THE CITY OF OXFORD
Students have been coming to Oxford to study for over 800 years, and the University of Oxford has grown incrementally from these deep roots. Its colleges, libraries and lecture halls lie scattered throughout the city, side by side with the shops, offices, churches, and houses that go to make up the commercial center of Oxford. The city probably began as a river crossing over the Themes in Anglo-Saxon times, and had become an important center before the University grew up. In the late twelfth century, English scholars began to gather to hear lectures in Oxford, having been banned by Henry II from studying at the University of Paris.
Today the University has 45 colleges and private halls, founded between 1249 and 1996, whose architectural splendor, together with that of the university's museums and libraries, gives the city its unique character. At the same time, Oxford has developed as a major commercial and industrial center, with a population of 160,000. The city is well supplied with pubs, caf?s and restaurants and the full range of shops are within easy reach. Yet a few minutes walk takes you to the tranquil greenery of the University Parks, Christ Church Meadow, or the Botanic Garden, while only a few minutes further is the windswept expanse of Port Meadow, on which horses and cattle have grazed beside the river for 1,000 years. The city has four theaters, several cinemas, and a wide variety of venues for music of all kinds. The Manor ground is home to Oxford United Football Club, and the city also has an ice rink and three swimming pools.
Oxford is an hour away from London by rail, and a little longer by one of the frequent and inexpensive coach services. There is also hourly coach service to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
Pembroke, granted its charter in 1624, grew out of Broadgates Hall, one of Oxford's best-known medieval foundations. It is situated just south of Carfax and the city center, and consists of three main quadrangles, which include buildings dating from the 17th to the present century. There is a well-stocked library which caters for all the undergraduate courses represented in the College. There are Fellows and Lecturers in almost all the major Arts and Science disciplines. In 1989 the residential capacity of the College was dramatically increased with the opening of the Geoffrey Arthur Building which fronts the river just a few minutes walk from the main site. Visiting students are placed in accommodation at the college site. The College has about 588 students with about 45 percent of them women. The relatively small physical size of the College, its flourishing Junior and Middle Common Rooms, and a long tradition of relative informality and friendly relations combine to make it a warm and welcoming society. Intellectual activity is highly prized, while sporting traditions are strong as well and the College has its own boat-house and playing fields. There are a number of clubs and societies ranging from the academic to the dramatic and from the musical to the gastronomic.
THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM
Junior Year Abroad students do not read for a degree of Oxford University and thus do not matriculate as members of the University. Visiting Students are, however, considered full members of the colleges to which they are admitted as visiting students and enjoy all the privileges of matriculated degree students. They are taught by the same tutors and to the same standard as matriculated degree students. Studying abroad almost invariably entails coming to grips with a different system of education. Oxford is unusual even by U.K. standards, in that the major part of a student's work is done not as part of a large group (in classes or lectures), but at tutorials, in which just one or two students meet with a tutor for a period of concentrated study. The system thus places great emphasis upon students developing their own independent skills of critical evaluation, methodology, and organization.
It is noteworthy that in the Research Assessment Exercise conducted in 2001 by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, almost all Departments in the college were consistently top-ranked, some receiving commendation for research quality of international excellence in a majority of departments and national excellence in all others: Biochemistry; Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Economics; Economics and Management; Engineering; English Language and Literature; English and Modern Languages; Law; Mathematics; Mathematics and Philosophy; Modern History; Modern History and Economics; Modern History and English; Modern History and Modern Languages; Modern History and Politics; Modern Languages; Oriental Studies; Philosophy; Philosophy and Modern Languages; Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE); Politics; Psychology; Psychology, Philosophy, and Physiology (PPP); Theology.
Program website: http://www.pmb.ox.ac.uk
THE TUTORIAL SYSTEM
Tutorials take place once a week and consist of an hour's in-depth discussion between the student and his or her tutor. At the center of the tutorial is an essay (paper) which the student will have been asked to prepare over the course of the preceding week. Typically the tutorial will begin with the student reading the essay out aloud to the tutor; the tutor will then criticize both the approach and the content of the essay, suggest alternative ways of tackling the subject, and initiate a more general discussion which may move on to embrace both related and unrelated topics. It will be apparent that the tutorial is an extremely concentrated form of teaching and learning. For a whole hour the student has the undivided attention of an expert in the field which he or she is studying. Achievement cannot really be measured in conventional terms. At the end of the tutorial a new topic for the forthcoming week will be assigned and the student will be directed towards essential reading.
Cornell students must maintain a full course load during their period of study abroad. Visiting students will normally take either two primary tutorials or one primary and one secondary tutorial in each term. Primary tutorials (eight meetings) take place every week; secondary tutorials (four meetings) every two weeks. At some colleges students take tutorials that have six meetings per term. Students will have twelve to sixteen tutorial meetings during the course of each term. In general, Visiting Students can expect to have their primary tutorials every week during the eight weeks of term, and their secondary tutorials in alternate weeks during term.
Students are taught (generally singly or in pairs) and given termly assignments by their tutors. The tutors in Oxford use traditional Greek letter scale for grading. The grades for termly work given by tutors do not themselves determine the class of degree the students will eventually earn. The degree classifications are based on examination papers (Finals) set usually at the end of their courses. Nevertheless, the termly grades constitute regular, and usually highly accurate, assessments of the students' performance in the Final Examination. Visiting Students, not being candidates for Oxford degrees, do not sit Oxford Finals. However, they are still subject to termly reports and their tutors, therefore, make grade assessments according to the scales with which they are familiar. A standard conversion table is used to translate Oxford grades into U.S. equivalencies. In awarding the grade, tutors are required to provide an assessment, which relates the student's performance to that expected from a matriculated degree student.
Immunization for group C meningococcus and for mumps is recommended by UK health authorities.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students. Students live in College and normally every student will have an individual study bedroom, with a mix of U.K. and U.S. and other international students in the immediate surroundings. Fees do not cover the cost of accommodation during vacation periods. Students are generally encouraged to eat in College as meals in the College dining hall are considered to be an important daily social activity.
Each student becomes a member of their College's Junior Common Room (JCR) which represents students on college matters and provides welfare support as well as extensive social and recreational facilities. The Oxford University Student Union exists to articulate the views and promote the interests of students at the University level, and to assist and coordinate the efforts of JCRs. The Student Union provides a broad range of services including welfare advice, legal advice, a wide variety of termly campaigns, organizing activities for new students such as Freshers' Fair, and providing University and intercollegiate social events. Opportunities to participate in drama, music and sport abound at Oxford and practice facilities are excellent. There are some 400 different clubs and societies active in Oxford at any time, and at the beginning of fall semester a Freshers' Fair is held to display the wide spectrum of activities and interests covered.