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Social Sciences tutorials are amongst the most popular for Stanford students studying in Oxford. This might be because of the offer of a wide range of courses where often the scope is interdisciplinarity. Like the humanities, social science tutorials are traditionally composed of research papers, although some could use problem sets and short answer essays in place of tutorial essays. Please note that the overall work load remains the same.

Don't just assume that this means you should plan to study Political Science or Archaeology. Applicants often overlook the depth and breadth of courses within the humanities at Oxford. Pay attention to specifics within each department, you may find that your proposed tutorial is too broad. Luckily, you may also find ways in which you can make your tutorial more specific, or discover a new focus altogether.

The Social Sciences departments are

0401 - Anthropology and 0402 - Archaeology

AXESS Code 195A (Anthropology) and 197A (Archaeology)

Archaeology and Anthropology are great tutorial choices for students wishing to critically engage with their cultural experience in the United Kingdom, either by developing theoretical frameworks for thinking about cultures, getting into wonderful local collections, or visiting regional archaeological sites of interest. Local archaeological sites exist within the city of Oxford, where research is conducted on Anglo-Saxon and Roman remains. Students will also have access to the collections in the British Library and the British Museum, and additional funding is available to support visits to sites as deemed necessary by your tutor.

Code 195A

Anthropology courses that engage with the UK



Other Regions/further afield


All Archaeology courses engage with local collections

0403 - Governance

AXESS Code 196M

Students interested in governance often think immediately of tutorials in political science, but for those interested in practical applications of theory, studying public policy in conjunction with the Blavatnik School of Governance is a wonderful option. Unfortunately, the Blavatnik school typically offers only advanced, graduate level tutorials, so this option is only rarely available to students majoring in public policy with serious proposals. Tutorial proposals should be region or concern specific, and involve details of previous study that can be built upon.

The possible tutorials are

0404 - Economics

AXESS Code 195F

Economics is always a popular tutorial choice for Stanford undergraduates. The availability of space in tutorials within this department is always limited, as are the tutorial options open to Stanford students. Tutorials in economics help provide a good opportunity to develop theoretical background for senior research projects in economics. Economics tutorials typically have a high mathematical component, and students without a strong maths background should make enquiries before proposing a tutorial in economics. Although students can choose to study any tutorial in any term, some terms have additional lectures and seminars because that is when Oxford undergraduates typically take them.

Autumn Quarter

Winter Quarter

Spring Quarter

Any Quarter

0405 - Education

AXESS Code 196L

The Department of Education as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers. Within each of the three themes there are several research groups and centres. Although the Education department is only open to graduate study for local students, Stanford Undergraduates are invited to consider this department.

0406 - Geography

AXESS Code 196R

The geography department focuses on British geography and offers tutorials that relate to human and physical geography. The School is internationally recognised for the quality of its teaching, research and wider engagement. In addition to world leading education and research in the School, the department hosts three internationally recognised research centres and leads cross-university initiatives and collaborative networks. Students should note that physical geography cannot be taught with laboratory work.

Tutorials for non-majors

  • Earth systems processes
  • Human geography
  • Geographical controversies
  • Geographical techniques

Tutorials for majors (Geology, Earth Systems)

0407 - Interdisciplinary Area Studies

AXESS Code 196J

At Oxford, Area Studies complement the studies in Medieval and Modern Languages and the Oriental Institute (where students focus on language and culture of a region) by offering courses in regional politics, economics, geography, and international relations. When proposing an area studies tutorial, students need to specify the regional studies centre and the methodology: economics, politics or international relations. Tutorials in this area do not need to be comparative, indeed a more focused proposal for example within a single country is preferable.

0408 - International Development

AXESS Code 196P

The department of international development only ever offers graduate degree level study, but this department is an important source of research that is of interest to Stanford students. Students who wish to take tutorials from this department should be at an advanced place in their degree, such as a junior or senior, and have a strong research purpose for this study. Students should be advised that requesting an International Development tutorial does not guarantee placement in an international development tutorial, and so a second choice should also be prepared.

