Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 43: Oxbridge Supervision

The distinctive element of an Oxbridge education is a one-on-one weekly or bi-weekly "teaching" or "supervision" with one's supervisor or tutor. In these, essays which are written by the student are reviewed, sometimes read out loud (while standing, according to traditional format), about the 300, 400, sometimes 1,000 pages read for each week's supervision. Supervisions are enjoyed or endured (depending on the student's perspective) in addition to normal college lecturing, in which the same amount of reading can be assigned.

The closest analogy I can make to this form of teaching is my music lessons in earlier years: one-on-one, assigned lessons, and somewhat of a mini-performance of the progress made in the week.

I had my first real post-assignment supervision yesterday. I was to write a 3,000 word essay (mine turned out to be 9,000 - shorter is sometimes harder, esp. if the reading is more in-depth) during the first four weeks of term on the impact of the British Constitution on the American as seen through the lens of Sir William Blackstone and James Wilson. This was a very enjoyable yet laborious task for me, as I "read" seven or eight volumes plus much primary material for almost four weeks before I felt I knew enough to write. I apparently constructed my essay as a legal brief (go figure...), and am now in the process of completely re-writing it in preparation to submit it with my DPhil application this Friday.


  1. Ah yes, the overpowering influence of law school that gets into EVERY aspect of life ... I'm learning it well. And I'm not even the one who went to law school in this family! Good luck with the rewrite!

  2. thanks - I think it went well! How are you?