Now entering its forty-seventh year, the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Summer Seminar at Trinity College, Oxford is one of the oldest American summer programs at Oxford University. Summer Seminar students take small classes organized around discussion rather than lecture and are taught by Oxford faculty.
These features shape the Seminar's teaching and learning.
- Courses and Instruction: Last summer the Seminar offered more than a dozen courses in British literature, politics, law, history, and culture. Most major courses employ the Oxford tutorial system in which students meet regularly with their tutors in small groups. During the Summer Seminar 2012, the average major course enrolled six students.
- Faculty: Seminar tutors are all experienced scholars either currently teaching at Oxford University or with experience teaching there in the past.
All Seminar students reside at Trinity College, many of them living in a quadrangle originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the seventeenth century. The College's spacious gardens, among the finest in Oxford, provide a beautiful setting for conversation, reading or a casual stroll. Meals are served in the College Dining Hall, constructed in 1618. The meal plan includes five dinners—Sunday through Thursday nights—and breakfast seven days per week. Social and intellectual life extends beyond the College walls, and Oxford itself has all the cultural vibrancy expected of one of the world's great university towns. Streets rich in literary and historical significance meander among the University's thirty-nine colleges. During any summer week one can find concerts in college chapels and plays produced in college gardens. Coffee shops, pubs, bookstores, churches, and gardens all lie just outside the College gates. Blocks away from Trinity College are the University Parks, with beautiful trails for running and jogging, fields for pick-up soccer, and other recreational opportunities. For those who need a harder work-out, Oxford has several gyms that offer short-term memberships.
Travel and field trips: Only an hour by train from London, Oxford is a great base for exploring the British capital, the rest of the UK, and Europe. The Seminar organizes subsidized Friday field trips; in 2012, we visited London, Bath, Blenheim Palace, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. And we took a stroll along the banks of the River Thames to the charming village of Iffley, with its canal lock and Romanesque church.
The class schedule, with courses offered Monday through Thursday, allows the opportunity for participants to travel on their own. A four-day weekend from Thursday, August 1, through Sunday, August 4, is ideal for a getaway to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, or elsewhere.
The Oxford Summer Seminar offers its students an opportunity not just to dwell among these academic treasures, but also to study and learn at a university that has been educating students since the Middle Ages. The Seminar invites its students to participate in a great academic tradition that has, for many former Seminar students, profoundly enriched their lives.