Log in |

courses pages people
Department for Continuing Education logo
University of Oxford logo
Department for Continuing Education logo
Department for Continuing EducationUniversity of Oxford
icon representing summer schools

Search results

English Literature Summer School 2014

Key facts

Sorry, this course is currently unavailable. Please use the course enquiry form to be kept informed of future runs of this course.

TypeSummer Schools -
AddressHeld at Exeter College
DatesSun 6 to Sat 26 Jul 2014
Subject area(s)Literature
FeesResidential - from £2,725
Non-residential - £1,200
Application statusIn progress - closed to new applications
Course codeO13I050JDR
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email ipenglit@conted.ox.ac.uk.


The English Literature Summer School examines a variety of significant literary figures and movements from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day


The academic programme consists of

  • a daily lecture programme given by leading scholars and distinguished speakers, as follows:
    • Dr Janina Ramirez - Old English Literature in Context: The Imaginative World of Anglo-Saxon England
    • Dr Roger Dalrymple - Chaucer and Chaucerians
    • Professor Lynda Mugglestone - Hard Words, Best Words, Words in Use: Writing the Inventory of English
    • Dr Emma Smith - The Shakespeare First Folio
    • Dr John O'Connor - Early Modern Playhouses and Dramatists
    • Dr Tom MacFaul - Metaphysical Poetry
    • Dr Nicole Poh - Eighteenth-Century Women Writers
    • Octavia Cox - Eighteenth-Century Poetry
    • Dr Seamus Perry - Romantic Literature
    • Dr Sandie Byrne - Jane Austen
    • Dr David Grylls - The Victorian Novel
    • Karen Hewitt - Conrad's Nostromo: New Narratives for a New Century
    • Dr Jane Potter - War Poetry
    • Professor Jon Stallworthy - The Poet in History
    • Peter Kemp - Contemporary English Fiction

  • study in small interactive seminar groups with specialist tutors

Graduate applicants choose two seminars from:

  • Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture
  • Shakespeare and Politics: Then and Now
  • The English Romantic Poets
  • Jane Austen
  • Victorian Fiction
  • Modernist Fiction
  • Contemporary Fiction

Undergraduate students take two mandatory courses, Critical Reading and Shakespeare on Stage and Screen

Each seminar has two two-hour meetings per week, and classes will usually contain no more than 12 students

Contact hours

The programme provides a minimum of 46.5 contact hours, comprising

  • 22.5 hours of lectures (15 lectures lasting c.1.5 hours each)
  • 24 hours of seminar meetings (12 per course)

Social programme

A range of optional excursions and social events will be offered throughout the summer school. These are likely to include: a walking tour of Oxford, after-dinner talks, a book club, and weekend excursions to sites of literary and/or historical interest.

Please note that most of these activities incur additional costs, which are payable by students in Oxford

Programme details

Click here to view the seminar timetables PDF document.

Seminar options


Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture

The Anglo-Saxon period has been seen as a dark age, full of superstition and ignorance, but this course will argue the opposite; that the Anglo-Saxons were imaginative and sophisticated, able to create literature and artworks that can still stimulate the imagination over a millennium later. We shall explore such seminal works as the epic Beowulf, elegies, riddles, and religious poems. Alongside these texts with their evocative descriptions of lively court life and rich religious activity, we shall scrutinise works of art, including the Sutton Hoo treasures, Ruthwell Cross, and illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels. Setting the literature against its complex backdrop will allow deeper insights into the many layers of meaning.

Tutor: Dr Janina Ramirez is Course Director for the Undergraduate Certificate and Diploma in History of Art at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. She also writes and presents documentaries for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and is currently completing a book on 'The Private Lives of Anglo-Saxon Saints'.

Shakespeare and Politics: Then and Now

All of Shakespeare’s plays are bound up in the politics of their time, but at given points in history some have seemed more obviously ‘political’ than others. In this seminar we shall discuss plays that had a particular political dimension in the early modern period - notably Richard II, Richard III and Macbeth - and speculate on Shakespeare’s contribution to Sir Thomas More. We shall then consider the titles that can have political dimensions today, such as Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice.

Tutor: Dr John O’Connor is Visiting Senior Lecturer at Cornell University, USA, and was formerly Principal Lecturer in English at Westminster College, Oxford. He has also taught at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.

