of participation in Oxford Summer Programme and in turn campuses bill their students following the campus’s established policies and procedures. (For example, some schools charge the exact fees of the off-campus program, other schools charge the campus tuition price, while others charge full on-campus fees plus an additional off-campus study fee. And there’s every variation in between!)

Since each school determines their own policies regarding off-campus study costs and the applicability of institutional scholarships and other aid, you should confirm your school’s policies with the Off-Campus Study Coordinator on your campus. As summer billing often differs from semester billing, it’s possible your home campus will require that CCCU GlobalEd bill you directly. In direct-bill situations, please refer to our General Policies for payment deadlines.

*Anticipated expenses are estimates, which will be updated should local costs shift significantly. You may spend more/less depending on your personal spending habits.

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For the latest updates on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Response page.

Health Services

Students have access to professional medical, surgical, and psychiatric services at their own cost. General pastoral care and support is provided by SCIO staff, who can also assist in helping students get connected to the specialized care they need.

You will be required to cover any medical expenses you incur while a student at SCIO. We will require you to show proof of international medical coverage before your arrival in Oxford. We partner with Cultural Insurance Service International (CISI) to provide discounted international medical coverage. You can view the current schedule of benefits for our customized coverage through CISI here.

Safety

Oxford is generally a safe place in which to study and explore; nevertheless, you should minimize any risks by remaining alert and taking precautions. Read more on the University of Oxford website: Personal Safety. You can also familiarize yourself with any current travel or health advisories for the United Kingdom by visiting the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) websites.

Many of the faculty and staff have lived in Oxfordshire for years. During orientation, we will discuss basic guidelines to follow to help you feel confident and safe during your time here. If you have any questions prior to departure, please contact your admissions advisor.

Know Before You Go…

Studying off campus can be an exciting time filled with adventure and personal growth. Prepare yourself in advance for challenges you might face on the programme. Students at SCIO should anticipate: 

  • Walking in and around the city may include uneven terrain, such as cobblestone walkways, in unpredictable weather and frequent rain.  
  • Living in a residence of multiple occupancy with shared bathrooms, kitchens, and communal spaces. Living (and other) spaces are not air-conditioned, though this is very rarely problematic in the cool British summers. Living and other spaces are heated in winter. 
  • The Vines is located on a hill from which Oxford city centre is accessible via a 35-minute walk, a 15-minute cycle ride, or a 20-minute bus ride accessed via 5-minute walk to the nearest bus stop (with buses passing by every 6–7 minutes). The Vines has a bathroom for use by students in wheelchairs and generally with limited mobility and can offer ground floor accommodation. 
  • Students are responsible for purchase and preparation of their own food, transportation, and chapel/church requirements.  
  • Traffic drives on the left side of the road. 
  • Students may be unused to cycling or to cycling in traffic. Full cycle orientation is given. 
  • Historic buildings can present difficulties to students with mobility challenges but professional staff help with such challenges. 
  • Living away from family, friends, and other support networks. 
  • Managing and following a demanding study schedule with substantial independence, and attending lectures, one-on-one tutorials, and day-long field trips. 
  • Experiencing potentially challenging personal, religious, and cultural learning, lectures, field trips, and assignments. 

PROGRAMME LOCATION

You’ve probably heard a great deal about the U.K., but what makes Oxford stand out? Read the FAQ below to find out.

Where does the programme take place?

“Oxford still remains the most beautiful thing in England, and nowhere else are life and art so exquisitely blended, so perfectly made one.” —Oscar Wilde

The programme is in the heart of the academic community at Oxford, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. You will study at Wycliffe Hall and enjoy all the benefits of the great city of Oxford.

Oxford is located 60 to 90 minutes from the centre of London by train or bus.

What is the climate like?

Weather in Oxford is much like weather in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. Mild, cool summers, with rain and misty days are not infrequent.

What is the geography like?

