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Oxford Berkeley Program Seminars

Students select one seminar to dive into for the three-week program. Mornings at Oxford are spent in 12-person seminars taught by British university scholars—tutors, as they are known in Oxford—who are experts in their field. These gifted and experienced instructors are passionate about sharing their knowledge.

Courses cover unique themes that change every year. Examples include Brexit and the European Union, King Arthur, Shakespeare, the role of the English country house (providing a window into TV’s Downton Abbey), and much more!

At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic Credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

2023 Seminars

In Search of Time: The Art and Science of the Fourth Dimension | Dr. Tim Barrett
Course Description: Saint Augustine wrote of time: ‘If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I try to explain it to him who asks, I know not.’ And despite the best efforts of science and philosophy, still, today, we ‘know not’. This course celebrates the many mysteries of the fourth dimension, examining the inexhaustible lure of time’s arrow for physicists, writers of literature, film-makers, theologians and historians. We explore the cultural origins of minutes and months and the myriad ways in which humans engage with time, from crude scratch-marks on stone to the mind-bending scientific constructs of relativity and quantum mechanics, from art-house movies to the metaphysical musings of the novel.
Clocking Time: From the paleolithic age to the postmodern, we consider the implications for daily life of the precise measurement and strict imposition of seconds, minutes, months and millennia. How has the inexorable drive toward technological accuracy and historiographical delineation shaped human society and affairs?
Time and Space: Einstein dismantled Newton’s intuitive model of absolute time, replacing it with ‘spacetime’, a startlingly counter-intuitive, evolving construction in which universal time is anything but absolute. We learn in detail about the great man’s theories and discover how even within our teaching room, time is advancing at differing speeds. And I’ll be explaining how we can visit the year 3017.
Story Time: We uncover the earliest time-travel fiction, some dating from the Eighteenth Century, and engage with the ever-growing body of writers inspired by the possibilities of temporal manipulation, among them H.G. Wells, James Joyce, John Wyndham and Alain Robbe-Grillet. We also consider how in films such as La Jetée and Memento, cinema creatively challenges our perception of time.

Time in the Mind: Why does time seem to drag when we are bored? And might we somehow prevent the years from whizzing by? Contrasting the latest developments in neuroscience with a range of venerable metaphysical hypotheses (those of Aquinas, Spinoza and Husserl, for example), this module examines how humans strive to comprehend and control their personal experience of time.

Time’s Arrow: Was there ‘time’ before the Big Bang? Why does time ‘flow’, and why only in one direction? And does time ‘stop’ inside a Black Hole? Quantum physics can supply some if not all of the answers and we’ll hear about these and other possible solutions to the intractable questions of determinism, infinity and The End and we will ask, finally, if human beings can ever truly ‘understand’ time.

About the Tutor: Dr Tim Barrett lectures in political history and the history of science and has been a tutor for the Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education for fifteen years. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at Keele University, Staffordshire.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. Beyond this, students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

  • Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality, Penguin Press Science, 2005

  • Claudia Hammond, Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, Canongate Books, 2013

  • Eva Hoffman, Time, ,Profile Books, 2009


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: Field trips may include a visit to Greenwich Observatory, Royal Museums, Cavendish Laboratory, The ClockMakers' Museum, and Science Museum. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    A Mingled Yarn: Shakespeare’s Sad Stories | Dr. Lynn Robson
    Course Description: Shakespeare is one of the world’s greatest storytellers, and he has told some of the saddest stories we know. However, even in the depths of tragedies, Shakespeare can lighten things with wit or ravishing poetry, just as he will make you catch your breath at the bittersweetness of comedy. This course will concentrate on some of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Coriolanus – as well as his comedy, All’s Well That Ends Well, in which Shakespeare twists together comic and tragic threads. You will explore how Shakespeare revolutionized dramatic tragedy in 1590s with Romeo and Juliet, and then continued to challenge his audiences with stories of a hero who loves too well, and the woman who loves him; of jealousy and ambition; of an old king who destroys his family and kingdom through love and folly, and an obdurate Roman general who has too much integrity and banishes himself from everything he loves. The course will mix together familiar and unfamiliar plays, at the same time as it will ask you to laugh and cry.

