Williams-Oxford Program Website
Director, Professor M. JENNIFER BLOXAM
Williams College offers a year-long program of studies at Oxford University in cooperation with Exeter College, Oxford. Based at Ephraim Williams House in North Oxford, the program is designed to integrate students into the intellectual and social life of one of the world's greatest universities. It uses the Oxford tutorial system and follows the Oxford three-term calendar. The resident director administers Ephraim Williams House, oversees the academic program, and serves as both academic and personal advisor to the students.
Students in the Oxford Program enroll for the full academic year, which consists of the Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity terms. These are each eight weeks long (running from early October to early December, mid-January to mid-March, late-April to mid-June), and there are two intervening six-week vacations during which students may be expected to continue reading as preparation for upcoming tutorials.
Over the course of the three terms, students normally take four full tutorials and one half tutorial, although some choose to substitute a fifth full tutorial for the half tutorial.
In addition to extensive opportunities to pursue British and Commonwealth studies, the program offers instruction in other fields for which Oxford is particularly noted or which are represented only marginally or infrequently in the Williams curriculum. Special provision is made for accommodating student interests or curricular needs that extend beyond the fields of study listed below. No disciplinary or departmental interest, therefore, is necessarily excluded. Instruction is by tutorial, often supplemented by attending a program of lectures or seminars from among the rich array sponsored by the University each term.
In summary, all students enrolled in the Oxford Program are required to complete four full tutorials and one half tutorial.
Students elect four full tutorials and one half tutorial, and sometimes five full tutorials, during the academic year. A full tutorial consists of eight tutorial sessions, and a half tutorial of four tutorial sessions, during an eight week term. Both full and half tutorials involve the following three components: (a) Tutorial meetings. These are weekly meetings of one or two students with an Oxford tutor at which the students present an essay on an assigned topic with discussion focusing on that topic. Eight essays in all will be written for each full tutorial subject and four essays for a half tutorial subject; (b) Set readings. At the start of the term tutors will assign a list of readings which students will be expected to complete on their own during term time and the vacation; (c) Lectures. Students may be encouraged to follow a pertinent lecture course (consisting usually of eight lectures) offered by the University in the general area of the tutorial subject.
Grades and Credits
Grades for each tutorial reflect the mark assigned to all eight (or four) tutorial sessions, including their related essays, considered together, as well as the mark for the final examination on work accomplished in the tutorial and supplementary reading. Final examinations are three hours in the case of full tutorials and two hours in the case of half tutorials. The final grade recorded on the Williams transcript is calculated by counting the tutorial mark as two-thirds and the final examination mark as one-third.
Upon satisfactory completion of the requirements for the Williams College Oxford Program students receive academic credit for a full Williams academic year. Grades are incorporated into their Williams transcript and are included in the computation of their GPA.
Tutorials may be used toward fulfilling the divisional distribution requirement; a student may earn a maximum of three distribution credits, with no more than one from each division, for the year.
NON-CREDIT FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY
In addition to their required tutorials, students may begin or continue the study of a wide range of foreign languages on a noncredit basis through a variety of arrangements available through the University as well as a number of other educational and cultural institutions in the city of Oxford. Such study normally is subsidized by the program.
The Williams College Oxford Program offers students every opportunity to integrate themselves fully into life at Oxford. The University offers access to an exceptional variety of sports, societies, interest groups, activities, and cultural events. Students are closely associated with their counterparts at Exeter College, are able to share in the social life of the College, to use its athletic facilities, and to dine in Hall twice a week. They have access to the University's athletic events, concerts, theatrical productions, museums, and to some of its many libraries. All may become members of the Oxford Union Society which, in addition to its debating activities and club rooms, possesses dining facilities and the largest lending library in the University. Students are housed (in doubles) at Ephraim Williams House, which is equipped with its own library and common rooms as well as with laundry and dining facilities, and which serves one catered dinner a week during the term. Each residential unit has fully-equipped kitchens for students who wish to do their own cooking. The house is within easy walking distance of the University Parks, convenient to the Summertown complex of shops and restaurants, and about five minutes by bicycle from the heart of the University.
There is an orientation period in October before the beginning of the academic year to help acquaint students with Oxford and the opportunities and challenges they will meet during the year. Throughout the academic year, provision will be made for day trips to such nearby points of interest as Stratford, Stonehenge and Avebury, Bath, Wells, Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey, and Parliament in London. Students will also attend a number of theatre productions and other cultural events. In addition, Oxford's proximity to London gives students ready access to that city's multiple attractions and resources. The Oxford-London train service is an hourly one, and the journey takes about an hour. Buses run even more frequently, and the journey takes about an hour and a half.
ILLNESS AND INSURANCE
You must be covered either by the Williams College student health insurance policy or some other comprehensive insurance plan (generally your family's health insurance). While in the U.K., you will be covered under the National Health Service (NHS) for routine clinic visits at the Exeter College group medical practice and for emergency hospital treatment. Prescription drugs are available through the NHS at a nominal fee. There are only limited outpatient psychological counseling services available through NHS and the Oxford Program. Any extensive or long-term counseling would have to be covered by your personal health insurance policy. Finally, you are not likely to be covered under NHS for medical services received in other foreign countries, especially non-European Community countries.
The tuition and room fees for the program are equivalent to those for a year at Williams. Students are responsible for their own transportation, most of their meals, and personal expenses. For planning purposes, students and their parents should expect the cost of a year on the Williams College Oxford Program to be about the same as a year at Williams. Financial aid eligibility will be figured on the usual basis of tuition, fees, room, board, and personal and book expenses just as if the student were at Williams. Similarly, the normal self-help contribution will be expected. Since the academic year ends later at Oxford than at Williams, the summer earning expectation for the following year will be reduced by one half and the difference made up by additional Williams aid.
Admission to the program is on a competitive but flexible basis. Students must apply to the Dean's Office by the prescribed deadline (normally in late February) and, prior to applying, should consult with the chair of their major department. They can expect to be notified of acceptance before spring break. It is the normal expectation that they will have completed the College's distribution requirement by the end of their sophomore year. The Admissions Committee takes the GPA into account and expects applicants to have demonstrated capacity for independent work. Applicants must identify two Williams faculty members who are willing to provide references (the committee will not request those faculty members to write letters but will want to contact them). Because of the emphasis at Oxford on written work, at least one of those faculty members should be able to offer an assessment of the applicant's writing ability.