The English Romantic Poets

The ‘Romantic’ period saw one of the great flowerings of creativity in England, particularly in poetry, alongside a great radicalisation of politics. This course will consider the major poets of the period in their intellectual context, exploring their formal innovations and interests in older traditions, and their new ideas of selfhood and politics. We shall focus on the works of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, and John Keats, with opportunities to explore the works of Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Robinson, John Clare, and others.

Tutor: Dr Tom MacFaul is Fellow and Departmental Lecturer in English at Merton College, Oxford.

Jane Austen

In this course we shall be reading the work of Jane Austen with close critical attention in order to explore the qualities that have kept her novels among the world's favourite fiction for nearly two hundred years. We shall explore the structure and analyse the style of the six major novels, and extracts from some of the early works and fragments. We shall focus on the English language of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the narrative voice, focalisers and perspective, irony, dialogue, characterisation, and elements of style such as lexis and syntax.

Tutor: Dr Sandie Byrne is University Lecturer in English Literature and Director of Studies in English and Creative Writing at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, and Director of the Oxford University English Literature Summer School. She is the author of a number of books and articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century writing.

Victorian Fiction

The great Victorian novelists produced searching analyses of their society, exploring with pathos, passion and humour its often contradictory values - social aspiration, romantic yearning, moral fervour and religious doubt. Dealing with such issues in compelling narratives, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy showed how the lives of individuals were enmeshed in the cultural forces of the age. On this course we shall examine three of their masterpieces: Great Expectations, The Mill on the Floss and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. As well as discussing the books’ central themes, the course will pay close attention to their structure and use of language.

Tutor: Dr David Grylls is a tutor for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. His publications include books on Charles Dickens, George Gissing and Victorian parent-child relationships. He reviews contemporary fiction for The Sunday Times and critical books for the Times Literary Supplement.

Modernist Fiction

The broad range of novels and stories produced in the Modernist era was pivotal in introducing fundamental ideals of innovation and retrenchment into English fiction. Authors as diverse as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield shared a commitment to challenging prevailing narrative techniques, while at the same time seeking to realign their work with literary traditions as they found them. By examining some key prose fiction - Mrs Dalloway, Dubliners and Collected Stories- within the wider framework of their authors’ other books, and those of their contemporaries, this course aims to demonstrate the major premises motivating the Modernists’ endeavour, showing how they differed from their predecessors, and what effect their writing has had on fiction of the succeeding century.

Tutor: Dr John Ballam is Director of the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. His research specialism is in the late-Victorian and Modernist periods.

Contemporary Fiction

This course will explore the vitality and variety of 21st-century British fiction. Dominant themes - fascination with the past, concerns about the future, and response to diversity and change in British society - will be traced. Favoured stylistic approaches, from pastiche to near-documentary, will be examined. A selection of outstanding novels of recent years will be discussed in order to display the individual, exciting and innovative ways in which prominent British novelists are writing. We shall focus on Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child, David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Marina Lewycka’s Two Caravans, Sarah Waters’s The Night Watch, and Ian McEwan’s Solar.

Tutor: Peter Kemp is the Chief Fiction Reviewer for The Sunday Times and a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford.


Critical Reading

Close critical analysis is the basis of the study of literature. We shall look at a selection of texts from the 19th to 21st centuries, both poetry and prose, paying attention to aspects of language and form, and using key concepts and terms of the critical idiom, in order to develop and hone the skills required for an attentive, effective, critical analysis of literary texts.

Tutor: Dr Sandie Byrne is University Lecturer in English Literature and Director of Studies in English and Creative Writing at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, and Director of the Oxford University English Literature Summer School. She is the author of a number of books and articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century writing.

Shakespeare on Stage and Screen

In this seminar we shall explore the many different ways in which Shakespeare can be performed on stage and screen. While referring to a wide range of titles, we shall focus our discussion on interpretations of three plays - Twelfth Night, Henry V and Hamlet. Viewing extracts from British and American Shakespeare films, we shall investigate some key differences between stage and screen Shakespeare, consider the variety of approaches taken by directors, and compare different interpretations of the same play or role.

Tutor: Dr John O’Connor is Visiting Senior Lecturer at Cornell University, USA, and was formerly Principal Lecturer in English at Westminster College, Oxford. He has also taught at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.