    About the Tutor: Dr Lynn Robson is Tutorial Fellow in English Literature at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, teaching early modern literature (1550-1760) to full-time undergraduates studying for BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature, Classics and English, and History and English, as well as part-time students studying at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. She also teaches and supervises graduates on the part-time, interdisciplinary MSt in Literature and Arts, and Doctor in Literature and Arts, run by the Department for Continuing Education. She is Tutor for Admissions for English and allied Joint Schools and joint Director of Studies for BA (Hons) in Classics and English. She directs Regent’s Visiting Student Programme, organizing and coordinating academic programmes for students from North America, China and Europe. Her awards include Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Humanities and University of Oxford Teaching Excellence Award.

    Reading List: Students will need to bring these books with them to Oxford. All books on the reading lists are in print, available online/Kindle, and most of them are in paperback. Please try and ensure to read the required plays in annotated editions as they provide useful background information, often give a performance history, and have invaluable notes.

    Recommended Reading List:
  • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet; Othello, King Lear; Coriolanus; All’s Well that Ends Well

  • Suggested editions:
  • Arden Shakespeare, Oxford Shakespeare or Cambridge Shakespeare.

  • In previous classes, students have found Folger Shakespeare Library editions easily accessible, user-friendly and very portable.
    No Fear Shakespeare editions are NOT suitable for this class.

    Films:
    It’s always useful to see plays as well as read them. The DVDs below are available from Amazon, YouTube, and the Globe Player.
    Romeo and Juliet, Royal Shakespeare Company
    Othello, Royal Shakespeare Company
    King Lear: there are several excellent recordings, including those starring Ian McKellen, Anthony Sher, and Anthony Hopkins.
    All’s Well That Ends Well, The Globe, Royal Shakespeare Company.

    Optional Reading List:

    These general, introductory texts will give a sense of Shakespeare’s life and career and the culture he inhabited. All of them are available in paperback versions.

  • Jonathan Bate, Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare

  • Julia Briggs, This Stage-Play World: Texts and Contexts 1580-1625 (OUP, 1997)

  • Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare After All

  • David Scott Kastan, A Companion to Shakespeare (Blackwell, 1999)

  • Frank Kermode, The Age of Shakespeare (Phoenix, 2005); Shakespeare’s Language

  • James Shapiro, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (Faber & Faber, 2005)

  • James Shapiro, 1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear (2016)

  • Stanley Wells & Lena Cowen Orlin, Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (OUP, 2003)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: The course usually includes trips to see performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, and/or Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    Jane Austen in Film and Fiction | Dr. Emma Plaskitt
    Course Description: A double-edged sword? Since the publication in 1811 of a novel called Sense and Sensibility, “by a lady”, the works of Jane Austen have enjoyed both popularity and critical acclaim and scholarly interest shows no sign of waning. Nor does what can be described as a popular mania for all things Austen, especially in film and television: the so-called “Austen Brand '' is thriving. From the first television dramatization of Pride and Prejudice in 1938, screen adaptations of the novels have abounded, along with biographical films that attempt to flesh out our knowledge of Austen’s life. Why the ongoing and increasing interest? Importantly, do these adaptations testify to the timelessness of Austen’s wit and the ongoing relevance of her social satire? Or do they damage her reputation as a writer with the addition of romantic elements that distract from the commentary and limit Austen’s appeal? Alternatively, how do we even define “fidelity” and aren’t the dramatizations themselves a type of literary criticism? What do the choices made by screenwriters and directors tell us about their readings of crucial scenes? How do they navigate the movement from text to screen, with no ironic narrator to provide background information and guidance?

    These are some of the questions we will consider as we examine the range of adaptations and the six major novels themselves. To this end, we will look at Austen’s novelistic technique and development and her place among women writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will place each novel in its literary and historical context which will include, for example, exploring the eighteenth-century cult of sensibility when we discuss Sense and Sensibility and the contemporary vogue for gothic novels when we study Austen’s parody of the gothic genre, Northanger Abbey. We will examine how Austen uses the courtship narrative to present a sharp social commentary, highlighting the disempowerment of women during the period. As part of our examination of this, we will consider themes including Austen’s treatment of class, economics, education, female friendship, and politics.

