Colleges of Oxford

Course details

From £1410.00

Sun 28 Jul 2019 - Sat 03 Aug 2019

Colleges of Oxford


The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

The course explores the historic colleges and buildings of the University and city in the context of the origins of the town and growth of the University, ranging from the early medieval period to the 21st century. We shall look at the changing architectural styles of the buildings (churches, houses, colleges and institutions) in the context of the college gardens and the surrounding countryside. Following the chronology from medieval origins through to the modern period, the course will consist of illustrated talks with walks around historic buildings and streets of Oxford. On the last morning there will be a Victorian walk followed by an afternoon excursion to see modern colleges and views of the ‘dreaming spires’ from the Oxford countryside.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.


Early medieval Oxford: the landscape setting, origins of the city and development of the late Saxon town; Norman Oxford, its castle and defences; the houses and churches of the medieval town. [Talk + walk, returning for lunch]


The medieval university: the origins of the university in the late 12th century; student learning and life in academic halls; the curriculum; the arrival of colleges and their architectural impact on the town. [Talk + walk, returning for lunch]


16th – 17th century Oxford: the late medieval university and the impact of the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries on the urban scene; the rebuilding of Oxford in the 17th century, and the new science and learning. [Talk + walk, returning for lunch]


18th – 19th century Oxford: building activity in a quiet century, and rapid growth thereafter; the creation of the dreaming spires in art and literature; new churches, laboratories and museums. [Talk + walk, returning for lunch]


19th – 20th century Oxford: a walk round Victorian Oxford, with break for coffee [Walk + walk, returning for lunch]. In the afternoon, a bus excursion to 20th-century Oxford colleges, and the historic landscape with views of Oxford and its famous skyline.

Field Trip:

Tuesday 30 July:  New College (on foot)

Wednesday 31 July:  Sheldonian Theatre (on foot)

Friday 2 August:  University Museum (on foot)

South Parks, St Catherine’s College, Wolfson Collage, Wolvercote, Boars Hill

Excursion Rating: Demanding

Excursion Ratings: Key
(as rated by course tutors)
Easy: Up to an hour's walk on even ground or less than half an hour's walk on rough ground.
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.
Demanding: More than two hours' walk on even ground or up to two hours' walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.

Recommended reading

Morris, Jan.  Oxford.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Tyack, Geoffrey.  Oxford: An Architectural Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.


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. Bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The fee £1545 includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available for couples or those who wish to share with a friend. Those couples wishing to book a twin room should contact us direct, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

There are also a few standard rooms available which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but the bath and toilet facilities on each staircase are shared. To apply for one of these rooms please select the ‘Programme Fee (with single standard accommodation and meals)’ option on the application form.  Early application for these rooms is essential.

Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room). If you wish to book a twin set, please contact us direct, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you 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.


Programme fee (with single en-suite accom, field trip and meals): £1590.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom, field trip and meals): £1410.00


Mr Julian Munby


Julian Munby works on historic buildings and landscapes for Oxford Archaeology, has been researching the history of Oxford for many years, with a special interest in its buildings and in drawn views of the city. He has wide interests in cultural studies from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, and he is a regular lecturer for OUDCE.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Wednesday 1 May 2019 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.