The Oxford Gap Year – a unique study experience in the UK’s oldest university city

The Oxford Gap Year

The prestigious Oxford Gap Year was established in 1988 by Ralph Dennison, the Campus Oxford Director, originally taking place at Oxford Tutorial College. Over thirty years later it remains a unique study opportunity for US and International high school students and graduates who wish to refine their academic skills, before starting college and as a ‘semester abroad’ during a student’s college course. Highly regarded for the quality of teaching and student-centred approach, the programme provides individualised and inspiring study courses, which foster confidence and motivation, enabling both academic and social success in college. The experience provides an invaluable foretaste of college life and of student life in Oxford.

Students are given the opportunity to experience the more personalised method of instruction and study favoured by the Oxford and Cambridge universities; they pursue their academic interests through meeting in small seminar groups and individual tutorials, with close tutor contact. The programme provides a stimulating study and extra-curricular environment, allowing students to explore their study interests without a set curriculum.

Students typically join for a semester or a full academic year, although courses of a specifically-requested duration can often be arranged, given the flexibility of the tutorial method. Four seminar subjects and a tutorial class are normally taken, in a range of subjects. There is also a choice of five ‘integrated pathways’. Details of the subjects offered are set out below.

Who is it for?

The Gap Year is an opportunity to study at leisure or reinforce areas of knowledge, and our students are typically from one of the following stages in their education:

High School graduates during their ‘Gap Year’, taking courses that interest them and preparing for college-level work.
College students taking an overseas study semester or year, developing subject knowledge and academic skills.
High School juniors or seniors taking a semester overseas, earning additional credit towards graduation.
Mature students taking ‘time out’ to undertake an academic or research project, with one-on-one tutor mentoring.
The life of the college is enhanced by a varied range of extra-curricular activities, including cultural and historical visits, activities, music and sports. Oxford itself provides a rich opportunity for joining student clubs and societies and offers a unique student-centred backdrop.

Programme Structure

Students enrol for one or two semesters, normally selecting four seminar subjects and one tutorial subject, or one of the ‘integrated pathway’ options. A subject list is provided below.

Classes are taught in small group seminars or one-on-one tutorials, true to the Oxford model. Reading and written preparation is set to reinforce understanding and themes are explored in depth during seminar sessions, with students encouraged to further explore the areas that interest them, with their tutor’s support. Direct access to tutors helps students with understanding and assimilation of the material covered.

As part of the experience, a wide range of extracurricular activities is available, ranging from cultural immersion and visits, music, theatre and sport. Social events take place regularly each semester, enabling students to meet and develop friendships.

The Oxford Gap Year offers great scope for academic and personal development. Students who join us invariably leave as more confident and academically-capable people.

Academic Approach

The emphasis throughout is to help develop academic maturity and self-reliance, with an interactive teaching style that encourages questioning and feedback. The small teaching groups and ensure student participation in the learning process. By including a tutorial subject, students are able to follow a bespoke study programme. The choice from an extensive list of course options allows students to create their ideal program.

The college has an outstanding faculty of permanent staff and specialist teachers, who work with students to create the exact academic options they need. In Oxford, there are specialists in virtually all fields of study.

Integrated Pathways

Students may opt for an integrated combination of subjects on a choice of themes – Global, Literature, Crime, Science and Media. They would normally choose three of the courses offered under each pathway, plus any two other courses.

Global:

Literature:

Crime:

Science: 

Biology

Philosophy of Science

Media:

Bespoke Subjects

It is possible to take bespoke courses at Campus Oxford, with teaching in the Oxford tutorial model. Small groups may be formed in the more popular subjects and students are otherwise taught through one-to-one tutorials. The following gives a list of the more popular subjects recently studied and currently available. Other subjects of a student’s choice may be available – please contact us for advice and information.

Arts: Creative Writing, Film Studies, Understanding Media, Art & Architecture, Photography

Literature: Shakespeare, Poetry, The Modern Novel, Oxford Classics, Philosophy in Literature

History: Ancient History (Romans and Greeks), The Renaissance & Reformation, Monarchy & Revolution, The Denial of Democracy, History of European Diplomacy

Languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese

Social & Political Sciences: Introduction to Law, European Law, Introduction to Economics, Psychology, Foundations of Philosophy, International Relations, Women & World Politics

Business Studies: International Business Management, Business Ethics & Decision Making, Social Entrepreneurship

Math & Science: Maths, Physics (Introductory & Advanced), Medical Biology, The Environment, Cosmology

A-level Subject Choices

The following subjects may be studied as ‘A-level’ courses, leading to an examination, and as an alternative to a non-exam Gap Year course. The A-level is the normal route to UK university and gives a solid grounding in the subject chosen. Two or three subjects are normally taken.