    About the Tutor: Dr Emma Plaskitt is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on eighteenth-century fiction. She has taught English literature 1640–1901 for various Oxford colleges as well as OUDCE programmes The Oxford Experience, MSSU, Berkeley, MSU, and Duke/UNC. Having worked for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, where she was responsible for writing many articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women writers, she now focuses on teaching for the SCIO Study Abroad Programme based at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and for Stanford University, for whom she is an Overseas Lecturer. Though a specialist in the literature of the long eighteenth century, her research interests include the Victorian novel — particularly the gothic novel and novel of sensation.

    Reading List: Ideally, these will be brought to Oxford (they can be bought on www.amazon.com) Kindle editions are fine, and these can also be downloaded from www.gutenberg.org.

    Required Reading:
  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (1811); Pride and Prejudice (1813); Mansfield Park (1814); Emma (1815); Northanger Abbey (1817); Persuasion (1817)

  • Optional Reading List (these will be referenced in class and students are strongly recommended to read them, but are not required reading and handouts will be provided):
  • Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote (1752)

  • Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764)

  • Frances Burney, Evelina (1778)

  • Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest (1791); The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)

  • Maria Edgeworth, Belinda (1801)

  • Recommended Additional Reading:
  • Copeland, Edward and Juliet McMaster, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (2011)

  • Jones, Vivien, Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity (1990)

  • Keymer, Tom, Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics (2020)

  • Mullan, John, What Matters in Jane Austen: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012)

  • Todd, Janet, Jane Austen in Context (2006)

  • Tomalin, Claire, Jane Austen: A Life (1987)

  • Worsley, Lucy, Jane Austen at Home (2017)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: Field trips may include a visit to Chawton village, Hampshire to explore the Jane Austen House Museum and Chawton House Museum; a visit to Bath, and a trip to Winchester. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    Who were the Celts? Who are the Celts? An Archaeology of Identities in Prehistoric Europe and Beyond | Fay Stevens
    Course Description: A Celtic identity, however that might be defined, is a complex and fascinating paradigm that has its origins in deep prehistory. Indeed, the concept of a single Celtic people, language or nation is problematic and often incorrectly lumped together as Celt, Celtic and/or fringe nations living in the peripheries of the hinterlands of the Roman Empire, and in conflict with it. The story of Celtic identities is far more nuanced than that and subject to local variation, differing chronologies and ideas around the construction of cultural life. In this course, we take a dual approach. First, we take a closer look at the Iron Age societies of Britain and Europe in the past. This includes coverage of fascinating cultures including La Tène (Switzerland), Halstatt (Austria), Etruscan (Italy), Scythian (Siberia) and archaeological sites such as Maiden Castle (UK), Vix (France), Hochdorf (Germany), Dún Aonghasa (Ireland) and Mousa Broch (Shetland). We also encounter Celtic peoples via classical sources including texts by Homer and Herodotus and Iron Age burial practices such as bog bodies and chariot graves. Second, we explore how a Celtic identity is also a modern construct and at the heart of our inquiry in what it means to be human, both now and in the past. Throughout, our engagement will be through two fascinating conjoined questions: Who were the Celts? Who are the Celts?

    About the Tutor: Fay Stevens is an archaeologist and award-winning lecturer and researcher. She teaches courses in archaeology for Oxford University and contributes to the Diploma and Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology and the MSc in Landscape Archaeology. Fay is also Adjunct Associate Professor in Archaeology and Sustainability Studies at The University of Notre Dame (U.S.A.) in England and Visiting Lecturer for the MA in Cultural Heritage and Resource Management at the University of Winchester. She has worked on archaeological projects in Armenia, Europe and the UK and has traveled extensively on academic research including Syria, Jordan, USA, and Japan.

