How to Prepare for a Summer Course with OxSC, by Marit Schillinger


Date of Publication: 18 March 2020

If you're joining a summer course this year, you must be buzzing with excitement! You will get to know students from all over the world, immerse yourself in the subject you love and explore a city and a university you probably always wanted to see! To make time pass more quickly, there are some things you can do to prepare so that you can make the most of your course...


I can still remember when I was contacted by my tutor for the first time and when I got my reading list for the law course I participated in. Suddenly, the whole adventure seemed to be very close. If you didn’t get a reading list or other pre-course work to do in advance, don’t worry: It always depends on how your tutor structures the course.

My law tutor sent me different chapters from different books that we should read to get an overview of the topics we would cover during the summer. In addition, I was assigned to write two short essays as a preparation for the course. This sounds like a heavy workload, but remember that this is all about the subject you are eager to find out more about, so it should feel exciting!  Of course, you also have the option to not do anything at all, but I would really recommend you to tackle your reading list. 


Firstly, this will help you immensely when it comes to writing essays during the course, which is very likely to happen. If you roughly know your topics in advance, you already have a very good basis to start planning your essays.  And don’t panic: No one expects you to learn everything by heart or to become an expert in your subject before the course even starts – remember that you are here to learn! I also recommend you to take notes as you go along your assigned chapters or articles and to think about their content from different perspectives. It’s also a good idea to collect these ideas in a folder or on your laptop. 

If you then get the essay tasks as your course progresses, you can just flick through your notes without having to read to whole chapter again. Furthermore, it may be useful to find out how to actually write an academic essay and how to quote if you haven’t done this before. There are many amazing videos on YouTube that will help you with this, and naturally, you can always ask your tutor! At this point, I tell you that it’s very clever to add the page numbers to your notes as this will also save you lots of time! All in all, you will be able to finish your essays more quickly, which might just be another great opportunity to do some more exploring of the university and city you are in.

Another point is that you will profit more from your course and your tutor if you have already created a little basis of knowledge for yourself. You will be able to go even deeper into your subject, deal with more challenging questions and add a whole new edge to your course! 

However, academia is only one part of the whole experience. The other part, meeting new people, having fun at all the organised evening activities and day trips or exploring a fascinating city, is equally important! Thus, you could do some research on the places you are going to visit. Is there a museum or a park you definitely want to see? The time before the course is your chance to read about your destination and to think about how you would like to spend your hours of free time, as you won’t be able to visit everything…

This only leaves me with wishing you a fantastic and unforgettable time on your course! My two weeks in Oxford passed far too quickly and saying goodbye at the end was the hardest, but the experience and the friends I made will stay with me forever – as I am sure they will always stay with you!

Are you interested in learning more about Marit’s experience with us? Check out his other blog here.

Or, if you’re keen to see how else you can prepare for one of our courses, why not take a look at our recommended packing list blog!

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