Academics | The Exeter Summer Programme

ECSP facilitated a unique space in which medics, engineers, philosophers, lawyers (and literature students like me) could cooperate creatively to produce innovative work. The tutors and lecturers pushed me to clarify my expression, and my confidence in articulating ideas improved significantly.

Björn, the University of St Andrews

Academic Package

Oxford was declared the world’s number one university for the third successive year in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and is the only UK University ever to top the international rankings, sustaining its position through the outstanding quality of its research, teaching and innovation. ECSP seeks to bring the best of Oxford’s teaching, research and learning to suitably qualified students over the summer.

We offer 12 exciting cross-disciplinary lecture courses. Or, you may decide to substitute a lecture course for our Individual Research Tutorial (IRT) and work on a topic chosen by you with an expert in your field. You will take 2 courses, either 2 x lecture courses or 1 x lecture course and 1 x IRT.

Lecture courses comprise 12 x lectures, 6 x seminars and 4 x tutorials of 1.25hrs each, plus a 3hr written exam, for a total of 30.5hrs contact teaching and assessment per course. Small classes, discussion-based learning and opportunities to work closely with teaching Faculty are defining features of an Oxford undergraduate education. To replicate this model, lectures have been capped at 16, seminars at 8 and tutorials at 2 ensuring you get direct, expert guidance as you undertake in-depth study in your chosen fields.

The range of lectures and seminars offered in the arts and humanities, social science, maths, science, and engineering reflects the array of academic expertise in Oxford and has been designed to allow you to work both towards your home University degree requirements and to try something new. Lecture courses will be academically rigorous and challenging but accessible. Lecturers will be drawn from Exeter College, Oxford University Faculty and from other distinguished Universities.

On application, you will be asked to select two lecture courses. In addition, there will be a series of 6 x 1hr evening lectures.

ECSP provides an intellectually and culturally stimulating environment where you will find like-minded people from all over the world who dare to share their passion, talent, and brilliance.

Junna, the University of British Columbia

By taking a class outside my area of expertise, I was able to appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of academia and expand my intellectual horizons.

Aliza, Queens College New York

Lecture Courses

The Programme offers 12 lecture courses and the Individual Research Tutorial. There is no fixed academic path: you choose any two from the range of courses below. Please click on the title of a course to view the syllabus.

  1. Literatures of Modernism 
  2. How to Read Paintings 
  3. Identities in Crisis
  4. Histories of Migration
  5. Introduction to International Relations 
  6. Development Economics 
  7. Introduction to International Law 
  8. Good Life or Moral Life?
  9. The History of Evolution
  10. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
  11. Introduction to Astrophysics
  12. Maths for Physical Sciences and Engineering
  13. Individual Research Tutorial – click to download a Research Proposal Form

We will endeavour to place you in your first-choice lecture courses but ask you to provide a reserve choice in your application, as your first choice may already be filled.  We limit numbers in each course to ensure you receive the small-class, discussion-based learning experience we offer.

While you are free to choose any two lecture courses, we recommend selecting one lecture course within, and one course outside, your major subject, and so take advantage of the opportunity to try something new and different. Some lecture course combinations may be restricted due to timetabling constraints.

Most courses do not have prerequisites and are therefore open to everyone. Please read the lecture course descriptions carefully and take time to choose wisely. You will have an opportunity to request to switch classes in Week 1, but this will be subject to availability and approval from the Academic Director.

Exeter reserves the right to alter or cancel any course in the event that a lecturer becomes unexpectedly unavailable, or in the unlikely event of a course being undersubscribed. In both cases we will use our best endeavours to find an alternative teacher and/or advise you of the best alternative course.

The Tutorial System

I will definitely recommend ECSP for anyone looking for an academically enriching and rewarding program this summer! Apart from stretching myself academically, I had the opportunity to interact with fun loving intellects from all over the globe…ECSP will definitely bring out the very best in you over the summer! 

Chin, the National University of Singapore

By participating in ECSP you will experience the small-group, discussion-based learning that is central to undergraduate student life in Oxford:

You will meet your seminar leader once or twice a week in small groups of no more than 8 to discuss your work with your peers and to report on progress and receive feedback, constructive criticism and guidance from your seminar leader. Tutors are experts in their field, and tutorials are your opportunity to get individual teaching from them. In a ratio of 2 students to 1 tutor, you will discuss topics in depth with your tutor in a series of 4 x 1.25hr tutorials per lecture course. This personalised attention is at the heart of an Oxford undergraduate education and provides opportunities to test the soundness of your ideas, think critically and develop your academic skills in ways that are not possible in lectures.

