Study Abroad Oxford Program

For over 50 years, Northern Illinois University has offered a summer program of study at Oriel College, Oxford University. The program features courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are designed to take advantage of the unique resources of the British setting. Students and faculty travel to places like the prehistoric monument Stonehenge, the 13th Century Salisbury Cathedral where the Magna Carta is displayed, the theaters of London and Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare plays, Henley-on-Thames to experience the Royal Regatta, and other select cultural, historic and scientific field trip sites.

Faculty are accommodated close to students and dine in the same halls so that formal class meetings can be supplemented by individual tutorials and informal conversations. Enrollment in all courses is deliberately kept low in order to permit maximum interaction between students and faculty.

For more information, see the Oxford page on the NIU Study Abroad website.

Program Overview/Application

The program is held at Oriel College, founded in 1326 and considered to be one of the most beautiful of the 34 colleges that make up Oxford University. Oxford is less than 60 miles from London and Stratford-upon-Avon, with frequent and inexpensive bus service to both cities. Cambridge, Canterbury and other places with literary, historical and political connections are within 100 miles, and there is virtually no place in Britain or, indeed, Europe that cannot be visited on a weekend trip by bus, train or airplane.

Although this is an academic program, it has been designed with a variety of audiences in mind. Non-traditional students (i.e., professionals, individuals with an interest in the subject matter, etc.) as well as currently enrolled NIU students are encouraged to participate in the program. All participants will receive academic credit, and students who are not currently enrolled in an academic program at NIU will be enrolled as visiting students (at the undergraduate level) or students-at-large (at the graduate level).

Each subject is offered on four levels--general undergraduate, undergraduate major, graduate, and advanced graduate--with reading lists and assignments appropriate to each course level. Students should register for the course number appropriate for their situation or needs. All courses generally carry 3 semester hours of credit. You must enroll in two courses and may add a third with the consent of the college coordinator, Professor Artemus Ward.

Classes will meet at hours to be announced (typically, two 2-hour sessions per week for undergraduates with additional conferences for graduate students) Mondays through Thursdays, leaving three-day weekends for study or travel.

Each student will reside in their own modern single dorm room with a private bathroom/shower in Oriel College' s James Mellon Hall. There are also shared laundry, kitchen facilities, and a common room for socializing in the dorm. Breakfast will be served daily and dinner will be served each Sunday through Wednesday in the 17th-century Dining Hall. Students will be responsible for the purchase of all lunches, as well as dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and there are grocery stores, pubs, and restaurants next to the dorms. Students will have internet access via the college' s wireless network and, while most students bring their own laptops, there are shared computers in the dorm common room.

The program cost includes field trips to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Stratford-upon-Avon with tickets to a Royal Shakespeare Company performance, and other trips and tickets to sites of academic interest, to be announced. Optional trips, at the students' expense, will also be offered and students will be encouraged to travel on their own.

The Beatles: A Study In Politics and Popular Music

This course focuses on how the music of the Beatles affected, and continues to affect, the political and cultural landscape. Broadly, we will examine how music and musicians confront political and social issues such as war, race relations, and gender discrimination. The Beatles provide an important case study in this phenomenon. John Lennon' s political activism—as demonstrated by such songs as “Revolution,” “War is Over (If you Want It),” “Give Peace a Chance,” and “Imagine”—continue to have influence over policymakers and the public at large. President Nixon' s secret investigation of Lennon and his attempts to deport Lennon from the U.S. during the 1972 presidential campaign show how musicians can affect the highest levels of government. Paul McCartney' s “Blackbird” and Lennon' s “Woman is the Nigger of the World” exemplify how musicians can affect civil rights. George Harrison' s Concert for Bangladesh was the first benefit concert to aid disadvantaged populations, paving the way for Live Aid, USA for Africa, and other mass fundraising efforts led by musicians. Accordingly, we will supplement Oxford seminars with field trips to Beatles sites in London, such as Abbey Road and Apple Records, and Liverpool to visit Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and the Cavern Club where students will give presentations on research topics related to the course.

Political Science Courses Available for Credit at NIU at Oxford

  • POLS 390 Politics and Popular Music (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
  • POLS 395 Contemporary Topics in Political Science (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
  • POLS 414 Topics in Law and Social Problems (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
  • POLS 495 Seminar in Current Problems (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
  • POLS 496 Independent Study in Political Science (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
    Prerequisite: Consent of department.
  • POLS 498 Seminar Abroad (3 semester hours – undergraduate)
  • POLS 595 Seminar in Current Problems (3 semester hours – graduate)
  • POLS 696 Independent Study in Political Science (3 semester hours – graduate)
  • POLS 798 Foreign Study and Internship (3 semester hours – graduate)

Note: there are also courses in English and other departments that are regularly offered. Please see the current application.

For more information about NIU at Oxford, please contact the college coordinator, Professor Artemus Ward of the Political Science Department at

Contact Us

Department of Political Science
Zulauf Hall 415
815-753-6302 (fax)

Office Hours

Monday - Thursday
8 a.m. - noon
1 - 4:30 p.m.

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