Interesting Facts About London

If you have travelled to London in the past, or are thinking of visiting the famous city in the future, you might be wondering what quirky facts there are to learn about its history. Over 17 million people visited the capital in 2014 alone, as London boasts a wealth of culture and history. London is famous for sites such as the Tower of London, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace- but what secrets do these landmarks hold?


Big Ben is not actually called Big Ben. The giant clock is arguably London’s most famous landmark, but its real name is ‘The Clock Tower’- Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the clock tower.


The Tower of London is home to six ravens. Charles II’s (who was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 till his death in 1685) ordered that six ravens were to be placed in the Tower to protect. According to local lore, six ravens are still kept in the tower today and they must remain there at all times due to superstitious reasons. For extra measures, each raven has a wing clipped, and the tower even has spare ravens handy in case one flies away.


The famous London Underground system was initially proposed as a water based system of travel. When the London Underground was first suggested, engineers considered filling the tunnels with water and using barges to float people from station to station (or getting an army of horses to pull the carriages around in the dark). Thank goodness they opted for trains!

The Queen lives at Buckingham Palace: despite having many other royal residences, the Queen can still often be found in this central London palace. When she is home, you will notice the royal flag flying from the flagpole. This flag is called the Royal Standard, and must only be flown from buildings where the Queen is present.


The Egyptian artefact located on the Victorian Embankment- known as Cleopatra’s needle, is in fact a time capsule. When it was erected in 1838, a number of things were placed underneath. These included a map of London, a copy of the Bible, a rupee, some daily newspapers, and 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the time.

Be sure to check out these interesting sites, and find out more about their stories. There are so many hidden gems across London, and each street is bursting with history. Take your time exploring, and see if you can find out any secrets yourself!

Posted: June 4, 2018

International Womens Day 2018: Women in Oxford History

Happy International Women’s Day from Oxford Summer Courses! To celebrate, we’re taking a look at the role of women in Oxford history and how history has been shaped by the women who have studied and lived in Oxford’s prestigious colleges.

Summer Courses for 16-14 Year Olds: UK University Applications


Despite the university welcoming women as students in 1920, Oxford colleges Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College were the first women’s colleges to open in Oxford, in 1879. It is impossible to mention women in Oxford history without mentioning the women of Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College. In June 1878, the Association for the Higher Education of Women was founded, with its goal being the creation of a college for women in Oxford. The group was undecided between whether or not the institution to be founded should be specifically Anglican. The group split, with Lady Margaret Hall being originally founded as an Anglican institution, and Somerville College being founded as a college “in which no distinction will be made between students on the ground of their belonging to different religious denominations.”

Lady Margaret Hall is the oldest women’s college at Oxford or Cambridge, founded in 1878 and opening to its first 9 female students the following year. It was founded by Edward Stuart Talbot, then the warden of Keble College, and his wife, Lavinia Talbot. Lady Margaret Hall, known sometimes as “LMH”, was named after Lady Margaret Beaufort, patron of scholarship and learning and mother of King Henry VII. The first principal of the original 9 students was Elizabeth Wordsworth, great-niece of the poet William Wordsworth. The college remained a women’s college for 100 years, admitting men in 1979. Notable alumnae of Lady Margaret Hall include Benazir Bhutto, Ann Widdecombe, Nigella Lawson, Eglantyne Jebb, Priscilla Tolkein, among many others. Actress and women’s rights activist Emma Watson is a visiting fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Noble Prize recipient and activist for universal education for girls and women, is a current student at LMH.


Somerville College was the second women’s college founded at Oxford. The college became co-ed in 1994, and today the college is 50% male. Somerville College was named after the Scottish mathematician and renowned scientific writer Mary Somerville, known also for her expressed views in support of women’s suffrage and equal access to education for women. When opened, the college was originally known as Somerville Hall and had twelve students. It was the first women’s hall to introduce entrance exams in 1891. It was renamed Somerville College in 1894, becoming the first of the Oxford women’s college to adopt the title of a college. In 1920, Oxford University allowed women to matriculate, and in 1925, Somerville’s college charter was granted. Dorothy Hodgkin is one of the most notable alumnae of Somerville, the only British woman so far to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in the three sciences. She was awarded a first-class honours degree from the university, and at the time was only 1 of 3 women in Oxford history to do so. She won the 1964 Nobel Prize for chemistry for her work in protein crystallography and her work in determining the structure of penicillin.


Learn More

Both Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College are accommodation options on our summer courses, where students from around the world can live and learn in Oxford, a city brimming with history. To learn more about these colleges and links to our photo galleries for each, please visit our accommodation page. We wish a happy International Women’s Day to all.

Posted: March 8, 2018

Cambridge: The Heart of Technology & Business in the UK

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Many students like the idea of studying in the UK and Cambridge has always been a hot and not surprisingly, a historic destination. With an education system that has a renowned international reputation, as well as a broad range of courses to choose from, a summer course in Cambridge can be both fulfilling and practical for all ages. Moreover, there are opportunities for personal growth and development quite unlike anywhere else.

Many students like the idea of an educational summer abroad in order to study for what is now becoming one of the fastest growing areas of learning – emerging technologies. A course within this discipline can offer an exciting opportunity for students to immerse themselves within the very latest technological developments, while getting a comprehensive understanding of digitization within the world today.  While many of us take the Internet and applications for granted, understanding the role they play within a wider commercial context is crucial within the modern world.

From the emerging technologies of A.I., 3D Printing and even the importance of Digital Marketing and App Development, exploration and learning in this area is going to be beneficial in any industry of the future and there are plenty of opportunities to discover this exciting world at Oxford Summer Courses.

A key component to the course here is developing student understanding of things like venture capital and investment, which could take a student’s initial idea from concept through to ground breaking technology in the future. It’s exciting stuff!

Equally, business and entrepreneurship is of growing interest to a lot of students who have dreamed of starting their own business in the future. A course within this area can not only offer you greater understanding of commercial operations but more importantly, it will give students transferable skills and knowledge that could set them apart from their peers within the commercial world. Studying over a summer in Cambridge is therefore the perfect way to combine both educational and life goals together.

The course here at Oxford Summer Schools offers students a hands-on and interactive learning experience, where individuals get to develop their very own business ideas.  They are taught best practice within the business start-up world and by the end of the course they will be equipped with the basic tools they’ll need to turn their idea into reality in the future.

At the Heart of Silcon Fen

Here at Oxford Summer Courses we actually know a thing or two about what it’s like to be a business start-up. However, we not only work within a start-up space in Cambridge, but we’re also in the heart of ‘Silicon Fen’. This movement has seen over 1500 science and technology based companies arise over the last few years, some of which have attracted global interest and worldwide dominance.

In fact, Cambridge is now ranked as one of the top three ‘innovation ecosystems’ in the world.  This makes it a unique and highly relevant study destination for learning and development, offering students opportunities that are not available elsewhere.

If you see yourself in the future as a budding business owner or you would like to be at the heart of a technological hub and develop some fantastic ideas, take a look at our courses and get your future off to the right start!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Learn More

To learn more about our programme in Cambridge, please visit our Cambridge page.

Posted: March 2, 2018


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