Course Directory

Oxford Prep Studio Art students working on projects using black tapeOxford Prep Speech and Debate preperationsOxford Prep Drama students getting into character
Our students choose any two courses on the following pages, one as a MAJOR course and one as a MINOR. Major courses meet six mornings a week and, depending on the course, include in-class time for fieldwork, labs, workshops, guest speakers, group discussions, and one-on-one instruction. They also include homework and require project and preparation time outside of class. Minor courses meet three afternoons a week, with no homework and all work contained within the class session. A Minor course offers a sample of a different subject than the Major and most students find their Minor a welcome opportunity to try a new subject for the first time.


There is no final application deadline. We accept applications on a rolling basis until a program is full, but we do have Course Guarantee Dates. Students who apply to The Oxford Prep Experience on or before February 3, 2017 and are accepted to the program have their first choice of courses guaranteed, subject to enrollment minima. As we begin receiving applications in September, we recommend that students apply as soon as possible for courses that may fill early.


  • Students learn the history of Empires, from the Akkadian to the Mongol to the Third Reich. But they also interrogate the concept of Empire itself. What, if anything, do Empires have in common? Do all Empires share fundamental characteristics? How are they established and why do they collapse? Calling on examples from the contemporary to the ancient worlds, students cross disciplinary boundaries and blend subjects as diverse as anthropology, drama, and the social sciences.

  • This course teaches participants how to analyze, critique, and understand cinema. The ambitious syllabus covers movies from the 1920s to the present. Topics include the techniques, genres, and narratives associated with cinema, as well as the principal aesthetic, industrial, and technological developments in its history. Participants come away with a refined ability to critique film, improved analytical writing skills, and ideas for original movie productions.

  • From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Joyce’s Ulysses, via Plato’s Symposium and Machiavelli’s Prince, each class addresses one of humanity’s canonical texts. By combining close readings of key extracts, examinations of the social and intellectual contexts that generated them, analyses of the authors’ intentions, of the texts’ reception, and of their long-term influence, students emerge with a renewed understanding of the history and evolution of the ideas that have formed the world.

  • This course is aimed at students who have never formally studied Latin but are interested to learn about it and its links to the modern world. From well-known Latin mottos to a closer examination of what exactly is printed on dollars and stamped on coins, via Roman graffiti, Latin curses, and some Church Latin, students explore Latin sayings, the Latin roots of English words, and even humorous poems and jokes written thousands of years ago.

  • This course examines the masterpieces of four Oxford authors: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Students examine their worlds, symbolic systems, and mythologies, as well as their influence on Harry Potter, through workshops, field trips, debates, and group readings. Prior knowledge of the stories is encouraged.

  • Students are introduced to Mandarin’s basic structure through four portals: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The course also covers aspects of Chinese history and contemporary Chinese culture. Participants can expect to gain good pronunciation, to be able to recognize and write over one hundred characters, and to carry out basic conversations about daily life.

  • Students learn about Kings and Queens fighting treasonous vassals, about violent wars and battles, and the sudden death that stalked everyone in an age of terrifying plagues. They also learn how, despite the fragility of existence, the era gave birth to some of Europe’s finest cultural achievements: the great gothic cathedrals, the beginnings of English as a literary language, the Magna Carta, parliamentary government, and the Common Law.

  • Students explore a host of topics drawn from major philosophical, literary, and religious texts. They consider fundamental questions through ancients like Plato and Aristotle; Oxford philosophers like Hobbes and Locke; idealists like Kant; iconoclasts like Nietzsche; and contemporary philosophers.

  • War has been one of the greatest forces for change in human history and continues to shape the world. Violence in the Middle East and Africa, guerilla conflicts in South America and the Far East, and the global ‘War on Terror’ are the most recent examples of mankind’s long history of conflict and combat. While covering military history, this course also examines war from other aspects: the political, economic, social, ethical, and psychological. It examines how and why wars are fought, what has changed, and what has remained the same, from conflicts in Ancient Greece to the war in Syria.

Sciences & Social Sciences

  • Students discover how biotechnology combines principles of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering to create the products, processes, and technologies of the future. Through experiments and seminars they engage with new pharmaceuticals, genetic diagnoses and therapies, sustainable biofuels, and genetically modified foods. Students also explore the social, ethical, and economic implications of biotechnology.

  • Students are introduced to the world of corporate finance and its primary institutions through dynamic workshops and exercises. They cover 21st-century financial realities for budding entrepreneurs and multinational corporations. Major course projects include real-life case studies, a stock exchange investment game, and the design of a theoretical start-up venture.

  • Students learn the all-important art of presentation, how to negotiate, how to conduct business research, how to present financial analysis, and, most significantly, how to produce convincing business reports and proposals. This hands-on course culminates in the research and design of a product students attempt to market.

  • Students explore the theoretical foundations and concepts involved in modern computer systems and information technology before moving on to study Application Design. Working in teams, they identify a need, develop a concept, work out user requirements, and create a design which they transfer to the screen. Lab fee of $150 US for the Major; $75 US for the Minor.

