The English Reformations, Culture and Belief: Society Transformed, c. 1470-1605


The reformations that took place in England during the course of the sixteenth century had a major impact on society. In the immediate aftermath of Henry’s reign his successors struggled to define their own form of religion and their subjects sought to find ways to reconcile long-held beliefs with new ideas and new political realities. This course will focus on the ways in which individuals adapted to the changes, some drawn to the evangelical ideas pouring in from the continent, others deeply attached to the old religion and its practices. Class discussion will address the ways in which society was profoundly altered, with beliefs about death, the family, charity provision and even the yearly calendar changing according to the times.

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.

We will begin by examining the condition of the late medieval Catholic church and early forms of English heresy, drawing on the profound changes to our understanding of the situation that have taken place in the scholarship of the last few decades.

Henry VIII’s journey from orthodox Catholic to Supreme Head of the Church of England will absorb our attention in this session, focusing on the ‘King’s Great Matter’. The impact of Henrician reforms on society and the life of the church, often understated, will be fully considered, along with the people and policies involved in enacting change, including the key figures of Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell as well as the king and his wives.

This session will focus on the rapid and radical changes to religion that took place through the mid-Tudor period and the reigns of Edward VI and Mary Tudor, who turned religious policy in highly personal and vehemently opposed directions, requiring their subjects to accommodate themselves to the changing times or face persecution or exile. The material impact of Edward’s radical Protestant settlement will be discussed, along with the attempts to restore the outward elements of Catholic worship in Mary’s reign.

We will visit Sudeley Castle, home of the reformist Katherine Parr and her stepchildren by Henry VIII, and also nearby Hailes Abbey, one of the great medieval pilgrimage sites destroyed during the dissolution. Here you will be able to see for yourself how Henry’s actions changed the landscape of England.

Today we will focus on the reign of Elizabeth I, the settlement of a Protestant church in England and the increasing pressure that was placed on Catholics to conform. Our discussions will conclude, much like the Catholic cause, in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 after the succession of James Stuart to the throne of England.

Field trip
Destination: Sudeley Castle and Hailes Abbey
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) £1740.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1545.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1642.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1642.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1545.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1225.00


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, 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. Current projects include work on Elizabeth I, court history and the extraordinary finds made in a 17th century shipwreck off the Dutch coast. She has taught for OUDCE since 2007 and has been named ‘most acclaimed lecturer’ and ‘outstanding tutor’ by her students in the annual teaching awards.

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.


Registratioin 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

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.