The area surrounding Oxford is rural with farmland, but Oxford itself is a city with a small-town feel. Bordering the academic castles are cobbled streets with small shops; bicyclists weave in and out of traffic. The libraries contain so many volumes that the stacks must be housed below ground—so as you walk, you walk over books. It is flat enough that you can bike everywhere and small enough that you can walk nearly anywhere in Oxford in around 30-45 minutes!

Will I get to travel throughout the summer?

Day trips to local historical sites are a part of your program. On staff-led field trips, you will explore the city of Oxford as well as places outside Oxford like Salisbury, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Bath, or Coventry. You may also wish to travel in your free time to London, a short bus or train ride away, or any number of other local destinations.

ACADEMICS

The most eye-opening feature of the Oxford Summer Programme is often not the traveling, nor even the cultural immersion, but the intensive, world-renowned studies. Read this FAQ series to find out more about the programme’s academics.

How many credits will I receive?

You will receive six credits for your coursework in Oxford. During your five weeks you will attend two seminars, with associated tutorials, for three credits each.

Where will I be taking classes?

Your seminars will take place in Wycliffe Hall, and your tutorials may take place anywhere within Oxford. The specific location is dependent upon the office of your tutor and the Oxford school with which he or she is affiliated. Much of your free time will be spent in the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest, most extensive, and most prized library collections in the world. Very few people ever gain access to the exclusive volumes within this library system; but as affiliate students of Wycliffe Hall during your time at Oxford Summer Programme, you will find these doors open. Prepare yourself to see, smell, touch, and learn from books whose wisdom has withstood the test of time.

What will I be studying?

A complete list of Oxford Summer Programme seminar topics can be found in the Seminars section. Topics range from “Faith and Reason in the British Enlightenment” to “Creative Writing” to “C.S. Lewis” and his classic literature.

You will participate in seminar discussions during the first three weeks of your time in Oxford. Following your seminar sessions, you will meet with your seminar tutor for two one-on-one sessions to develop, defend, and discuss an essay on a topic of your choosing related to your seminar. The tutorial system at Oxford is the most distinct element of Oxford’s teaching. As an Oxford Summer Programme student, you will have unparalleled access to the mind and mentorship of an Oxford faculty member who will help you hone your writing and critical thinking skills, preparing your for graduate studies or professional work.

The lecture series, The Christian Tradition in the British Isles, explores the development of Christianity across the nation’s landscape, covering the Celtic people of Britain to the Roman province of Britannia. These lectures, along with three field trips to historic places throughout England, provide the historical context of your academic work and experience in Oxford.

Who will be teaching my classes?

You will be taught by University faculty, including staff of Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford.” These are scholars of the highest order: well-regarded and well-published. Your tutorials will be taught by tutors from Wycliffe Hall and other colleges in the University.

Who will be in my classes: local or CCCU GlobalEd students?

Your seminar groups will be comprised of students of the Oxford Summer Programme, who will be from a variety of institutions, primarily North American and Australian universities. Your tutorials will be one-on-one discussions with your tutor.

TRAVEL

What do you need to know before you step on that plane? Read the FAQ below to find out!

How will I get to and from the program?

If you are accepted, we’ll send you more details on how to find your way to your new home. You are responsible for booking your own travel to Oxford. If you fly from the East Coast of the U.S. to London, it’s about a seven-hour flight, and from London’s Heathrow airport to Oxford city centre, it’s a 90-minute bus ride.

Will I need a passport?

Yes! Make sure to check the expiration date. You will need a passport that does not expire within six months of your return from the programme. Start your immigration stamp collection now!

Will I need a visa?

Well, that depends on your nationality and how long you will be studying in the U.K. Usually, U.S. and Canadian citizens coming to study in the U.K. for less than six months do not need to apply in advance for a visa. There is a helpful checklist on the U.K. government website. Staff at the CCCU and in Oxford will be able to help you through the process and guide you to further information if required. 

