Undergraduate Programme

Expand your academic knowledge on your gap year

Our Undergraduate Programme offers these benefits:

  • Study abroad and credit transfer available: Stay on track with your major or learn something new during your gap year
  • University-level study: Engage in a stimulating academic environment with study options across a range of disciplines
  • Mix of small group classes with more personalised support: Experience seminars and tutorials in preparation for University
  • Interactive teaching style: Active learning to develop critical thinking and  independent thought
  • Go beyond the classroom: Benefit from a rich and varied programme of extra-curricular activities and excursions
  • Exceptional cultural experience: Travel around the UK and in Europe with new friends
  • Experience Oxford: You will live and learn in one of the most inspiring academic cities in the world
  • Cultural learning experience: Study alongside international students as well as native English speakers
  • Quality assurance: Our academic programme is accredited by US universities, including the University of San Diego
  • Immerse yourself in our international community: Every year we are joined by students from over 20 countries
  • Specialist support: Benefit from the expertise of our CDI accredited Careers and Higher Education advisers.

Why choose our study abroad experience?

We have been running the Undergraduate Programme for over 50 years. This course is ideal if you are looking for university-level study on a gap year. Enjoy the chance live and study in Oxford, a famous centre of learning in the UK. Our study options include:

  • Study abroad: Meet the requirements of your home university and gain transferable credits.
  • University-level subjects: Learn alongside undergraduates, study abroad students and those from our partner universities.
  • Language development: Continue towards IELTS or Cambridge exams, learn new languages and improve existing abilities.
  • Experience academic teaching in an English-speaking classroom: Build academic literacies for university study.

Teaching approach

We offer a supportive academic environment, with an Oxbridge style of teaching. This programme encourages you to take responsibility for your learning and develop independent study skills. The weekly academic timetable consists of the following:

  • Seminar courses: Seminar courses enable you to study university-level subjects. Our small classes provide high levels of support
  • Tutorials: Our Tutorial offers the chance to study undergraduate subjects, alongside 2 other students. If you need to study a specific subject to fulfil degree your requirements, please contact us and we will confirm if we can meet your request
  • Personal Tutor: You also receive 1 hour of individual support from your Personal Tutor.

Course structure

Select up to 5 academic subjects per week with the below study options:

4 seminar course + 1 tutorial course or 5 seminar courses
Undergraduate Programme course structure

Study options

Our 14 week semester course offers a wide range of study options within the following academic disciplines:

Art HistoryFilm StudiesPolitics
BusinessInternational RelationsPhilosophy
English LiteraturePhotography
Undergraduate Programme study options

Languages: Choose to study Chinese, French, Spanish or Italian. Other languages may be available on request.

St Clare’s Seminar Series

Our Seminar Series is an invaluable academic resource. Explore new topics, deepen your knowledge and experience lectures outside your chosen study area. Our Seminar Series runs weekly throughout term time.

Emma’s Story

Emma from Elon University explains her experience of studying at St Clare’s, Oxford.

You get the English culture, but you go to school with people from all over the world”.

A unique study abroad experience

Create your own course

Select 5 options below:

Introduction to English Literature – course code: ENGL01

Refine your English as you learn from England’s greatest writers and poets. This course will take you on a journey through English literature from Shakespeare to the present day and is intended to foster close critical readings of significant works in their original literary and historical contexts. Students will be given the opportunity to engage in detail with different kinds of texts, including poems, plays, novels, and essays. They will learn appropriate technical terms as they proceed and will be encouraged to reflect on the development of English literature while focusing on individual writers and their critical reputations. The course includes field trips to sites in Oxford to explore the city’s famous authors and literary settings.

Oxford and Fantasy Fiction – course code: ENGL02

The literary genre of ‘fantasy fiction’ was forged in Oxford. The four most successful and influential fantasy worlds were created in here: Lewis Carroll’s ‘Wonderland’, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Middle-earth’, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia’ and the darker, contemporary world created by Philip Pullman for ‘His Dark Materials’; so, these texts form the heart of this class. We will explore the physical and intellectual landscape of Oxford and how it influenced the imaginary worlds of these authors. The course considers the nature of myth, allegory and symbolism in the fantasy genre; also, we will study the medieval literature which inspired it – from the Anglo-Saxon riddle and elegy to medieval romance and Arthurian literature. We will also consider film adaptations, and whether fantasy is less an escape from the modern world than a way to understand and criticise its values.

European Crime Writing – course code: NGL03

Crime fiction can easily be dismissed as a lesser genre, a poor – though indisputably popular – relation of greater literary works. To read it, however, is to discover, in Thomas Narcejac’s words, “a machine for reading”, as well as important commentaries on history, politics, and culture. This course will examine works from a variety of European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK. Students will develop a thorough knowledge of the history, conventions, and development of the genre, reflecting on its aesthetic and epistemological qualities, as well as the theoretical approaches from which it has been considered.

Shakespeare – course code: ENGL04

Shakespeare ‘was not of an age but for all time’ as Ben Jonson understood almost immediately after his death. This course is designed to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works in social, historical, religious, political and theatrical contexts; but it is also intended to introduce students to Shakespeare by focusing on a select number of plays from a 21st century perspective. One important objective is to encourage students to pay close attention to Shakespeare’s language at work through close readings of texts in class. Close supervision of students’ written work and research will be provided, and the class will visit both Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe Theatre in London to review plays in performance.

Renaissance Studies – course code: ENGL05

Renaissance Studies will consider English poetry, prose, and drama from the late sixteenth to the mid- seventeenth century. We will examine the formal features of a variety of texts, as well as the political, social, and historical contexts in which they were created, looking at such themes as the development of genre, the pastoral, religion, gender, patronage, and the role of literature in the formation of national and individual identity. Outside of the text, in its cultural and architectural offerings, Oxford itself is full of Renaissance traces. Some of this evidence the class will explore together; students are also expected to discover, like early modern explorers in reverse, more of this ‘Old World’ on their own.