Seminars and tutorials will build on themes introduced in your lectures. You will be given a list of essay titles to choose from in your first seminar and in the weeks that follow under the direction of your seminar leader and tutor you will spend time reading independently and preparing written work, leading to the production of a final 3,000-word essay.

The tutorial system will be academically challenging but rewarding. You will be expected to undertake self-directed preparatory work before each session (e.g. reading, writing short essays, or working through a set of problems) and then to take an active part in the seminars and tutorials by presenting and defending your ideas and analysing and critiquing the ideas of your instructor and classmates.

By participating in seminars and tutorials you will:

  • gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter
  • improve your ability to think critically and work independently
  • develop the skills to assess and make use of source materials
  • hone your oral and written communication skills
  • learn to formulate and justify a thesis, and to anticipate and respond to counter-arguments
  • develop individual academic interests within the context of your chosen subjects
  • have the opportunity to begin work on a senior thesis or other area of special academic interest
  • benefit from close intellectual engagement with your tutorial and seminar leader and fellow students

ECSP Individual Research Tutorial

Having the content and delivery of my writing constructively critiqued throughout each tutorial led me to develop a new writing process and a refined capacity to voice and defend my ideas. Tutorials, lectures, and seminars were truly undertaken in collaboration with experts in their respective fields.

Chris, Berkeley

What Is the Individual Research Tutorial (IRT)?
With the IRT, you will pursue research in a topic chosen by you and develop an extended research essay under the direct tutelage of an expert appointed specifically to guide you in your study. At the heart of Oxford’s highly regarded teaching practice are the conversations that take place between students and teachers who are experts in the subject being studied. These ‘tutorials’, for each of which a written piece of work is presented, allow students to develop their own ideas under the direct supervision of a tutor. Students can push themselves personally and direct their own learning, all the while being supported by a dedicated teacher.

After you have secured your place on ECSP, you will have the option of submitting a research proposal describing your chosen area of study and, if approved, you will meet your tutor in 6 x 1hr sessions over the course of the Programme and produce a final essay or report. In addition, you will be included with the other IRT students in an introductory class on conducting self-directed research, and a mid-session class on shaping your findings into a final research paper. The IRT is taken in place of one of your ECSP lecture courses.

Different disciplines work in different ways, but all tutors will set work to be done in advance of your tutorial. In the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences you will most likely be asked to produce short essays and, for example, write literary reviews or legal commentaries; whereas in Science and Engineering you may well be given problem sets. Your tutor will guide your research by providing suggested readings and offering an array of special topics to pursue, all to support and direct your study. In addition, they will give you direct, individual help on how to organise your ideas into a persuasive argument. You can expect to undertake about 15 hours per week of independent study for each tutorial. Due to the personalised nature of tutorials, it is very important that you are well-prepared and willing to engage with your tutor in discussion.

Support and Resources:
The Academic Director will provide on-going support and guidance in the weeks leading up to the start of ECSP until its conclusion. In addition, regular tutorials allow progress to be very closely monitored and, if necessary, for additional support to be put in place. Students taking this option will also be given access to the Bodleian Library, Oxford University’s main research library.

Depending on the tutor and the specific area of research you engage in, you will be assessed either on the weekly pieces of work (a grade being given for each; final grade an accumulated average of all marks) or on the final research essay or paper that you submit.

You will be expected to demonstrate prior knowledge of your chosen field of research, a high degree of self-motivation and engagement with your subject and the ability to work independently. The IRT would be particularly well-suited to students working towards an undergraduate thesis or thinking of graduate studies. Academic areas most suitable for the IRT are the Humanities (Literature, History, Languages, Art History, Classics) and Social Sciences (Politics, Economics (not econometrics), Law, Anthropology, Geography, and International Relations). There will not be an opportunity to pursue laboratory work.

Learning Outcomes:
Tutorials rely on the exchange of ideas. Over the course of your six tutorials you will develop the skills and confidence to present and defend your opinions, accept constructive criticism, listen to others, evaluate a number of points of view, develop evidence and sustain your own argument. Regular and rigorous academic discussion facilitates learning and opens up a depth and detail of understanding that simply isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials are an ideal way to explore ideas, cast light on new perspectives and develop your ability to think both critically and for yourself. The ability to respond, discuss and argue rationally are skills that will benefit you not just in Oxford but at your home University and in life in the future. In addition, the research you pursue here will provide the ideal basis for any undergraduate thesis you may intend to submit at your home university. It will also give you unparalleled experience of supervised research that itself is the strongest preparation for postgraduate research.

