Straight-talking Politics

1st September 2016

News, Student news, Alumni news

The power of language, political spin, free speech, and the limits of democracy have been the focus of discussion and debate at this year's Politics summer school.

The summer school, organised by Wadham’s Access Assistant Emma Searle and Politics Lecturer Matthew Williams, gives A-Level students from state sixth-forms in Wadham’s link regions the opportunity to experience a week in the life of an Oxford undergraduate.

While living and dining in College, the 22 students participated in a busy schedule of lectures, independent study time, theory and methodology workshops and academic mentoring sessions. They were also asked to write and submit essays in preparation for an Oxford-style tutorial.

As part of their work on the power of language, participants enjoyed the opportunity to get up close to original manuscripts and rare books including Shakespeare’s First and Third Folios, held in the Wadham Library collection.  

“Exploring why politicians find it difficult to talk straight is just one of the subjects we covered in some pretty lively discussions. We also explored sexist language and its impact on women and why some academic subjects, like politics and economics, are often thought of as being 'for men' when there is no good reason for this perception,” commented Matt Williams. “Many school students don’t have the opportunity to study politics at school, so the summer school introduces them to a subject that touches every area of their lives.”

“This week has really made me think about politics in a different way – particularly the impact of words and the way they are used by politicians,” said one participant from Milton Keynes. “It has been a great way to find out what university life is really like – meeting different people and learning about new things. After this week I’m reconsidering what I might do at University” she added.

Access and Outreach Officer at Wadham College, Emily Cannon commented: “The students attending this programme come from schools and areas where, often, Oxford and the top UK universities are mistakenly thought to be out of their reach. Giving the students the opportunity to experience undergraduate life in a college is particularly important, as it gives them a flavour of the reality of studying a Politics degree at university level.”

If you attend a state sixth-form in Barking and Dagenham, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hackney, Havering, Islington, Luton, Milton Keynes, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets and are interested in attending next year’s Classics summer school please do get in touch with the Access and Outreach Officer, Emily Cannon.

The Politics Summer School was made possible by the generosity of Wadham alumni support for the College’s Access to Excellence programme. Many thanks to Sabrina Martin for her help with lectures and methodology sessions. Wadham College is very grateful to all those who contributed to making this programme such a success.