1) Focus on Economic Development and International Institutions

A tutorial in this area could look at rural poverty and enterprise technology, macroeconomic policy and aid strategy or international trade and foreign investment. In many cases these same topics could be addressed in a more traditional department such as economics or governance, so students should emphasise the need for a development perspective.

2) Focus on Migration and Refugees in a Global Context

This tutorial addresses migration in its economic, political, legal, social and cultural dimensions including analysis, modelling and understanding of international migration flows both between developing and developed countries, and within developing regions themselves.

3) Focus on Human Development, Poverty and Children

This tutorial looks at human development through health and education as well as effects of per-capita income.

4) Focus on Political Change, Conflict and the Environment

This tutorial addresses urban transformation and environmental sustainability. It is intended to address developmental influences of climate change and urbanization. Students interested in this tutorial should be able to connect it to past or future experience in a developing country.

0409 - Oxford Internet Institute

AXESS Code 195S

New technologies, data, and algorithms impact every aspect of daily life. It takes multidisciplinary research to investigate how we adapt to, build, and design new innovations. It takes many kinds of qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods, crafted ethically, to understand how we socialise, how we learn, and how we can solve social problems. The Oxford Internet Institute is a global leader in this research.

Notes on tutorial selection: 
Each tutorial has a track: Social Science of the Internet, Social Data Science, or both. Tutorials with the Social Science of the Internet track leverage social theory to critically examine the concepts of the tutorial, Social Data Science tutorials use quantitative methods to contextualise such social phenomena, and tutorials with both tracks can be taught either way. 

Due to availability of tutors and wide distribution of interests and specialisms at the OII, not all tutorials will be carried out in the same way each year. The descriptions below are not prescriptive, but serve to give an idea of the types of themes, methods, and topics that could align with each tutorial.

Internet and Society

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial is an overview of the major findings to date regarding the social implications of the Internet and emerging technologies, drawing on material from several social science disciplines, including communication studies, sociology, and political science.

Potential topics and approaches could include: digital inequalities, digital sociology, gender, race, and technology, digital identities.

Internet Technologies and Regulations

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

The pace of technological change and innovation in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), Big Data, and machine learning algorithms pose significant challenges for policy-makers across a variety of issues. Regulation and policy will, in turn, shape the range of choices that can be made about the use, design, and development of emergent technologies. This tutorial looks at the policy implications of the Internet, the Internet's origins and technical architecture, and its embeddedness in a long history of communication technologies. Themes and topics on this course could include surveillance technologies, human rights and the Internet, and Internet governance.

AI and Big Data in Society

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet or Social Data Science
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial critically examines the unprecedented opportunities and serious challenges inherent in big data and AI approaches to advancing knowledge. This tutorial will examine the ethical, political, and social dimensions of the increasing prevalence of algorithms in our societies. Potential topics could include algorithmic biases, designing AI systems, AI governance, surveillance capitalism, and AI ethics.

Digital Era Government and Policy

Audience: anyone interested in policy, governance, or the role of the State in the digital era
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial focuses on providing an in-depth understanding of the changing nature of digital-era governance, government, and policy. Government structures are dealing with considerable challenges, from cries for greater regulation to the need to adapt to new technologies and fast changing populations. The tutorial will consider the theoretical, practical, and ethical implications of the Internet and digital technologies for the role of the State in terms of governance, policy development, innovation and economic growth, equity, and sovereignty.

This course is open to anyone interested in considering these topics; disciplinary approaches could vary and may include political economy of technology and innovation, public policy, economic sociology, or politics.

Politics, Misinformation, and Online Influences

Audience: anyone with an interest in political science
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet or Social Data Science
Prerequisites: none

We live in an age of enormous change in politics. The past decade has witnessed the spectacular rise of previously marginal political movements in both Europe and the US, which have rocked established party systems and swept away old ways of doing politics. Digital technologies form a key part of this contemporary challenge. Social media technologies have, according to some, facilitated the rise of populist and radical political movements, by lowering communication costs and enabling the spread of new ideas as well as misinformation and disinformation. Data science is also being used to enable new forms of political campaigning (for example, micro targeting of advertisements) and indeed new forms of government (such as smart cities). This tutorial will study how politics has responded and evolved in the digital era.

