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University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2016 entry

Section 3: Student Life

This version was produced by the Oxford University Accessible Resources Acquisition and Creation Unit in 2015.

[Copyright notice]

This copy has been made for the use of visually impaired people and may not be further copied (including any electronic copying or transmission), without permission of the copyright holder, save as may be permitted by law.

[Transcriber's Note]

To ease navigation, heading levels 1, 2 and 3 are used throughout the document.

Print page numbers are recorded at the point where they occur and are given on a separate line enclosed in square brackets.

Contents lis

[Copyright notice] 1

[Transcriber's Note] 1

A day in the life 2

James 3

Henna 3

Nicole 3

Jamie 3

Clubs and societies 4

Sport 4

Music 4

Drama 5


Charity 5

Media 6

The Oxford Union Society* 6

In and around Oxford 6

Cowley Road 6

Iffley Road 6

River Thames or “Isis” 6

Green spaces 6

Living out 6

City centre 6

Arts & theatre 7

Special events 7

Museums 7

Jericho 7

What’s the best… 7

...Coffee shop? 7

...Night out? 7

...Ice cream? 7

...Lunch? 8

...College? 8

A day in the life 2

James 2

Henna 2

Nicole 2

Jamie 3

Clubs and societies 3

Sport 3

Music 3

Drama 4


Charity 5

Media 5

The Oxford Union Society* 5

In and around Oxford 5

Cowley Road 5

Iffley Road 5

River Thames or “Isis” 5

Green spaces 5

Living out 6

City centre 6

Arts & theatre 6

Special events 6

Museums 6

Jericho 6

What’s the best… 6

...Coffee shop? 6

...Night out? 6

...Ice cream? 7

...Lunch? 7

...College? 7


A day in the life

Can’t quite imagine it? Here are some examples of what a typical day can be like as an Oxford student. Of course the details are different for different subjects, and will vary depending on what you like to do in your spare time. See some example weekly timetables at ox.ac.uk/week


4th-year Physics student

8.30AM: Gym - it’s a great way to start the day, wakes me up and gets the endorphins going.

10AM: Lectures

12AM: Lunch I’m trying to do packed lunches at the moment to save a bit of cash, but I might buy coffee.

1PM: Library I might do a bit of admin for Teach Green – a volunteering project where we go into primary schools and teach them about the environment – or work on a job application, until I get settled. Then I get on with my problem set: a series of questions to work through in preparation for next week’s tutorial, drawing on things I’ve learnt in lectures and studied in labs.

6PM: Teach Green committee meeting

6.45PM: Dinner in college – it’s a nice time to get everyone together and catch up on the day.

Evening: If it’s a busy week, I’ll go and work in the college library; if not, I’ll meet up with some friends.


1st-year PPE student

7AM: Get up and ready

9AM: Library – all economics students are there. I tie up some loose ends on my economics essay.

11AM: Time for a cup of tea – I go to the JCR for tea and biscuits and spend half an hour chilling out.

10.45AM: Production meeting – we’re trying to put on a Molière play, so we need to sort out bids, the budget, auditions and things like that.

12.30AM: Lunch, and then start some reading for an essay

2PM: Logic class – this is part of the Philosophy course. It’s like learning a language, and helps you to see how good an argument is.

4PM: Time for another cup of tea – During tea, I complete my University Challenge application.

4.30PM: Reading for an essay. The essay title is ‘Is it irrational to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow?’

Evening: Dinner with friends at a restaurant in town.



1st-year History & Politics student

6AM: Rowing – I cycle down to Christ Church Meadow to go rowing. I’m a morning person, so like getting up early!

8.30AM: Shower and breakfast

10AM: Lecture on US Politics.

11AM: Reading – I head back to college to do some reading.

1PM: Lunch at college.

2M: Relax for a while, and do some Japanese study ready for this evening’s class at the Language Centre.

5PM: Tutorial – with two others. We go through our essays that we submitted yesterday and discuss our arguments.

6PM: Japanese class – I’m enjoying starting to get to know the characters in the group now - it’s a real mix!

8PM: Meet some friends in town to have dinner.

Evening: Prepare some work for a class that I am teaching tomorrow at a local school, which is organised through Schools Plus.


2nd-year Medicine student

9AM: Lecture – 9am is usually when teaching starts, although we have a few precious 10am starts! I grab breakfast on the go and usually sneak in at the back of the lecture. The lecture is on virology.

10AM: Living anatomy – we get to prod and poke each other! Today, we’re looking at cranial nerves so we test sensory reactions like taste.

11.30AM: I popped in to an optional Computer Aided Learning class

12.30AM: Biochemistry café for lunch with some friends.

2PM: Tutorial in college – We discussed essays and then did a short presentation on a pathogenic bacteria. Everyone picked the most gruesome thing they could. I went for syphilis. The tutorial was bigger than usual, because we were doing presentations.

3.30PM: Home – finished off my essay work and prepared for an upcoming tutorial.

6PM: Dinner

7PM: Rehearsal – I play trombone in the Jazz Orchestra so I cycled down to the Music Faculty for the rehearsal.

Evening: Catch up with friends to round off the day.


Clubs and societies

Visit ousu.org/get-involved/clubs-societies to explore over 400 clubs and societies

Whatever your level of expertise, you can become involved in any club or society that interests you. ‘Freshers’ Fair’ at the start of your first term can help you find out what is available – and if a society or team does not exist, it’s easy to set one up.


It isn’t all rowing and rugby at Oxford. You can play for fun, try a new sport or just get fit. But, if you want to represent the University, you have the chance to join a rich tradition and some very competitive teams.

