Great Victorians: The Verdict of History


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.

This course aims to highlight the unique aspects of individualism that distinguish great people in history from the rest of us.  Spanning almost 200 years we will examine the varied contexts of great men and women and see whether reputations contemporary and later have stood the test of time. From the Spanish campos to the Reform Bill of 1832, duelling Chancellor of Oxford – The Duke of Wellington. From the constraints of early Victorian womanhood to the Crimea – Florence Nightingale.  From antiquarian Oxford scholar to the forger of Arab nationalism – T.E. Lawrence. From Harrow school to romantic war correspondent and thence to become the greatest natural leader of modern times – Winston Churchill.

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.

Duke of Wellington: Early life/background, India, Political background, Peninsular War, Waterloo, Politics, 1815-1848, PM, historiography.

Florence Nightingale: Early life/’Grand Tour’ background, Biblical influence and evangelical reformers, correspondence with Sidney Herbert, Crimea/Scutari and aftermath, historiography.

T.E. Lawrence: Early life and travels, Oxford roots, shaper of Arab consciousness, writer and arch publicist, RAF and obscurity, historical interpretations.

Field Trip to Clouds Hill in Dorset.

W.S. Churchill:  ‘silverspoon’ upbringing, Harrow, Sandhurst, India, Boer War. Gallipoli fiasco, trenches, wilderness years, WW2, rejection 1945, Fulton speech. End of an era 1965.


Field Trip

Destination:   Clouds Hill; Dorset

Excursion Rating: 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
Programme fee (no accom–incl. field trip, lunch and dinner) £1135.00
Programme fee (with single en-suite accom, field trip and meals) £1630.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom, field trip and meals) £1435.00


Dr Mark Radford


Mark Radford PhD is a former member of the Regular British army and Royal Ulster Constabulary. He is an Honory Colonel in the reserves and cadets. He teaches modern history for OUDCE and his latest work on Irish history was published by Bloomsbury in 2015.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Friday, 1 May 2020 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.


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 fee stated includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available*.

There is also a limited number of standard rooms available, which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but shared bath and toilet facilities. 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 en-suite room or a standard twin set room each person should complete an application form and email it to us at as these rooms cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems. Students should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

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.


If accommodation is unavailable in a particular week, we also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

If you wish to enrol on a non-residential basis please complete an application form and email it to us at as this option cannot be booked online. (Forms may also be posted to us at: The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA, UK)