Classes at Oxford: the thing everyone wants to know about, but the hardest to explain. It isn’t that the system itself is hard to explain. Even though it is different from the US system, it is easy enough to comprehend. The hard part comes in the fact that it is different for everyone, from whatever your tutorials are in to who your tutors are effects what your experience is like. Some people have lectures that their tutors ask them to attend, others have optional lectures, and still others have no lectures at all because there are not any lectures related to their topics. Some people have loads of work, others have loads of free time. Every person’s term at Oxford is as unique as the individual themselves, which means that nothing is easily explained or expected.
For me, I was one of the people who had a lot of work. My tutorials were in Arthurian Legend and Dante’s Divine Comedy, and as such I had a lot of reading that I had to do for every paper I wrote. Top it off, both my tutorials were back to back every other week, meaning that I had a paper due on Thursday and on Friday every other week. That ends up being a lot of work and a lot of pressure each week, so I had to budget my time carefully and work hard on not falling behind. My tutors suggested some lectures I could attend as they were related to my topics, but I opted to not attend after I determined that they were not going to advance my knowledge in the direction that was beneficial to the specific topics I was studying. This, I believe, is what makes an Oxford education unique, but also the hardest to understand what is expected of you, for it is as unique as the tutors and the students themselves, ever varied and changing. I can almost guarantee that my next two terms at Oxford will only be vaguely similar to this term, and that makes it exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. So, while I can’t tell you really what to expect, I can give you the idea of the variety that can be expected. It is an amazing and unique experience, just as unique as the opportunity to design your own courses and tailor them to your interests. This is what makes the Oxford experience all that and more.