The Program

“WEPO was a great way for me to go abroad while not sacrificing the quality of education at Williams. My classes were incredible—ones that I wouldn’t have been able to take at Williams—and I really appreciated the opportunity to travel all over Europe.” —Andrew Udell ‘16

Williams has long enjoyed a special relationship with Exeter College, one of the 38 colleges that make up the University of Oxford. Since 1985, select members of the Williams junior class have participated in the rigorous yearlong study away program that has developed out of this Williams-Exeter affiliation.

For the roughly 26 students offered admission to the Williams-Exeter Programme each spring, the year abroad is a rare opportunity for immersion in the intellectual, social, and cultural life of one of the world’s great universities. Williams students participating in the Programme hold Visiting Student status, entitling them to all the same privileges and access as regular Oxford undergraduates.

Over the course of the eight-week Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity terms of the academic year, students participate in tutorial courses chosen for a variety of fields. Coursework is completed against the backdrop of a university that emerged in the 11th century and is rich in history, tradition, and academic resources. Oxford University’s renowned Bodleian Library, which opened in 1602, holds over 11 million printed items. Exeter itself was founded in 1314, making it Oxford’s fourth-oldest college.

More information, including updated admission and deadline details, can be found online or obtained by contacting the Williams College International Education and Study Away Office or the current Williams-Exeter Programme Director.

International Education and Study Away Office

Hopkins Hall 2nd Floor, Room 210,
Williams College
Williamstown, MA 01267
[email protected]

Director of the Williams-Exeter Programme

Ephraim Williams House
145 Banbury Road
Oxford, UK OX2 7AN
From U.K.: +44 (0)1865 613400
From U.S.: 011 44 1865 613400

Director for 2020-2022: Steven Swoap, Professor of Biology, [email protected]

Exeter History

Exeter College has occupied a large part of its present site since its foundation in 1314. Its founder, Walter de Stapeldon, was a Devon man who rose from a humble background to become Bishop of Exeter and Treasurer of England under Edward II. One of his main intentions in endowing his new college was to provide an educated clergy for the parishes of his diocese, and, during the first centuries of its existence, Exeter drew its members from the south-western counties, and especially from Devon and Cornwall. At this time the College, then known as Stapeldon Hall, was a small and relatively poor foundation. Of this medieval college, all that remains is the building known as Palmer’s Tower, due east of the Chapel, which takes its name from a fifteenth-century Rector. In the next century the College’s fortunes were transformed. Sir William Petre, a former undergraduate, gave the College much new property, widened the area of its recruitment, and revised its constitution. The results were seen in the early seventeenth century, when Exeter became one of the leading colleges in the University, with a high reputation as a school for academics and learned men. Numbers expanded, and the present Hall was built in 1618, together with a matching chapel on the opposite side of the quad. The rest of the front quad was completed in stages between 1672 and 1710. After the university reforms of the 1850s, the Fellows of the College became a professional teaching body and undergraduate life took on its modern outlines. Team sports rose in popularity, the Junior Common Room was founded in 1887, and societies and discussion groups were numerous. Among twentieth-century undergraduates have been J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings; Lord Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Sir Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the four-minute mile; Alan Bennett, the author of The Madness of King George (1954); and the contemporary novelists, Will Self and Philip Pullman.