Gothic Fiction – course code: ENGL06

The evolution of Gothic fiction coincides with the flowering of Romanticism and its subsequent nineteenth century transformation as modern literature was invented. On this course you will journey through an ample selection of Gothic literature from its beginnings in the eighteenth century, with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, through to twentieth-century transmutations of the genre. Classic works of fiction will be studied including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, R.L. Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr.Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The course is intended to nurture careful and fresh readings of key works as students work out imaginative ways to talk about the texts. Study visits in Oxford will allow a broader appreciation, through art and architecture, of the ‘gothic’. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on the development of Gothic fiction while focusing on individual writers and their critical reputations.

Victorian Readings – course code: ENGL07

Victorian literature began to explore what Matthew Arnold called ‘this strange disease of modern life’ as early as the 1850s. This course explores a broad range of British literature from the reign of Queen Victoria in the full historical, social, political and religious context of this remarkable age. The selected texts include poetry from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to W.B. Yeats and novels from Charles Dickens to Oscar Wilde. Famous, infamous and obscure works will be discussed in relation to nineteenth-century developments in art, architecture, science and technology, making use of the abundant resources that Oxford has to offer.

Literature of the First World War – course code: ENGL08

‘Never such innocence, / Never before or since, / As changed itself to past / Without a word.’ Was Philip Larkin right to see the First World War as such a turning point in late modern history and literature? The aim of this course is to introduce students to a broad range of literature of the First World War from a variety of perspectives to comprehend this global crisis. We will study the political and social history of the war while encountering, through close readings, an array of writers trying to make sense of life in the trenches. The course offers an inventive and challenging approach to canonical English war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. However, we will also listen to the often ignored, anonymous voices of the common soldier and women on the home front, as well as foreign poets such as the French Guillaume Apollinaire, and the intense German Georg Trakl on the opposite side of no man’s land. A final objective is to encourage students to consider their own relation to the war by comparing later responses at the end of the twentieth century by such poets as Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry – course code: ENGL09

‘We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry’ (W.B. Yeats, 1917). This course will explore twentieth-century poetry from Britain and Ireland. The focus will be on close readings of a range of exemplary modern and contemporary poems, framed in the context of twentieth-century history and various cultural movements (including Modernism, Vorticism, Imagism, Georgianism, War Poetry, Northern Irish Poetry, and Contemporary Women’s Poetry). PDFs of critical essays, reviews and poems will be distributed prior to the seminar, and students will be encouraged to respond to the primary texts from a variety of critical perspectives. Poets to be discussed include W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, Wilfred Owen, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Carol Ann Duffy.

Contemporary British Fiction – course code: ENGL10

In 1919, Virginia Woolf wrote that “everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.” A century after her definition, what is the state and “stuff” of British fiction – and the condition of Britain? This course will consider a range of recent texts in order to examine how the genre in our time concerns itself with matters of class, race, memory, history, language, and gender, as well as national and cultural identity. Students will become familiar with some of the key writers, themes, literary forms and techniques in contemporary British fiction as well as with the relevant historical, theoretical, and cultural issues these figures and their works raise. Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, Kazuo Ishiguro, J. G. Ballard, Ian McEwan are among the writers whose work the course examines.

Travel Writing – course code: ENGL11

The Travel Writing tutorial encourages students to develop their own, creative writing skills while exploring a variety of texts. Students will think critically about the travel genre and examine a variety of narratives, with aim of absorbing writing techniques utilized by established authors. Students will gain an understanding of both the critical and creative nature of travel writing, as well as hone their own writing skills through regular in-class exercises and the use of a class travel writing blog. Weekly reading and writing assignments will feature in students’ final portfolios of written work. Students are encouraged to use their study abroad experience of travel, both locally and further afield in the UK and Europe, to stimulate their own writing.

English: Special Topic: Studies in World Literature: The Irish Short Story – course code: ENGLX

According to Seán Ó Faoláin, ‘The punch and poetry [of a short story] come from a combination of reality, in the simple sense of plausibility (hard won), and personal voltage. The voltage does something to the material. It lights it up; it burns it up; it makes it fume in the memory as an aroma or essence which clings to us even when we have forgotten the details of the yarn’ (The Short Story, 1948). This course will explore the Irish short story tradition from c.1890 to the present day. The focus will be on close readings of some exemplary stories, and students will be encouraged to respond to these texts from a variety of critical perspectives. Writers to be discussed include Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Liam O’Flaherty, Seán Ó Faoláin, Frank O’Connor, Elizabeth Bowen, William Trevor, Neil Jordan, Anne Enright, and Claire Keegan.

English: Special Topic or Author – course code: ENGLX

The ‘English: Special Topic or Author’ tutorial can also be used to study a variety of other topics and authors which may be of particular interest to the individual student. Past tutorials have included: ‘Jane Austen’; ‘Shakespeare – Detailed Study’; ‘Romantic Poets’; ‘18th Century Literature’; ‘Film Adaptation’; ‘William Blake’; ‘Modernism’; ‘Irish Literature’; ‘Creative Writing’. Additional options may be available on request.

Introduction to Politics – course code: POLS01

What is Politics? How do different political systems work and what do terms like ‘state’, ‘democracy’ or ‘civil society’ really mean? Is the politics of today less ideological, or are ideologies now just less visible? These and other questions will be addressed in this introductory course in Politics. The class will consider the nature of democracy, constitutions and political parties and how presidential, parliamentary and authoritarian systems are constructed and function. The course also analyses how politics relates to religion, the media and wider society and relates models and ideologies to real case studies and contemporary issues. Students look beyond the classroom with field trips, such as a visit to the Houses of Parliament, and supplementary lectures at the Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government. Students are drawn from a variety of countries and bring knowledge of their own diverse political cultures to the classroom.

