International Politics Summer School 2020


A two-week residential summer school tackling the vital issues that shape politics in the modern world, with a regional focus.

  • Providing in depth analysis of key countries in regions outside of Western Europe and North America - Africa, China, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Russia and the Former Soviet Union.
  • Including a daily lecture programme given by world-renowned academics.
  • Giving the opportunity to study at St Antony's College, Oxford University's only college to focus exclusively on international affairs.

The academic programme consists of

  • small seminar groups with a specialist tutor, which enable participants to study their subject in meaningful detail;
  • a daily lecture programme given by world-renowned academics and best-selling authors: previous lecturers have included Archie Brown, Margaret Macmillan, Rosemary Foot, Anand Menon, Laurence Whitehead, and Rana Mitter; and
  • lively daily discussion groups led by current Oxford University doctoral students.

Applicants choose one course from:

  • The New International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa
  • The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America
  • The Politics of the Chinese Party-State
  • Power, Resources and Political Identity in Russia and the Former Soviet Union
  • Understanding African Politics and Society.

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

Contact hours

The programme provides a minimum of 45 contact hours, comprising

  • 20 hours of seminar meetings (10 meetings, each lasting 2 hours);
  • 15 hours of lectures (10 lectures, each lasting 1.5 hours); and
  • 10 hours of discussion group sessions (10 discussions, each lasting 1 hour).

Programme details


The daily timetable, Monday-Friday in both weeks, will normally be as follows:

  • 09.00-11.00 - Seminars
  • 11.30-13.00 - Lecture
  • 14.00-17.30 - Private study
  • 17.30-18.30 - Discussion groups

Seminar options

The New International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa

Popular uprisings have transformed domestic politics across the Middle East and North Africa since 2011. No less important have been changes in relations among the countries of the region, along with the rise of disruptive transnational movements and the restructuring of regional organisations. This course explores current trends in international politics in this part of the world, including:

  • reconfigurations of alignments and antagonisms
  • linkages between internal revolts and interactions among states
  • impact of religious animosity on inter-state conflicts
  • shifts in the institutions that govern regional dynamics.

Tutor: Fred Lawson is Professor of Government Emeritus at Mills College, USA, Visiting Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, USA, and a Visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. He was Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aleppo, Syria, in 1992-93, and Fulbright Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Aden, Yemen in 2001. His publications include:  Global Security Watch Syria (Praeger, 2013); Constructing International Relations in the Arab World (Stanford University Press, 2006); Why Syria Goes to War (Cornell University Press, 1996); and Bahrain: The Modernization of Autocracy (Westview Press, 1989). He is past president of both the Syrian Studies Association and the Society for Gulf Arab Studies.

The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America

Human rights are a salient social, political, legal, and cultural issue in Latin America as well as the rest of the globe. This course explores key themes in human rights, using case studies from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. After an initial introduction to human rights, four seminars focus on transitions from dictatorship and conflict and the challenges of accountability for past human rights violations, while the remaining sessions address contemporary human rights challenges across this region. The topics covered include:

  • how to respond to past atrocities: amnesty, trials, or truth commissions?
  • achieving peace and justice after war
  • the Inter-American Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • violent democracies
  • threats to indigenous communities and the environment
  • gender and LGBT rights.

Tutor: Francesca Lessa is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the Latin American Centre, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and an Academic Affiliate at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford. She completed her PhD in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2010. Her publications include Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Amnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability: Comparative and International Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2012), the latter co-edited with Leigh Payne. Her articles have been published in Human Rights Quarterly, International Journal of Transitional Justice, Journal of Human Rights Practice, International Journal of Conflict and Violence, and Journal of Latin American Studies.

The Politics of the Chinese Party-State

As the Chinese Communist Party installs the next generation of the country’s leaders, this course explores the anatomy of the Chinese Party-state. It considers both the written and unwritten rules of Chinese government, and explores the dynamics of contemporary Chinese politics and the challenges that face its leaders. It will focus on questions such as:

  • what is China’s unwritten constitution?
  • does the Communist Party govern through the state, alongside it, or instead of it? 
  • what are the prospects for liberal political reform?
  • what are the prospects for social and economic reform?
  • will China grow into its foreign policy aspirations, including the One-Belt One-Road Initiative?

