Mary Queen of Scots

Course details

From £1450.00

Sun 04 Aug 2019 - Sat 10 Aug 2019

Mary Queen of Scots


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 dramatic life and death of Mary Queen of Scots has long fascinated historians, artists and writers. This course will take students through the reality of Mary’s life, the challenges she faced and the problems she caused for those who lived alongside her. The scandalous affair of her husband’s murder and the forged Casket letters that incriminated Mary will be discussed, as well as her life in exile in England and her awkward relationship with her English counterpart, Elizabeth I.


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.


We will begin by discussing Mary’s early life in France and her marriage to the Dauphin. The impact of his death and Mary’s return to Scotland will also be addressed.


On her arrival in Scotland, Mary faced a number of challenges to her rule and her security. One major decision was who to marry, and this will form part of our discussions. The choice of Lord Darnley turned out to be catastrophic in almost every respect, but was this something that Mary could or should have foreseen?


Mary’s deposition and flight into England marked a new phase in her life. Today we will consider her life in exile and in particular her difficult relationship with her English counterpart, Elizabeth I.


Field trip to Coughton Court and Baddesley Clinton.


Mary’s impact on the world around her was profound and long lasting. We will discuss how her life and death affected the history of Catholicism in England both in the sixteenth century and beyond.

Field Trip:

Coughton Court, Baddesley Clinton

Excursion Rating: Moderate

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

Guy, J. My heart is my own: the life of Mary Queen of Scots. HarperPerennial. 2004.

Dunn, J. Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. Book on Tape. 2005.

Fraser, A. Mary Queen of Scots. W&N. 1993.

None of these books need to be brought to class. Multiple editions of each book are in existence – any of these will be fine, including e-books.


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): £1630.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom, field trip and meals): £1450.00


Dr Janet Dickinson


Janet Dickinson specializes in the cultural and political history of early modern England and Europe. Her publications and research focus on Elizabeth I and the nobility.  She has three times been named ‘most acclaimed lecturer’ by her students at 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.