Stimulate your mind in pursuit of knowledge as you immerse yourself in the lifestyle of Oxford University for a week. Choose a fascinating course of study, live at historic Merton College, sample life as a student again, and explore the charming town of Oxford.

Starting at: $5,450 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Welcome reception at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Merton College, Oxford University  Oxford tutors (July 2018). Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers during lecture break. Credit: Wade Jennings  The dining experience at Merton College, with High Table. Credit: Wade Jennings  Conversation over dinner. Credit: Wade Jennings  The dining experience at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Introduction to Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers at a lecture. Credit: Wade Jennings  Merton College Library  The quadrangle at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Interior of the Merton College chapel. Credit: Wade Jennings  The chapel at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers at Oxford. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys travelers during a lecture break. Credit: Wade Jennings  Smithsonian Journeys traveler at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Enjoying a few moments at a local pub. Credit: Wade Jennings  Lecture break at Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  The beautiful Oxford skyline  Housing at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  Garden walkway at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  The gardens at Merton College. Credit: Wade Jennings  An evening walk near Merton. Credit: Wade Jennings  Skyline of the medieval town of Oxford  The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford  Bridge of Sighs landmark, Oxford University  View near Oxford's Main Street  Loch along the Thames River, Oxford  Sculptural detail found in Oxford

Smithsonian at Oxford

8 days from $5,450

Stimulate your mind in pursuit of knowledge as you immerse yourself in the lifestyle of Oxford University for a week. Choose a fascinating course of study, live at historic Merton College, sample life as a student again, and explore the charming town of Oxford.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The Smithsonian at Oxford provides an accessible educational experience, nicely balanced with opportunities to visit nearby sites of interest. The Smithsonian at Oxford also provides an opportunity to experience true student life again.

- Christopher B.

Living and studying in a centuries old setting that famous people have lived is just...awesome!!

- Philip P.

The warm reception we received at Merton College made us feel that we really were Oxford students -- a very special sense of belonging.

- Lyn G.

I love Shakespeare; I love to study and to study Shakespeare at Oxford and to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform is a dream come true!

- Blanche M.

The Oxford University tour was an extraordinary chance to delve into the history, architecture, and erudition of Oxford. The Merton College tutor was prepared and dedicated. Fellow travelers provided the extra inspirational touch! Amazing....

- Katherine M.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Spend your mornings learning from an expert from Oxford's Merton College. Choose from five featured course subjects: The English Garden in History, The Age of Winston Churchill, The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon EnglandThe Rise and Fall of the British Empire, and Myths and Legends of the British Isles. Please indicate your top three choices of course subject at the time of booking, with final assignments to be determined based on traveler interest. Enrollment is limited. (Information on experts can be found on the Enrichment tab.)

Classes will be interspersed with excursions, including a discussion about the UK university system and a visit to Pembroke College, which was attended by James Smithson—the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution. Each course will also feature an additional special excursion tailored to its theme.

The English Garden in History

The University of Oxford, as the oldest center of learning in England, has exerted considerable influence on the making of English gardens over the centuries through its writers, philosophers, and scientists, so it is not surprising that Oxfordshire and its adjacent counties contain some of the finest and most representative of England's gardens. Taking advantage of this superb location, the course will trace the development of gardens, their philosophy, design and contents, over a thousand years, from the medieval monastery garden through the 18th-century English landscape garden and the spectacular gardens of Victorian England to the 21st-century suburban plot. 

Field Trip: Visit Rousham Gardens in Oxfordshire, a country house with walled garden and herbaceous borders first built in 1635 and remodeled in the 18th century.

The Age of Winston Churchill

Study Winston Churchill’s political career from 1900 to 1955 and gain an understanding of the profound political and social changes that took place in Britain over his lifetime. He was considered by many contemporaries to be a figure trapped by history as much as he was steeped in it. His influence continues, not just through the way he shaped events as a war leader and peacetime politician, and in the example, he gave of a certain political style, but in his voluminous writing about Victorian times and great events in his own lifetime, the First and Second World Wars.

Field Trip: This class features a field trip to Chartwell, Churchill’s country house and home for over four decades.