    Reading List: The following texts are introductory reading for the topic. None will need to be brought to Oxford. Beyond this, students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

    Required Reading List:
  • Barry Cunliffe, The Ancient Celts, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2018

  • Ray Howell, Silures: Resistance, Resilience, Revival, The History Press,2022

  • Simon Jenkins, The Celts. A Sceptical History, Profile Books, 2022

  • Alice Roberts, The Celts. Search for a Civilization, Heron Books, 2016

  • Optional Reading List:
  • John Collis, The Celts: Origins, Myths & Inventions, The History Press, 2003

  • Barry Cunliffe, The Celts: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2003

  • Peter Davenport, Roman Bath: A New History and Archaeology of Aquae Sulis, The History Press, 2021

  • Martin J. Dougherty Celts: The History and Legacy of One of the Oldest Cultures in Europe, Amber Books, 2015

  • Melanie Giles, A Forged Glamour: Landscape, Identity and Material Culture in the Iron Age, Windgather Press, 2013

  • Peter S. Wells, Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe (Debates in Archaeology), Bristol Classical Press, 2001

  • Field Trip and Associated Costs: Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Guidance will be given throughout the course. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. UC Berkeley Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    The Criminals Among Us: Introduction to Criminology & Forensic Psychology | John Deane-O’Keeffe
    Course Description: Few courses give equal billing to both nature and nurture when it comes to crime, still fewer applying its contents to real life. This course will take you through the dark world of personality disorders, aggression and violence, sexual offending, serial killing, and right back to social, familial, and environmental reasons for crime. And that is just the start.

    Among many areas we will examine personality disorders and crime with a particular look at the Dark Triad of personality types. Later, we will introduce the Psychopath and examine tests for psychopathy. We will also consider conduct disorder among children and related concepts, such as the McDonald Triad. Finally, when it comes to psychopathic criminals, do we cure or manage? When it comes to offences more generally, sex offending is considered by many to be the most odious of crimes but where does it come from? Why do certain men persist in attempts to sexually assault adults and/or abuse children? We go behind the personality types of sex offending including paedophilia and hebephilia – a detailed look at the UK’s most prolific child and adult sex offending Jimmy Savile. We also examine clerical sex offending and the more general theories that underlie both adult and child sexual offending.

    What about sexual serial killers? How can we divide them? Is it always a sexual crime? The psychology and personality traits of serial killers. A history of serial homicide. Components of sexual serial killers; sadism, fantasy, and compulsion to kill. Post-mortem paraphilias; cannibalism, vampirism, and necrophilia. From Jack the Ripper to Dr, Harold Shipman in the U.K., from Jeffrey Dahmer to Ted Bundy in the U.S., we look at a plethora of serial killers and ask the question on everyone’s lips – what exactly is wrong with them?

    What part does aggression and violence play in crime and what are its origins? Where does aggression stem from and what theories underlie it? An examination of childhood violence, domestic violence, and stalking. What is bystander apathy and intervention? A look at various sociological theories of crime and the key family factors that may affect criminal behavior. Criminals generally get to meet the criminal justice system in the UK. What does it look like compared to its U.S. counterpart and how does it treat its offenders? What about sentencing practices and then, prison life? How do prisoners for example organize themselves within prison confines? A look at various models of prison ‘coping’. What is the inmate code? Who adheres to it? An examination of the expression of sexuality in prison and the psychological effects of imprisonment.

    Then there is the small matter of God and criminal behaviors. What part, if any, does He/She play in either the prevention of deviancy – or its encouragement? Contrary to popular belief, serious crime did not begin in the USA in the 1970’s (cf. Garden of Eden). War, human sacrifice, human sacrifice, murder, rape, genocide, incest, kidnapping and criminal punishment – you name it, all these horrors and more feature in biblical writings. Biblical jurisprudence assumes that, as a creature made in the likeness of God, man is obliged to carry out His revealed will by leading a holy life. Oops. What went wrong?