Art & Design, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Computer Science, Economics, English Language, English Literature, French, Geography, German. History, History of Art, Italian, Law, Mathematics, Media Studies, Philosophy, Photography, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Russian, Sociology, Spanish.

For further details about A- levels, please click here

Snapshot: A Typical Day on the Gap Year Programme

10am – 11am: Seminar subject class 1

12am – 1pm: Seminar subject class 2

1pm – 2pm: Lunch at one of Oxford’s many independent cafes

2pm – 3pm: College social activity or talk/lecture

4pm – 5pm: Tutorial subject meeting

6pm – 7pm: Preparation for the next day’s classes

7pm: Dinner followed by (for example) a visit to a cinema, the Oxford Union or a concert at one of Oxford’s many music venues

The Oxford Union

Membership of the world-renowned Oxford Union is an entitlement for all students on the Gap programme. This prestigious Oxford student society, once described as “the last bastion of free speech in the Western World”, has been a centre of discussion and debate since 1823, hosting leading figures from the world of international politics, entertainment and the arts.

The Union is managed by a student committee, who organise debates and other events each term. It’s housed in its own building and grounds, and as well as the debating chamber it has a cafe and bar, reading and common room. Visit the Union website – Oxford Union – for more information.

Term Dates

 Autumn Semester 2020Spring Semester 2021Summer Semester 2021
Term Begins6 September 202010 January 202113 April 2021
Term Ends19 December 20203 April 20212 July 2021
Half-Term25 - 31 October 202014 - 20 February 2021No half term, Bank holidays 3 and 31 May

Tuition Fees

There is an initial placement & support fee, payable on registration of $400.

Fees are charged in pounds sterling (GBP) and are currently £11,265 per semester, plus £100 college fee per semester, to cover all teaching, supervision, assessments, college application advice (US or UK), social activities, course materials (except books), use of computers and internet, regular visits to places of interest, activities and insurance. There is a refundable fees deposit of £500.

For bespoke courses, fees are charged on a weekly basis of £180 per subject.

Lunch is available in college, costing from £3 per day.

There is no additional charge of VAT on any of the fees.

Term dates are as stated above. The flexibility of courses means that it may be possible to enrol for a shorter time, especially for bespoke courses.

Housing

A wide variety of options ensure that all students feel comfortable, happy and at home during their stay in Oxford. Some students are ready for fully independent living, while some opt for a university student experience; others prefer to live in a family environment. Our Student Housing Director helps arrange suitable accommodation and provides pastoral support. All accommodation hosted by the College is situated within an eight-minute bike ride from the city centre.

Students over eighteen are offered accommodation in college self-catering houses with kitchens. There is a choice of standard rooms with shared bathrooms or superior en-suite rooms, also a choice of single or twin rooms. All rooms are well-furnished, with a desk and study area and plenty of space for clothes and possessions. Students can cook their own meals, although when at college during the week most will take the option of lunch in our dining room.

Younger students may live in one of several supervised student houses, all in close proximity to the college. These houses are managed by a warden who has a separate apartment in the house, and cares for the welfare of each of those under their supervision.

A popular choice for those wishing to live with a local family is to take homestay accommodation, normally close to the college in North Oxford. Each student guest has a single study bedroom and meals are normally half board. Living with a family conveys the additional benefit of providing further insight into local life in Oxford. Close contact is maintained with homestay families, most of whom have been housing our students for a number of years.

Accommodation fees per term

College accommodation costs are in the range of £3,690 to £5,835 per semester for a self-catering room, depending on the type of room chosen. Half-board homestay costs are from £3,690 to £4,875 per semester

Living Expenses & Fees

Allowance should be made for living expenses and pocket money during a student’s stay in Oxford. Where accommodation includes breakfast and evening meal, a weekly allowance of around £120 to cover lunches, bus fares and other miscellaneous costs such as toiletries, travel and entertainment is sufficient plus a termly amount of about £120 per subject for books and stationery. If a student is responsible for his or her own catering, an additional £80 per week will cover this adequately.

Money Matters

Where this is preferred, the college can open a trust account which handles a student’s accommodation payments and living expenses.  The agreed amounts for each term must be deposited in the student trust account at the beginning of term.