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12th July - 8th August 2020

Open Minds

Against a backdrop of education systems ever more focused on exam results and the memorising of content, this course looks to provide a richer, broader and ultimately more rewarding educational experience for its students.

Note this is only a guide, not a guarantee.

Open Minds


The Open Minds course is at the cutting edge of educational thinking. Against a backdrop of education systems ever more focused on exam results and the memorising of content, this course looks to provide a richer, broader and ultimately more rewarding educational experience for its students.

The course focuses on a diverse range of thematic topics designed to develop an incredibly wide range of academic skills, including critical-thinking, collaboration, research and analysis, project management, independent learning and creativity.


The course is available as either a two-week or four-week course, with each two-week block given over to the in-depth study of one of the course’s four available modules. Students will be split into small groups, each working closely with one of our Open Minds tutors to research and discuss the themes related to their chosen module. The first week of each module involves the provocation of ideas with the aim of inspiring students to find an individual approach to the topic. At the end of the first week all the Open Minds classes will have a joint session in which they reflect on their learning over the first half of the module, identify their chosen focus for the following week and have a chance to receive constructive feedback from their classmates and guidance from their tutors.

In the second week of each module, students will be participating in a collaborative project in which they will work with classmates who identified similar areas of interest during the feedback session at the end of week one. The students have the freedom to present their project in the format which they believe is most suitable; be that a film, a performance, an installation or a piece of creative writing. All projects will be completed with the guidance of an allocated tutor and will be presented to the members of the School of English and Culture at the end of the second week. Students will then have a chance to reflect on their learning throughout the module, both in their groups and in an individual session with their tutor. Following this discussion, students will give themselves a score which is then combined with a grade for effort during the course to give the final grade of PASSMERIT or DISTINCTION.

Open Minds is a rigorous and intellectually demanding course and as such a grade of Distinction should be considered an educational accolade of the highest order. That being said, the core aims of the course are to foster in students a curiosity about the world, a desire to take ownership of learning and a willingness to take risks and challenge themselves intellectually. As such, effort and creativity of thought will be highly rewarded.  

The course is suitable for high level or native English speakers and as such there will be no specific language teaching within the morning classes. However, the format of the classes will undoubtedly offer an excellent opportunity for non-native speakers to perfect their language skills through discussion, debate and high-level readings. The course is supported by an academic enrichment programme of talks, plays, workshops and guest speakers that take place during the evenings and weekends throughout the course.     

The course will be of particular interest to those who are coming from international schools and are looking to join a British private school or university or simply those who relish an academic challenge or are seeking educational inspiration and development. The course involves a pre-course task to assess the candidate’s suitability for the programme.



All the modules of Open Minds 2019 take a creative and dynamic approach to the exploration of the over-arching theme of 'Identity'.

MODULE ONE - 'Rights, Rules and Rebellions'

Will Golding and Beth Godfrey

How does age affect our rights, the rules we follow and the way our opinions are heard and responded to?

From our friends and family, to our wider community and society as a whole, our freedom and responsibilities are affected by the roles that we are expected to play. This module examines the possibilities that open up to us when we challenge these roles, focusing particularly on the importance of age in our views of ourselves and of others. It will also explore the impact of young people’s involvement in contemporary global rebellions.   

The module will employ a range of experiential activities, active discussions and creative games to explore the topics based on students’ own experiences and ideas. 

Available in weeks one and two.



MODULE TWO - 'The Nation Myth and Film-making'  

Phoebe Cottam and Oliver Bancroft

What can we learn about our own identities by better understanding how nations are created and used? How can this be expressed through film?

The idea of the nation is a powerful one, so powerful that people can feel strongly enough that they offer their lives in order to defend it. It stirs political debate, influences voting patterns, and informs how we understand ourselves and our place in the world. But what is 'the nation', and how does it influence individuals? How has this been explored in artistic and documentary film? 

This course explores how nations are created, and challenges ideas about how it influences us and others around us. Students will be making their own short film as they learn and experiment with how the moving image can be used to translate these ideas and evoke sentiment.

Available in weeks one and two.


MODULE THREE - 'Narcissism: A Modern Epidemic?' 

Ari Cantwell and Giuls Bianchini

This module will explore the power shifts between the collective and the self, from the Ancient Greek myth through to the ‘Self Esteem Movement’ of the Sixties and Seventies through to the generational changes brought about by the rise of so-called “selfish technology” and celebrity narcissism. Students will examine the ways in which our relationship with ourselves can affect change in the world and will consider to what extent humans need to look beyond the self.

These ideas will be explored through experiential learning techniques, exercises in drama, creative writing, discussion and debate. In using these techniques, students will uncover new perspectives and explore their own mirrored reflections as they seek to understand where the power lies to make change; as individuals, in communities and globally.

Available in weeks three and four.


MODULE FOUR - 'Beyond Human: Metamorphosis and Transformation' 

Christopher Harrison and Oliver Bancroft 

What can we become? How will this change humanity?

The technological world is developing rapidly and the thirst for human improvement is following suit. The world of gene editing, biotech and transhumanism promise improvements for humanity, but how far is too far? What are superhumans and how have these been represented through theatre and film, from kafka to sci-fi? From performance masks to  automated cyborgs, this course will explore what we consider positive or negative human changes and what these say about our beliefs.  Through theatrical, creative exercises and film making we will consider the body in metamorphosis and look to our future.

Available in weeks three and four.