1096 – The first mention of studies being conducted in Oxford.
1167 – The rapid growth and development of the university are connected to King Henry II who prohibited teaching subjects of England at the University of Paris.
1248 – The Royal Charter formally assigned a university status to an educational institution. Theology, medicine, law, and free sciences are taught here.
The second half of the XIII century. The study of theology is actively developing and the first colleges are being formed. Until the 18th century, Oxford was involved in many political and religious disputes, but never stopped its educational activity and did not lose the status of one of the most important universities in the British Isles.
XIV-XIX centuries. Oxford and Cambridge have a monopoly on higher education – the creation of other universities in England is prohibited until the 1820s.
During World War I, Oxford lost about 40% of its students at the frontlines. After that, the university experienced significant modernization and began to train specialists in almost all fields of study. The learning process has become more systematic, which over time allowed to make the university one of the foremost scientific centres in Europe.
For almost all of its history, there has been gender inequality at the University of Oxford. In 1879, the first women's college was founded, and only in 1974, Oxford began to accept students, regardless of gender. Last female Oxford college opened its doors to men only in 2008.
Today, the university is not only one of the most prestigious, but also one of the most international universities in the world: 20% of bachelor’s students, 64% of graduate students and 41% of university employees came from other countries.
The University of Oxford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, located in the South East of England. Oxford University is one of the seven "ancient universities" of Great Britain and Ireland and is considered the very first university of the British Isles. Oxford is a part of The Russell Group, which consists of 24 of the best universities in England. Today, the University of Oxford ranks first in the world according to the Times Higher Education (THE)international ranking and it is fourth after MIT, Stanford and Harvard, according to QS ranking. More than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and other prized specialists worked here at different times. Except for medical specialtiesThe quotas do exist but they serve as a restrictive factor, the university does not have quotas for the admission of foreigners.
Multidisciplinary approach. Each college is a small academic community that brings together students and scientists from various fields of study. This approach creates a unique atmosphere of scientific creativity when scientists from vastly different fields of study can unite and create something new.
Personalized learning. Oxford has a unique tutorial system that allows a student to regularly visit his supervisor, work closely with him and constantly receive feedback on papers and other academic and scientific work.
Advanced scientific community.Thanks to the intention of the University of Oxford to gather the best of the best under its roof, some of the most talented students on the planet study here and real experts in their respective fields teach these students. Oxford presents a unique opportunity to be a part of the world’s scientific elite in the process of participating in large-scale research, as well as creating your own research projects.
Living in a country with a rich history.In parallel with studying at Oxford University, you can study English history and travel around the UK in your free time.
The international composition. In Oxford, you will not feel like a stranger, because students and teachers come here from all over the world. More than 43% of the students come from other countries.
Tuition. An obvious disadvantage of the University of Oxford is the high cost of tuition, which ranges from 27,798 USD to almost 79,727 USD per year. Of course, there is the possibility to obtain scholarships, including those covering all of the expenses, but it is extremely difficult to win a competition for such financing.
Confusing degree system. At Oxford, it is quite difficult to figure out to which of the three levels of the Bologna system a degree belongs. For example, programs in mathematics, engineering and chemistry award a master's degree – MMath, MEng, MChem, but belong to the undergraduate level. Master and doctoral studies are combined into a single group of graduate courses, which may also include some master's programs that are called Bachelor – Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil).
Lack of places in dormitories. Each year, over 8 thousand students attend the university. And if bachelor’s students are guaranteed to have a dormitory for at least 2 years, master’s and doctoral students get a place in only 72% of cases. At the same time, finding private housing is also not simple – the university sets requirements for the maximum distance between the place of residence and the building in which the student is studying.
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Faculties and colleges of the University of Oxford
Oxford is somewhat similar to a small federal state: in addition to the central university, there are 38 Oxford Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Hallsprivate educational institutions that belong to various religious orders, they do not have a status of a college which enjoy self-government and financial independence. That being said, Oxford colleges are unique multidisciplinary academic communities: they have no particular specialization, so a college student can study at any of the approximately 100 academic departments from theology and Oriental studies, to genetics and IT. All of them are united in four major areas:
The University also has the Department for Continuing Education, which offers online or part-time courses, summer schools, continuing education programs, etc.
