Charles Dickens's Great Expectations


The novel Great Expectations is still immensely popular a century and a half after its publication. It is the story of Pip, the poor orphan, who becomes a man of means. The novel appeared in the periodical All the Year Round 1860-61. Ironically, Dickens conceived of Great Expectations as a means of restoring the periodical's fortunes - yet the novel's theme is that loyalty and conscience are more important than wealth. At a time when the novel was a predominantly realist genre, Great Expectations incorporates other generic possibilities, in particular those of gothic fiction, sensation fiction and popular melodrama - and as G.K. Chesterton comments, “When Dickens has once described something, you see it for the rest of your life”.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.


Background to the novel.
Dickens's thirteenth novel, Great Expectations, was published in Dickens's weekly journal All the Year Round. Dickens re-read David Copperfield before he started writing Great Expectations. Keen to produce a more mature novel of development, this semi-autobiographical novel is considered Dickens’s darkest work by some.

This session will examine events that may have influenced the themes and characters in the novel. It will also look at how serialisation contributed to moments of high drama at the end of certain chapters.


Social conscience and class.
Dickens’s childhood influenced his sympathies with the poor; nonetheless, Dickens was, as Matthew Arnold reminds us “Middle Class […] bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh”. This session will consider the possibilities and problems with viewing the novel as a treatise on social injustice, when its theme is aspiration.


By 1860, Dickens was separated from his wife and living with his mistress, Ellen Ternan; Dickens’s relationship with her an echo of Joe and Biddy’s marriage. Yet another woman re-appeared in Dickens’s life at this time and whose earlier treatment of Dickens may have inspired the characters Estella and Miss Havisham. This session will examine the marriage, gender and love in this novel.


A trip to the Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, London.
We will explore the only surviving London house that Dickens lived in. It was the home in which Dickens’s career really took off. It was also the house in which Dickens’ sister-in-law Mary Hogarth died. From here we will go to one of Dickens’s favourite public houses before returning to Oxford. 


Interpreting the ending(s).
The novel has two recognised endings – the ‘Piccadilly’ and ‘the Satis House’.  Additionally, there are other possible last lines. Which one is the ‘real’ one? This session will consider the relative merits of each. 


Field Trip 

Destination: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London


Excursion ratingEasy/Moderate: up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals per person) £1980.00
Fee option 2 (double en suite accom and meals per person) £1835.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals per person) £1835.00
Fee option 4 (twin set standard accom and meals per person) £1835.00
Fee option 5 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner per person) £1400.00
Fee option 6 (single standard accom and meals per person) £1880.00


Please note there are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an enrolment form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Supplementary costs

  • Extended-stay fee: Participants staying multiple, consecutive weeks will be charged an additional £90 for the cost of the Saturday night between courses. An invoice will be emailed to participants alongside confirmation of their enrolment.
  • Excursion fee where applicable: £15-125. This fee is built into the above course fees and will not require a separate payment. If your course includes a day-long excursion, you may need to make your own lunch arrangements.
  • Course change administration fee: Please note that course transfers may be permitted in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the programme administrator, up to the 1 May 2023. In accordance with our Terms and Conditions, an administration fee of £50 will be charged.
  • Any ticketed activities, as outlined in the Social Programme.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2023 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2023 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2023 - no refunds will be made under any circumstances.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2023. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2023, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

All participants need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. OUDCE cannot be held responsible for any costs you may incur in relation to travel or accommodation bookings as a result of a course cancellation, or if you are unable to attend the course for any other reason. 


Dr Sara Zadrozny


Sara Zadrozny was a lecturer in English at the Institute of Education in the University of Reading. She now teaches on the weekly classes for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and for the Oxford Experience. Her research interests include the Gothic and  representation of female ageing in Victorian Literature, especially in the works of Charles Dickens.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. The teaching methods used during this course will include:

  • Short lectures/Presentations
  • Physical handouts
  • Seminars/group discussions
  • Video recordings
  • Field Trip

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2023.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an enrolment form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church, in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century. The course fee includes breakfasts Monday-Saturday, lunches Sunday-Friday, and 3-course dinners Sunday-Friday. All meals are taken in Christ Church’s spectacular dining hall.

Please note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished and do not have air-conditioning. Photographs of example rooms can be found at:

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite;
  • Double en suite;
  • Twin en suite;
  • ‘Twin set’ standard.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). ‘Twin set’ standard rooms comprise two separate single standard rooms, each with a washbasin and shaver point only, opening onto a private sitting room. Bathroom facilities are shared with other rooms. All twin, twin set and double rooms are shared between participants that apply to the programme together, and cannot be booked by individuals.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an enrolment form (see ‘Application’).

Please note that Christ Church rooms do not have lift access, and the higher rooms can be located up a few flights of stairs. If you need a room on a ground or lower floor please indicate this either online or on your enrolment form, or contact the programme administrator directly at prior to your arrival.

We regret that we are unable to offer accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

Participants Attending Multiple Weeks

The Oxford Experience welcomes participants who want to attend multiple courses over a number of weeks. Resident participants staying in Christ Church for consecutive weeks will be offered a reduced rate for the Saturday night between their courses.

This extended-stay fee is £90 per person, per Saturday. An invoice will be emailed to participants alongside confirmation of their enrolment. Please note that Saturday lunch and dinner and Sunday breakfast are not provided, however we are happy to make recommendations for alternative places to eat in Oxford.