    Evil & suffering within criminality is also examined – from both a biblical and secular perspective. A theodicy attempts to justify God in the face of inexplicable evil and human anguish by making certain assumptions. How can we then explain the moral and natural evils which befall humanity? What place, if any, does ‘free-will’ play in all of this? The conundrum of evil, suffering and delinquency is challenging from both a biblical and/or secular lens – just how can we make sense of it as we stand at the crossroads of faith or faithlessness?

    About the Tutor: John Deane-O’Keeffe is a Criminologist and Lecturer in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Law. He also sits as a Magistrate in Newcastle, England. He completed his undergraduate studies in Theology, Law and History at University College Dublin, UWE Bristol and the University of Oxford and took post-graduate degrees in Law, Theology and Forensic Criminology at London Met., Trinity College Dublin and the University of Cambridge. He is a Licensed Lay Minister of the Anglican Communion. He is also a TV/radio broadcaster and journalist where he opines on all matters criminological, forensic, and legal.

    Reading List: Study material will be provided daily, drawn from victorianweb.org and other online sources. The following books are recommended for preparatory reading but do not need to be brought to classes.

    Required Reading List:
  • Walklate, S., Criminology: The Basics , 3rd edition Routledge (2016)

  • Gavin, Helen, Criminological & Forensic Psychology, 2nd ed. Sage Publishing (2018)

  • Baron-Choen, S, The Science of Evil: On Empathy & the Origins of Cruelty, Basic Books (2011)

  • Optional Reading List:
  • Newburn, T., Criminology, 3rd edition Routledge (2017); , Key Readings in Criminology (2009)

  • Mesiter, M. & Dew, J., God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain, IVP Books (2013)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: Field trips may include a visit to the Oxford Castle & Prison, the Oxford Christian History walking tour. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    Pirates: Exploration and Exploitation in the Tudor and Stuart Age | Dr. Janet Dickinson
    Course Description: The reigns of the Tudors and early Stuarts witnessed dramatic, long-lasting changes in the nature of culture, society, and religion. One aspect of this has been characterized as the ‘Age of Discovery’. Individuals such as Sir Walter Ralegh and Sir Francis Drake spearheaded voyages of exploration and discovery carried out with the backing of the monarch and members of the government, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly. The opening up of Europe to the unknown and the development of new technologies that allowed long-distance exploration resulted in fundamental alterations to the conduct of trade, politics and diplomacy. This course will consider these changes, including the conduct of diplomacy and the experiences of the entrepreneurial individuals who traveled into the unknown. It will also consider the impact of these encounters on the peoples they encountered.

    About the Tutor: Janet Dickinson MA PhD is Senior Faculty Advisor and Lecturer at New York University in London and Senior Associate Tutor in History at the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests focus on elite politics and culture in early modern England and Europe, on which she has published a number of articles and a book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex (2011). Her research interests recently led to a year working on an Anglo-Dutch project focused on the extraordinary objects retrieved from a 17th century shipwreck off the Dutch island of Texel, and in particular a collection of ‘drowned books’ and ‘ghost books’. She has been named as ‘Most Acclaimed Lecturer’ and ‘Outstanding Tutor’ by her students in Oxford.

    Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. Beyond this, students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

    Required Reading List:
  • Stephen Alford (2017), London's Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City

  • Jonathan Bate and Dora Thornton, eds., Shakespeare: Staging the World

  • Jerry Brotton (2016), This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World

  • Anne Chambers (2018), Grace O’Malley: the biography of Ireland’s Pirate Queen 1530-1603

  • Matthew Dimmock (2019), Elizabethan Globalism. England, China and the Rainbow Portrait

  • Olga Dmitrieva and Tessa Murdoch, eds., Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and Russian Tsars

  • James Evans (2014), Tudor Adventurers

  • Harry Kelsey (1998), Sir Francis Drake: the Queen’s pirate

  • Neil MacGregor (2013), Shakespeare’s Restless World: a portrait of an era in twenty objects

  • (Note that there is a website by the same title that contains a number of audio clips from the radio series that produced this book: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017gm45).
  • Penry Williams and Mark Nicholls, Sir Walter Raleigh: in life and legend


