Course Themes

The theme of this summer will be Oxford: A Global City, exploring how Oxford plays an important role in the past, present and future of our world.

This theme will feature throughout the course, and will inform course content, from classroom discussions to study visits and excursions (to be confirmed, subject to availability).

This year, for the first time, we will also have guest speakers presenting regular Plenary Talks for advanced students, relating the yearly theme to the following weekly themes.


Week 1

18th - 24th June - Leadership and Representation (with visits to Balliol College and Oxford Court)

  • Oxford’s global leaders, from Clinton to Naruhito
  • The changing face of politics and democracy
  • Techniques for leadership and success

Week 2

25th June - 2nd July - Music, Film and Books (with visit to explore the worlds of Alice, Frodo and Harry Potter)

  • Oxford as fount of creativity – Radiohead, Tolkien, and Oscar Wilde
  • Film adaptations and screening and Oxford
  • New trends in world cinema
  • Advanced-level plenary; Oxford’s Cultural Heroes (with Joe Swarbrick)

Week 3

3rd - 9th July - Scientific Innovation (with visit to Science Museum and the Space Tapestry)

  • Scientific breakthroughs made in Oxford
  • Space – our best hope?
  • Automation and the future of humanity
  • Advanced-level plenary; Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe (with Dr Tim Barrett)


Week 4

10th - 16th July - Culture and Sport in Britain (with visits to London and Windsor Castle)

  • Wimbledon Week - Anyone for tennis?!
  • The four-minute mile – and other Oxford records
  • Britain’s more unusual games
  • The future of international sport

Week 5

17th - 23rd July - Digital Society (with visits to Our Lives In Data exhibition and Oxford University’s virtual reality department)

  • The inventor of the Internet – Oxford’s most important student
  • The promise and threat of Big Data
  • Is it possible to stay safe online?

Week 6

24th - 30th July - The Global Environment (with visits to the Thames Path and the Natural History Museum)

  • Can science save the planet?
  • Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…
  • Oil, the economy, and future sustainability

Week 7

31st July - 6th August - Architecture, Art and Design (with visits to the Ashmolean and other legendary Oxford buildings)

  • The beauty of Oxford
  • Art across cultures and continents
  • Effective design in the 21st century
  • Advanced-level plenary; Oxford’s top ten works of Art – do you agree? (with John Rolfe)

Week 8

7th-13th August - Education (with visits to Oxford University and the Bodleian Library’s technology department)

  • Oxford’s academic history
  • Virtual Reality
  • Technology and the future of learning

Week 9

14th - 20th August - Modern Media (with visit to the Weston Library and a demonstration of 3-d printing)

  • Anti-social networks?
  • Fake news, privacy and populism
  • Global media – the next step