Occasionally I share articles from other bloggers. This one by Sandra Hutchinson describes life as a B&B guest in an Oxford College. It’s well worth reading. Thank you Sandra for such a delightful article.
My note – As a former under-graduate at Oxford University I can confirm the unique nature of studying for a degree in one of the thirty historic colleges that make up the university. My college was a women’s college St Hugh’s founded by Elizabeth Wordsworth, niece of the famous poet William Wordsworth. He of ‘The Daffodils’ fame. The college was a centre of learning for women and was founded around 1880. I was lucky enough to be a student at St Hugh’s in the 1980s.
The majority of the colleges grew from religious and ecclesiastical roots, starting around 1260, that’s almost 800 years ago. These religious colleges studied Greek, Latin and Hebrew texts, with a focus on philosophy and Christian doctrine. Over the centuries the scholarly range broadened to include jurisprudence (law), medicine, sciences, arts, literature and language.
There are three terms at Oxford each year; Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. The scholarly year starts in October and finishes in June. Each term lasts eight weeks. Every student lives in a college. Every college has a library. The college is your home and study place. However you leave the college daily to head into the central university buildings for lectures – attended by all those students studying your subject across the whole university. For example my college admitted 8 Geographers per year. However across the university as a whole there were probably about 100 Geographers, scattered across many of the colleges.
All students have a tutor, and every week during term time, you have a 60-90 minute session with your tutor and one other student. So the teaching at Oxford is essentially one to one. The weekly tutorial is where you discuss the essay / piece of work that you’ve both submitted to the tutor that week. Every essay is about 3000 words and is an original piece of work where students consider the week’s assignment. During term time you are expected to produce one essay per week, that’s eight per term, each of a few thousand words. A typical essay title for a Geography student like me, might have been,
‘The geomorphology of south-west England has influenced human habitation patterns in this area for centuries. Discuss with particular reference to Devon and Cornwall’
There’s also a programme of lectures (Mon-Fri) that you are invited to attend – but they are not compulsory. Like any university the lectures vary from superb to mediocre, depending on the charisma of the lecturer. It’s all very ‘Brideshead’ if you remember the book by Evelyn Waugh. You can check out my blog www.educated-traveller.com for a variety of articles on Oxford.
I’d also strongly recommend a visit to the Bodleian Library – it is one of three copyright libraries in the UK, which means they automatically receive a copy of every book published. I’ve always wondered if there is a quality threshold here – or not?! The Bodleian Gift Shop is pretty good too.
Thanks for a great article Sandra.
A fabulous jaunt down memory lane.
Two years ago I based myself at St Hugh’s to write a special essay called ‘Origins’ one of these days I’ll get round to publishing it.
In the St Hugh’s Garden – April 2018
So many fond memories…..