DAILY LIFE

Your day-to-day to life in Oxford will look quite different than your current one—but how so? In this FAQ series, we will answer some common questions about daily life at the Oxford Summer Programme.

Where will I live?

You will live in The Vines, a modest mansion on the crest of Headington Hill, situated on 1.5 acres of garden with stunning views of Oxford’s spires. Running parallel to the path of C.S. Lewis’s former commute, The Vines is a 35-minute walk into Oxford city centre, a 10-minute cycle ride, or a 5-minute walk to the nearest bus stop (with buses passing by every 6–7 minutes). It has a large kitchen, laundry facilities, a well-appointed common room, and bathrooms for every 2-3 rooms.

What will I eat?

The Oxford Summer Programme provides eight lunches over the course of the term; all other meals will need to be provided by the students.

You are free to prepare your meals in the kitchens of the Vines, and, of course, there are myriad cafés and pubs in Oxford—including the famous Queen’s Lane Coffee House (reputedly the oldest café in Europe) and The Eagle and Child, where Tolkien and Lewis met with other Inklings.

And then, of course, there is tea. In Oxford you will become accustomed to (if not dependent upon) the tea culture. Be prepared to sit, sip, and share with your friends and Oxford Summer Programme staff several times a day. Many students acquire such a taste for tea, and for the social rejuvenation of these respites, that they bring the custom home with them at the programme’s end.

How will I get around?

Bikes and your own feet. Start breaking in your shoes now! Oxford is city of bicyclists and pedestrians. Buses are also easily accessible, but many students prefer the freedom and pace of foot travel. If you live in The Vines, you’ll have the option to use a bike (without cost) for the semester for easy access to Wycliffe Hall and Oxford city centre. For students in the North Wing, you’ll have the option to rent a bike to access city centre even more quickly.

Can I attend church?

Absolutely. We encourage you to find a church home in one of the many local cathedrals, house churches, or other diverse places of worship. Not only will these communities support you spiritually, but they will connect you to other students, faculty, and families from colleges throughout the University.

What is the program community like?

Your new community will be made up of 30 to 40 other students from various schools throughout the world. As expats, you’ll form quick bonds within a British culture that seems familiar upon first glance but soon reveals fascinating differences in custom, humor, faith, and more.

Will I be interacting with local people?

On a daily basis! While your lectures will be with other North American or Australian college students, you’ll be studying in the library with, purchasing coffee from, walking/biking alongside, and attending church among local people.

Communication

How can you get in touch with new classmates and local friends, and how can you keep in touch with your old ones? In the FAQ below we discuss common questions related to communication and technology.

Will my family and friends be able to visit me during the semester?

Because your time at Oxford is relatively short, we do not recommend that you invite friends or family to visit you. However, as Oxford and the British Isles in general are a wonderful destination for short visits from North America, we do encourage you to share Oxford with friends and family before or after your term at Oxford Summer Programme!

Will my cell phone work in England?

Many students find it refreshing to be without a cell phone for a semester. However, if you would like to bring your own, make sure to talk to your service provider about your options. If your phone is unlocked and compatible with overseas SIM cards, you can purchase this card upon arrival. More information on this is given during orientation.

Contact Us

Have questions or want more information about Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford?
Please call us at 202-548-5201 or fill out the form below, and one of our team members will contact you soon!

Stan Rosenberg

BA (Colorado State University), MA, PhD (Catholic University of America), FISSR

Stan Rosenberg is the founding director of Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO), the U.K. subsidiary of the CCCU. He is also an academic member of Wycliffe Hall, on the faculty of theology and religion at the University of Oxford, and a fellow of the International Society of Science & Religion. He has published on Augustine’s thought, early Christianity and Greco-Roman science, and ancient preaching and popular religion. Rosenberg is on the editorial board of the journal Religions, and on advisory councils for BioLogos and the Museum of the Bible. He has overseen numerous science and religion projects for faculty, funded by major granting bodies, and directs the Logos program on biblical manuscripts, texts, and reception. Recently, he co-organized a funded project that led to his edited book, Finding Ourselves after Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil

Ana-Maria Pascal

Ana-Maria is our new Academic Director and Senior Tutor in Oxford; she joined SCIO in October 2022, from Regent’s University London, where she was Reader in Philosophy and Public Ethics, and Director of Liberal Arts programmes. She is also Director of Studies in Philosophy, with research interests in hermeneutics and comparative metaphysics. When not at her desk, she is either exploring old monasteries, listening to Classic FM, or out jogging.

