Portal:University of Oxford

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Coat of arms of the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford (informally "Oxford University" or "Oxford"), located in the English city of Oxford, is the oldest surviving university in the English-speaking world and is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Although the exact date of foundation remains unclear, there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge, where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two "ancient universities" have many common features and are sometimes collectively and colloquially referred to as "Oxbridge". For more than a century, Oxford has served as the home of the Rhodes Scholarship, which brings students from a number of countries to study at Oxford as postgraduates. (more about the university...)

The colleges of the university, of which there are 38, are autonomous self-governing institutions. All students and teaching staff belong to one of the colleges, or to one of the six Permanent Private Halls (religious foundations that admit students to study at Oxford). The colleges provide tutorials and classes for students, while the university provides lectures and laboratories, and sets the degree examinations. Most colleges accept undergraduate and postgraduate students, although some are for graduate students only; All Souls does not have students, only Fellows, while Harris Manchester is for students over the age of 21. All the colleges now admit both men and women: the last single-sex college, St Hilda's, began to admit men in 2008. The oldest colleges are University, Balliol, and Merton, established between 1249 and 1264, although there is dispute over when each began teaching. The most recent new foundation is Kellogg College, founded in 1990, while the most recent overall is Green Templeton College, formed in 2008 as the result of a merger of two existing colleges. (more about the colleges...)

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John Wallis

The university's position of Keeper of the Archives dates from 1634, although its records pre-date this, and Oxford claims to have one of the longest continuous record-keeping traditions in Britain. Records were initially kept in the Priory of St Frideswide, moving to the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in the 14th century. The archives were left in considerable disarray by a burglary in 1544, and remained in chaos until Brian Twyne was appointed the first Keeper of the Archives in 1634 as a reward for his work preparing new statutes for the university. Under Twyne and his successor as Keeper (Gerard Langbaine), the archives were moved into one of the rooms in the Tower of the Five Orders in the Bodleian Library; three of the wooden presses that were built at that time to store them are still in use. The third to hold the position, John Wallis (pictured), prepared an index of the collection that was still used in the 20th century. (Full article...)

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Sir Bernard Williams (1929–2003) was an English moral philosopher, described by The Times as the "most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time". He was the author of 11 books of philosophy, including Problems of the Self (1973), Moral Luck (1981), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), and Truth And Truthfulness: An Essay In Genealogy (2002). He studied Literae Humaniores at Balliol College, Oxford before becoming a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. As Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Williams became known internationally for his attempt to reorient the study of moral philosophy to history and culture, politics and psychology, and, in particular, to the Greeks. Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle once said of him that he "understands what you're going to say better than you understand it yourself, and sees all the possible objections to it, all the possible answers to all the possible objections, before you've got to the end of your sentence". (more...)

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Coat of arms of Green Templeton College, Oxford

Green Templeton College is the newest college of the university, having been formed in 2008 from the merger of Green College and Templeton College (the first merger of two colleges in the modern history of Oxford). It is located on Woodstock Road to the north of the city centre, on the former site of Green College, and its buildings include the 18th-century Radcliffe Observatory. The college is for postgraduate studies only, with about 500 students; the Principal is the historian Colin Bundy. Green College, established in 1979 and named after the benefactor Cecil H. Green, had a focus on medicine, education, the environment and social sciences. Templeton College, founded in 1965 as the Oxford Centre for Management Studies and renamed in 1983 as a result of a donation from Sir John Templeton, concentrated on management and business studies. The college's coat of arms combines elements from its two predecessors – the Rod of Aesculapius (medicine) for Green and the Nautilus shell (evolution and renewal) for Templeton. The crest on the coat of arms displays a representation of the transit of Venus across the sun, since the 1769 transit led to the construction of the Observatory. (more...)

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The tower of Magdalen College seen from the University of Oxford Botanic Garden.  Established in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research, it contains over 8,000 different plant species.
Credit: Harshil Shah
The tower of Magdalen College seen from the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. Established in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research, it contains over 8,000 different plant species.

Did you know...

Articles from Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives about the university and people associated with it:

Clement of Dunblane


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The main quadrangle of Worcester College; on the left are the medieval buildings known as "the cottages", the most substantial surviving part of Gloucester College, Worcester's predecessor on the same site.
Credit: Dbmag9
The main quadrangle of Worcester College; on the left are the medieval buildings known as "the cottages", the most substantial surviving part of Gloucester College, Worcester's predecessor on the same site.