Tutor: Ewan Smith is a Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford. He is a Research Associate at the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights, the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government and the Oxford University China Centre. Ewan read law at Brasenose College, Oxford (BA, DPhil), and at Harvard Law School (LLM). He has previously worked at SOAS, and at Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin Universities in China. He is admitted to practice in New York, where he worked for Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. Before returning to Oxford, he spent ten years at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His work explores how rules govern powerful institutions in China, with a focus on foreign affairs and comparative public law.  This research has been published in journals such as the Law Quarterly Review, the China Journal and Public Law.

Power, Resources and Political Identity in Russia and the Former Soviet Union

The fifteen post-Soviet states that emerged from the collapse of communism faced similar challenges in 1991. Yet, their political trajectories have differed significantly over the last quarter of a century. This course explores the reasons for this variation in post-communist political development. Focusing on the non-EU states of the former Soviet Union – Russia and the Eastern European (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine), Central Asian and Caucasus states - it will explore topics such as:

  • the factors that determined the collapse of communism and their legacies
  • the types of political regimes that have emerged and their institutional dynamics
  • the nature of property ownership
  • the sources of conflict: elite, ethnic and clan
  • the political consequences of the oil curse and corruption
  • the influence of Russia on regional political developments.

Tutor: Paul Chaisty is Professor of Russian and East European Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford, and Director of the Oxford University International Politics Summer School. His publications include Legislative Politics and Economic Power in Russia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective: Minority Executives in Multiparty Systems (with Nic Cheeseman and Timothy Power; Oxford University Press, 2018); and articles in journals such as Electoral Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Government and Opposition, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies and Post-Soviet Affairs.

Understanding African Politics and Society

The African continent continues to face many governance and development-related challenges. This course explores these issues by tackling major themes in African history and politics. With a particular focus on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, seminars are designed to debate issues such as:

  • the colonial legacy
  • the rise of African nationalism, authoritarianism and civil conflict
  • the gradual spread of democracy since the 1990s
  • drought and famine
  • environmental politics
  • economic development, land, land reform and agrarian issues
  • health and disease
  • the politics of youth.

Tutor: Dan Hodgkinson is a Lecturer in African History and Politics at Oxford's Department of International Development. He is also a member of Green Templeton College. His research interests include youth and life histories in Zimbabwe as well as African intellectual history. He focuses on Southern Africa, specifically Zimbabwe, but has a wider interest in East and Central Africa. He has published widely in several peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and has just finished writing a book, entitled Marked Out: Political Elites, Oral History and Zimbabwean Student Activism. He is currently writing a book on student activism and decolonisation. 


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, seminars and discussion group sessions) and the grade achieved for their written work. 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) - £2,490; Residential: En suite (private bathroom facilities) - £2,910


St Antony's College will provide one partial scholarship of £1,200 towards the programme fees. Candidates for the scholarship must submit a separate 200-word personal statement explaining how attending this course will benefit them, together with their complete application, by 1 February 2020.

All applications which include a request for a scholarship will be reviewed together shortly after 1 February 2020, and candidates will then be notified whether their applications for (a) a place on the summer school and (b) a scholarship have been successful.


Programme fees

  • Residential: Standard (shared bathroom facilities) - £2,490
    Fees include tuition (1 seminar, the daily lecture programme and discussion groups); access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a standard single room with shared bathroom facilities for the nights of Sunday 2 August to Friday 14 August 2020 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 2 August to breakfast on Saturday 15 August 2020 (except lunch and dinner on Saturday 8 August 2020, and lunch on Sunday 9 August 2020).

  • Residential: En suite (private bathroom facilities) - £2,910
    Fees include tuition (1 seminar, the daily lecture programme and discussion groups); access to IT facilities and libraries; accommodation in a single en suite room with private shower and toilet for the nights of Sunday 2 August to Friday 14 August 2020 inclusive; meals in hall from dinner on Sunday 2 August to breakfast on Saturday 15 August 2019 (except lunch and dinner on Saturday 8 August 2020, and lunch on Sunday 9 August 2020).

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 are expected to take out vacation cancellation 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: by email if paid online, or by post if paid by bank transfer.

If you are a non-EEA student you will receive a letter by post confirming your enrolment and course details which may be used to support your application for a short-term study visa: this letter will be sent by post (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

You are expected to take out vacation cancellation 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 2020. 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 2020, 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.

Teaching methods

Students will:

  • participate in seminars in their region of interest - elements of seminar teaching will normally include tutor-led discussions and student presentations;
  • attend a lecture programme focusing on all regions covered by the summer school; and
  • attend a daily discussion group on the topic of the day's lecture moderated by a senior research student from Oxford University.