There is a division of roles between the central university and its departments:
Organization of admission. The university oversees the admission process at all levels of training. However, the selection and enrollment of students for bachelor’s studies rest entirely on colleges. In case of the master’s studies, the University first enrols students, and only after that colleges can conduct their own selection process.
Material and technical base. Colleges organize accommodation, meals, leisure and other amenities for students. The university provides centralized services, including career counselling, and access to libraries, laboratories and museums.
Educational process. Most of the educational process is directly controlled by the University: the content of the curriculum, lectures, seminars, laboratory classes, exams and thesis defence, the delivery of degrees. A tutoring system is the colleges' area of responsibility.
The arrangement of the University of Oxford
The territory of the university is truly huge: each college has its own dining room, bar, library, lounge and dormitories. Most are located in the city centre or close to it, that is why university buildings are adjacent to churches, shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. In addition to entertainment facilities, the university has theatres, museums and libraries. Moreover, Oxford University has its own publishing house, which publishes the world-famous Oxford Dictionary. There is also an arboretum and the oldest botanical garden in England.
Classrooms and canteens of some colleges can be seen in a series of movies about the young wizard Harry Potter. Most often, the dining room of Christ Church College was shown in them.
Tuition cost at the University of Oxford
Type of studies
* It is necessary to check the current data on the university website.
Colleges provide a dormitory to all bachelor’s students for a minimum of two years (freshman and one of the following years). As for master’s and doctoral students, the university cannot provide rooms for everyone – only 72% of the first-year students receive them every year.
College dormitories offer a range of accommodation options: from single rooms to full-fledged apartments, on or off-campus. Due to this, the prices may vary. If there are not enough rooms, the student can contact the Graduate Accommodation Office to help them find private housing, which should not be further than the specified distance.
The process of admission to the University of Oxford
The procedure for admission to Oxford may vary depending on the level of education and the direction of study. One of the common requirements for all foreign applicants is a high level of English proficiency. As evidence, you must provide the results of international exams. Minimum requirements depend on the field of study and the program – some set standard level scores, some – higher-level scores. So, the admissions committee will require the student to have at least 7.5 for IELTS for a bachelor's degree in English literature, but you can get a master’s in organic chemistry with only IELTS 7.0 result.
Minimum language proficiency scores for admission to Oxford
A-levels is a compulsory training course for UK applicants preparing them for admission to universities. As a result of the course, a General Certificate of Education Advanced Level is issued. The duration of this program is 2 years. Students are free to choose the academic subjects that they need for further admission to universities in the UK – these are, as a rule, 3-4 disciplines that will be required for further education. A-Levels program consists of three semesters, after completion of training, graduates of the course pass exams, which, in turn, are accepted at the universities of Great Britain as entrance exams. Correspondence of disciplines with educational programs can be checked on the official website.
International Baccalaureate or IB for short is an alternative to the A-levels program. It involves two years of study at one of the schools accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The program includes 6 disciplines and writing a term paper at the end of the program. The cost of study ranges from 19,932 USD to 39,864 USD per year depending on the country of study and a school. If an applicant does not speak English well enough to study the IB course, he can enroll in a one-year Pre-IB program to improve his speaking, writing and comprehension skills. The cost of training is about 33,220 USD per year.
Stages of admission to the bachelor’s programs of Oxford
In 2018, the competition for the bachelor’s programs of Oxford was about 20000 students for 3250 places. You can prepare an application for admission immediately after the end of the first year of the preparatory program or after the first year at a university in the country of residence. An applicant does not have to immediately choose a college: you can submit an open application, based on which the university will offer you a list of options for admission.
The admission process to the bachelor’s programs at Oxford University includes the following steps:
Choose a specialty and program;
Take the appropriate preparatory program (A-Levels, IB or Foundation) for a period of 2 years;
Prepare the documents for admission;
Register for the admission tests at an authorized centre. Check which tests are required for which program on the site, and the locations of the receiving centres in your country are here;
Fill out the form through the UCAS system designed specifically for applicants to UK universities. You also need to pay the application review fee (27 USD for one program, 33 USD for several programs);
Pass an interview with a professor that will assess your academic potential;
All documents are provided in English. Documents in other languages must be translated and notarized.