International Relations – course code: POLS02

International Relations is now more important to the study of politics than ever as our world becomes more economically integrated and connected, and yet less politically stable. This course examines how globalization, ideology, political culture and religion influence the dynamic relationship between states — and how political theory can help us to understand this constantly changing global landscape. Topics discussed during the course include: the roles and functions of international bodies such as the UN, the nature of armed conflict, the Cold War and international role of a ‘superpower’ and the threat posed by international terrorism. This course takes place in a very international classroom and draws on the different perspectives expressed by our diverse student body. Seminars are supplemented by lectures and talks organized by the Oxford University Islamic Studies Centre, the Oxford Union and Oxford Brookes University’s Human Rights Centre.

Comparative World Political Systems – course code: POLS03

Winston Churchill, reflecting on political systems in the British parliament in 1947, declared that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Comparative World Political Systems classifies and compares different forms of government and political institutions in their cultural and historical context. The course covers such topics as the nation state, civil society, constitutions, political parties and ‘interest groups’. Students will consider how governments perform and balance economic growth and public welfare. A series of case studies are looked at to help students understand the most common political systems and regimes in Europe, the Middle East and the developing world. Seminar discussions are supplemented by lectures at the Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University Islamic Studies Centre and a guided study trip to the British Parliament in Westminster.

The European Union – course code: POLS04

The European Union is a supra-national organization which counts 27 member states – following the ‘Brexit’ departure of the UK in 2020. The EU inspires passion and idealism but also controversy and ‘Euroscepticism’ in equal measure. In this course students will learn the history, structure and current role of the EU in international politics. At this crucial point in its political life we will reflect on the issues arising from the EU’s cultural diversity and the different political traditions of its members states. We will consider the aims and purposes of the EU’s founding fathers, the economic growth of Europe and the achievements in civil and human rights that European citizens have enjoyed as a result of the EU. But the class will also study the challenges of economic integration and expansion, critique the quality of democracy and governance within EU institutions and analyse why the EU has become vulnerable to a resurgence of nationalism within Europe. Other topics include ‘Brexit’, the possibility of Turkey joining the EU and whether a ‘United States of Europe’ is possible or desirable. The class will also attend some lectures and seminars at the Oxford University European Studies Centre at St Anthony’s College.

Terrorism and Political Violence – course code: POLS05

Terrorism is violence which seeks to influence a wider audience, and the use of terror and political violence has always been a feature of human history and behaviour. During this course we will look at different and varied forms of terrorism from the more conventional (ideological, ethnic and religious) to more recent expressions of terrorist activities: eco-terrorism, gender-related terrorism and the current rise of far-right violence. We will consider terrorism in historical context, from a psychological and sociological point of view and as political action which can be directed against a state, or be promoted by the state. The course will also study the processes of radicalization and the myths of martyrdom, and how states and societies have responded to the threat of terrorism.

Political Ideologies – course code: POLS06

Ideologies are responses to concrete social and political problems and aspire to orient people’s understanding and behaviour. This course will focus on the most influential political ideologies, illustrating their key themes, historical context, social origins, values and goals. The readings and class discussions aim to help students orient themselves within the many ideologies which have influenced politics, and to help them understand their own political awareness and understanding. Topics include liberalism and Western democracies; capitalism; conservatism; Marxism and anarchism; Socialism and Communism; Fascism and finally ‘post-modern ideologies’ such as nativism, Feminism and Ecologism. The focus of the course is very much on debate and contemporary relevance and in addition to seminars students will attend relevant talks and lectures held during the semester at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government and other academic institutions.

British Government and Politics since 1900 – course code: POLS07

“I don’t think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime” (Margaret Thatcher, 1973). Find out how Thatcher beat the odds to become Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Learn about Britain during the two World Wars and the creation of the National Health Service. From the suffragettes to the Brexiteers, from the rise of socialism and the Labour Party to the persistence of the right and the electoral dominance of the Conservative Party, this course analyses the major British political parties and their governing ideologies across the 20th century and up to the present day.

Politics: Special Topic – course code: POLSX

The ‘Politics: Special Topic’ tutorial can also be used to study a topic, ideology or theme of political thought which may be of particular interest to the individual student. Past tutorials have included ‘Political Thought: Ancient to Modern’; other topics are available on request.

Introduction to Philosophy – course code: PHIL01

The Introduction to Philosophy examines chronologically some of the key thoughts and thinkers in the history of Western Philosophy to see how philosophical thought has progressed, and how it applies to other disciplines. Beginning with the question of what Philosophy is, the course moves through Classical and Modern eras to contemporary Continental thought. Philosophers considered include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. Throughout the course the central ideas of key thinkers are examined at an accessible introductory level. By the end of the semester students will have a good grounding in areas such as knowledge of the external world, the existence of God and existentialism and will have learned ways of improving the quality of their critical thinking. The course will not only question what we think we know and how we come to know it, but allow students to identify the application of philosophical ideas and how they operate in the applied fields of religion, politics and morality.