  • All students who complete the programme will receive an `attendance certificate`
  • Those seeking credit at their home institution may request a `detailed certificate` which lists contact hours (for lectures and seminars), an assessment of their contribution to seminar discussions, grades achieved, and private study hours

Please note that, as Oxford University does not offer credit for this summer school, those wishing to obtain credit from their home institution for attending this programme must make appropriate arrangements with that institution in advance

Level and demands

Who is the programme for?

Main (graduate) programme

  • Graduates with a subject-relevant academic background
  • Teachers of English in schools and colleges

Undergraduate strand

  • Senior undergraduates who have studied English literature at university for a minimum of two years


This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience

Applicants should be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme

Participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme
  • attend all lectures and relevant seminar sessions
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topics
  • submit an assignment of 2000-3000 words in length for each course taken
  • undertake approximately 96 hours of private study during the programme (elements of private study will include: reading and other preparation between seminar meetings, work in libraries, writing papers, etc)

English language requirements

As students are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions and are required to produce written work it is important that applicants can demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in the four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must provide evidence of their competency in the form of an original certificate or a certified copy that is not more than two years old on the date the summer school starts. These applicants must satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • IELTS - minimum overall score of 6.5, with not less than 6.5 in each of the four components
  • TOEFL iBT - minimum overall score of 100, with not less than 25 in each of the four components
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) - grade C or above

For further information on English language qualifications:

However, non-native speakers of English who are currently undertaking (or have successfully completed) a full-time degree-level course at a university where English is the language of instruction or who have significant business and professional experience in an English-speaking environment may not need to provide a certificate of English language qualification. Please contact the Programme Administrator for further details.

Disabled students (including those with mobility difficulties)

The aim of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) is to treat all students equally and welcomes applications from people with disabilities. Individuals` needs are taken into account as far as possible, providing reasonable adaptations and assistance within the resources available. We ask that people let us know of any disability or special need (confidentially if required) so that we can help them participate as fully as possible.

When applying for OUDCE`s college-based summer schools, prospective students with mobility difficulties or visual or hearing impairments may want to make preliminary enquiries to the Programme Administrator, as the age and layout of these colleges often makes them user-unfriendly (although adaptations are often possible). Oxford, as an ancient city, tends to be difficult to navigate for people with disabilities. The number of very old buildings, designed in an age less sensitive to issues of disability, makes access to much of the city centre difficult. However, OUDCE will do as much as it is able to make study with the department possible.

Applicants should contact us if they will have problems gaining access to a bedroom or a teaching room that is located on upper or basement floors, or to the college dining hall (which is reached via a flight of stairs).



Founded in 1314, Exeter College is one of the university`s oldest colleges and is situated in the heart of Oxford.

Students who choose to attend the summer school on a residential basis will have a single study bedroom and will take meals in the college dining hall.

Bedrooms are located up the four to nine floors of a staircase; bath and/or shower and toilet facilities on each staircase are shared.

A limited number of rooms have private bathroom facilities (shower and toilet) and these are available for an enhanced fee. Early application for these rooms is essential - ie by the first gathered field deadline of 1 February 2014.

Students cannot be accommodated at Exeter College either prior to or beyond their programme dates. Family members and/or friends who are not enrolled on this summer school cannot be accommodated in college.

Students who choose to attend the summer school on a non-residential basis are responsible for finding their own accommodation. Information on accommodation in Oxford can be found on the internet at:

Please be aware that there is high demand for accommodation in Oxford during the summer months.

Exeter College has rooms which can be taken on a self-catering basis roughly one mile away from the main college site. For further information please contact the Assistant Steward by email: accommodation@exeter.ox.ac.uk


  • Students will be enrolled as readers at Oxford University`s main reference library, the Bodleian
  • They will also have access to the English Faculty and Continuing Education Libraries

IT facilities

All students will be eligible to use the computers and printer in Exeter College's computer room

Laptops and wireless internet access

  • For residential students, wireless internet access is available in all bedrooms
  • For all students, wireless access is available in communal areas of the college


Programme fees

  • Residential - standard room - shared bathroom facilities - £2,725
    Fees include tuition; access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a room with shared bathroom facilities, and meals in hall (except lunch on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Residential - room with private shower and toilet - £2,985
    Fees include tuition; access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a room with private shower and toilet, and meals in hall (except lunch on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Non-residential - £1,200
    Fees include tuition; access to IT facilities and libraries; the programme`s formal opening and closing receptions and dinners

Successful applicants who accept our offer of a place on the summer school will be invoiced for the appropriate programme fee once they have been enrolled on the programme.