Jordan Smith

BA (Houghton College), MA (American University)

Jordan earned a BA in International Studies from Houghton College and an MA in International Training and Education at American University. His master’s research focused on intercultural competency in study abroad. Throughout his career, Jordan has worked with non-profit organizations in Thailand, Vietnam, and Washington, DC. Prior to joining SCIO, he worked for the CCCU in Washington, DC as the Director for Educational Programs.

Jonathan Kirkpatrick

BA (Oxon), MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Dr Kirkpatrick graduated BA in classics, MSt in oriental studies, and DPhil in classics from Oxford, and his research interests currently centre on pagan religious cults in Roman Palestine. From 2004 to 2006 he was departmental lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University. He is writing a book on C.S. Lewis’s connection with the classics, and co-ordinates SCIO’s activities with the Green Scholars’ Initiative.

Beatrice Widell

BA (Uppsala), MA (Uppsala), PhD (Reading)

Dr Widell graduated BA in Art History (2014) and MA (2016) in Archaeology from Uppsala University. She was awarded a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Reading (2021). Her doctoral thesis explored medieval battlefields along the Anglo-Scottish Border in an interdisciplinary landscape study, focusing on archaeological, literary, topographical, and folkloric evidence.

Rosaria

BSc (Universitas Pelita Harapan), MSc (Imperial College London), Dip. (Imperial College London) 

Rosaria was educated in Indonesia and then at the University of London.  She is now a doctoral student at Oxford, where her research aims to understand the multiple different ecosystem services provided by plant biodiversity in tropical seasonal climate using ethnobotanical study and functional trait data assessment, with special reference to Indonesia.

Jane Austen in Context

Since the publication in 1811 of a novel called Sense and Sensibility, ‘by a lady’, the works of Jane Austen have enjoyed both popularity and critical acclaim, and scholarly interest shows no sign of waning.

Nor does what can be described as a popular mania for all things Austen, especially in film and television: the so-called ‘Austen brand’ is thriving. In this course will find out why, examining Austen’s life and writings to assess her novelistic technique and development and her place among women writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to studying the major novels, we will look at Austen’s juvenilia and place each text in its literary and historical context, examining, for example, the eighteenth-century cult of sensibility when we discuss Sense and Sensibility and the contemporary vogue for gothic novels when we study Austen’s burlesque of the gothic genre, Northanger Abbey.

Other themes that will be covered include Austen’s treatment of class, economics, education, female friendship, courtship, and politics. Finally, students will be given the opportunity to assess selected screen adaptations of the novels to decide if they testify to the timelessness of Austen’s wit and the ongoing relevance of her social satire, or damage her reputation as a writer with the addition of romantic elements that distract from the commentary and limit Austen’s appeal to a female audience.

Intellect and Imagination: the Rational Religion and Theological Stories of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is known to millions around the world as a writer of fantasy literature (most famously The chronicles of Narnia), and as someone with a gift for presenting Christian theology to a large popular audience, through works such as Mere Christianity and The problem of pain.

On the face of it, these two aspects of his writing – the imaginative and the intellectual – may seem quite different. But in this course, we’ll explore how the two work together and harmonize, and how fiction can in fact be an ideal vehicle for conveying complex concepts. We’ll look at a number of key strands of Lewis’s theological writings, examining both what he said and how he said it: we’ll delve into the arguments advanced and the claims made, and we’ll also consider what difference the form of the writing makes.