Social Data Science track: This tutorial is aimed at understanding the study of government and politics through the lens of data science. Students will leave with both a wide ranging grounding in political science and (a) insight into how data science can be used to shed new light on key debates in the field and (b) understanding of where data science is (or could be) changing the political landscape through its use by political actors, such as in large-scale data-led election campaigns; for policy-making; and through the use of algorithms in computational propaganda.

Digital Technology and Economic Organization

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet or Social Data Science
Prerequisites: none

Do digital technologies change the way our economies are organised? Early Internet visionaries predicted that the Internet would permit people around the world to exchange goods, services, and labour directly between each other in communal and peer-to-peer fashions, bypassing the need for states and large corporations as gatekeepers to markets. Today, that vision is in some ways fulfilled: the digital economy is intensely transnational, with 90% of transactions on some marketplace platforms crossing national boundaries. Yet this economy is hardly communal: instead of states and corporations, it is ruled by the giant tech firms that own the platforms. Why did the digital economy end up being organised in such a centralised manner? How are regulators, workers, shareholders, and other interest groups reacting to the situation? And what geopolitical implications does it have when so much power is concentrated in a handful of companies headquartered in the United States and China? 

Those interested in the disciplines of Sociology, Economics, Political Science and related fields might find this tutorial particularly relevant.

Development Studies and Labour in the Digital Age

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial focuses on introducing the debates and practices surrounding ICT uses in the Global South and Global North, and examines the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that underpin development. The tutorial ultimately aims to encourage students to ask questions about digital technologies and power: Who do they empower? Who do they disempower? Can we imagine capitalism without the digital? Can we imagine the digital without capitalism? Themes or topics for this tutorial might include studying AI and labour, data colonialism, and various forms of inequality across digital technologies and their labour forces. This course is open to all but may be of particular interest to those with backgrounds in disciplines such as Geography, Development Studies, Sociology, Economics, Internet Studies, Media Studies and Anthropology, and those interested in considering inequality and injustice with regards to the Internet and associated technologies.

Internet Economics

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: Some familiarity with economic schools of thought is helpful

The focus of this tutorial is on using the tools of economics both to understand social phenomena and to practice better policy and strategy. Along the way, this tutorial will consider many of the key issues of the digital economy: How does technology challenge existing models of economic behaviour and markets? What kinds of features and phenomena are common across online and technology markets and why do these emerge? What kinds of business models and practices are used by online firms and why? When and how should policy makers intervene in markets? What is the rationale for common forms of statutory or regulatory intervention? How should interactions mediated by the Internet be structured? How should markets and online platforms be designed to facilitate good outcomes?

This course is best suited to those who are familiar with Economics as a discipline, though this does not preclude students who are not Economics majors.

Law and the Internet

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: familiarity with law and/or legal theory

What is the role of law in the ‘new world’ of digital technologies and the Internet? This tutorial aims to answer this question using a mix of recent cases, pertinent theory and useful conceptual frameworks. The tutorial takes a closer look at the challenges posed by networked information technologies to societal institutions of governance. This involves two analytical steps: (a) understanding the challenges and limitations of conventional legal institutions on the Internet, especially those administered by the State, and (b) reinterpreting and reinventing these institutions in the context of the Internet. Themes and topics on this course may include privacy, freedom of speech, so-called “fake news”, and platform regulation.

This course will be most applicable to people with a legal background.

Education and Digital Technologies

Audience: anyone interested
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial is focused on education and learning, both inside and outside of the classroom. Emerging technologies have the potential to transform how, what and where people learn, and challenges existing ideas of what the purpose and nature of formal education is and what the future of education should be. This tutorial will provide students with an opportunity to understand and explore some of the debates around the use of the Internet for learning and education. 

Potential themes include: lifelong learning and emerging technologies, digital data and education, political economy of edtech, and education, gaming, and immersive realities.

Online Social Networks

Audience: anyone
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet or Social Data Science
Prerequisites: none; basic Python or R for SDS track 

Today’s world is full of networks. Using networks as an analytical category is not new; but it is only today’s abundance of digital data that has allowed for an unprecedented rise of network science applications in almost all aspects of nature, life, and society. This tutorial is an introduction to the analysis of online social networks and gives an overview of the type of questions that these data can answer in the social and economic sciences. 