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: Field trips may include a visit to Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, Southsea Castle, Middle Temple, History of Science Museum, and Bodleian Library. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    Political Economy in a (De)Globalised World | Dr. Christian Glossner
    Course Description: To what extent do we still live in a ‘globalised’ and 'capitalist' world, and how helpful are the concepts of ‘globalisation’ and 'capitalism' for understanding the contemporary international system? This course will introduce students to the discipline of Global Political Economy (GPE), which allows us to address these and other key questions about the world today. Through an historical approach, this course will move beyond the examination of the dominant and classical theoretical perspectives of political economy. Beyond, it will offer a framework of analysis and address contemporary political, economic and societal developments including ongoing controversies surrounding international institutions such as the United Nations Organisation (UNO) or the European Union (EU) and notions such as ‘globalisation’, ‘capitalism’, ‘liberalism’, and 'limited government‘.

    This course aims to introduce aspects of the interaction between states, markets and societies at the international level, with a focus on the European and Transatlantic context; it also covers most recent controversies in the field around the themes of (de)globalisation and global governance.

    About the Tutor:Prof. Dr. Christian L. Glossner is a university professor of economics and has been a lecturer and tutor for Global Political Economy as well as International Trade and Finance at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) since 2009. He previously held an Europaeum Research Fellowship at the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (IUHEI) in Geneva and worked for various management consultancies, multinational corporations and public sector institutions including the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial affairs (ECFIN) of the European Commission in Brussels. He is a graduate from the Université de Fribourg as well as the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He has published various articles on contemporary international political and economic affairs and co-authored a book on the European Union. His most prominent publication is The Making of the German Post-War Economy (2010/2012, IB Tauris).

    Reading List: Study material will be provided daily, drawn from victorianweb.org and other online sources. The following books are recommended for preparatory reading but do not need to be brought to classes.

    Required Reading List:
    Not required to bring to class in Oxford.
  • Albert, Michael Capitalism vs. Capitalism: How America's Obsession with Individual Achievement and Short-Term Profit has Led It to the Brink of Collapse. (1993)

  • Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, and Owens, PatriciaThe Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations., (Seventh edition) (2016)

  • Hirst, Paul; Thompson, Grahame, and Bromley, SimonGlobalization in Question, (Third edition)(2009)

  • Mason, PaulPostcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (2016)

  • Paul, Darel, and Amawi, Alba (Eds.), The Theoretical Evolution of International Political Economy: A Reader. (Third edition)

  • Piketty, Thomas, Capital in the Twenty-First Century(2017)

  • Ravenhill, John (Ed.), Global Political Economy. (Fifth edition) (2016)

  • Stiglitz, Joseph, Globalization and Its Discontents. (New edition). London: Penguin. (2003)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: Field trips may include a visit to the Ashmolean Museum, MINI Plant Cowley, and Blenheim Palace. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    The Eighteenth-Century Country House | Dr. Gillian White
    Course Description: The eighteenth century is the great age of the English country house. It is the age of Robert Adam, of Thomas Chippendale, of Capability Brown. It is also the age of the Grand Tour, of collecting, and of manufacturing and trading revolutions. It is the age that brought us so many of England’s great surviving country houses, like Chatsworth, Blenheim, Harewood, Holkham and Kedleston, as well as lost extravagances like Fonthill Abbey.

    This course focuses on the visual world of the country house in the extended eighteenth century. We’ll survey changing architectural styles and developments in furnishings and interior decoration. We will also explore some of the art that adorned the rooms of the country house and view the gardens and landscapes that extended from them. Along the way, we’ll discover a fine cast of characters, including owners, architects, designers and craftsmen, all of whom have fascinating stories to tell.

    The course brings together a range of sources that shed light on the country house, its design, its people and its purpose. Our work in the seminar room will be accompanied by visits to sites chosen to complement the key themes of the course. These are likely to include Blenheim Palace, Osterley House, Chiswick House and a great garden. Prospective students should note that these visits involve fair amounts of walking and standing.

    This is a course about style and elegance – with some splendid English eccentrics thrown in along the way!