Oxford master’s and doctoral studies – Graduate programs
The specifics of applying to graduate studies at the University of Oxford also depend on the study program. In some cases, the applicants are required to provide GRE or GMAT results. You can learn more about the requirements on the official website.
The process of enrolling in a master’s or doctoral program at the University of Oxford consists of the following steps:
Each program at Oxford has one or more deadlines for accepting applications:
In November. Applicants who applied for the first deadline participate in the competition for Oxford scholarships and will be the first to receive the decision of the admissions committee;
In January. The beginning of the year sees the main body of applicants. It is strongly recommended to apply before January if you require a CAS numberConfirmation of Acceptance for Studies for a student visa and/or if you are looking for a scholarship.
In March. At this point, only a small number of programs continue to accept applications. In addition, applicants will no longer be able to receive funding from the university.
All paper documents must be scanned for uploading. If uploading is not possible, the documents are sent by mail, but it must come to the university before the deadline. Uploaded applications that do not comply with the rules and do not meet the deadline are not considered. The list of documents and the requirements for their presentation should be clarified on the official website.
The specifics of admission to Oxford doctoral programs
Before applying for a PhD (in Oxford the name DPhil is often used), it is recommended to do the following:
Choose the right program. If there is no suitable specialization in the list, you can try to contact the teacher whose scientific background coincides with the interests of the candidate – perhaps he can become the supervisor of the future research;
Contact the Program Director or the Director of Studies to discuss your plans, scientific interests and goals, and then agree on the idea for a scientific project, find a suitable academic advisor and make sure that you meet the admission criteria.
The research proposalis one of the most important documents that must be submitted for admission to the PhD program. With its help, the candidate convinces representatives of the university that his work is valuable and can, therefore, benefit the university.
Basic requirements for the research plan include the following:
Volume – up to 3000 wordsnot including the source and reference list;
Name of the author, name of the program, plan;
The main idea, topic statement – an indication of the field of scientific knowledge and the relationship of the chosen topic with it. Justification of the importance of the chosen topic and the contribution that the study will make in this area;
Objectives, main research questions;
Literature review on a research topic;
Analysis of existing approaches, selection and justification of the approaches proposed in this study;
Research methods, required resources, potential research difficulties in terms of safety, ethics and so on;
In 2018 the selection committee of the University of Oxford received more than 45000 applications for admission, but most of the candidates are eliminated at the first stages of the competition. Most international students at Oxford come from China, the USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Germany.
The educational process at the University of Oxford
Education at Oxford is divided into trimesters, which are named after Christian saints as a tribute to the religious heritage of the university. Each trimester lasts for 8 weeks, during which the bulk of the lectures, workshops and seminars take place. The academic year in the University of Dublin is also divided into trimesters.
October – December
January – March
April – June
Some trimesters may be longer, depending on the study program. Sometimes students also stay in Oxford for about 10 weeks to do any additional written work or to help with interviews and open house days.
There are breaks between trimesters during which students usually go home, travel and/or get a job:
The Christmas vacation. Early/mid-December – mid-January;
The Easter vacation. Mid March – late April;
The long summer vacation. Late June – early/mid October.
The exact dates of trimesters and vacations are determined several years in advance and are indicated on the website.
Bachelor’s: course structure and exams
Most bachelor’s programs last for 3 years, in rare cases (mainly language specialities) 4-5 years. Training in some programs in the exact sciences also takes 4 years and graduates are awarded a master’s degree upon completion (MCompSciComputer Science, MEngEngineering Science, MPhysPhysics). Medical education includes two levels, the first of which is implemented in bachelor’s studies:pre-clinical stage (3 years for studies at BA in Medical Science) and clinical stage.
Oxford's bachelor’s programs involve complete immersion in academic work – about 40 hours a week. As in many British universities, at the beginning of training, students learn compulsory courses, over time they are offered a large number of elective disciplines. A special role in the educational process is played by the personalized support from tutors who conduct individual consultations every week throughout the training period in groups of 2-3 students.
Examinations take place at the end of the first (Prelims/Moderations) and last (Finals) year of study. Sometimes colleges also conduct internal exams at the beginning of each trimester, known as collections, to track students' progress. However, they have no effect on academic performance.
Depending on the program, the degree is awarded on the basis of examination or writing a thesis or term paper. A full description of each course can be found on the website.