Assessment methods

Tutors will monitor students’ contribution to class discussions.

Students who are taking the course for credit at their home universities are expected to submit an assignment of 2,000 words in length for assessment.


Before you submit your application

  • ensure you meet the admissions requirements (see "Selection criteria", below);
  • 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 politics, international relations or political 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 a specific seminar.
  • 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 International Politics Summer School.
  • Four photographs (UK passport-sized - ie 4.5cm high x 3.5cm wide), with your full name printed on the back of each.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should be posted to: International Politics Summer School, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK

You may wish to send your application by a courier service or registered post for speed and/or security of delivery.

We are currently unable to receive applications by email.

After you have submitted your application

You will receive an email from confirming receipt of your application materials, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Programme Director.

Application deadline

Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served or rolling basis until 15 April 2020.

There is a limited number of places available on every seminar, and in assigning successful applicants to classes the Programme Director will pay particular attention to applicants' personal statements.

Subject to the availability of places, late applications may be considered until 15 May 2020.

Notification of the Programme Director's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the Programme Director's decision by email from within 14 days of their application having been received.

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).

Further course information

Students will receive the following information by email from prior to the summer school:

  • In April 2020 - academic and course information, including further course content and required preparatory reading
  • In April 2020 - 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 St Antony's College)
  • In July 2020 - detailed seminar information, giving a session-by-session breakdown of topics to be covered and required readings (students will receive this information direct from their tutor)
  • In July 2020 - details of the lecture programme
  • In July 2020 - confirmation of arrival day arrangements.

Any queries?

Please contact the Programme Administrator by email at

Level and demands

All participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory reading in advance of the programme;
  • attend all seminar meetings, lectures and discussion group sessions;
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topic;
  • give several short (10-minute) class presentations; and
  • undertake approximately 80 hours of private study during the programme (elements of private study will include: reading and other preparation between seminar meetings and discussion sessions, work in libraries, etc).

Students who are taking the course for credit at their home universities are also expected to

  • submit an assignment of 2,000 words in length.

Important information regarding immigration and visa requirements

Please note: The information in this section is correct as at November 2019, but may change following the departure of the UK from the European Union (EU). We anticipate that, if changes are made, it is most likely that EEA and Swiss national students will need to follow the same immigration rules as non-EEA nationals. We do not expect any changes to the short-term study visa itself, but this is not guaranteed. We will update you as soon as we have further details. In the meantime, up to date information regarding arrangements following the exit of the UK from the EU, is available on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

If you are an European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national you do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in the summer school. You are free to enter the UK as long as you show your EEA or Swiss passport on arrival.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national, you may need to apply for a visa to enter the UK depending on which passport you hold.

If the system shows that you require a visa: you should apply for a short-term study visa, which allows students over the age of 18 to study either part-time or full-time for up to 6 months in the UK.

If the system 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 short-term student.

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national we strongly recommend that you establish whether you will require a visa before submitting your application. Please check current visa processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you are applying from. 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-EEA students with a standard format letter by post 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

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.

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.

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 - this could include students who are currently engaged in postgraduate study, or former students who wish to refresh and update their knowledge of international affairs;
  • teachers of politics, history, law, international relations or related social science courses in schools and colleges;
  • professionals in governmental or non-governmental organisations who have experience of international politics and related fields; and
  • senior undergraduates who have completed at least two years of a full-time university degree programme in politics, history, law, international relations or related social science subjects.

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.



St Antony's College was founded to be a centre of advanced study and research in the fields of modern international history, philosophy, economics and politics. Today St Antony’s College is the leading graduate college at Oxford University dedicated to international, interdisciplinary and area studies. It houses several regional centres focused on Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Japan, Russia, Eurasia and the Middle East. St Antony’s can boast some of the world’s most revered academics, industrialists and politicians.

Bedrooms and meals

Students will be accommodated in a single study bedroom.

Standard rooms have shared bathroom facilities; en suite rooms have a private shower, hand basin and toilet.

Students cannot be accommodated by St Antony's 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.

Meals will be provided in a temporaray replacement building while the college's dining hall is being renovated. (Click here for more details on this renovation project.) All meals are self-service with a range of options available. The only exception is the summer school's closing dinner, which is a served set menu meal. Should applicants have any dietary requirements (eg vegetarian, gluten-free) they are required to complete the relevant section on the application form.

IT requirements

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

Wireless internet access is available in all bedrooms and some communal spaces of the college.

Students will be eligible to use the computers and printers in St Antony's College's computer room.