How to Apply:
You must first have been admitted to ECSP and paid your Programme Fee, then there is a two-step application process:

  1. Submit a Research Proposal Form
  2. Pay the £500 Individual Research Tutorial Fee. This fee is non-refundable and is paid in addition to your Programme Fee

The Academic Director will then begin the work of finding you a dedicated tutor. Once a tutor is found, you will be introduced by email prior to the start of the Programme to begin working together to frame your research title, receive a preparatory reading list and set dates for your first and subsequent tutorials.

The IRT is subject to the Academic Director’s approval and the availability of an expert in Oxford to guide your research. Submission of an IRT proposal and payment of the supplementary fee is not therefore a guarantee of acceptance. We will do our very best to pair you with a suitable tutor, but if we are unable to do so we will give you the option of either modifying your research proposal or substituting the IRT with a second lecture course and refunding your £500 Research Track Option Fee.



Course: Literatures of Modernism: the Modernist Novel in English,
 Lecturer: Dr Michael Mayo
 Dr Michael Mayo was a first-generation student at Harvard College, where he received an honours degree in English. After working as a teacher and principal at urban public schools, he received his M.A. in English from Middlebury College and an MSc in Literature and Modernity from the University of Edinburgh. For his DPhil (on Jamaes Joyce) he came to Oxford, where he was a lecturer at Exeter College; he is now the Junior Research Fellow in English at Worcester College, Oxford. He is currently writing a book based on his DPhil research on the formal relations between the texts of James Joyce and Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the order of priests who taught Joyce at school. He uses psychoanalytic theory, particularly that of Melanie Klein, to trace the ways both Loyola and Joyce use frustration and satisfaction to drive their readers into a peculiar position, one both hermeneutic and existential, ironic and earnest, tragic and (potentially) hilarious. Still a lecturer teaching Exeter undergraduates, as a Fellow of Worcester College, he teaches Literature in English from 1830 to the present, with special focus on modernist narrative.

Course: How to Read Paintings, Lecturer: Liz Rideal Liz Rideal is Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London. Since 1985, she has had 50 solo exhibitions in both public and private art galleries across Europe and America: 5 catalogue publications and 20 public commissions. Her artwork is held in public collections including Tate; Victoria & Albert Museum; British Museum; The National Portrait Gallery; The Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark; La Bibliothèque Nationale, France; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; The George Eastman Museum, Berkeley Art Museum & the Yale Centre for British Art, USA. Rideal received a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2016-17, a British Academy award to work in India in 2011, and the Rome Wingate Scholarship at the British School at Rome in 2008/9. She is author of Mirror/Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Watson-Guptill, NY, 2001; Insights: Self-portraits, NPG, London, 2005; and How to Read Painting, Bloomsbury, London, and Rizzoli, NY, 2014, and 2015. She is co-author of Madam and Eve: women portraying women, Laurence King, 2018 and wrote the introduction to the new edition of Phaidon’s 500 Self-portraits, 2018.

Course: Identities in Crisis: Post-war French Writing and Film, Lecturer: Dr Anna Kemp Dr Kemp is a specialist in twentieth and twenty-first-century French literature. She graduated from Worcester College Oxford in 2002 with first class honours in Modern and Medieval Languages before pursuing her postgraduate studies in London. In 2009, she returned to Oxford as The Hamilton Junior Research Fellow in French at The Queen’s College. Dr Kemp has taught undergraduate and postgraduate students at King’s College London, the University of Oxford, the University of Southampton and, most recently, was a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. Her first book Voices and Veils: Feminism and Islam in French Women’s Writing and Activismwas one of four books shortlisted for the 2011 Gapper Book Prize for the best book published in French Studies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. More recently she was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to complete work on her current book Oulipography: Life as Creative Constraint. This book looks at the autobiographical writing of members of the French experimental writing collective the OuLiPo. Dr Kemp is also a children’s author publishing picture books and children’s novels.

