The Visiting Student Programme aims to offer students as close an experience as possible to that of the regular degree students. At the heart of the Oxford teaching system is the tutorial, which is an hour-long meeting between one to three students and their tutor. Compared to systems where the main vehicle of teaching is the lecture or seminar, the tutorial system places great emphasis upon the independent study skills of the student. In general, students produce one essay (or ‘paper’) per tutorial which they either hand in to the tutor for marking or read out. The reading of the tutorial essay will lead into a general discussion of the subject matter being explored. Essays are not simply summaries of what a student has read in preparation for a tutorial, but critical engagements with a topic.
In each term visiting students pursue one primary subject (normally 8 tutorials) and one secondary subject (normally 4 tutorials). A few courses consist of tutorials supplemented by small-group classes. During the 8 weeks of term students also have access to University lectures, which they attend at the recommendation of their tutors or out of personal interest. Like regular undergraduate students, visiting students are taught by Fellows and Lecturers of Mansfield and other Colleges within the University, and advanced graduate students. The Oxford academic year is divided into three eight-week terms: Michaelmas Term runs from October to December, Hilary Term runs from January to March, and Trinity Term runs from April to June.