Philosophy of Love and Personal Relationships – course code: PHIL04

Philosophy of Love and Personal Relationships explores philosophical, theological, sociological and psychological approaches to the subject of love from the Classical era to the present day. Love and friendship will be examined in their many forms from the erotic to the compassionate across many ages and consideration will be given to the moral and social implications of the nature of love. Over the semester the students will develop a keen insight into and appreciation of this most fundamental aspect of our nature. The course begins by examining the nature of love as it is explored in Greek culture and myths before looking at the various approaches from Plato and Aristotle. Following this, the course looks at the influence of body-soul dualism on emergent Christianity and, by contrast, the celebration of the body in ‘Song of Songs’. After looking at medieval approaches, the course then moves onto faith, reason and morality and the personalist approaches of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Finally, the course looks at sex, psychoanalysis and sexual ethics

Rhetoric – course code: PHIL02

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, an art with deep philosophical and historical roots. Over the semester the students will learn the nature of rhetoric, and develop an appreciation of persuasive language and its impact upon speech making. Beginning with the Classical roots of the discipline, in the Athens of Plato and Aristotle, the course moves through the rhetoric of Cicero, Descartes, Rousseau, Mill and Nietzsche. Close attention is also paid to political rhetoric, with examples from Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the competing wartime rhetoric of Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. Studying philosophical thought and political speeches in this context allows students to gain valuable insight into the significance of this art as well as its overall importance to English, Philosophy and Communication Studies.

Ethics – course code: PHIL05

Ethics considers, from a philosophical perspective, what is meant by ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. By approaching different theories concerning these concepts, including Utilitarianism and Kantian ethics, the nature of moral problems in everyday life will be illuminated and examined. Over the duration of the semester students will develop a multi-faceted appreciation of what is at stake in moral debates. The course considers both ethical theories and ‘practical ethics’, debates concerning how those theories may be applied. The first few weeks will focus solely on theoretical ethics, to equip the students, then the bulk of the semester will alternate between theoretical and practical ethics as the class considers crime and punishment, euthanasia, war and peace, freedom of speech and other ethical challenges we face both as societies and as individuals.

Ethics, Values and the Law – course code: PHIL06

Do we have free will? How far should we be bound by the law? Are there ‘natural’ rights? How do we find a balance between giving an individual liberty and ensuring this does not cause others harm? These and other questions will be considered in Ethics, Values and the Law as we address the relationship between political and moral philosophy. The course examines the notions of authority, freedom and responsibility and how individual freedom and moral responsibility is measured against the role of the state and the practice of the law. There are practical examples considered from environmental ethics, freedom of speech and medical ethics and students will be encouraged to consider and debate these subjects during the seminars.

Business Ethics – course code: PHIL07

Business Ethics examines ethical concepts, theories and frameworks as well as business practices in relationship to ethical conduct. Traditional academic study of ethical theory will be combined with practical approaches to problem solving. Students will explore issues of environmental, economic, political and social justice through real life business case studies and their impact on the ethics. Topics considered include individual vs. collective rights, corporate governance, ethics and technology and the natural environment as a ‘stakeholder’. The course case studies feature specific corporations including Google, Starbucks and Goldman Sachs. Students will learn the meaning of ethical leadership and decision-making in a business environment.

Philosophy of Human Nature – course code: PHIL03

What is a human being? Are we essentially physical creatures, or do we have a spiritual aspect? What happens to us when we die? Are human beings basically good or fundamentally wicked? What motivates us? These are just a few of the questions that will be considered in the Philosophy of Human Nature. Students will study the philosophical, theological, sociological and psychological approaches to human nature and consider whether a meaningful definition for what it is to be human can be established. The course proceeds chronologically from the mind/body dualism of Plato, to Freud’s psychoanalysis, considering key thinkers in the western philosophical tradition along the way. The course encourages interdisciplinary thinking and would be of interest to students interested in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology among other disciplines.

Buddhism – course code: RELS02

This Buddhism course teaches the core beliefs and practices of the major Buddhist traditions, paying keen attention to their historical origins and development and key texts. Students will discuss, and critically evaluate, the significance of Buddhism as a religion, a philosophical perspective, a way of living and a code of ethics. Buddhist culture will be set into its local and global contexts and the students will address the dialogue that exists with other cultures and beliefs. Of particular concern to the course, are Buddhist teachings on moral matters relating to issues like the environment and discrimination, and the similarities and differences these positions share with Christianity.

Concept of God – course code: RELS01

“The symbol of God functions as the primary symbol of a whole religious system, the ultimate point of reference for understanding experience, life, and the world” (Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse). This course provides an in-depth examination of the theistic conception of God, considering the issues of religious discourse, the characteristics traditionally attributed to the divine being, grounds for belief and disbelief in God, and the Christian understanding of God as a Trinity. It introduces students to the major debates that have shaped the philosophical approach to the concept of God, and it facilitates reflection upon the ways in which historical context and issues of race, class, and gender impact conceptions of God. Students are invited to examine their own beliefs regarding the existence or non-existence of God within the context of a shared community of learning, and to deepen their appreciation for the complexity of factors that intersect to shape understandings of the concept of God.

Mind, Death and Immortality – course code: PHIL08

The subject of Mind, Death and Immortality falls naturally into three areas: the nature of the mind, the concept of death and its implications, and beliefs concerning life after death. The first of these topics is looked at from the perspective of dualism (that the body and soul are distinct) and materialism (that mind/soul can be accounted for as the activity of the brain). The concept of death looks at what death involves and our social taboo concerning the subject. Finally, life after death examines different religious perspectives on what happens after we die. All three themes are united in a desire to understand what is meant, if anything, by the ‘soul’.

Philosophy of Religion – course code: RELS03

Philosophy of Religion offers an in-depth philosophical examination of the theistic conception of God. The course first considers the characteristics traditionally attributed to the divine being such as personhood, omnipotence and omniscience. Secondly the course considers arguments which support a belief in God and those which give grounds for disbelief in the existence of God, such as the ‘problem of evil’. Finally, the course examines the Christian understanding of God as a Trinity and more recent accounts of God from Wittgenstein through the 20th century.

