History, Politics & Society Summer School



A three-week residential summer school providing insight into issues and events that have influenced the contemporary world using a thematic approach.

  • Offering seminars on British political ideologies, contemporary British politics, the European Union, gender politics, globalisation, humanitarian crises, and modern warfare.
  • Including a daily lecture programme given by leading scholars and distinguished speakers.
  • Providing an opportunity to study and live at Exeter College, one of Oxford University's oldest colleges.

The academic programme consists of

  • study in small interactive seminar groups with specialist tutors; and
  • a daily lecture programme given by leading scholars and distinguished speakers.

Applicants choose two seminars from:

  • British Political Ideologies
  • Contemporary British Politics
  • European Union Politics and Institutions
  • Gender, Power and Social Change: Western Perspectives from the 1950s to the Present
  • Political Economy in a Globalised World
  • Responding to Crisis: Refugees, States and Borders Since 1918
  • Warfare in the Modern World.

Each seminar has two two-hour meetings per week, and classes will usually contain no more than 14 students.


Please check the seminar timetable carefully to ensure that your first and second choice courses do not run at the same time.

Contact hours

The programme provides a minimum of 46.5 contact hours, comprising:

  • 24 hours of seminar meetings (12 hours per seminar); and
  • 22.5 hours of lectures (15 lectures, each lasting 1.5 hours).

Social programme

A range of optional social events will be offered throughout the summer school. These are likely to include: a walking tour of Oxford, after-dinner talks and discussions; and weekend excursions to sites of historical and/or literary interest. Most of these activities incur additional costs.

Beyond the summer school, Oxford is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a busy cultural and social scene offering a wide variety of plays and shows, concerts, films and exhibitions.

Programme details

Seminar options

British Political Ideologies

This course will introduce students to British political ideologies, starting from the mainstream conservative, liberal and social democratic traditions and moving on to more radical ideas such as Marxism, different forms of nationalism and environmentalism. In addition to exploring the key ideas and prominent thinkers of each tradition, it will also look at the impact of ideologies on policy-making, and ask whether some of the more radical ideas have moved from the margins to the mainstream. Finally, the course will look at recent developments and ask whether there is a future for ideology in the age of globalisation, social media, ‘post-truth’ and identity politics.

Tutor: Dr Geoff Andrews is Senior Lecturer in Politics at The Open University. He has written widely on the history of political ideas and movements, including aspects of British and Italian history and the politics of the 1930s. He has taught several courses for the Oxford University Summer School for Adults.

Contemporary British Politics

This course aims to shed light on the secret places in British politics, particularly exploring the location of power between the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Parliament. The prospect of constitutional change in Scotland is considered in depth along with the centrality of the National Health Service (NHS) both to electoral politics and also to fiscal policy appropriation. The recent fortunes of Britain's two main 'governing parties' are also analysed. In particular, why the Labour party, so dominant under Tony Blair when winning landslide victories, has witnessed a decline in its electoral performance. Conversely, the course explores the challenges facing the Conservatives during 13 years of opposition and how Boris Johnson has sought to revive the party's appeal. External policy is not neglected. The issue of how and why Brexit occurred is considered alongside the perennial state of the Anglo-American 'special relationship'.

Tutor: Dr Martin Holmes was Lecturer in Politics at St Hugh's College, Oxford, 1987-2009, since when he has been an (Hon) member of the St Hugh's College Senior Common Room. He teaches on OUDCE's Foundations of Diplomacy course, and is the author of six books on British politics.

European Union Politics and Institutions

During recent years, the European Union has faced a series of challenges and crises – eurozone crisis, refugee influx, competition from US, Russia and China, radicalisation, Brexit, rise of populism and the pandemic – some of which have been threatening its unity, and some strengthening its resolve. This course will address these issues, yet it will also look into past developments of the European project. It will discuss the history of the European Union since its inception, the policies, the institutions, the member states and their national politics in a comparative perspective. It will ask whether Europe is federal or intergovernmental. It will look into Europe’s global influence and its position in the multipolar world and will discuss scenarios for the future.

Tutor: Dr Othon Anastasakis is Senior Research Fellow and Tutor in South East European Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He supervises post-graduate students at Oxford University's Department of Politics and International Relations and at the Faculty of History. He teaches at the Oxford School of Global and Area Areas Studies of Oxford University. He is the Director of South East European Studies at Oxford University (SEESOX). He is an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada and Region Head of Europe at Oxford Analytica.