You’ll have the opportunity to investigate a variety of themes: Lewis’s trilemma (otherwise known as the ‘mad, bad, or God argument’!), his argument from desire (which suggests that the yearning we find within ourselves is an indication we were made for another world), his views on Christianity and myth, the problem of suffering, and heaven and hell. We’ll look at both his non-fiction books and essays, and his imaginative works, such as The great divorce.

You’ll be encouraged to apply your own analytical skills to Lewis’s writings and to some of the various responses to him (both positive and more critical), as we investigate his claim that religious truth requires a response from the whole person: that it must be both assented to with the reason and embraced by the imagination.

Creative Writing

If you study creative writing at OSP, you will read canonical writing with an eye to techniques you can make your own in writing that will be workshopped, one-to-one, with the tutor. In the prose section of the course you’ll read a short story by James Joyce, noting his stealthy satire of society and literary convention, then take a boat out on the stream of consciousness of Virginia Woolf. Can you pick up her knack of jumping from one person’s point of view to another’s on the turn of a comma?

The poetry section includes looking, though T.S. Eliot’s ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, at ways of communicating through music and repeated sounds. (How do you feel different saying ‘is it/visit’ compared to ‘go/Michelangelo’?) You’ll also, through reading the work of Philip Larkin, learn the right way to use metre and rhyme; the lines round a repeated stanza form make the shape not, as many think, of a ‘constricting’ container, but of a fabulous tennis court at Wimbledon.

The one-to-one tutorials are fundamentally a conversation, with a great deal of flexibility in what is discussed. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be on the pleasure of reading and the craft of writing, and on the triple literary aims of teaching, moving, and delighting both writer and reader.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Oxford’s creator of other worlds

Oxford has been a centre of scholarship for centuries, and since the nineteenth century it has also boasted a considerable number of acclaimed and popular writers of what has come to be known as fantasy literature. Nonetheless, by the early twentieth century, the philologist and literature professor J.R.R. Tolkien felt that such fiction had fallen out of fashion and been handed over to children — ‘relegated to the nursery’. He set out to reclaim high fantasy for adults, believing that it had major literary merit and should not be dismissed as escapist or childish. In fact, he argued that fantasy can fulfil humanity’s ‘profounder wishes’, providing readers with a fresh perspective and a world stripped of its dull familiarity. Tolkien continues to dominate the genre in prose and film, setting the standard not only in fiction with The Lord of the Rings, but also in critical commentary with his 1939 lecture ‘On fairy-stories’, which remains a definitive piece of criticism.

In this course we will examine Tolkien’s life, his literary influences and source materials, the major works of fantasy, and selected critical responses, both positive and negative. For example, though Middle-earth was his attempt to create an authentic mythology for England, it has been criticized for its seeming lack of ethnic and gender diversity. Tolkien was shaped by his education, his traumatic experiences in the First World War, and a life spent in what was then the predominantly white, upper-class, male environment of Oxford. Sessions will therefore include discussion of the biographical, historical, and cultural contexts of his writings and their effect on the racial, gendered, regional, and socio-economic elements in his characterization and created world.

Notwithstanding, why does the Middle-earth legendarium continue to fascinate readers and to inspire new generations of fantasy writers? Are the wildly successful film adaptations of these books a testament to Tolkien’s vision or is Christopher Tolkien correct when he claims that the ‘commercialisation has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing’? These are some of the questions we will consider.

Science and the Christian Tradition

Science and religion are two of the most powerful forces that shape contemporary life. Yet, a popular perception persists that these disciplines are necessarily in conflict with one another. As Alister McGrath notes, some scientists and religious believers view science and religion as ‘locked in mortal combat’. Those who subscribe to this ‘conflict model’ to depict the relationship between scientific and religious modes of thought often reference historical events such as the persecution of Galileo by the church, the debate in 1860 between Thomas Huxley and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, (which took place in Oxford!), or the Scopes trial of 1925 as evidence to support their position. Some vocal dogmatic scientists today call for the cessation of religion in light of the developments of modern science.

