Power and Intimacy: Elizabeth I and Her Court


Ruling for 44 years as a “Virgin Queen”, the extraordinary life of Elizabeth I has long fascinated scholars seeking to make sense of the upheavals of her reign. This course will focus on life and politics at the Elizabethan court. Our discussions will be grounded in primary source material as we address a series of key questions. How did Elizabeth retain the loyalty of those closest to her? What did it mean when the queen would not decide? What did it take to succeed at the court and to win and hold the favour of the queen? Who, in the final analysis, was in charge?

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Ministers. William Cecil was the dominant politician at court for much of Elizabeth’s reign, enjoying the trust of the queen and employing his considerable skills in securing her crown and establishing effective government. But he was not the only lawyer and bureaucrat to hold office under Elizabeth. In this session we will think more broadly about those who held office and managed the operations of government.

Favourites. This session will focus on the small number of men who found themselves in receipt of the queen’s particular favour, and whose careers developed in interesting ways as a result of her attention. Leicester, Hatton, Raleigh, and Essex will provide us with a series of examples through which to make sense of the queen’s particular inclinations and the ideas which lay behind her choice of men to serve her.

Palaces and progresses. In this session we will consider the material dimension of life at the court. We will follow Elizabeth’s summer visits to the great houses of her nobility, where as a more or less welcome guest she prompted vast expenditure on buildings and on entertainments. The queen herself spent very little on architecture but rather focused her expenditure on the royal wardrobe, for which the accounts survive, providing a fascinating glimpse into the visual, material world of the queen.

Field trip to Hatfield House

Women. Those who were physically closest to Elizabeth were the women of her Privy Chamber, with some of whom she enjoyed exceptionally close friendships, whilst others incurred the queen’s displeasure and were banished from the innermost circle. Today we will think about the political and social importance of these women, exploring what can be said of their lives and their experiences of life close to the queen.

Field trip
Destination:  Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
Website:  www.hatfield-house.co.uk    
Excursion rating:  Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1735.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1540.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1637.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1637.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1540.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1220.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.


Dr Janet Dickinson


Janet Dickinson specializes in the history of early modern England and Europe, with particular interests in cultural and political history. Her first book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex was published in 2011. Current projects include work on the Elizabethan nobility and the last years of Elizabeth I’s life as well as court history in general.  She has taught for OUDCE since 2007 and in 2014 and 2016 was named ‘most acclaimed lecturer’ by her students.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Registration closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.