Oxford and the Rise of Fantasy

Oxford and the Rise of Fantasy summer course in Oxford, by LMH Summer Programmes.

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Course Summary

What inspired the emergence and flowering of the fantasy genre in the 20th and 21st century?

Oxford – historic, beautiful, and timeless seat of learning – is closely associated with the genre. Towering figures of fantasy literature, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, were both professors at the University of Oxford, and many more, like Diana Wynne Jones or Philip Pullman, were educated at Oxford or, like J. K. Rowling, influenced by its literary products and settings. Oxford and the Rise of Fantasy offers a unique opportunity to examine the fantasy genre from its earliest origins to the present day, exploring at each stage the influence of Oxford and its writers.

The course traces a history of the fantasy genre’s formation and crystallization, from its medieval beginnings to the present. You will look at the story-telling and world-building literary devices used by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who wrote his medieval bestseller about King Arthur in Oxford Castle, and the authors of Renaissance Romance fantasies. You will explore Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, a forerunner of science fiction, and 18th-century Gothic fantasies which paved the way for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The course follows Oxford’s own Lewis Carroll, Scottish fantasy author George Macdonald, and the pre-Raphaelite William Morris through to Tolkien and Lewis and beyond. We will also consider recent critical approaches to the fantasy genre as well as discuss whether these pre-21st century texts lend themselves with ease to the modern media of cinema, TV serialisation, or computer games, and which adjustments have been made or are still to be made to make them relevant to our own times.

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  • Live and study in Lady Margaret Hall, one of Oxford's finest colleges
  • Learn from experienced academics using the tutorial system
  • Enjoy meals in hall, experiencing life as an Oxford student
  • Gain new skills to take you further in your future academic or professional career.
What's Included?
  • All tuition, including lectures, seminars, and tutorials
  • Assessment, transcript of academic performance, and certificate
  • A co-curricular programme of skills workshops and guest speakers
  • Access to the Lady Margaret Hall College Library
  • Bed & Breakfast accommodation in a single bedroom with private bathroom throughout your programme
  • Lunch and dinner in the College Dining Hall Monday to Friday
  • A full Social & Cultural Programme, including two excursions to other English cities per three-week programme session
  • A high-quality printed class photograph
  • Formal Graduation banquet

You will stay in College accommodation onsite at Lady Margaret Hall, in en suite bedrooms normally occupied by our undergraduate students during term time.

You will eat breakfast each day in the Dining Hall, and lunch and dinner will also be provided in College on each of your teaching days. On the final evening of the course there is a Graduation Formal Hall, when students dress up in their finest outfits for a special banquet served in the Dining Hall.



LMH Summer Programmes are designed and delivered by experienced academics from Lady Margaret Hall and across the University of Oxford, and are taught using the Oxford teaching model, which emphasises personalised small-group learning.

In a series of thought-provoking lectures and lively seminar discussions you will learn about cutting-edge research, expand your core knowledge, and explore new ideas and concepts among peers with diverse international perspectives and academic backgrounds.

Tutorials, the conclusion of each week’s study, are an intellectual thrill. They are a unique opportunity for focused and personalised attention from an expert academic and a space for enthusiastic debate of important ideas. Alongside no more than two to three other students, you will present and discuss your work, accept constructive criticism, and engage with the ideas of your fellow students. These rigorous academic discussions help develop and facilitate learning in a way that cannot be done with lectures alone.


On a three-week LMH Summer Programme students produce one piece of assessed work every week, which is submitted to the tutor and then discussed in a tutorial. At the end of each week you will receive a percentage grade for your submitted work. Each week’s work counts for a third of your final percentage grade, so your final grade is an average of the mark received for each piece of work. Students who stay for six or nine weeks will receive a separate grade for each 3-week course.

Academic Credit:

Lady Margaret Hall will provide a transcript of your assessed work, and can send this directly to your home institution if required. LMH Summer Programmes are designed to be eligible for academic credit, and we will communicate with your home institution to facilitate this as needed. As a guide, we recommend the award of 15 CATS / 7.5 ECTS / 4 US Credits for each 3-week course.

Extracurricular Activities

Would you like to join a pub quiz, visit a medieval castle, or go punting on the river? Our team of Residential Advisors are here to help you get to know other students, explore the city, and have an authentic experience of life as a student at an Oxford college.

Key Details
  • Available from: June - August
  • Provider: LMH Summer Programmes
  • Ages: 19+
  • Fees: £3,980 / 3 Weeks
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A historic and beautiful college of the University of Oxford with its own intellectually challenging summer school.

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