Philosophy: Special Topic – course code: PHILX

The ‘Philosophy: Special Topic’ tutorial can also be used to study a topic, theme, movement or the works of an individual philosopher which is of particular interest to the individual student. Past tutorials have included ‘Ancient Philosophy’; other topics available on request.

Philosophy: Special Topic: Philosophy in Literature – course code: PHILX

Philosophers and literary authors alike have dedicated much time and effort to trying to make sense of the human experience and unlock the mysteries concerning who we are. Philosophy in Literature examines great literary works which explore philosophical ideas, and the thinkers whose concepts they are wrestling with. Drawing on four distinct, yet interconnected, themes, the course explores how the authors’ fascination with philosophy has provided the stimulus for their art. From the problem of free will to the duality of man; from our anxieties about death to our abandonment by God, the course engages works from Christopher Marlowe to Graham Greene and philosophers from Plato through to Jean-Paul Sartre.

Introduction to Psychology – course code: PSYC01

How does the human brain work? Why do we sleep? What do dreams mean? What do babies think? How do humans learn language? Does our behaviour change in a group? How do we study human thought and behaviour? This course is designed to answer these questions, and many others, by providing an overview of the scientific study of human thought and behaviour. Students will also be introduced to key theories and concepts across biological, developmental, cognitive and social psychology covering topics such as learning, memory, language, thinking, sleep, motivation, personality and social influences. Students supplement their in-class education with relevant study visits including the Wellcome Collection, to study health and medicine, and the Freud Museum in London to explore the origins of psychoanalysis. Students will also have the opportunity to experience ‘real life’ psychology by taking part in psychology experiments at a university psychology department.

Introduction to Sociology – course code: SOCL01

Sociology is the study of the development and structure of society: how we form social relationships, how we organize into groups and how those groups behave. This course will survey the emergence of the discipline, through Marx, Durkheim and Weber, to its present form and understand the methods and theories of this social science. Students will learn social research methods and examine the individual in various social contexts, and through a range of topics, from gender, family, race and ethnicity to religion and the media.

Abnormal Psychology – course code: SOCL01

What is normal? What is pathological? This course will consider aspects of abnormal behaviour, and will provide further knowledge of a range of psychological disorders. The symptoms and causes of each disorder will be explored, including symptoms in line with the DSM-5, historical perspectives, and current treatment practices. Disorders such as phobias, OCD, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders, as well as others, will be covered, with theories of causation and discussion of the main treatments. The course will provide students with the appropriate tools for the evaluation of the science behind abnormal psychology, extending knowledge of these disorders, in order that they might better understand themselves and others.

Developmental Psychology – course code: PSCY03

Developmental Psychology provides students with an overview of human development from infancy to adolescence. Students will learn key theories and concepts about human development, appreciate current research findings, and understand ethical issues associated with the study of human development. Key topics include cognitive development, language acquisition, theory of mind, literacy and numerical development, attachment, self and identity. The implications of these topics for education and teaching will also be addressed. The course will involve extensive student involvement, both in terms of self-directed study and in class activities.

Theories of Personality – course code: PSYC04

Who am I? Why am I the way that I am? Can I change? This course will provide an overview of theories of personality in psychology. Students will learn about several personality theories, from trait approaches and Behaviourism to Neuroimaging and the biological foundations of personality, and apply them in a case study. Students learn to discriminate between different (and sometimes opposing) theoretical perspectives, and form complex judgements on the basis of evidence drawn from laboratory-based, clinical and interdisciplinary studies. Classes will include extensive discussion components and the exact balance of topics will be adjusted to reflect individual student interests.

Social Psychology – course code: PSYC05

How do people relate to one another and make sense of their social world? This course will familiarise students with the principles of social psychology so they can understand social relationships, interpersonal interactions and apply psychological concepts to their daily lives. Topics include group norms and dynamics, group identity, prejudice and stereotyping and how social attitudes can be measured, understood and changed. Students will conduct a pilot research project to get a flavour of the nature of experimentation in social psychology. Classes will include extensive discussion and case study analysis with room for students to research more deeply a topic of personal interest.

Introduction to British History – course code: HIST01

Oxford is the perfect place to survey 1,000 years of British history, from the reign of King Alfred, who built the first city walls here, to the First World War, which transformed Britain’s place in the world and its social order. This history course is a topic-based survey and will show the development of Britain from the creation of a single English kingdom, to the Norman invasions of Britain, Magna Carta, the Black Death, Reformation, Queen Elizabeth, the 17th century civil wars and the emergence of modern Britain, with its empire and colonies. Each week we will examine how historians use a variety of materials as source material: coins, jewels and archaeological treasures; written sources such as chronicles, laws, and government documents; private letters and portraits; oral history, film and propaganda. We will visit historic sites in Oxford and London, Blenheim Palace and Oxford University’s world class Ashmolean Museum. The course gives you the opportunity to learn about Oxford and Britain, understand our history and appreciate how historians have used both written sources and material culture to tell the story of Britain.

Kings, Queens, Parliaments and Peoples: England c.900-1400 – course code: HIST02

Oxford is one of England’s most historically significant cities and this course introduces students to medieval England from the great Anglo-Saxon King Alfred to the death of King Richard II in 1399. We will explore the historical sources, art, and architecture of England, and also consider the other nations of the British Isles and the broader narrative of British history. In Oxford we can consider the Norman Conquest from the top of the Norman ‘motte’ constructed in 1073 and the murder of Thomas Becket from a casket which once carried his relics — Oxford is alive with history. We will trace kingship and the development of law, government and parliament. Key topics include the Norman Conquest of 1066, Magna Carta, the Black Death and the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The emphasis will be on students learning to question and interpret diverse primary historical materials themselves, from coins to chronicles, laws to royal portraits, and to understand them in their broader political, social and religious context.

