A Chance to Study at one of the Oldest Universities


Abby Gaver

Upon arrival, students on the Oxford trip were able to view the old architecture of the city, one of note being the Sheldonian Theatre, pictured with its domed roof.

Trey Pratt, Photography Manager

Ruckersville, Va.- Several times since 2018, Bridgewater College students have had the opportunity to study at Oxford University in England as a May Term course. Honors Program Director Brandon Marsh has led the Flory Honors Oxford Program three times and is preparing for the next trip which will happen in May 2024.

The program allows for up to 20 honors students to have individualized sessions with an Oxford university tutor while studying a topic of their choice the way that official Oxford students do their own study, both historically and in modern times. 

The majority of learning is self-study, accompanied by meetings with the tutor to discuss what the student has found. Students create their own schedule and methods of study, whether they find their sources online, or from the local public library.

According to Marsh, the Oxford program is special in the way that it allows students to experience living in the location instead of just visiting, as with many other programs.

Students on the trip are assigned housing in Oxford and, aside from scheduled group activities, are able to explore the city unguided, by choosing their own destinations as groups, even if it means getting lost.

“I like to see students jumping into the culture,” said Marsh.

Each year, there are unique activities that the group takes part in. 

The students on the Oxford trip stand outside the theater presenting “SIX the Musical.”
The students on the Oxford trip stand outside the theater presenting “SIX the Musical.” The musical is a concert-style show where the six wives of Henry VIII sing, postmortem, of the horrors which befell them. (Abby Gaver)

In 2018, Marsh and the students attended a viewing party of the royal wedding in a local bar. In 2022, the group planned a viewing party for Eurovision and attended the musical “SIX.”

Originally, the trip was intended to be held every year. The plan then changed to doing it every other year, but COVID-19 postponed the following trip an extra year.

Travel courses did not run in 2020 or 2021, and when they resumed, extra precautions were taken.

“[There was] extra planning behind the scenes,” said Director of Study Abroad and International Student Services Anne Marsh. “Students were required to take COVID-19 tests before flying home, so we had to have a plan for those who tested positive.” 

The travel ban has since been lifted and six travel May Term courses, including the trip to Oxford, will be held in 2024.

According to Brandon Marsh, the Oxford trip has become shorter than it was originally, due to changes in housing as a result of the pandemic, and is more “Oxford centric” than it was during the initial run in 2018.

Brandon Marsh will be stepping down as the director of the honor’s program, but he will lead the 2024 trip.

“I plan to run [the trip] for as long as it’s still relevant,” said Brandon Marsh.