Gender, Power and Social Change: Western Perspectives from the 1950s to the Present

Are sex and gender synonymous? Does gender power have an evolutionary explanation or is it socially constructed? How fluid is sexuality? This course will examine the main theories of gender utilised in evolutionary psychology and sociology with particular emphasis on the origins and perpetuation of a gendered power dynamic in modern Western societies. The course will explore gender and sexuality in the context of the family, personal relationships, employment, education, the media, criminality and the state.

Tutor: Dr Amanda Palmer is a Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and the Director of Studies for Human Sciences at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. She is also the College Lecturer in Sociology at St Benet's Hall, Oxford. She is the Director of the History, Politics & Society Summer School.

Political Economy in a Globalised World

To what extent do we still live in a ‘globalised’ and 'capitalist' world, and how helpful are the concepts of ‘globalisation’ and 'capitalism' for understanding the contemporary international system? This course will introduce students to the discipline of Global Political Economy (GPE), which allows us to address these and other key questions about the world today. Through an historical approach, this course will move beyond the examination of the dominant and classical theoretical perspectives of political economy: mercantilism, liberalism, Marxism. It will offer a framework of analysis and address contemporary political, economic and societal developments including ongoing controversies surrounding such notions as globalisation’, 'limited government‘, and 'Corona Capitalism’.

Tutor: Professor Christian Glossner has been a lecturer in Global Political Economy (GPE) for OUDCE since 2009. He previously worked for various management consultancies, industrial corporations and public sector institutions, including the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN) of the European Commission in Brussels.

Responding to Crisis: Refugees, States and Borders Since 1918

The recent mass flight from Syria is a reminder of what happens when war, state collapse, or environmental breakdown engulfs a society. Yet the experience is not new. What is new is the way in which the world is being blocked off to the free movement of desperate peoples. This course will chart the historical course of increasingly dystopian international responses to humanitarian crisis and what - as human beings - we can do about it. Case-studies covered will include the population exchanges at the end of the Ottoman Empire, Holocaust rescue efforts, and the emerging environmental refugee crisis.

Tutor: Dr Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the University of Southampton. His writing ranges across genocide, Jewish history and environmental and peace issues especially focusing on anthropogenic climate change. He is co-founder of Crisis Forum and founder of the Rescue!History independent academic networks.

Warfare in the Modern World

The 20th century has undoubtedly been the most sanguinary in recorded human history. This course will examine the origins, course and results of several regional and civil wars and will set them in their political, economic, religious and ideological contexts. It will also explore the phenomena of guerrilla insurgencies and various military responses to this type of warfare. Clausewitz remarked that 'every age had its own kind of war': we will pick out the threads of our present kind of war - asymmetric or fourth generation warfare - and explicit comparisons will be drawn, where appropriate, with the contemporary situation in Iraq and Syria.

Tutor: Dr Mark Radford teaches Modern History for OUDCE. He is a former member of the Regular British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary, and has recently been granted the rare appointment of Honorary Colonel in the British Army Reserves and Cadets in recognition of his long-standing involvement. His latest work on Irish policing was published by Bloomsbury in 2015, and he currently contributes to the British Army Review.


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 for written work, and the number of private study hours required. Certificates will usually be sent to students' home institutions within a month of the end of the summer school.

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.


Residential: Standard (shared bathroom) - £3,280; Residential: En Suite (private bathroom facilities) - £3,575; Non-residential (no accommodation or meals) - £1,460


Programme fees

  • Residential: Standard (shared bathroom facilities) - £3,280
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily lecture programme); access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a standard single room with shared bathroom facilities for the nights of Sunday 4 July to Friday 23 July 2021 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 4 July to breakfast on Saturday 24 July 2021 (except lunch on Saturdays and Sundays).

  • Residential: En suite (private bathroom facilities) - £3,575
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily lecture programme); access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a single en suite room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 4 July to Friday 23 July 2021 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 4 July to breakfast on Saturday 24 July 2021 (except lunch on Saturdays and Sundays).

  • Non-residential - £1,460
    Fees include tuition (2 seminars and the daily lecture programme); access to IT facilities and libraries; no accommodation; no meals, except the programme's formal opening and closing dinners on Sunday 4 July and Friday 23 July 2021, respectively.

There are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.