There are complicated questions to address here: must science and religion be viewed as necessarily in conflict with one another? Are there other models to help us understand how these disciplines ought to relate to one another? Does science raise questions that point beyond itself? Can theological questions be informed by scientific disciplines?

This course draws on historical and theological scholarship to investigate key issues in science and religion. We begin the course by examining the historical events often used to support the notion that science and religion are in conflict—Galileo, Darwin, and the Scopes trial. As we will see, studying these events in more detail makes it more difficult to interpret them as straightforward examples of science and religion at war with one another. The course will also provide an opportunity to examine more recent questions at the intersection of science and religion: does evolution undermine the biblical notion that humans are ‘made in the image of God’? Does the concept of original sin need to be reformulated in light of developments in evolutionary biology? Can God act in a world increasingly predictable to science?

C.S. Lewis and the Classics

When C.S. Lewis arrived in Oxford in 1917, he came to study Classics: the literature, history, and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. He was an atheist, and was fascinated by the pagan mythology of the classical world, and this was a fascination that never left him. In fact, it was through this love of mythology that he finally became a Christian, and he drew on this rich classical heritage throughout his career and a teacher and writer.

Lewis was a star student, and earned a prestigious ‘double first’ degree before moving on to a career in English literature. (Tolkien, by contrast, also studied Classics at Oxford, but earned mediocre grades and dropped out of the course.) Lewis’s classical education formed him: one cannot read far in his books without coming across a reference to an ancient Greek story, or a Latin quotation, and in this course we will be examining the enormous influence that Classics had on Lewis’s life and thought.

The only classical god to appear in Narnia is Bacchus, the god of wine and license (in Prince Caspian); why did Lewis let him in? This is one of many intriguing questions we’ll be addressing. In fact, Bacchus (or Dionysus) was deeply interesting to Lewis, and closely connected to his views of Christ; and there are many other classical elements in the Narnia books, such as fauns and centaurs, that we’ll investigate. We will consider the role mythology played in Lewis’s understanding of the world, and, particularly, in his conversion to Christianity. We will look at one of Lewis’s favourite poems, Virgil’s epic Aeneid, and consider how its picture of wanderings in search of a home related to Lewis’s ideas of the Christian experience. We will examine Lewis’s final novel, Till We Have Faces, in which he retold the myth of Cupid and Psyche, a task which he had been trying to do for most of his life.

Lewis’s love of the Classics pervaded his thought, and in this course we will be looking at its influence in his fiction, his literary criticism, his poetry, his letters, and his Christian apologetics. Equally exciting is the chance to examine the Classical world through Lewis’s eyes. There is a great deal of pleasure to be derived both from reading Lewis and from investigating the classical world, and in addition to this students will gain a much deeper understanding of Lewis as a writer and as a Christian.

Faith and Reason in the British Enlightenment

The Enlightenment saw the rise and triumph of reason as the supreme power in many spheres. One area which – perhaps inevitably – provoked much discussion was religion. For some, this provided an opportunity to attempt to demonstrate a sound rational basis for religious belief; for others, it led to the challenging of old certainties.

In this course, we’ll examine the application of reason to matters of faith during this period. Our focus will be on the work of three British philosophers in the empiricist tradition, who were at work during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

We’ll begin by exploring the key relationship between faith and reason. The two are sometimes contrasted with each other, but philosophers such as Locke argued that in fact they are complementary concepts, and need not be seen as in opposition to each other. A major question which exercised many thinkers was whether God’s existence can be proved, so we’ll also examine Locke’s version of the cosmological argument, Berkeley’s idealist philosophy (which he believed offered an antidote to atheism and irreligion), and the sceptic David Hume’s criticisms of the argument for design. There will also be a chance to look at some responses to these authors, from both contemporary writers and more modern ones.