Students should consider using this tutorial as a foundation for a senior research project and should show they intend to use the material from this tutorial in subsequent research. Depending on your technical background in Python or other coding languages, students could take this tutorial in either track.

Subversive Technologies

Audience: anyone with an interest in understanding illicit, illegal, or questionable technologies that influence and control information flows online
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

Through both its flaws and its intended functionality the Internet has produced an ecosystem of cultures, institutions, and technologies that aim to exert, resist, and circumvent control over information. This tutorial aims to provide students with an understanding of technologies that provide control over information flows and action on the Internet, and those that resist or subvert that control. To fully understand these technologies the course considers the cultures that created and surround them, how various new technologies interact with traditional institutions and structures, and how these are exploited by both states and individuals.

The Philosophy and Ethics of AI and Information

Audience: anyone with an interest in philosophy
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: some familiarity with core philosophical theories

This tutorial introduces some key concepts and phenomena related to information and AI, and seeks to answer some crucial theoretical questions of great philosophical significance prompted by the development of the information society and the emergence of large-scale AI technologies. We will draw from current and recent events, as well as prominent philosophical questions of the digital age. Themes and topics on this tutorial may include questions around data ethics, the right to digital privacy, challenges and principles of AI ethics, and digital identity.

This tutorial is best suited for those with an interest in and familiarity with philosophical readings, but anyone with any interest in the above questions is welcome.

Design and Theory of Human-Computer Interaction

Audience: anyone interested in the design of new technologies, design theory, and/or Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

This tutorial explores who is designing technologies, how users perceive and interact with such designs, and what the implications of such practices have on our society. The tutorial will cover user experience research and design, fundamentals of design research, and core theories in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This tutorial encourages students to use social science research methodologies to critically examine humans’ interactions with everyday and emerging technologies. 

Themes may include: bias in design, HCI and immersive technologies, user experience research, and accessibility and design.

Natural Language Processing for the Social Sciences

Audience: anyone with an interest in computer science and data science
Assessments: essays and/or presentations
Track: Social Data Science
Prerequisites: strong background in programming

This tutorial supports students in their research into methodologies for future research by developing conceptual and technical tools for large-scale analysis of linguistic data such as document collections, transcripts, and blogs through Natural Language Processing (NLP). The tutorial may address the statistical structure of the lexicon and models for text creation, including the baseline Naïve Bag of Words model as well as more realistic models that include effects of social and pragmatic context. Other possible topics include investigating algorithms for clustering, classifying, and discriminating different types of documents on the basis of the words and word sequences that they contain, which could be applied to characterise the topics of different documents as well as the socio-indexical traits of speakers/authors. These ideas could also be brought together in tools for analysing the spread of memes and opinions through repeated interactions in linguistic communities.

You do not need to be an expert in NLP to take this tutorial, however, you will need to have a strong background in a programming language (notably Python).

Digital Qualitative Research and Ethnography

Audience: anyone with an interest in conducting qualitative or design research 
Assessments: essays, critical reading responses, and/or presentations
Track: Social Science of the Internet
Prerequisites: none

Analysis of qualitative data gathered during the course of social research and the Internet requires both a set of specialised skills and an understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative approaches to social research. Ethnographic approaches to research in particular are often employed in the study of emerging technologies. This tutorial will provide an overview of the ethnographic tradition and digital qualitative methods, explore new opportunities the Internet has presented for digitally-mediated qualitative research, discuss novel methods used to analyse digital data, and explore ethical considerations of online ethnographies. This course will have a strong theoretical basis throughout, and is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to carry out qualitative data analysis of a variety of kinds of data (e.g. text, photos, videos) collected from both online and offline settings. 

Potential topics may include: ethnographies of virtual/digital worlds, qualitative analyses of online communities, and UX design and research. This tutorial might be particularly interesting for students considering a senior research project using qualitative approaches.