Invoicing and payment

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

Invoices will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment. Fees may be paid online with a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer.

Students are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of the date on which their invoice was issued. Late applicants (see "Apply for this course", below) are required to pay the full fee within 7 days of their invoice date.

Please note that:

  • students need to take out insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs (see "Cancellations", below);
  • a student's place on the summer school is not confirmed until their fees have been paid in full;
  • places will not be held for students whose fees are not paid in full by the due date; and
  • in no circumstances will students be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.

When you have paid your fees

Your place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as your payment is received by OUDCE.

You will receive a receipt for your payment: an automated email from webpayments@conted.ox.ac.uk if paid online, or via email from historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk if paid by bank transfer.

The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details (see "Level and demands", below).


All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Short Selective Course Terms and Conditions.

A contract between OUDCE and a student comes into being when a student accepts an offer of a place on the summer school.

You have the right to cancel this contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you accepted the offer.

Please be aware that if you cancel your place at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period you will not be entitled to a refund of the price paid for the summer school.

If you wish to cancel your place on the summer school you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk

You need to take out insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs, and you should consult your travel agent and/or insurer for information and advice. 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 1 May 2021. If it is likely that individual seminars or the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days, and possible options clearly explained.

If you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2021, 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.

Course aims

Each seminar has its own course aim and objectives.

Teaching methods

Students will attend a lecture programme.

Elements of seminar teaching will normally include:

  • mini lectures by tutors;
  • tutor-led class discussions;
  • small group activities; and
  • individual student presentations.

Students will attend short tutorials with their tutors to receive feedback on their written work.

Learning outcomes

Each seminar has its own learning outcomes.

Assessment methods

Tutors will monitor and assess students’ contribution to class discussions.

Students are expected to submit an assignment of 2,000-3,000 words in length for assessment for each seminar taken.


Before you submit your application

  • ensure you meet the admissions criteria (see "Selection criteria", below);
  • clease check the seminar timetable carefully to ensure that your first and second choice courses do not run at the same time;
  • make sure you have all the required supporting documents listed below;
  • ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of enrolment on the summer school, especially those relating to payment of fees and cancellations (see "Payment", above); and
  • read the 'Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements' (see "Level and demands", below).

The application process

Download, print and complete 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 history, politics, political or social science courses you have previously taken, or the relevance of the summer school to your present course of study or professional development. It is essential that you clearly state your reasons for wishing to enrol on specific seminars.
  • All of your official university transcripts. 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. Please note that the letter of recommendation must refer specifically to your application to the Oxford University History, Politics & Society Summer School.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should be emailed to: historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk

After you have submitted your application

You will receive an email from historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk confirming receipt of your application materials, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the admissions panel.

Application deadlines

This summer school 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 2021
  • Gathered field 2 - 1 March 2021
  • Gathered field 3 - 1 April 2021

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered on a first come, first served basis until 1 May 2021.

Notification of the admission panel's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the panel's decision by email from historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk 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 an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

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 the offer of a place.


Students will be formally enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted their offer of a place.

The enrolment process includes the issuing of invoices, which will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment (see "Payment", above).

Students will be required to provide four photographs (UK passport-sized - ie 4.5cm high x 3.5cm wide), with their full name printed on the back of each. The photographs should be posted to: History, Politics & Society Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK

Further course information

Students will receive the following information by email from historysummer@conted.ox.ac.uk prior to the summer school:

  • In April 2021 - academic and course information, including detailed course content and required preparatory reading
  • In April 2021 - joining instructions, containing a wealth of practical information to assist students as they prepare to travel to to the summer school (eg how to get to Oxford, arrangements at Exeter College)
  • In April 2021 - details of the lecture programme
  • In May 2021 - details of the social programme
  • In June 2021 - confirmation of arrival day arrangements.

Any queries?

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

Covid-19 guidance for summer school participants

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of participants is our highest priority. We've introduced a range of measures to protect you when you are in university and college buildings, in accordance with university and UK government guidelines. These measures may include: enhanced cleaning regimes and additional facilities for hand washing and hand sanitising; spaces adapted to support social distancing with clear signage and markings; a requirement for the wearing of face coverings during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces.

You'll be required to follow university and UK government guidelines whilst in Oxford, and to sign a ‘Student Responsibility Agreement’ in advance of the course, confirming that you will do so (this will be similar to the version for university students, which you can review online).  Further information is available at www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus/health. You should particularly review the university’s face coverings policy, which you will need to comply with at all times on university property.