Although written over two centuries ago, these texts raise crucial questions which remain just as relevant today, and this course provides an opportunity to harvest some of the riches of insight offered by great thinkers of the past.

Prohibition and Transgression: the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Gothic Novel

The eighteenth-century gothic movement was a reaction to the dominance of the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and rationalism. The Marquis de Sade saw it as the natural literary result of the violence and terror of the French Revolution. Its conventions included aristocratic villains and persecuted maidens, the supernatural, the victory of nature over man’s creations and of chaos over order, and the theme of imprisonment with the consciousness forced back upon itself.

As a transgressive sub-genre of the novel, it was anti-Catholic, anti-nostalgic, and anti-aristocratic. It evolved in the Victorian age to reflect nineteenth-century concerns about religion, race, gender, imperialism, and cultural degeneration. This course will trace its development from the first gothic novel, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), to Bram Stoker’s presentation of fin-de-siècle anxiety in Dracula (1897).

Other novels to be discussed include Ann Radcliffe’s highly influential novel of ‘sublimity’, A Sicilian Romance (1790), Jane Austen’s witty and complex parody of the genre, Northanger Abbey (1817), and Charlotte Brontë’s domestic re-imagining of the gothic romance in Jane Eyre (1847). Students will also have the opportunity to read gothic fiction by Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde and each piece of fiction will be placed in historical and cultural context.

Students can explore how gothic themes caught the imagination of contemporary artists and architects and how they translated them into paintings and drawings, many of which acted as inspiration for the writers themselves. Why does the Gothic genre refuse to die? Why do we remain fascinated with the forbidden and enjoy being terrified? What is the difference between terror and horror and why did Romantic poets like Coleridge, Byron, Shelley view the former as such a rich source of inspiration? These are some of the questions we will address.

Oxford and the Pursuit of Beauty: Art and Criticism in the Nineteenth Century

Two of the greatest Victorian art theorists, John Ruskin and Walter Pater, studied and taught at Oxford, and their influence both in the city and further afield was immense. While Ruskin sought to link the visual arts to a serious moral vision of society, based in his evangelical upbringing, Pater preached the gospel of Aestheticism, pursuing beauty as an end in itself and advocating art for art’s sake. Their writings are theoretically challenging and controversial, as well as being masterpieces of prose, and we will examine their ideas and put them in their wider context.

We will examine the influence of these ideas as well. Ruskin’s love of medieval society and gothic architecture influenced buildings and painting in Oxford, where the battle between the classical and gothic styles was seriously and bitterly pursued. His ideas spurred revolutionary young painters: the original PreRaphaelites; and subsequently William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, both undergraduates at Oxford, whose work laid down the foundations of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Walter Pater’s elevation of beauty made him a pariah in conservative Oxford, but his shocking ideas enraptured young people looking to break free from stuffy social expectations. Oscar Wilde, another Oxford undergraduate, was captured by his spell, and worked out his philosophy in masterpieces of creative literature.

We will study at the buildings in Oxford whose design reflects competing ideologies about art: the Martyrs’ Memorial, the Ashmolean Museum, the University Museum, and Keble College, among others. We will examine the artists who worked in Oxford, from professionals such as Dante Gabriel Rosetti to amateurs such as the passionate photographer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (otherwise known as Lewis Carroll). We will also consider patrons, such as Thomas Combe, printer to the university, whose love of PreRaphaelite art combined with his commitment to the High Church and whose prize painting, Holman Hunt’s “Light of the World”, hangs today in Keble Chapel.

In this seminar we will look at revolutionary texts about the place of visual art in society: texts which propose opposing views about what is valuable in art and which still have an impact on the way we look at art today. We will also look at the art that inspired and was inspired by these writings, aiming to enjoy it, understand it, and place it in its historical context.

