OK: you have to finish your paper on C.S. Lewis by tomorrow, and you have three more books to read before writing your paper on Locke by the end of the week.  But while your time in Oxford always remains focused on the pleasures of academic study, that does not stop you from experiencing the full student life that is the city of Oxford.


With over 100 libraries, discussion classes, lectures, and one-on-one tutorials, every student spends a lot of the time reading ... and reading ... and reading! If working at one of the best research establishments in the world excites you, then this is the programme for you! The only thing you will do as much as read, is write.

With each tutorial you answer a different question working with an extensive reading list.  All students appreciate the chance to focus and specialize. It is exhilarating, head-spinning, and, sometimes, feels a little overwhelming, which is why the programme staff spend so much time making themselves available not only to support and encourage, but also to challenge you to push for new levels of academic achievement.

The Vines and the Lodge

The Vines is a modest mansion on the crest of Headington Hill, situated on 1.5 acres of garden with stunning views of Oxford's spires. Running parallel to the path of C.S. Lewis's former commute, The Vines is a 35-minute walk into Oxford city centre, a 10-minute cycle ride, or a 5-minute walk to the nearest bus stop (with busses passing by every 6–7 minutes). It has a large kitchen, laundry facilities, a well-appointed common room and bathrooms for every 2-3 rooms.

  • Laundry facilities
  • IT and study room with work stations and printing facilities
  • Large common room
  • Dining room
  • Large kitchen
  • Wheelchair access and disability accommodation
  • Prayer room
  • Wireless network 

Optional Field Trips

In addition to field trips that are a required part of the Oxford Summer Programme, a number of optional field-trips and special events are planned for students each summer by the Tutor for Student Affairs and the Junior Dean.  The costs associated with optional field-trips are the responsibility of each student but every effort is made to ensure costs are minimal.  In the past, these outings have proven to be a great break from studying, a chance to explore more of the British landscape, and an opportunity to share in the community life of the OSP.  All dates and locations are subject to change.  Further details will be sent to students once the programme has begun, but here are some of the activities that have proved popular in the past.

An afternoon at a palace ...
Spend the day wandering the grounds of the Duke of Marlborough's Blenheim Palace in a park designed by Capability Brown.  Complete the afternoon with tea at the wonderful Bladon Tea Rooms in Woodstock.

A stroll through the meadows ...

Enjoy a beautiful afternoon stroll (weather permitting) through Oxford's Port Meadow and end at the famous Trout Inn for a meal of fish and chips.  

Digging deeper
You are starting to get comfortable with the Bodleian library system.  Now, spend the afternoon on a behind-the-scenes tour learning about what really goes on when you ‘order up' a book from this world-famous collection.  

Exploring further afield
Stroll through the Roman streets of Bath, taking in all of its architectural beauty.  Visit the Roman Baths, the great Abbey, and follow in the footsteps of one of Bath's most famous inhabitants, Jane Austen.  End the day with tea at Sally Lunn's tea-room in the oldest house in Bath.

Art-walk Oxford
Discover just some of the amazing art available on view in Oxford.  Our walk includes a visit to the Christ Church Picture Gallery.  We will also see the Pre-Raphaelite murals in the Oxford Union and visit the famous ‘Light of the World' by Edward Burne-Jones hidden away in the chapel at Keble College.

Following in C.S. Lewis's footsteps
Enjoy an afternoon visit to The Kilns, C.S. Lewis's home in Headington.  After touring the house and grounds, we will visit his parish church, Holy Trinity, where he is buried and commemorated with beautifully etched Narnia windows. 

All the world's a stage
Over your time at Oxford various plays are put on in the evenings, which are fun to attend as a group.

Libraries and Special Collections

Libraries and Special Collections

Students on the Oxford Summer Programme have access to one of the greatest libraries in the world. Students will have access to the main Bodleian libraries aand can make use of its physical resources (books and journals) and its large and rapidly growing digital collections.

Special Collections

Oxford's museums and collections are world renowned and provide an important resource for scholars around the world.