Graduate courses: types and structure of courses, exams
Oxford offers more than 350 graduate courses, among which it is not always possible to clearly distinguish master's and doctoral programs. In general, they are divided into two main groups: taught courses and research courses.
Taught courses usually take 9-12 months if studied full-time, less often 2 years. Most of the time, they involve the study of specialized disciplines aimed at gaining professional skills, then the students must write a dissertation with the support of an academicsupervisor.
The main types of study programs at Oxford:
Master of Philosophy
Qualification exam at the end of 1 year
Thesis (30000–15000 words)
Master of Studies
Thesis (10000–15000 words)
and/or written exams
Master of Science by coursework
Coursework job (sometimes the thesis at 10000-15000 words)
Research courses have more than 120 programs, including doctoral programs (DPhil). Within the framework of these courses, it is expected to create a full-fledged research project with the support of a supervisor. At the same time, students are given the opportunity to use the university's extensive research base. In many programs, students initially enrol as Probationer Research Students (PRS), then apply for DPhil and confirm the new status by defending the research plan and an interview.
Main types of research programs at Oxford:
Doctor of Philosophy
Change of PRS status to DPhil4-6 trimesters after enrollment
DPhil Status Confirmations9 trimesters after enrollment
Oral exam viva voce
Master of Science by research
Change of PRS status on MScduring the first year of studies
Oral exam viva voce
There are also special four-year programs:
Doctoral training programs (CDTs, DTPs) leading to DPhil or DEng. Implemented with the support of partners – companies and other universities.
Combined Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy (1 + 3 programs), involving a phased doctorate. Upon receipt, the application is considered for both programs, but the training course itself is merged together. Successful completion of the MSc program is required for transition to the DPhil stage.
A full description of each course can be found on the website.
MBA at Oxford University
MBA program or The Executive MBA in Oxford will allow you to learn more about the intricacies of doing business abroad. Since 1965, Saïd Business School, which is engaged in the preparation of future masters in business management, operates as a part of the university. To enter the MBA, you must additionally pass GMAT or GRE exams, have at least a bachelor's degree in economics, law or business and have relevant professional experience. The remaining requirements are similar to other master’s programs. The cost of training is 76,007 USD per year. An MBA can be obtained both in one year by applying for Master of Business Administration or in two years at the more advanced Oxford 1 + 1 MBA course.
The University of Oxford collaborates with companies, universities and research institutes around the world, which allows its students to study abroad almost free of charge for their chosen specialization. Oxford offers an internship at the most prestigious universities in Europe and America (Australian National University, Princeton University, Peking University, Kyoto University, etc.), visit a summer school or go on an expedition for up to 5 weeks to one of the exotic countries. In addition, university students have the opportunity to participate in the program Erasmus+ and receive scholarships of about 674 USD per month.
The University of Oxford offers courses in individual disciplines as well as comprehensive continuing education programs. Despite the minimal live communication between the student and the teacher, distance learning courses help a huge number of people to get a world-class education. The average length of individual disciplinary courses is 1.5–2 months. During this time, you can learn to write English poetry, study the theory of knowledge or learn all about sleep deprivation. The cost of one course is from 332 USD. A complete list of online learning programs is available on the official website.
Scholarships and grants at Oxford
Most people think the University of Oxford is exclusively for wealthy students and royalty. On the one hand, this is quite reasonable: the cost of a course in Oxford can only be compared with the cost of studying in Cambridge, and 40% of first-year students come after finishing elite private schools. On the other hand, like all leading universities, Oxford is interested in gathering the most brilliant students and thereby maintaining the status of one of the best universities in the world. Therefore, each student can apply for financial assistance – from special grants for citizens of underdeveloped countries to faculty scholarships for excellent academic performance or success in research.
In general, students of master's and doctoral programs have more opportunities to receive a grant compared to bachelor’s students. The university itself and private foundations offer financial assistance to young specialists (Hill Foundation Scholarships, Palgrave Brown Scholarship and others).
Scholarships can fully cover the costs of studying at Oxford University, and some grants even include funds for sightseeing and leisure trips.
On the official website, you can check the cost of the course and the scholarships available for it, as well as find a general list of grants and available scholarships from partners.