    About the Tutor:Dr. Gillian White formerly worked for the National Trust as Curator/Collections Manager of Hardwick Hall, one of the most important surviving Elizabethan country houses in England. Since completing her PhD she has worked as a freelance lecturer. She was involved for several years with the Centre for the Study of the Country House at Leicester University and also teaches History of Art in Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, where her courses generally concentrate on the mediaeval and early modern periods. Away from Oxford, she gives talks and lectures to a variety of groups, is an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society, and contributes regularly to the year-long History of Textiles course at the V&A Museum in London.

    Reading List: Study material will be provided daily, drawn from victorianweb.org and other online sources. The following books are recommended for preparatory reading but do not need to be brought to classes.

    Required Reading List: (Not required to bring to class in Oxford.)
  • Mark Girouard Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History(1978 and later editions (chapters 5-8))

  • Jeremy Musson and Simon JenkinsRobert Adam: Country House Design, Decoration, and the Art of Elegance (2017)

  • Michael Snodin and John StylesDesign and the Decorative Arts: Georgian Britain 1714-1837,(2004)

  • Optional Reading List:
  • Peter AckroydRevolution: The History of England, vol. IV (2016)

  • Dana ArnoldThe Georgian Country House: Architecture, Landscape and Society (2003)

  • Jeremy Black The British Abroad: The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century (2003)

  • Christopher ChristieThe British Country House in the Eighteenth Century (2000)

  • Steven ParissienPalladian Style (1994)

  • Richard Wilson and Alan MackleyThe Building of the English Country House 1660-1880 (2000)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: TBD. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
    The Persian Invasions of Greece | Dr. Steve Kershaw
    Course Description: The 19th Century philosopher John Stuart Mill famously said that ‘The Battle of Marathon’, even as an event in English history, is more important than ‘The Battle of Hastings.’ The invasions of Greece by the Persian Kings Darius and Xerxes, and the astonishing clash between East and West that this brought about, still have resonances in modern history, and have left us with tales of heroic resistance in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. The protagonists are: in Europe, the Greeks, led on land by militaristic, oligarchic Sparta, and on sea by the newly democratic Athens; in Asia, the mighty Persian Empire – powerful, rich, cultured, ethnically diverse, ruled by mighty kings, and encompassing modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria & Egypt. The story was originally told by Herodotus, the ‘Father of History’, and continues to be revealed by modern discoveries in archaeology and geology. We will explore and analyse the causes, events, and effects of the conflicts fought between these great cultures, whose outcome was decided by the crucial engagements at Thermopylae (the 300 Spartans), Artemisium, Salamis and Plataea. The 2500th anniversary of this conflict was recently celebrated ‘for humanity as a whole’, and regarded these decisive battles as marking 'the very beginnings of Western civilization itself', a viewpoint which we will explore during the course.

    Excursions will include a visit to the British Museum in London.

    About the Tutor: Dr. Steve Kershaw is a tutor for the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education, a lecturer for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and a Guest Speaker for various cultural travel companies. Steve Kershaw has spent much of the last 35 years travelling extensively in the world of the Ancient Greeks both physically and intellectually. He was an expert contributor to the History Channel’s Barbarians Rising series, and his publications on Greek culture and history include A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization, A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato’s Ideal State, a children’s book on Greek Mythology entitled Mythologica, and The Harvest of War. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis: The Epic Battles That Saved Democracy.

    Reading List: Study material will be provided daily, drawn from victorianweb.org and other online sources. The following books are recommended for preparatory reading but do not need to be brought to classes.

    Required Reading List:
  • John Curtis, Ina Sarikhani Sandmann, et al.Epic Iran(2006)

  • Holland, T.Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West(2005)

  • Holland, T.Herodotus: The Histories,(2013)

  • Kershaw, S. P.The Harvest of War. Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis: The Epic Battles that Saved Democracy (2022)

  • Optional Reading List:
  • Rosenbloom, D.Aeschylus: Persians(2006)

  • Waters, M. Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE (2014)


  • Field Trips and Associated Cost: TBD. Field trip cost will be added to the final invoice. Cost ranges from $300 - $450.

    Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten-minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Academic credit is offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.
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