The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

In the 5th century A.D., Britain ceased to part of the Roman Empire and underwent profound transformations as a consequence: the ruination of cities, the turbulence of endemic warfare, migration from present-day Germany and Scandinavia, a near-complete restructuring of political and military institutions, and abrupt discontinuity in processes of production and exchange. Over the course of the next half-millennium, however, a host of complex and rich developments ensued. Included among them was the foundation of petty kingdoms, towns and monasteries, and a golden age in the production of Christian art and luxury manuscripts, all punctuated by Viking raiding and ultimately culminating in the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England.  Join us in an exploration of these developments through archaeology, from the astonishing jewelry and weaponry unearthed at the royal cemetery of Sutton Hoo, to the excavations of the humble timber dwellings of rural communities, and the architectural analysis of the first ministers and churches. This course covers all of these areas and more in order to teach a foundation in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, challenging the popular notion that these centuries could ever be described as the "Dark Ages."

Field Trip: Visit the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon Hall at Long Wittenham, South Oxfordshire, discovered during a 2016 excavation by the Oxford University School of Archaeology that revealed the remains of a large Anglo-Saxon building that reconstructed using traditional materials, heritage tools, and skills.

The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

This course will examine the rise and fall of the British Empire, from its unlikely and unplanned origins in an age of piracy, through its rivalry with other powers, its Victorian zenith, and the two world wars, to its decolonization in the second half of the twentieth century. Such concepts as a formal and informal empires, imperial structures, and methods of control, including collaboration, will be discussed.

Field Trip: Participants in this course will travel to Sezincote House in Gloucester, constructed in 1805 when British India was becoming the “jewel in the crown” of the world’s largest empire.

Myths and Legends of the British Isles

All three of the major British language groups, the English, Welsh, and Gaelic speakers have their own rich traditions of legendary history. King Arthur, the best known legendary figure, is first found in Welsh literature but was adopted throughout European literature. We will look at some of the stories of Arthur and Merlin, but also at the strange Welsh Mabinogion stories, and at the deeds of the Irish hero Cuchulain and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. We will ask ourselves how we should interpret these texts today, and look at what they tell us about the original tellers and listeners, where they might have come from and to what extent they allow us to have a window on the past.

Field trip: The excursion for this course will focus on local Oxford legends. Visit Binsey Church with its holy well said to have been created in answer to the prayers to St. Frideswide (the patron saint of Oxford), and the ruins of Godstow Abbey where Rosamund Clifford—known in legend as the Fair Rosamund—was buried. 

The Smithsonian at Oxford provides an accessible educational experience, nicely balanced with opportunities to visit nearby sites of interest. The Smithsonian at Oxford also provides an opportunity to experience true student life again.

- Christopher B.

Living and studying in a centuries old setting that famous people have lived is just...awesome!!

- Philip P.

The warm reception we received at Merton College made us feel that we really were Oxford students -- a very special sense of belonging.

- Lyn G.

I love Shakespeare; I love to study and to study Shakespeare at Oxford and to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform is a dream come true!

- Blanche M.

The Oxford University tour was an extraordinary chance to delve into the history, architecture, and erudition of Oxford. The Merton College tutor was prepared and dedicated. Fellow travelers provided the extra inspirational touch! Amazing....

- Katherine M.

2021 Itinerary – July

Our July 2021 course selections include The English Garden in History, The Age of Winston Churchill, The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, and Myths and Legends of the British Isles. Please indicate your top three choices of course subject at the time of booking, with final assignments to be determined based on traveler interest. Enrollment is limited.  

Day 1 — Depart the U.S for London

Depart the U.S. for London on individual flights.

Day 2 — London, Oxford

Arrive in London this morning and transfer to Oxford. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner and plenary talk. (D)

Days 3–7 — Oxford

Lectures take place at Merton College, Oxford University.

Course Subjects: The English Garden in History, The Age of Winston Churchill, The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, and Myths and Legends of the British Isles.

Excursions: Explore highlights of Oxford, including an exploration of the British educational system and the connection between James Smithson (the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution) and the university, which he attended as a student. Alternative afternoon excursions are available for return travelers.

Plus, take an additional special excursion tailored to your specific course. Those enrolled in The English Garden in History will visit Rousham Gardens, a country house with a walled garden and herbaceous borders first built in 1635 and remodeled in the 18th century in Oxfordshire, England. The Age of Winston Churchill features a field trip to Chartwell, Churchill’s country house, and home for over four decades. Those in the Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England will travel to the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon Hall at Long Wittenham, South Oxfordshire, which was recently reconstructed using traditional materials, tools, and techniques. The excursion for The Rise and Fall of the British Empire will be a trip to Dashwood House in West Wycombe. Travelers in Myths and Legends of the British Isles will visit Binsey Church and the ruins of Godstow Abbey, where Rosamund Clifford—known in legend as the Fair Rosamund—was buried. (B,L,D) ​

Day 8 — Oxford

After breakfast transfer to Heathrow Airport for individual flights back to the U.S. or travel to London for the optional extension. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)