0410 - Law

AXESS Code 195J

In the United Kingdom, and therefore at Oxford as well, it is possible to undertake the study of law at and undergraduate level. For students who are pre-law, the idea of a tutorial in Law might be appealing, but there are a few things to consider. The UK has a different legal system than the US. Often, the rigorous nature of law tutorials doesn't match the usefulness of the material for American students. More universally useful are tutorials in legal theory, such as jurisprudence or Roman Law, and tutorials about international law, such as International Human Rights Law.

0412 - Politics and International Relations

AXESS Code 195Z, 197Z and 195R, 197R

The department of Politics and International Relations provides courses for undergraduates and graduates. Undergraduates only study politics as part of a degree program called PPE, one of the few interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees in Oxford, which stands for Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Students studying PPE are interested in having a career in public service, and this course is designed to train students for civil service. Many students from Stanford who major in International Relations or Political Science prefer to take tutorials from this department.

Politics tutorials suitable for non-majors 195Z

International Relations tutorials suitable for non-majors 195R

Politics Tutorials suitable for majors 197Z

International Relations Tutorials suitable for majors 197R

0413 - Said Business School

AXESS Code 196S

The Said Business School offers instruction on the undergraduate degree in 'economics in management' which should be contrasted with the undergraduate degree in economics. Traditionally is has been very difficult to place students in these tutorials, so students who wish to take these tutorials should be prepared with alternative options in case there is no availability. Prior experience with the topics at hand is always recommended to help with the placement. Notes on comparing prerequisites: Sample A-Level Syllabuses to reference your experiences against can be found by searching online for A-Levels Exam Boards such as CIEE, Edexcel or OCR.

Tutorials with no pre-requisite

  • Introduction to Economics (this is for business studies students with no economics background)
  • General Management
  • Financial Management

Tutorials which require the student to have prior familiarity with content

0414 - Social Policy and Intervention

AXESS Code 195L

The Department of Social Policy and Intervention is a leading interdisciplinary centre for research and teaching in social policy and the systematic evaluation of social intervention. Although this department addresses topics in family and social welfare, it has traditionally offered tutorials in 'healthcare' or what students might better think of as public health.

0415 - Sociology

AXESS Code 198C

Stanford students wishing to focus in sociology at Oxford join a community of students who enjoy first-class facilities for studying as well as the opportunity to advance the leading edge of the discipline. The Department of Sociology maintains as a long-term strategy the combination of rigorous research methods and analytical theory. Permeability with other disciplines is also an advantage of the environment which the Department wants to emphasize. The research strengths of the Oxford department differ from Stanford's. Unlike Stanford, Oxford does not have a race and ethnicity research group.

  • Introduction to Sociology (196C): This tutorial addresses current and classic discussions of explanatory strategies and social mechanisms, models of individual action and the consequences of aggregation. Empirical research involving these approaches in areas of substantive sociological interest such as social class, religion, the family, and politics.
  • Political Sociology (198C): This tutorial looks at the study of the social basis of political competition (including social cleavages and identities), social and political attitudes (including political culture), processes of political engagement and competition (including elections, proTest politics and the mass media), the social basis for the formation, change, and maintenance of political institutions (including democracy and welfare states). As a pre-requisite you should show knowledge of the political climate in two major industrial countries.
  • Sociology of Post-Industrial Societies (198C): The tutorial cultivates knowledge of the following aspects of the social structure of urban-industrial societies: occupation and economic structure; social stratification and mobility; education and the family; the social significance of gender and ethnicity; the social structure of religion; the social context of politics and the impact on society of the state. As a prerequisite Oxford undergraduates are expected to have knowledge of modern Britain and at least one other industrial society. However, Stanford students can use this tutorial to learn more about British society if they have knowledge of two other industrialized countries.
  • Sociological Theory (196C): This tutorial investigates a variety of theoretical perspectives on social life. Some perspectives examine how social structures are built up from individual action, whether driven by evolutionary psychology, decided by rational choice, or motivated by meaningful values. Others identify the emergent properties of social life, ranging from face-to-face interaction to social networks to structures of thought. You will use these perspectives to investigate substantive problems. What explains the persistence of gender inequality? Why do social norms change? How do some groups manage to solve problems of collective action? Throughout, you will learn how the insights of classical sociologists are being advanced in contemporary research.