  • The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology houses the University's extensive collections of art and antiquities. Established in 1683, it is the oldest museum in the UK and one of the oldest in the world. It also houses an exceptional collection of prints which can be viewed by any member of the public upon special arrangement. Free admission. 
  • The University Museum of Natural History houses the University's scientific collections. With 4.5 million specimens it is the largest collection of its type outside the national collections. Free admission.
  • The Pitt Rivers Museum holds one of the finest collections of anthropology and archaeology. Free admission. 
  • The Museum of the History of Science is housed in the world's oldest surviving purpose-built museum building. It contains an excellent collection of historic scientific instruments from around the world. Free admission.
  • The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments celebrates the development of musical instruments in the western classical tradition from the medieval period to the present. 
  • The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Britain. It contains the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world. Admission free with University card.
  • The Harcourt Arboretum is an informal garden, where the public can enjoy walks and riding their bicycles. It is six miles south of Oxford and forms an integral part of the Botanic Garden's plant collection. Parking charge. 
  • The Christ Church Picture Gallery houses an important collection of Old Master paintings and almost 2,000 drawings in a gallery of considerable architectural interest. Admission free with University card.
  • Modern Art Oxford is the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the Southeast region of Britain. Admission free.

Spiritual Life

SCIO's spiritual mission is to

  • demonstrate that personal faith in Christ can flourish within an academically rigorous environment, can operate in a public university, and interacts with scholarship but not necessarily in ways that are obvious and easily labelled;
  • help students acquire the maturity, vision, confidence, and skills to study in the public, research university and to encourage scholarly reflection in religious contexts and in a public, non-religious environment.

Learning to study alongside and under those of different religious beliefs (or, in many cases, none) is challenging. We encourage this by offering ourselves as a mentors/example, creating an atmosphere of independence in which students can develop such a vision and ability, and offering nurture by staff who are engaged and committed.

All students are encouraged to attend a church in Oxford. Apart from the spiritual nourishment that comes from remaining involved in regular worship, church is a great place to meet other students and residents of the town, and creates opportunities for you to get to know the people in your community. Many students on the programme make a point of attending a church whose style is markedly different from that which they usually attend at home, while other students find it a great comfort to attend a service whose style is more familiar, and all students should think about what might best suit them while they are here.


Alongside the field trips organised as part of the programme, Oxford staff arrange optional field trips that you can join if you want. These trips change from semester to semester, but in the past have included visits to London, Blenheim Palace, Snowdonia and the castles of Wales, and the Lake District and the Lake poets, as well as places further afield including Rome and Auschwitz. These trips are charged at cost, and are very competitively priced.


Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  With your University card you will have access to its 100+ libraries, and colleges that have been established for over 800 years, as well as its art galleries, museums, bookshops, and ice cream parlours. You will never tire of living here.

Around Oxford

Over the course of the semester the students can choose to come along on various field trips around Oxford that are arranged by the Tutor for Student Affairs and other staff.  These trips are not accredited, and are instead a chance to relax together, and experience some of the incredible sites that are within 30 minutes travel from Oxford.  We arrange them for either the weekend or an afternoon in the week.  We don't go to the same places every semester, but here are some of our most enjoyed visits.

Burford is a small historic village with one of the most prized parish churches the country, dating from the 1100s (although the site has been a place of Christian worship since the 600s).  We also walk through the country side to visit the deserted medieval village of Widford, a once-thriving community that was wiped out by the plague during the fourteenth century and never recovered.  The twelfth-century church is all that remains, and is situated in the middle of a field without any access except by foot.  Amazing!

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, a world heritage site, is home of the eleventh duke of Marlborough and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.  The palace dates from 1705 and is set in a park designed by Capability Brown. Next to the grounds is the village of Bladon, where we visit Winston Churchill's grave.

Once a major political and ecclesiastical centre, Dorchester is now a sleepy town with one of the most fascinating churches (once an abbey) in the country.  We also walk through the woods and up an iron age hill fort (dating from the fourth century BC) with some of the most spectacular views in Oxfordshire.  Plus another fourteenth-century church to explore along the way, thrown in at no extra cost!  Oh: we also cross the Little Wittenham Bridge, used for the official World Poohsticks Championships.


Over the semester many students find themselves drawn to sites and attractions in London, which is less than an hour by train, or 90 minutes by bus. 
At the start of the semester the Tutor for Student Affairs leads an optional trip to London on the Saturday that everyone is welcome to join.  In one day, we somehow manage to explore aristocratic London and the royal parks, go past Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster, and Downing Street, before stopping to spend some time in the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery at Trafalger Square.  After lunch we walk around some of the older part of the City of London, including an optional climb up the Monument (a large Corinthian column with panoramic views over London from its top) and a walk past the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We go to St Paul's Cathedral for evensong, where we hear one of the finest all-boys choirs in the world. We then have dinner before heading back home.  Phew!  And that is only a minute selection of the many opportunities there are to explore whatever might be your heart's desire in this remarkable city. 

Some students have chosen to supplement their research by taking advantage of their free access to the holdings of the British Library in London and the National Archives at Kew, near London.