Topics in British History, 1714-Present – course code: HIST03

Who were the Georgians? Were the Victorians as prim and proper as conventionally portrayed? And what about the Edwardians? This course ranges across different forms of British history from 1714 to the present, taking in major political, social, economic, and cultural developments. Through the study of original material, we will analyse both everyday life and high politics, ranging from Mrs. Beeton’s famous 1861 cookbook to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wartime rhetoric, via pop music and political cartoons. We will address broader issues such as how the country and its people have changed over the centuries, and whether or not Britain today is an evolving success story, or in rapid decline.

War, Fascism and Communism: Europe Divided, 1914-1945 – course code: HIST04

The Europe that emerged from the wreckage of 1945 was a very different one from that of 1914. These years saw the continent rocked by two World Wars and the rise and fall of the fascist and Nazi regimes in Italy and Germany. The interwar years were also marked by revolutions in Russia, and the transition from Leninism to Stalinism in that country, alongside a vicious civil war in Spain. Using eyewitness accounts, this course addresses a range of questions, from how some ordinary people managed to survive authoritarian rule, to why dictators embraced particular kinds of art. For those who would like to attend, there will be a special class trip to the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London towards the end of the course.

Division and Reconciliation: European History Since 1945 – course code: HIST05

1945 arguably saw the start of the Cold War, whilst the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 symbolically marked the beginning of the end of Communist rule in Eastern and Central Europe, with the final collapse of the Soviet Union coming in 1991. This course asks important questions about the distinctions between resistance and collaboration, the nature of totalitarianism, and the transition from dictatorship to democracy in the Soviet bloc. But it explores Western European countries too, such as Germany, France, Spain, and Britain, and alternative themes, such as the legacies of the Second World War. Towards the middle of the course we will also take a trip to visit Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, near Oxford.

War and Peace in the Middle East – course code: HIST06

The history of the Middle East, from the early 20th century to the present day, has been one of turmoil as the old empires of the British and the Ottomans were replaced mid-century by warring superpowers and rising nationalism. This course seeks to understand the varied cultures and history of the modern Middle East; political, religious, social, and economic characters of individual countries will be examined, as well as international relations and politics. Special emphasis, however, will be placed upon inter-Arab relations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role of outsiders such as the European imperialists, and the Cold War superpowers. The Middle East for our purposes will include Iran, Israel, the Arab states and Turkey. Students are encouraged to critically analyse material, empathize with the issues, and cultivate historical judgment. It is hoped that placing contemporary issues in their historical context will help us to comprehend the Middle East today.

The End of European Empires – course code: HIST07

Why were the British and French empires different? How should we best define imperialism? Why was decolonisation so quick after 1945? And what is the ‘post-colonial gaze’? Through historical works and scholarly readings, we will explore these questions through a comparative analysis of the decline and fall of the major European empires and the establishment of new states in Asia and Africa in the post-war period. The course includes a special case study on the end of apartheid in South Africa, plus visits to museums in Oxford and London to undertake object-based analysis and to reflect on the legacies of empire today.

British Government and Politics since 1900 – course code: POLS07

“I don’t think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime” (Margaret Thatcher, 1973). Find out how Thatcher beat the odds to become Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Learn about Britain during the two World Wars and the creation of the National Health Service. From the suffragettes to the Brexiteers, from the rise of socialism and the Labour Party to the persistence of the right and the electoral dominance of the Conservative Party, this course analyses the major British political parties and their governing ideologies across the 20th century and up to the present day.

History: Special Topic – course code: HISTX

The ‘History: Special Topic’ tutorial can be used to study in detail a topic, theme, or historical period which is of particular interest to the individual student. Past tutorials have included: ‘Absolutism, Enlightenment and Revolutions’;’ Magna Carta’; ‘The English Civil War’; other topics are available on request.


Oxford Art and Architecture – course code: ARTH01

Matthew Arnold famously said of Oxford that she is a ‘sweet City with her dreaming spires’ and ‘Lovely all times she lies.’ This course gives students an opportunity to explore those dreaming spires and many other significant buildings and art collections in a city famed for its architectural beauty and history. There is a continuous tradition of civic, ecclesiastical and collegiate architecture in Oxford spanning over a thousand years. Our broadly chronological survey of art and architecture in Oxford will also allow you to understand developments in art and architecture across Europe. The course will be taught primarily through study excursions to Oxford colleges, buildings and museums. Students will have the opportunity to focus on a particular architect, artist, building, collection, or individual work of art, for further independent study in greater depth.

Fundamentals of Drawing – course code: ARTS01

This introductory course develops students’ skills and techniques while they engage with Oxford’s rich culture: visiting museums, galleries, exhibitions and working outside by rivers and in parks. The course aims to initiate or develop the students’ practical abilities in drawing and other creative processes. It is suitable for all levels of ability, including beginners, and adapts to the student’s personal interests and aptitudes. The student builds up a body of artworks in the school’s award-winning art studio using a variety of techniques which can include etching, silk screening and textiles. Projects typically include response to an exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum, landscape drawing in the Oxford Botanic Gardens and responses to the human figure, from both the Ashmolean Museum’s ‘Cast Gallery’ and life drawing. Students keep up their personal artists’ journal, improving their skills as they discover Oxford.

