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Essay Writing Course Oxford

1. Shakespeare I

Man of the Theatre, An Introduction: This course will offer delegates a strong foundation for understanding the various facets of English Literature across eras and genres, tempering historical and ideological depth with attention to textual details. Prose poetry, and drama will be considered in dynamic ways, inflected by engagement with various political, socio-economic, religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas. This course will cover three main genres of Shakespeare’s theatre: tragedies, histories and comedies. Delegates will discuss selected scenes from key plays, develop reading skills, translate Shakespeare’s English into modern-day English and analyse issues raised in Shakespeare’s work.

2. Shakespeare II

An Actor’s Approach to Shakespeare: This course focuses on the language and production history of Shakespeare’s plays, emphasising ‘practice as research’. Delegates will closely examine Shakespeare’s texts in order to answer the question; ‘what do actors make of these lines?’ and how does this differ from what scholars make of them?

3. Queens of English Literature

The course will give students an overview of the major works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Students will learn to:

  • Perform close textual analysis of the literary style of each of these authors;
  • Situate these texts in their historical, cultural, and literary contexts;
  • Explore the critical reception and afterlives of these works;
  • Conduct independent research on the connections between these texts;

This course will give delegates an overview of the major works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Delegates will examine how these texts are in conversation with one another. They will discover the use of literary devices through close textual analysis; learn how these texts engage with literary form and genre; explore how social, cultural, and literary contexts shaped these texts; and debate the views of critics. They will also gain experience of an independent research project, culminating in a group presentation.

Each session will comprise a 90-minute interactive lecture, which will incorporate short small-group exercises where delegates discuss the questions raised in the lecture. Delegates on this course are expected to be familiar with the primary texts, and be willing to read beyond these texts in the relevant secondary literature. Delegates should also be willing to conduct independent research as part of the course, culminating in the final assessment: a group presentation.

4. Oxford as a Literary Ground

This course will focus on fantasy literature composed in Oxford. We will explore literary works by Lewis Caroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass), J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), and Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust). Students will be introduced to the historical and cultural significance of these texts, their literary themes, and the sources used for inspiration – particularly from medieval and biblical literatures. Students will also examine the effects of these literary works on later cultural expressions, including the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling as well as the fantasy genre in film. The course will highlight numerous relevant landmarks around the city, with suggestions for field trips to various locations. Students are encouraged to experience their own Oxford fantasy.

5. Critical Thinking

Students will learn how to identify and critique implicit claims in academic and journalistic writing, what characterises weak arguments and how to formulate strong ones, as well as how to interrogate visual arguments in video or photographic media. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. Common topics include: understanding the logical connections between ideas, solving problems systematically, evaluating arguments, identifying mistakes in and the relevance of reasoning. Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or critical of other people. Critical thinking allows us to acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. This has great importance in the context of enhancing work processes and improving social institutions.

6. Intercultural Communication

This course will look at key academic and practical topics involved in intercultural communication. Drawing on the fields of literary studies, linguistics, anthropology, ethnography, and cultural studies, delegates will analyse topics including, ‘Communicating between cultures’, ‘Translation’, ‘Verbal and Non-verbal Communication’, and ‘Cultures and Concepts’.

7. Research Methodology and Academic Writing

Students will acquire practical skills, including how to interpret essay questions, how to structure and reference an academic essay, as well as how to write with clarity, brevity and maximum impact. Significantly, delegates will acquire academic guidance on how to productively conduct research for an academic or professional essay/thesis/dissertation/report.

8. Business and Legal Communication

This course is designed to develop an individual’s confidence and ability to use English within a professional environment. Covering topics such as negotiation, business presentations, client communication, and self-communication, this course is an excellent preparation for future experience in the business or legal sectors of an English-speaking environment both with clients and about focus on the reading, writing, and listening skills of the English language in a business context. By being able to understand and use the business language, participants will be able to further their career in both their work quality and building relationships among colleagues and clients. This course will provide delegates the ability to communicate on an international level using precise and correct legal language. Upon completion of the course, participants will improve their confidence in explaining points of law, enhance their drafting and editing skills, and ultimately represent their organisation in a more effective manner.


Programme details

Unit One: Getting Started
Getting acquainted, how to work with the truth, memory, good practices.

Unit Two: Point-of-view
Memory and imagination, using the senses, finding a voice.

Unit Three: Descriptive Writing
Getting the surfaces right, getting below the surfaces.

Unit Four: Characterizing Others
Revealing motivation, psychological depths and habits.

Unit Five: Characterizing Yourself
Re-living your life inside and outside time and experience – making yourself knowable.

Unit Six: Dialogue
Writing the authentic, the important and the plausible simultaneously.

Unit Seven: Structure
Finding the plot in history; realising potential and maximising drama.

Unit Eight: Sequence and Situation
How to form episodes combining characters, dialogue and description.

Unit Nine: Beginnings and Endings
How to start and where to stop.

Unit Ten: Re-writing and Editing
Finishing, polishing, re-making, re-telling, expanding and cutting.

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:

Roorbach, B., Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays and Life into Literature (Writer’s Digest Books, 2008)

Recommended, but not required:

Bell, J. and A. Motion, eds., The Creative Writing Coursebook (Macmillan, 2001)
Hackles, L., Writing from Life: How to Turn Your Personal Experiences into Profitable Prose (How To Books, 2008)
Oke, M., Times of Our Lives: The Essential Companion to Writing Your Own Life Story (How To Books, 2004)


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

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