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Oxford Tutorial System

Oxford University is a confederation of 45 societies or colleges, and teaching is conducted primarily through the tutorial system, which offers unrivaled opportunities to study concentrated topics. With an approximate faculty/student ratio of 1:4, Oxford University offers specialists in several academic subjects. APU students have the opportunity to be placed in one of a handful of these colleges within the university, and learn from some of the leading experts of their chosen field.

The tutorial itself consists of a one-hour meeting between the tutor and one or two students. During this time, a piece of written work (an essay) is read and commented upon, with discussion frequently branching out beyond the original topic. At the end of the tutorial, the tutor assigns the mandatory topic of study for the forthcoming week and suggests readings.

The student studies one primary and one secondary subject, which consist of 8 and 4–5 tutorials respectively, at roughly 1–2 week intervals during the term. The student must engage in extensive independent reading and research, using the resources available, under the broad guidance of the tutor. During some sessions, the student may leave a tutorial with only a reading list and the title of the next essay. This methodology sharpens the learning skills of critical evaluation of material and organization of ideas in ways not fostered in the typical American university. The student is taught by the same specialists, in the same manner, and held to the same standards as matriculated Oxford degree students. However, an associate student from APU is not matriculating in the Oxford society in pursuit of a degree. Rather, the student is enrolled at APU while studying at Oxford but can still enjoy many college privileges, including full use of the college library, use of the college dining hall, and membership in sports teams, clubs, etc.

Choosing Tutorials

The bulk of a student’s academic credit for the Azusa Oxford Semester will come from tutorials. Tutorials are their chance to create courses from subjects relating to their interests and degree requirements. Academic credit is 6 units from the primary tutorial, and 3 units from the secondary tutorial.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there a list of tutorials to choose from?

NO. There is no Oxford course catalogue in the American sense. Students determine a course description of what they would like to study. Many students will design their tutorial topic with an APU course in mind however, and will use the APU course catalog to draft their tutorial ideas.

Our office has always encouraged students considering the Oxford semester to save upper-division electives in their major or minor to take abroad with this program, because electives are often specialized enough to fit well with a demanding and critical-thinking tutorial. To ensure successful placement with an Oxford tutor, students should choose courses in the humanities, namely history, english, politics, psychology, philosophy and theology. Some students will also study economics, law, art history, etc.

To give students an idea of what other students have done, review courses at: oxfordprogram.com/program-information/listings/ and ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/courses/index.html Use the following chart as a guide about how to turn APU courses into successful tutorials:

If your Major is: Find an APU elective that So that your tutorial will look like this:
English Literature: Period/Author/Works/Theme Ex: Poetry: Milton to Swift
Economics: Field/Topic/Specialization Ex: International Trade
Geography: Field/Topic/Specialization Ex: Social Geography
History: Country/Period/Topics Ex: C19th French Social History
Politics: Area/Period/Issues Ex: Classical Political Thought
Psychology: Branch/Area/Application Ex: Cognitive Development in Children

Please stop by the Center for Global Learning & Engagement if you’d like more advice on how to design your tutorial, or to set up an appointment with a study abroad academic advisor in our office!

What should a student avoid when designing a tutorial?

The tutorial system is unsuitable for study at the introductory level, so survey courses such as Introduction to Western Civilization, are not acceptable for Oxford. Focused, upper division courses are better for the tutorial system. That is one of the main reasons that the Azusa Oxford Semester is geared toward juniors and seniors.

Also, lab access is not possible, so if the student’s desired course requires a lab, it would be best to take that course at APU or elsewhere. Students cannot take courses that require lab access while participating in the Azusa Oxford Semester. In addition, as the semester is research-based, studio art courses and film production courses are also not available.

Can students combine credit for two APU courses into one 6 unit primary tutorial?

Most majors require upper-division electives within the major, (some may start with “Current Topics in _______” or “Readings.”) These APU courses can be ideal for the highly specified nature of Oxford tutorials, due to the flexibility in its course description. Students should work with their academic advisor in their department (or the department to whom the courses belong) to discuss the possibility of covering two course requirements for their primary tutorial. The courses should complement each other and have overlap, while still encompassing the individual curriculums.

However, it is possible that a tutorial request encompassing two different courses might be deemed too broad to be covered in the limited number of meetings the student will have with their tutor. If this is the case, students will still receive 6 units for their primary tutorial, but will have to choose one course to receive credit for, and be satisfied that the remaining 3 units count only as elective. In essence, it is not always possible to have two APU courses combined in your primary.

Will tutorials transfer back for specific APU courses in the student’s major, minor, or for General Education?

Proposing a great tutorial topic does not guarantee APU course credit. Everything students propose in a tutorial has to be approved beforehand, by their academic advisor, the chair of the department whose courses they plan to take, and One Stop | Undergraduate Registrar.

The approval process takes place through the Transfer Inquiry Form (Current APU Students Only) (PDF).

Students will need to fill out Transfer Inquiry Form (Current APU Students Only) (PDF) for both their primary and secondary tutorials, as well as their back-up options. This is the only way tutorials will transfer and be approved as certain APU courses. (Students always receive “unit credit” for their tutorials, but to ensure their tutorial meets credit for APU courses they’d like to complete abroad, they’ll have to submit Transfer Inquiry Forms).

Transfer Inquiry Forms will ensure courses pass APU departmental review. (For example, if the student is a graphic design major, but they’re taking tutorials on the subject of C.S. Lewis, this form will guarantee that the tutorial has passed the review of the Department of English chair, and One Stop.) Students should hold on to copies they receive of all approvals.