  • Students discover how - from toxicology and fingerprints to DNA samples - forensic science has progressed over the past 150 years to meet ever-changing legal standards. They learn how modern crime scenes are secured and searched, how material is treated in laboratories, and how different types of evidence are used to sort legal fact from criminal fiction. Branching out they discover how forensic science has achieved breakthroughs in a multitude of disciplines, such as archeology, history, and geology.

  • Students learn the principles of engineering science. Both world-renowned and local examples are examined, and the findings applied to a variety of case studies to solve mechanical, structural, and architectural problems. They complete the course by designing a model engineering project of their own.

  • Students address the exciting findings that have emerged from recent genetic research and are transforming all our lives. Working on research projects, they study medical genetics, genetic linkage, DNA manipulation, sequencing, genomics, and inherited diseases. At the same time they address the medical and ethical consequences of our ever-greater understanding of the cellular keys to life.

  • This course addresses International Relations by focusing on key issues of the day. Subjects covered include globalization and its political, economic, and social effects; environmental challenges; new forms of war and peace; the changing nature of security challenges; peacekeeping operations; the regional complexities of areas like the Middle East, Africa, and South-East Asia; and the relationships and rivalries that define global order today.

  • Students examine the British and American legal systems and how they reflect the values and institutions of their respective societies. Emphasis is placed on legal history and modes of thought, precedent-setting cases, current controversies, and the kind of first-hand courtroom observation that brings them to life. Each course includes visits to a court and sessions with lawyers. Major courses culminate in a formal moot court competition.

  • This hands-on course introduces students to key aspects of medicine and modern medical practice. Combining specialist lectures with experiments and class discussions, students learn the main principles of human anatomy and physiology, the pathology and significance of certain diseases, the main challenges that medical science faces today, and the variety and changing nature of careers in medicine.

  • By combining classroom work with experiments and lab visits, students are introduced to the basic principles behind the awe-inspiring breadth of physics, including motion, gravity, kinematics, classical mechanics, energy, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and waves.

  • Students investigate a wide range of psychological topics, including dreams, memory, consciousness, anxiety, body language, gender, and sexuality. Alongside, they uncover the history of the subject, study cases, and are introduced to various disorders and different research methodologies. They go on to design their own experiments under the guidance of research specialists and practicing clinicians.

  • How will robots develop in the future? What roles might artificial intelligence have in education, entertainment, and healthcare? This course combines theory with practice to give students problem solving skills and an understanding of analogue and digital electronics, hardware, microprocessors, and software. It culminates with the design and construction of their own robot. Materials fee of $150 US for the Major, $75 US  for the Minor. 

  • This syllabus is built from the type of course typically taught on MBAs. Students learn to organize their lives, to create realistic schedules, to manage time-tables, and to define priorities. They learn how to collect and manage information, how to take notes, and how to condense and file them. They learn how to build their profiles, not least how to leverage their growing experience and expertise as they take their first steps into the job and university market.

Production & Workshop

  • With its stunning variety of architectural styles, Oxford provides students with the perfect environment to find inspiration, appreciate architectural history and aesthetics, and improve their design and model-making skills. They develop a portfolio of sketches before turning ideas and designs into three-dimensional models to display in the program exhibition. Materials fee of $150 US for the Major; $75 US for the Minor.

  • Students compose fiction and poetry under the guidance of a published writer, with Oxford’s rich literary history as their inspiration. They explore their own potential by experimenting with new forms and styles of writing. Successful authors give workshops in which students learn about the creative process and the practicalities of publication. Students develop a portfolio of their best writing and collaborate to design, edit, and publish a literary magazine.

  • Taught by classically-trained actors and directors, and addressing areas as diverse as theory, technique, improvisation, voice, mime, movement, and script analysis, students master the nuances of Shakespearean verse and interpretation as they prepare for a full performance at the end of the program. From auditions and casting to the final curtain call, Major class students participate in a full-scale Shakespeare production in the same way as a professional repertory company. Production fee of $175 US for the Major.

  • Responding to the dramatic rise in popularity of digital media, students analyze the new ways in which we obtain and process information. They learn the fundamentals of investigative reporting, data visualization and analysis, and social media for journalists. As a class, they create and run a news website. Production fee of $100 US for the Major; $50 US for the Minor.

  • Students in this course are immersed in the visual riches of Oxford. Beginners and more advanced photographers spend much of their time in the field, pursuing assignments designed to improve their landscape, portraiture, art, and fashion photography skills. Students exhibit their best work at the end of the program. They require their own DSLR camera with USB cable, charger, manual, and at least one 8 GB memory card. Lab fee of $175 US for the Major; $100 US for the Minor.

  • Students explore major debating styles and strategies, engage in daily speaking exercises, orations, and dialogues, and prepare and present regular debates. The culmination of the course is a formal debate in the historic debating chamber of the Oxford Union Society, founded in 1823 and one of the oldest university debating societies in the world.

  • Beginners and more advanced students receive instruction in a variety of media. They spend much of their time outside, sketching medieval towers, capturing pastoral landscapes, practicing their portrait skills, or discovering masterpieces in locations such as the Christ Church Picture Gallery. Students exhibit their best pieces at the end of the program. Materials fee of $250 US for the Major; $150 US for the Minor.