Students are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of their invoice date. Late applicants (see 'Apply for this course', below) are required to pay the full fee within 7 days of their invoice date. Places will not be held for students whose fees are not paid in full by the due date. In no circumstances will students be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.


All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Terms and Conditions for Course Registration and Fee Payment

If you wish to cancel you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at ipenglit@conted.ox.ac.uk

Please be aware that if you cancel your place on the summer school you will not be entitled to a refund, except in exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of the Director of Public & International Programmes at OUDCE. In such circumstance that a refund is given an administration fee may be levied.

You are therefore very strongly recommended to take out vacation cancellation insurance, and you should consult your travel agent and/or insurer for information and advice. Please note that OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover.

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a course or seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 15 April 2014. If it is likely that individual seminars or the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified in writing within seven days, and possible options clearly explained.

If you have not heard from OUDCE by 22 April 2014, you should assume that the course and your seminars will be running; there is no need to contact us to confirm. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

Apply for this course

Click here to download the application form

Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in BLOCK CAPITALS.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • A brief statement of purpose (350-400 words) detailing your academic reasons for wishing to attend the summer school. This should include what you hope to get out of the programme, and what you are likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the summer school. This may include details of literature courses you have previously taken, or the relevance of the summer school to your present course of study or professional development. If you are applying for the graduate strand of the programme it is essential that you clearly state your reasons for wishing to enrol on specific seminars.
  • A copy of your transcript, or a certified list of courses taken. These must be in English.
  • In the case of non-native speakers of English, official evidence of English language competency.
  • A letter of recommendation, ideally from a person who knows your academic work, though in the case of those no longer engaged in courses of academic study, recommendations from other sources (eg your employer or head teacher) will be accepted. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.
  • Four photographs (UK passport-sized - ie 4.5cm high x 3.5cm wide), with your full name printed on the back of each.

Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered

Applications should be posted to: English Literature Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK

An email acknowledgement will be sent to confirm receipt of application materials

Please note that we are currently unable to receive applications by email or fax

Application deadlines

Oxford University operates a 'gathered field' closing date system by which applications are reviewed fairly and equally in batches at specific dates throughout the admissions period rather than on a first come, first served or rolling basis.

There is a limited number of places available on every graduate-level course within each gathered field, and in assigning successful applicants to seminar groups the admissions panel will pay particular attention to applicants' personal statements.

There are three deadlines for applications:

  • Gathered field 1 - 1 February 2014
  • Gathered field 2 - 1 March 2014
  • Gathered field 3 - 1 April 2014

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered on a first come, first served basis until 1 May 2014

Notification of the admission panel's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the panel's decision by email within 14 days of the relevant gathered field deadline.

Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline the offer. In accepting our offer of a place applicants are committing to paying the programme fees in full by the due date.

Please note that late applicants will be notified within 7 days of their materials having been received, and successful applicants will then have 7 days in which to accept or decline our offer of a place.

Enrolment, invoicing, and further course information

  • Students will be enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted our offer of a place
  • The enrolment process includes the issuing of invoices, which will be posted to students together with full instructions for payment
  • Detailed academic and seminar information will be emailed to students in Spring 2014 togther with 'Joining Notes', which will contain a wealth of practical information to assist students prepare to travel to Oxford

Any queries?

Please contact the Programme Administrator by email at ipenglit@conted.ox.ac.uk

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

All students travelling to the United Kingdom (UK) are required to hold a valid passport. OUDCE welcomes international students on all its courses; however, it is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that they conform to UK immigration law.

If you are an European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national you do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in one of OUDCE’s summer schools. You are free to enter the UK as long as you show your EEA or Swiss passport on arrival.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you will need to enter as a Student Visitor. The Student Visitor route allows students over the age of 18 to study either part-time or full-time for up to six months in the UK.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national we strongly recommend that you visit the UK Border Agency’s website before submitting your application.

Please note that Oxford University summer schools administrative staff are not permitted to provide information and advice regarding visa-related matters: all such enquiries should be submitted to Oxford University’s student visa and immigration advisers via email at student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk

Sorry, this course is not currently accepting applications. If you have any questions about this course, please use the course enquiry form.

facebook social media icon facebook social media icon facebook social media icon facebook social media icon

red box iconKeep me informed

By email
Receive our quarterly email newsletter and news of upcoming events

We're happy to answer your questions and to provide information!