Course: Histories of Migration, Lecturer: Dr Jamie Perry: Dr Jamie Perry is a research associate at the School of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham where he received his PhD in Modern History. His research interests lie in internationalist thought and activism, globalisation, the transnational activities of non-governmental organisations, intergovernmental organisations, and the formal and informal political structures that shape elite and public understanding of and attitudes towards international affairs and migration. He has taught on migration, social activism, imperial culture, global politics and modern world history, and worked on a number of research projects on the history of British NGOs, humanitarianism, homelessness and British diplomatic relations. He also conducts research for the international NGO Save the Children in preparation for their centenary celebrations in 2019. He is currently adapting his thesis on liberal internationalism in postwar Britain into a monograph. He wrote a journal article on British attitudes towards China during the Second-Sino Japanese War, published in Diplomacy and Statecraft in 2011.

Course: Introduction to International Relations, Lecturer: Dr Elisabetta Brighi
 Dr Elisabetta Brighi was the first Bennet Boskey Fellow in International Relations at Exeter College, the University of Oxford and is now a Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and IR, University of Westminster. Her current research interests lie at the intersection of International Security and International Political Theory. They include terrorism, urban security, affect and mimesis. She has published, most recently, the co-edited volume The Sacred and the Political (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and the journal article ‘The Globalisation of Resentment’, in Millennium: Journal of International Studies (2016).

Course: Development Economics,
 Lecturer: Dr Donna Harris
 Dr Donna Harris is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Department of Economics at Oxford Univerisity. Prior to this post, she was a  Departmental Lecturer in Development Economics at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford and a Career Development Fellow (CDF) in Economics at Somerville College, University of Oxford. Prior to Oxford, she was an ESRC-MRC Interdisciplinary Post-Doctoral Fellow at Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD and MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge, MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA in Economics from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She has been awarded research grants from the British Academy and a joint Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK. Her research areas are in Behavioural and Experimental Economics with applications to developing countries. Her research also uses methods in Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience using fMRI in order to understand individual and group decisions. Her current research project examines the roles of social identity, norms and narratives within social networks in the functioning of public organisations in developing countries (joint work with Prof. Paul Collier and Prof. Stefan Dercon, University of Oxford). Her other research explores the impacts of social interactions and communication on economic decisions including social preferences, financial decision-makings, and cooperation. Donna has taught Behavioural Development Economics course for the MSc in Economics for Development as well as undergraduate courses in Microeconomics, Game Theory and Development Economics.

Course: Introduction to International Law, Lecturer: Professor Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne Professor Hill-Cawthorne is an Associate Professor in Public International Law at the University of Reading, where he teaches on the LLB (Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Trusts Law and International Law) and the LLM (International Humanitarian Law and International Dispute Settlement). Prior to joining Reading in 2013, he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Public International Law at the University of Oxford, where he was also completing his doctorate. He was also previously a Stipendiary Lecturer in Law at Merton College, Oxford. Other previous positions include British Research Council Fellow at the John W Kluge Center, Library of Congress, Washington DC, Convenor of the Oxford Public International Law Discussion Group, and Treasurer & Member of the Executive Committee of Oxford Pro Bono Publico. Lawrence’s research interests cut across a number of topics within public international law, with his recent work focusing on international dispute settlement, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law. His monograph, Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict, which was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press, was awarded the American Society of International Law’s 2016 Francis Lieber Prize for best book in the field of international law and armed conflict as well as the 11th Paul Reuter Prize (administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross). His scholarship has been cited by, amongst others, the UK Court of Appeal and UK Supreme Court. Lawrence has acted as advisor to, inter alia, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, the International Bar Association, and the European Parliament, as well as to legal practitioners in cases appearing before UK courts.

Course: Good Life or Moral Life?
 Lecturer: Dr Damien Freeman Damien Freeman is a Fellow of the PM Glynn Institute (Australian Catholic University’s public policy think-tank) and Editor of the Kapunda Press. He was educated at the University of Sydney and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was awarded his PhD in philosophy. He has written or edited eight books, including Art’s Emotions: ethics, expression and aesthetic experience (2013, McGill-Queens University Press) and Abbott’s Right: the conservative tradition from Menzies to Abbott (2017, Melbourne University Press). He has published in a range of scholarly periodicals, including Harvard Review of Philosophy, and has contributed to collections including Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature, Current Controversies in Philosophy of Art, and The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. 

Course: The History of Evolution: Dr Richard Barnett Dr Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster on the history of science and medicine. He studied medicine in London before becoming a historian, and has taught at Cambridge, UCL, and other leading institutions for more than a decade. In 2011 he received one of the first Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowships. His first book, Medical London: City of Diseases: City of Cures, was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, and his The Sick Rose, an international bestseller, was described in the Guardian as ‘superbly lucid and erudite’. His latest book, The Smile Stealers: The Fine and Foul Art of Dentistry, the last instalment in a trilogy exploring the image collections of the Wellcome Library, is out now, and was the Times called it ‘gory, beautiful, probing’. Seahouses, his award-winning first poetry collection, came out in 2015. He writes for the Lancet and the London Review of Books, and has presented TV & radio documentaries for broadcasters around the world.

