Brontës (Online)


How did three sisters living an apparently secluded and eventless life write some of the most original, passionate and dramatic novels and poetry in the English language? Who were the Brontës, what fed their imaginations, and what makes their writing so haunting, intense, and important?

Listen to Dr Sandie Byrne talking about the course:

The website of the Brontë Parsonage Museum states: ‘To find two writers of genius in one family would be rare, but to find several writers in one household is unique in the history of literature. Charlotte and Emily are ranked among the world’s greatest novelists; Anne is a powerful underrated author, and both their father, the Revd. Patrick Brontë, and brother Branwell also saw their own works in print’. This course explores those works of genius and places them in their literary, cultural, and historical (including family) contexts. Participants will come to understand and to be able to analyse what makes the Brontës'writings so haunting, intense, and original. This course is for anyone who has read or would like to read the work of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, or who is interested in nineteenth-century literature or women’s writing.

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

1. Brontë lives and myths
2. Reading the Brontës
3. Charlotte Brontë: structure and themes of Jane Eyre
4. Charlotte Brontë: contexts of Jane Eyre
5. Anne Brontë: contexts of Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
6. Anne Brontë: representations of women
7. Emily Brontë: themes and motifs
8. Brontë manuscripts and editions
9. Emily Brontë: structure and language of Wuthering Heights
10. The endings of the Brontës’ novels, rewritings, prequels and sequels, and opportunities for further exploration.

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:


Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Octavia Cox

Dr Octavia Cox completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, has taught and lectured at the University of Oxford, the University of Nottingham, and elsewhere, and has published various peer-reviewed chapters and articles.  Her first monograph, Alexander Pope in the Romantic Age, is forthcoming.  She is currently researching a book provisionally titled Jane Austen and Counter-Genre.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce or reintroduce participants to the writing of the Brontë sisters and to the cultural, historical, and literary contexts in which they wrote.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Guided use of existing websites
  • Use of tutor notes and handouts
  • Discussions of particular issues and responses to reading in the unit forums
  • Close critical analyses of selected extracts from the texts studied

Learning outcomes

You will understand:
• significant features of the styles and themes of selected work of the three Brontë sisters; significant aspects of the structure, language and other features of the novels and poems studied
• the development of the ‘Brontë myth’ and the ‘Brontë industry’
• ways in which the Brontës’ writing represents and articulates significant contemporary issues and debates
• the position of the Brontë sisters as aspiring authors in the mid-nineteenth century

And you will have developed the following skills:
• enhanced ability to produce close critical analyses of literary texts
• enhanced ability to research and deploy contextual information in the study of literary texts
• the ability to communicate well-supported arguments about the Brontë texts studied

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link:


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.