Jane Austen (Online)


Many readers enjoy Austen's novels but cannot define the qualities that make them so special and enduring. This course will help you to analyse Austen's style and techniques, and give you a greater knowledge of the novels' context, which will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of reading them.

Jane Austen's six major novels have hardly been out of print for two hundred years. Many readers enjoy them but cannot always define the qualities that make Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion so enduring and so rewarding for reading and rereading. This course helps students to learn to analyse Austen's characteristic style and techniques and thus gain an enhanced appreciation of her art. It also looks at the historical and literary contexts of the novels, allowing students to gain a greater understanding of their themes and sub-texts. The course is suitable for those new to Austen's writing as well as for the devoted Janeite. Though the topics covered range across all six major novels, and those who have read all six will be able to use that knowledge, each week's required reading includes key sections of one novel.

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

Unit 1: Who was Jane Austen? Biography and biographies; Family history; Letters.

Unit 2: Jane Austen's language and style: The narrative voice; Dialogue; Perspective; Inner and outer; How to analyse an Austen novel.

Unit 3: Sense and Sensibility: Background: Elinor and Marianne; the epistolary novel; The literature of Sensibility; Romanticism; Siblings in Austen's work.

Unit 4: Northanger Abbey; Background: the Gothic novel and Gothic novel readers; Ann Radcliffe; Pastiche and parody.

Unit 5: Pride and Prejudice I: Background: marriage and property in Austen's time; soldiers and militia men; The 'courtship ordeal novel'; Fashion in Austen's time.

Unit 6: Pride and Prejudice II: The War and the militia, Brighton, The big house and the estate, subversion.

Unit 7: Mansfield Park: Background: The Georgian, the Augustan and the Regency; Imperialism, and Mansfield Park; Mothers and home-makers.

Unit 8: Emma I: Background: dancing games and puzzles in Austen's writing; Governesses; Irony; Parents in Austen's novels.

Unit 9: Emma II: An error in Emma? The comedy of manners.

Unit 10: Persuasion: Background: Bath and Lyme; the Navy in Austen's time; Persuasion and persuasiveness; The cancelled section of Persuasion.

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:


Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Octavia Cox

Dr Octavia Cox completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, has taught and lectured at the University of Oxford, the University of Nottingham, and elsewhere, and has published various peer-reviewed chapters and articles.  Her first monograph, Alexander Pope in the Romantic Age, is forthcoming.  She is currently researching a book provisionally titled Jane Austen and Counter-Genre.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce or reintroduce Austen's major fiction, placing her work in its historical and cultural context and encouraging close critical analyses of the texts in order for students to gain a greater understanding of the themes and undercurrents of the stories as well as of Austen's literary techniques.

Course Objectives

This course will enable students to go beyond immediate opinions about Austen''s novels to the production of reasoned, informed, and supported arguments based on close critical analysis and contextual knowledge.

Teaching methods

The activities will include reading the introductions to the required editions of the novels, and commenting on them, commenting on online Austen resources, producing short analyses of short extracts from the novels, comparing short extracts from Austen's work and short extracts from the fiction of her contemporaries (using Project Gutenberg's legal downloads), looking up the ways in which word meanings have changed since Austen's time (using online resources), and answering quizzes on (e.g.) Austen characters and places. Students will be expected to keep personal logs about their reading of the novels and their changing interpretations and analyses of the texts as the course develops.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • The chronology of Austen's life and work.
  • Some of the most important themes of Austen's major novels.
  • Austen's characteristic techniques and style.

And students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to speak and write with confidence about Austen's life and times.
  • The ability to speak and write with confidence about their readings and evaluations of Austen's fiction.
  • Some practice in close critical analysis and the formulation of reasoned arguments supported by reference to the text.
  • Some practice in using understanding of the context of a text to enhance readings of the text.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/english-language-requirements


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.