Course: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
 Lecturer: Professor Grant Ritchie
 Professor Grant Ritchie was an undergraduate and DPhil student at Trinity College, Oxford. After winning a prestigious Royal Society Fellowship, he is now a University Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Oxford, and is a Tutorial Fellow in Chemistry at Worcester College, Oxford. His (physical chemistry) research focuses on the application of laser-based spectroscopic techniques to a variety of fundamental and applied problems in the areas of gas phase reaction dynamics, optical micromanipulation and medical diagnostics (see

Course: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics Lecturer: Professor Philipp Kukura
 Professor Philipp Kukura read Chemistry at St Hugh’s College Oxford, did a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley with Rich Mathies before moving to ETH Zurich to work with Vahid Sandoghdar.He returned to Oxford initially as an EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow in 2010 and was elected to a tutorial fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford in 2011 and promoted to Full Professor in 2016. He has received awards by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Harrison-Meldola 2011 and Marlow 2010) and the European Biophysical Society Association (2017) and currently holds an ERC Starting Investigator Grant. He leads an interdisciplinary research group that develops and applies new optical methodologies to study structure and dynamics down to nanometer length scales and femtosecond timescales. His research is motivated by a vigorous back and forth between pushing the boundaries of what can be measured with light and the application of our developments to fundamental questions in chemistry, physics and biology.

Course: Introduction to Astrophysics Lecturer: Professor Garret Cotter Professor Garret Cotter obtained his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge and held postdoctoral positions at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the Cavendish Laboratory before coming to Oxford, where he is Associate Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Tutorial Fellow in Physics and Exeter College. His main research interests are in high-energy astrophysics and astro-particle physics, both in theory and experiment. Much of his research group’s work at present is with the international collaboration to build the Cherenkov Telescope Array, which will be the next-generation observatory for ground-based very-high-energy gamma-ray astronomy.

Course: Mathematics for Physical Sciences and Engineering
 Lecturer: Dr Martin Galpin
 Dr Martin Galpin is a Fellow and College Lecturer in Mathematics for Chemistry at University College, University of Oxford. He teaches undergraduates in Mathematics for Chemistry and, at the graduate level, organises and teaches the core maths component of the CDT in Theory and Modelling in the Chemical Sciences. His work is in the general area of condensed matter theory, the aim of which is to understand the physical properties of solids, liquids and related phases of matter. Of particular interest are so-called ‘correlated electron systems’. For a selection of publications, please see



Assessment and Academic Credit

Students who successfully complete the Programme will receive a transcript showing two grades, one for each course, expressed as a grade-% and a letter equivalent, together with grading guidance notes.

Your final lecture course grades will comprise:

(1) Written exams; One 3hr exam per lecture course in which you will be asked to write 3 x essays
(2) Research essay; One 3,000-word essay per lecture course
(3) Attendance

You must complete each of these three elements in order to pass your courses.

While lecture courses have been designed to be credit-bearing and we will assist you to transfer credit home, Exeter College does not operate a credit system and ultimately the calculation of credit will be decided by your home University. As a guide, courses usually receive 6 University of California quarter credits, 3-4 US credits or 7.5 ECTS credits.

Evening Lectures

In addition to your academic courses, we will arrange a series of evening lectures delivered by luminaries from the University of Oxford and other leading universities, as well as from public and professional life. The format of these lectures will provide time for you to question the speaker and to continue discussions over drinks immediately afterwards. In previous years, speakers have included General Sir Richard Shirreff, Baroness Helena Kennedy and Professor Frank Close CBE.

Academic Resources

To support your studies, you will have 24/7 access to Exeter College Library and ECSP Faculty will provide course readers and post supplementary resources online. You will be advised of any pre-course reading prior to the start of the Programme.

A copy of our Library Guide is available here; ECSP Library Guide

Time Table and Workload

Classes will run Monday-Friday. You can expect to have c.10hrs of contact teaching per week and to spend time reading and preparing for your lectures, seminars and tutorials in advance. There will be time in week 6 for exam revision and writing up research essays. Generally, week-ends will be free for you to travel independently or catch up on your academic work.

Click here to see the ECSP Academic Time Table