Sharing a Crowded Planet: Thinking about Nature, Ecology, Religion, and Ethics 1750–1960

Our planet is small, beautiful, and crowded. We might expect that Christians, with their duty to be good neighbours, would be at the forefront of efforts to keep it beautiful and share it generously with neighbours. Yet in a famous polemic in 1967 Lynn White Jr declared that, as ‘the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen… Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt’ for the present environmental crisis.

The article became received wisdom in environmental studies, leading to Christianity’s being considered the problem, not part of the solution, and to a focus on the work of those who found in nature itself the prospect of peace, fulfilment, and even salvation.

Yet the roots of nature conservation, particularly in the old world, were often Christian: the UK’s foremost conservation charity, the National Trust, for example, was founded by three devout Anglicans. Moreover conservation was impelled not thwarted by anthropocentrism: the Commons Preservation Trust, for example, the UK’s oldest preservation society with many Christians among its founders, campaigned to save commons for, not from, people. Can White’s argument and empirical research about early naturalists be reconciled? Can attentiveness to Christian motivation enrich our understanding of nature conservation? Can the experience of Christian nature conservationists give us a language for discussing the relationship between Christianity and ecology, and a basis for constructing our own authentic ethics of ecology and conservation? By close reading of nature texts we move the discussion back in time to consider a new starting point, to recover a Christian environmental ethics recover from conservation’s roots and adapt it for today’s purposes.

Contemporary British Culture: History, Politics, and Society

Britain in the twenty-first century is a country looking for an identity. Having left the European Union in January 2020 Britain needs to find new policies at home and a new role abroad. Having ‘regained our national sovereignty’, as Brexit supporters put it, Britons now need to decide how to make use of that sovereignty. Covid-19 has forced further reappraisal of what matters to Britons: should the country return as soon as possible to how things were before, or is this a singular opportunity to reimagine polity and society, giving priority to the things which lockdown showed us were valuable?

This course takes a succession of British tropes to probe what they tell us about contemporary Britain and how they shape discussions of the nation’s future. What, for example, does the Union Jack (strictly speaking the Union flag) reveal about the constituent parts of the United Kingdom and their relationship with the whole? What does the British cup of tea tell us about the nation’s role in global trade and colonisation? What does the queen tell us about Britain’s version of democracy? What can we learn from the James Bond novels and films about Britain’s fear of international decline and its sense of superiority? In what way are soccer, cricket, and Wimbledon windows on to British class, ethnic, and regional cultures? What does Britain’s ‘green and pleasant land’ reveal about conservation, rural life, and leisure in Britain? What does Westminster Abbey, the national pantheon, reveal about Britons’ relationship to the past? What does a country church tell us about religion in Britain? Why on earth do Britons talk about the weather all the time? What does the BBC reveal about the English language, Britain’s role in the world, free speech, and British values? What does the Channel Tunnel tell us about Britain’s relationship to Europe?

With these and other tropes we explore Britain and its inhabitants, searching for explanation rooted in the past, and considering what the nation might look like in the future.

Psychology and Literature: from Margery Kempe to Sylvia Plath

It has often been said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity and the relationship between literature and mental health has been of intense interest to both literary scholars and psychologists.

This seminar will explore mental illness and instability in several major authors, focusing on Margery Kempe, a medieval housewife and mystic who became the first autobiographer in English; John Bunyan, the seventeenth-century author of Pilgrim’s Progress; John Clare, a nineteenth century nature poet who became incarcerated in an asylum; and two key twentieth-century female authors, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. Both iconic figures in the history of women’s writing, Woolf and Plath each struggled with extremes of mood and ultimately committed suicide. We will read their writings in the light of psychological theory and of cultural and feminist contexts.

Complex questions will emerge as we study these authors; what is the true nature of ‘mental illness’? To what extent is it valid or helpful to apply modern psychology to writers from a very different age? How is emotional disorder expressed within the texts themselves? To what extent can other modern theories, especially feminism, help us in encountering these key authors, their lives and their legacies? Led by a literary scholar who is also a psychologist and psychiatrist, this seminar will bring unusual insights to the study of these distinctive texts.