If UK government regulations require you to quarantine on arrival in the UK, then you will need to arrange this yourself at your own expense. Unfortunately, we aren’t permitted to let you quarantine in university accommodation. Travel is not encouraged – and may not be permitted – if you are travelling from or through a country on the UK government’s ‘red list’.

If we have to cancel your course

Should it be necessary to cancel your course, we will make every reasonable effort to give you as much notice of cancellation as possible, and we will refund all course fees paid by you (including the cost of accommodation, if booked through us as part of your course). Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than in pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the date they are processed.

The department 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. You are advised to check cancellation policies carefully and to purchase travel insurance.

Level and demands

Participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme;
  • attend all seminar sessions and lectures;
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topics;
  • submit an assignment of 2,000-3,000 words in length for each seminar taken; and
  • 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).

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals (excludes Irish nationals) 

You do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You can enter as a visitor for up to 6 months by using your passport or identity card at the eGates. Note that from 1 October 2021, you will not be able to use your identity card and will need to show your passport; this is explained on the UK Government website. The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full which you should keep in your hand luggage in case you are ever asked any questions on arrival. If you have pre-settled or settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme this paragraph does not apply. 

Non-EEA nationals 

a. Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA 

If you hold a passport from one of these countries you can enter via the eGates as a visitor for up to 6 months. However, you should still keep the standard format pdf letter we will provide you in your hand luggage in case of any queries, or in case you need to attend a staffed desk if the eGates are not working or if the eGates cannot recognise the chip in your passport. 

b. other non-EEA nationals 

You may need to apply for a visa before coming to the UK depending on which passport you hold. You can check if you need a visa before coming to the UK on the UK Government website 

  • If the website shows that you require a visa: you must apply for a visitor visa before coming to the UK. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from. 

  • If the website shows that you do not require a visa: you will still need to bring certain documents to show at the border in order to be admitted as a visitor

    If you are not a national in section a. we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application.

    You should ensure your summer school application is submitted as early as possible to allow yourself sufficient time to complete the visa application process.

    The Programme Administrator will provide all non-UK students with a standard format pdf letter by email confirming enrolment and course details once their fees have been paid in full.

    For legal reasons the Programme Administrator is not permitted to provide any visa advice to applicants: all such enquiries should be submitted to Oxford University’s student visa and immigration advisers via email at student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk

    It is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to enable you to be admitted to the UK. The university takes no responsibility for a visa being denied at any point before or during a course.

    If you fail to attend the course and are from a nationality that require a visa before coming to the UK, we may need to contact the Home Office if we have issued you with a standard format pdf letter for visa purposes. 

Please note that the standard cancellation policy applies in all cases. (See "Cancellations", above.)

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).

Selection criteria

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.

Academic requirements

Applications are welcomed from:

  • graduates with a subject-appropriate academic background;
  • teachers of history, politics, political or social science, economics or law in schools and colleges; and
  • senior undergraduates who have completed at least two years of a full-time university degree programme in a relevant academic discipline - ie history, politics, political or social science (eg government, international development, international relations, social policy or sociology), economics or law.

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 Academic - 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 English: Advanced (CAE) - grade C or above.

For further information on English language qualifications:

However, non-native speakers of English who have successfully completed a full-time degree-level programme 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.



Founded in 1314, Exeter College is one of Oxford University's oldest colleges and is situated in a prime city centre location.

Bedrooms and meals

Students who choose to attend the summer school on a residential basis will have a single study bedroom.

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 a higher fee. Early application for these rooms is essential.

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.

Residential students will take meals in the college's dining hall. All meals are self-service with a range of options available. The only exceptions are the summer school's opening and closing dinners, which are formal served set menu meals. Should applicants have any dietary requirements (eg vegetarian, gluten-free) they are required to complete the relevant section on the application form.

Please be aware that accommodation at Exeter College is limited and may not be available for those who submit their applications towards the end of the admissions period.

Non-residential students

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 is available at:

No meals are provided for non-residential students, except the summer school's opening and closing dinners.

IT requirements

Although it is not required, most students bring a laptop to Oxford to assist them with their studies.

For residential students, wireless internet access is available in all bedrooms; for all students, wireless access is available in communal spaces of the college.

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