Napoleon: The First Modern Man


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.

Napoleon seemed a clean break from the repressive world of hereditary monarchies and feudal privilege. His modernity lay deeper than that, in his understanding of popular opinion and the uses of the media. His combination of civic and military virtue was so rare that he was as much admired outside his own country as within it. But he illustrates the axiom that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In time he lost his sense of proportion. He united the nations of Europe against him and was ultimately defeated in battle and died in humiliating exile. However, in exile he began, and his followers completed, a heroic reinterpretation of his life which has largely been accepted by posterity today.

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.

Napoleon the Revolutionary. Without the French revolution, Napoleon’s career would have been impossible. But he was no ideologue. He borrowed from it what he felt France needed.

Napoleon the Military Commander. Many think of Napoleon as first and foremost a military genius. He certainly had exceptional talent but history is continuously downgrading his military reputation.

Napoleon the Legislator. Napoleon himself said he would be remembered for his Code of Law long after his battles had been forgotten. Right or wrong, France is still governed by the framework he laid down over 200 years ago.

Napoleon the Dynast. The prospect of founding a great Imperial dynasty was too strong for Napoleon to resist. Over time he placed his relatives on the thrones of half of Europe. But in that ambition lay his eventual downfall.

Napoleon: Death and Resurrection. Like so many before him, Napoleon over-reached himself and was defeated and died in humiliating exile. But an extraordinary rehabilitation began even before he had died. Posterity restored him to his original glory and enabled his nephew to proclaim himself Emperor thirty years later.


Description Costs
Programme fee (no accom–incl.lunch and dinner) £1070.00
Programme fee (with single en-suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Programme fee (with single standard accom and meals) £1380.00


Mr Christopher Danziger


Christopher Danziger M.A., M.Ed., was formerly Head of History at St Edward’s School, Oxford and a lecturer at the Universities of Durham and Cape Town. For the past 14 years he has been a Tutor in the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. He teaches European History, with a special interest in Napoleonic France and Romanov Russia on both of which he has written extensively.

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)