Prospects after graduating from the University of Oxford
According to statistics, 91% of graduates of the University of Oxford find work within the first 6 months after graduation or continue to study further. Employment assistance is provided by the university organization Career Service – it selects suitable vacancies, teaches students to prepare documents for employment correctly and plan their career.
Share of employed graduates
Banks and investment companies
Media and journalism
Sports and tourism
Advertising, marketing and communications
The Career Center has developed a special mobile application called Oxford Careers Fair Plus, which can be downloaded for free on the official website of the university. It allows you to find out all the necessary information about employers, new vacancies and future dates of job fairs.
It should be kept in mind that it is not so easy for foreigners to stay in the UK after graduation. Until recently, the only opportunity was to find work in a company that is a licensed sponsor – in just 4 monthsthe maximum amount of time a student can stay in the country with a Tier 4 student visa. However, starting in the fall of 2020, the British government resumes issuing the UK post-study work visa for graduates, which allows you to look for work for 2 years after graduation with the subsequent switching to a regular work visa.
Scientific achievements of the University of Oxford
In 1993, Brian Bellhouse of the University of Oxford invented a method of vaccination without a needle.
In 2011, as a result of one of the fundamental cancer studies done in Oxford, a gene was discovered that is responsible for the sublimation of malignant cells.
In 2013, in collaboration with Harvard, Oxford scientists discovered the gene responsible for human growth. This was a byproduct of studies of heart disease. During the experiment, a pattern was revealed indicating that tall people have a greater risk of developing cancer of certain organs.
At Oxford University, a huge number of discoveries are made in the field of cosmology – in particular, Mars is being studied, theories of the creation of the Universe are being developed, the trajectories of the galaxies’ movement are being studied. For example, it was here that it was established that after about 5 billion years, our galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy. And in 2013, scientists at Oxford University discovered the "glass planet", the surface of which is strewn with an analogue of earthly glass.
Stephen Hawking was an outstanding theoretical physicist, cosmologist and popularizer of science, who wrote one of the best-selling non-fiction books in the world – A Brief History of Time. Being born in the city of Oxford he graduated from the University of Oxford with a bachelor's degree.
Margaret Thatcher, the 71st Minister of Great Britain, the "Iron Lady" was not only an important political figure of the end of the Cold War era and a major reformer in her country but also a cult figure: The Times Magazine included her in the hundred main personalities of the 20th century. Thatcher graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Somerville College, University of Oxford.
Oscar Wilde was the author of the cult work Portrait of Dorian Gray and one of the most famous playwrights of the Victorian era. He earned a bachelor's degree in classical literature from Magdalen College, University of Oxford.
Aldous Huxley was an outstanding English writer, author of the dystopian novel Brave New World. He studied English literature at Balliol College, University of Oxford.
Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher of the 17th century, whose ideas significantly influenced modern geometry, ethics, physics and history, one of the creators of the theory of state sovereignty. Hobbes entered Oxford University at the age of 15 and successfully graduated from it.
Jonathan Swift was a 17th-century Anglo-Irish writer, author of Gulliver's Travels. As an Englishman by birth, Swift defended the rights of the Irish throughout his life. Graduate of Hertford College.
John Locke was a 17th-century British philosopher. Locke's ideas influenced the development of political liberalism, and also influenced the work of Rousseau and Voltaire. Locke is recognized as one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment. He received a bachelor's degree in medicine from Christ Church College.
Timothy Berners is a British scientist, inventor of URL, HTTP, HTML and the creator of many revolutionary developments in the field of information technology. One of the creators of the Internet.
Interesting facts about the University of Oxford
The first foreign student was enrolled in Oxford in 1190, he was a certain Emo of Friesland.
The famous work Alice in Wonderland was written by Lewis Carroll at the University of Oxford.
John Tolkien, who wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was inspired by the look of the gothic-style campus of the University of Oxford when describing castles.
Cambridge University was founded by dissidents of Oxford, who left the university as a result of a scandal – one of the students was accused of murder (and, perhaps, committed it – it is impossible to prove this today).
World-famous "British scientists" are, for the most part, just researchers at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, since they account for a huge part of modern fundamental research, discoveries, and Nobel Prizes. They are often grouped under the name Oxbridge.
The rowing competition between Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge Boat Race) is a national event: every year on the last Saturday of March or the first Saturday of April, the British go to watch the competitions live or through the broadcast.