Painting – course code: ARTS02

This course approaches painting from practical and historical viewpoints, and the student’s personal development interweaves investigations into art history and contemporary practice. We work in Oxford’s museums and galleries, including the Ashmolean Museum, or go painting outside ‘en plein air’ as well as using the many facilities in the college’s award-winning studio. It’s suitable for all levels of ability including beginners and adapts to the student’s personal interests and aptitudes. An experimental and eclectic approach is encouraged, to increase the students’ visual thinking and imaginative response.

Photography – course code: ARTS03

How does photography capture and communicate our experience of the world? Why are some photographs better than others? These and other questions will guide a lively exploration of photography on both a practical and theoretical level. We will investigate some inspiring ways to improve the quality of our pictures, and make full use of Oxford’s galleries and uniquely photogenic environment. This will be consolidated by college-based lessons that use both digital editing and older, darkroom techniques. The course introduces the students to contemporary critical theory, with emphasis on questions of meaning, power and identity and the production, distribution and consumption of the photograph within various media. The course will conclude with students making a portfolio of their best images, and displaying them in a small exhibition for others to enjoy.

English Country Houses and Gardens – course code: ARTH02

The English country house and garden is one of the most distinctive representations of our history and culture. They are the showpieces of English architectural history, a guide to the development of artistic style, taste and cultural values. They are a valuable historical source, providing a vivid demonstration of how households and societies were organized and articulated their values differently in distinct historical periods. The English country house and garden inspired painters, philosophers and writers – from Ben Jonson’s ‘To Penshurst’ to Jane Austen’s novels. This course explores the country house through various periods of history, from the medieval manor house and Jacobean mansion to the Victorian country house. We will examine distinct architectural styles: Elizabethan, Palladian, Gothic and others, and also examine the complementary changes in the English garden from the 17th century formal garden to the picturesque and designed landscape garden. Finally, we will examine the English country house and garden as a place to visit and in the context of heritage and how the English understand their past. The course includes visits to Oxford museums and gardens and country houses, including Rousham and Blenheim Palace.

Modern and Contemporary Art – course code: ARTH03

Could a child really paint like Picasso? Were the Impressionists reactionaries or revolutionaries? Does art have to be beautiful to be good? These and other questions will guide a lively exploration of modern art and photography, considering the many roles it plays in our globalised culture. Different movements will be explored, with the aim of understanding what their artworks tell us about the experience of living in a rapidly changing world. Links will be made between areas such as music, fashion, politics and science, and students will be encouraged to bring their own interests to class for discussion and research. We will visit Oxford museums, The Ashmolean and Museum of Modern Art, and visit the Tate Modern in London.

Art History: Special Topic (e.g. History of Photography, Pre-Raphaelite Art) – course code: ARTHX

Students can opt for a Special Topic in Art History where they will work with a tutor to create a thematic tutorial. Previous Art History Special Topic tutorials have included: ‘History of Photography’ and ‘Pre-Raphaelite Art’.

International Business in the News – course code: BUSN01

International Business in the News examines global economies and markets, multinational businesses and foreign trade practices. Students will study the global challenges companies face. They will learn to appreciate how economic developments and political decisions have profound impacts on the pattern of world trade. This course will help students develop a global perspective and will allow them to see how globalisation has brought about an increasing ‘connectedness’ of businesses, markets, people and information across countries. Yet we will discuss how we cannot take globalisation for granted, especially given circumstances like the pandemic crisis, which may lead us into a more protectionist world. We will analyse the repercussions of these new challenges for international business. We will use case studies from current affairs to discuss the economics and politics of international trade.

Introduction to Economics – course code: ECON01

Economics is a significant social science which not only prepares students to study business but helps us understand the world around us. This introductory course will give you an understanding of the range of behaviours that economists investigate, introduce you to the basic tools that we use to analyse the economy, and apply these tools to public policy issues. It offers students the opportunity to explore microeconomic concepts such as market supply and demand, externalities, and industrial organisation, as well as macroeconomic concepts such as money, interest rates, inflation and unemployment. The course will examine, through readings and case studies, different economic models, the impact of globalization, what makes an economy grow and how — and if — a state should intervene in the market.

Organizational Behaviour – course code: BUSN02

Organizational behaviour is the study of how individuals and groups behave within an organizational structure or work environment. This is a management course which seeks to understand how human behaviour can be understood and shaped within an organizational context and how this should inform management. Topics include organizational culture, leadership, power and politics, managing organizational change and the increasingly important field of ‘knowledge management’. Course content and assessment is based on observing the practice of contemporary organizations. Organizational behaviour is part of most business degrees, but it is an interdisciplinary field which draws upon psychology, sociology and economics and would also be of interest to students studying social sciences.

Business and Society – course code: BUSN02

Ethical and legal considerations shape every aspect of effective leadership in public service, corporations, and society. This course will provide an overview of the primary ethical principles and legal concepts that guide difficult decisions specifically in the business realm. Traditional academic study of ethical and legal theory will be combined with practical approaches to problem solving. Students will explore issues of environmental, economic, political and social justice through real life business case studies and their impact on shareholders and stakeholders.

Business Ethics – course code: PHIL07

Business Ethics examines ethical concepts, theories and frameworks as well as business practices in relationship to ethical conduct. Traditional academic study of ethical theory will be combined with practical approaches to problem solving. Students will explore issues of environmental, economic, political and social justice through real life business case studies and their impact on the ethics. Topics considered include individual vs. collective rights, corporate governance, ethics and technology and the natural environment as a ‘stakeholder’. The course case studies feature specific corporations including Google, Starbucks and Goldman Sachs. Students will learn the meaning of ethical leadership and decision-making in a business environment.

