Portal:University of Oxford

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The University of Oxford Portal

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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Selected article

Nuffield College tower

The buildings of Nuffield College are to the west of Oxford's city centre, on the former site of the largely disused basin of the Oxford Canal. Nuffield College was founded in 1937 after a donation to the University of Oxford by the car manufacturer Lord Nuffield. The initial designs of the architect Austen Harrison, which were heavily influenced by Mediterranean architecture, were rejected by Nuffield, who described them as "un-English". Harrison then aimed for "something on the lines of Cotswold domestic architecture", as Nuffield wanted. The college was built to the revised plans between 1949 and 1960. During construction, the tower, about 150 feet (46 m) tall, was redesigned to hold the college's library. Reaction to the architecture has been largely unfavourable. It has been described as "Oxford's biggest monument to barren reaction" and "a hodge-podge from the start". However, the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner thought that the tower helped the Oxford skyline and predicted that it would "one day be loved". The writer Simon Jenkins doubted Pevsner's prediction, though, saying that "vegetation" was the "best hope" for the tower, and for the rest of the college too. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Sir Robert Catesby
Robert Catesby (c.1572–1605) was the leader of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was educated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, but left without taking his degree, presumably to avoid swearing the Oath of Supremacy. He married a Protestant in 1593, but when in 1598 his father and wife each died, he may have reverted to Catholicism. Catesby planned to kill James I by blowing up the House of Lords with gunpowder, the prelude to a popular revolt during which a Catholic monarch would be restored to the English throne. Early in 1604 he began to recruit friends to his cause, including Thomas Wintour, John Wright, Thomas Percy, and Guy Fawkes. He helped bring a further eight conspirators into the plot, whose gestation was planned for 5 November 1605. An anonymous letter alerted the authorities, and on the eve of the planned explosion, during a search of Parliament, Fawkes was found guarding the barrels of gunpowder. News of his arrest caused the other plotters to flee London. Catesby made a final stand at Holbeche House in Staffordshire, where he was shot, and later found dead. As a warning to others, his body was exhumed and his head exhibited outside Parliament. (more...)

Selected college or hall

The coat of arms of the college

All Souls College was founded by Henry Chichele (the Archbishop of Canterbury) and King Henry VI in 1438. There are no undergraduates at the college, although there have been at some stages of its history, but the Codrington Library is open to some students from the wider university. All of the college's members are Fellows, including many distinguished scholars. Several of the university's professorships are attached to the college, such as the Chichele Professorships and the Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature. Many academics from overseas spend time at the college as Visiting Fellows. All Souls is centrally located on the High Street, near the Bodleian Library and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The chapel contains a complete set of misericords from the 15th century. The architect Nicholas Hawksmoor remodelled much of All Souls in the 18th century. The customs of the college include a feast every one hundred years (last held in 2001) at which the Fellows parade around All Souls, carrying flaming torches and singing the "Mallard Song", to commemorate an incident when a mallard is said to have flown out of the foundations as it was being built. (Full article...)

Selected picture

The contemporary approach to the "dreaming spire" taken by the Saïd Business School. The School was established at the University of Oxford in 1996, and the buildings were completed in 2001.
Credit: Anders Sandberg
The contemporary approach to the "dreaming spire" taken by the Saïd Business School. The School was established at the University of Oxford in 1996, and the buildings were completed in 2001.

Did you know...

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

Wolfson College, Oxford

Selected quotation

Selected panorama

A view from the tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin: to the left, Brasenose College, with the spire of the chapel of Exeter College behind; in the centre, the Radcliffe Camera; to the right, All Souls College with the tower of St Peter-in-the-East (now the library of St Edmund Hall) behind
Credit: Laemq
A view from the tower of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin: to the left, Brasenose College, with the spire of the chapel of Exeter College behind; in the centre, the Radcliffe Camera; to the right, All Souls College with the tower of St Peter-in-the-East (now the library of St Edmund Hall) behind