Fundamentals of Marketing – course code: PHIL07

Fundamentals of Marketing is an introductory course designed to help students understand the exciting, dynamic, and challenging field of marketing. Primary emphasis will be focused on providing the student with the traditional and contemporary elements of marketing: specifically, how marketing relates to an organization’s strategy and decision-making. Topics include market research; branding, consumer behaviour, digital marketing and understanding the ‘marketing mix’ of product, price, place, promotion, physical evidence, people and process. The course will consider how businesses strategize and create a competitive advantage in a global marketplace, but also how business increasingly needs to consider sustainability, ethical issues and ‘corporate social responsibility’. Teaching will comprise a mix of methodologies and include discussions and presentations based on readings or case studies.

International Economics – course code: ECON02

We live in a globalized market; how well does it work? International Economics means exploring how economics, geography, government, and culture shape the environment in which businesses operate internationally. Topics will include the globalization of markets at the financial crisis, the globalization of human capital, the role of multinationals in a globalized world, the costs and benefits of international trade and the roles of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. We will also study international trade theory, the arguments in favour of free trade or protectionism, and consider the interplay between politics and business at a time when the benefits and disadvantages of a globalised economy are openly debated.

Development Economics – course code: ECON02

700 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank’s international line for extreme poverty; the majority of people in the world live on less than $10 a day. The goal of Development Economics is to understand the economic problems of developing countries using economic theory and its application, and so better understand the lives of the world’s poor. Why do they remain poor? Specifically, what economic policies and market failures hinder their quest to improve their well-being? Is there scope for policy to help the world’s poor? The course will also consider trade policy, globalization, the role of the private sector and markets, sustainability and environmental challenges and the role of foreign aid. The goal of the course is to help students understand the development challenges we face in the 21st century as the economies of the developing world become part of our globalized but fragile world.

Public Sector Economics – course code: ECON04

The Public Sector Economics tutorial explains how the ‘invisible hand’ of the market is tempered by the ‘visible hand’ of government in the mixed economy of both private and public sectors adopted by most of nations. The course gives you the opportunity to examine the reasons for government intervention in the free market economy and the various forms in which it occurs. Students will consider the different ways through which governments influence the behaviour of individuals, firms and markets. Emphasis will be on the study of real-world applications in particular current United Kingdom and other European Union economies and governments. Topics include the ‘Welfare State’ and capitalism, nationalisation vs. privatisation and the ‘public good’.

College Algebra – course code: MATH01

College Algebra is intended for students who wish to improve their understanding of basic mathematics or who wish to attain the standard level of College Mathematics required for general courses. The course is designed to highlight the application of Mathematics to everyday life problems and is particularly useful for students who intend to study social sciences, management,

Introduction to Probability and Statistics – course code: MATH02

This course covers the basics of statistical rules and their application, modern probability theory and its use in statistical analysis and the application of probability and statistics to everyday problems. This course is useful for students of the social sciences, management, business, marketing, medicine and many other disciplines.

VWO Mathematics B – course code: MATH03

If you plan to apply to Dutch universities with specific requirements in maths, and don’t have the equivalent to the Dutch VWO Mathematics B (Wiskunde B) option, you can prepare for the James Boswell and other Mathematics deficiency tests in a small class here at St. Clare’s. Courses with this requirement include International Business Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Maastricht University.


St Clare’s is an International College and offers a wide range of language courses at all levels: Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and Spanish are available and other ancient and modern languages may be available on request. Languages are taught as tutorial classes, usually one-to-one, and the tutorial can either follow our syllabus or be adapted to your level, needs or the demands of an external exam you may be working towards. Contact us to discuss your options.

  • Chinese (Beginners or Intermediate) Tutorial  – course code: LANGC1 / LANGC2
  • French (Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced) Tutorial – course code: LANGF1 / LANGF2 / LANGF3
  • Spanish (Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced) Tutorial – course code: LANGS1 / LANGS2 / LANGS3
  • Italian (Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced) Tutorial – course code LANGI1 / LANGI2 / LANGI3

Other ancient and modern languages may be available on request including Latin, German, Japanese and Russian.

Special requests

Tutorial course – course code: PECX
All students enrolled on the Undergraduate Programme choose one Tutorial course or one Language Tutorial course. In addition to the listed tutorial courses, it may be possible to accommodate special requests for other courses or disciplines which would be taught as a tutorial course.

Seminar Series

Seminar course – course code: SEMSER

Since its inception in 2000, the St Clare’s Seminar Series has provided an opportunity for students to explore a stimulating range of issues and ideas. Each semester this interdisciplinary series is linked by a common theme. Themes in previous years have included ‘Youth and Age’, ‘Fact and Fiction’, ‘Arts and Science’, and ‘Unity and Disunity’. The series is open to all students and staff at St Clare’s, and Undergraduate Programme students may take the series for credit by keeping a journal of their seminar responses and writing a 3,500-4,000-word research paper.


If you wish to study our University Foundation Programme you must have:

  1. completed secondary/high school in your own country
  2. 17 years or over
  3. have a knowledge of English at or above the following: CEFR B1
  4. provide satisfactory school transcripts (grades/reports)

If you are unsure of your level of English or have any questions please contact us


At a Glance




14 weeks

Start dates

2 September 2023 and 6 January 2024

English language level

From advanced (CEF C1) to native speaker (CEF C2+)

Type of Qualification

Level 6 / Certificate / (credit transfer may be available)

Class size

Maximum 15 students

Lesson length

15 lessons (13.75hours) Monday to Friday


4 academic subject courses in a group and 1 academic subject tutorial

Tuition fees

From £12,152 for 2023-24 entry


Term dates

Optional extras

Lunch available – £49 per week
Breakfast and Dinner everyday – £99 per week
Additional academic one-to-one classes – £80 per lesson
Excursions/Activities – £5 – £30
Airport transfers depend on pick-up from Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted – From £120
Courier charge for visa support documents – approx £25

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