Oxford is currently ranked among the top British universities for sport thanks to our talented students. As well as the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) championships and other tournaments, there are inter-university competitions and college leagues.

You have the use of some of the best sporting facilities of any university, on three main sites: the Iffley Road sports complex, the University Parks sports grounds and the Marston Road sports ground. Iffley Road is where many clubs train and compete; it boasts a fitness gym, an all-weather running track, an Olympic-standard hockey pitch, a 25-metre swimming pool, rowing tank, cricket school, sports hall and dojo, along with provision for Association football, lawn tennis and rugby.

Cricketers play on the picturesque University Parks - the only place in Britain where spectators can watch first-class cricket for free.

Most of the colleges have facilities of their own, from squash courts and fitness suites to boathouses, cricket pitches and lively clubhouses.

The University’s Sports Federation helps to run more than 80 clubs – including traditional sports, new and esoteric activities, and everything in between – for anyone from the interested beginner to the international athlete. Whether you want to play in a serious team or a college kickabout, or you just enjoy running, swimming, or cycling, you will find what you are looking for here.

The University’s top athletes gain the status of ‘Blue’ – an accolade that stems from the first boat race in 1829, when Cambridge tied light blue ribbons to their boat and Oxford adopted Christ Church’s dark blue.




From classical to jazz, through indie, rock, folk and electronic, all the styles of music you could dream of (and then some) are represented at Oxford. Whether you want to sing, perform, DJ or just listen, you will find what you are looking for here.

For live music, the city’s big venues (O2 Academy, New Theatre) regularly draw national and international acts. Many smaller venues host local unsigned acts, as well as regular jam sessions and open mic nights. RockSoc, the rock music society, spawns many student bands and organises group trips to gigs. If you prefer Classical music, you’ll enjoy Oxford’s wealth of lunchtime and evening concerts, often taking place in spectacular settings such as the Sheldonian Theatre or the Holywell Music Room.

If you’re looking to practise an instrument or form a band, then check out your college’s music room – they’re often well-equipped with piano, amps and drums. College parties are a great place to try DJing, and many colleges have their own choirs, orchestras and bands.

The Oxford University Music Society (OUMS) runs four orchestras, a wind orchestra, a big band, a brass band, a string ensemble and the University chorus.

Singers can choose from traditional college choirs, Glee-style a cappella groups, and non-auditioned vocal ensembles.


Choral and organ awards

Oxford’s chapel music environment is extremely lively, offering scope for outstanding work in liturgical music and also experience in concert performance, touring, and recording. Whatever subject you’re planning to apply for, you can audition for a choral or organ award in September. For details see: ox.ac.uk/choralorgan

Choral scholars gain invaluable performance experience and training at a high level through membership of a college chapel choir. Many of today’s leading singers, such as Toby Spence, Emma Kirkby and Robin Blaze, were choral scholars.

Organ scholars play a crucial part in Oxford music. In some colleges they direct the music in chapel; in others they assist professional directors. The role develops skills in choral accompanying, direction, and administration. Many Oxford organ scholars have gone on to become celebrated musicians whilst others have attained distinction beyond music, including a Prime Minister and a Hollywood actor.

“University is a great chance to pick up something new, make a difference, and learn new skills that are not taught in your degree.”

Jacob, 4th year

Choral open day

An open day on Saturday 25 April 2015 provides workshops and the opportunity to join a college choir for Evensong. See: http://www.music.ox.ac.uk/apply/undergraduate/open-days



Visit www.ouds.org to see more about Oxford University Drama

Oxford is full of theatre spaces -everything from the Burton Taylor Studio, which hosts student shows every week, to the nationally-renowned Oxford Playhouse which hosts two large-scale student productions a term, to theatre spaces inside colleges. More adventurous producers might aim for an outdoor ‘garden show’ in the summer term, or put on a play in a nightclub or chapel.

On stage, backstage or in the audience, you can take part in a great variety of traditional, contemporary and experimental productions.

Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) represents a huge body of students interested in making theatre. Each year they tour internationally with a Shakespeare production directed, performed and produced by students. www.ouds.org

Tabs Are For Flying (TAFF) is the society for those who work on the technical side of theatre and theatre design, including stage and production management, lighting, sound, props, and costume and set design. www.tabsareforflying.co.uk

The Oxford Imps perform improvised comedy every Monday night in term, and go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a month each summer. They are a training and performance company, offering a boot camp and workshops for a new generation of comedians and actors. www.oxfordimps.com

The Oxford Revue was the brainchild of Michael Palin in the early 1950s. Since then the Oxford Revue has spawned some of Britain’s best loved writers and comedians, from Alan Bennett and Rowan Atkinson to Stewart Lee and Katy Brand.


Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor

Each year a major theatrical figure is appointed to give a series of lectures and workshops at St Catherine’s College. The current Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre is Stephen Fry. Previous professors include Stephen Sondheim, Kevin Spacey and Meera Syal.



Run by students, for students, Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) exists to enhance the student experience at Oxford. A team of sabbatical and part-time officers, elected annually by the whole student body, work hard to ensure that Oxford’s 22,000 student voices are heard within the University and the local community - international or home student, undergraduate or postgraduate, OUSU represents all Oxford students.

OUSU deals with University-wide issues like bursary negotiations and student support, representation on national debates surrounding higher education and its funding, liaising with the local community and much, much more.


OUSU - Working on your behalf

See: www.ousu.org


Oxford offers a wealth of opportunities for volunteering, many of which can be found through the Oxford Hub. www.oxfordhub.org

OUSU’s “Raise and Give” campaign (RAG) organises fun fundraising activities.



Oxide is a student-run radio station combining a diverse playlist with talk shows and interviews. www.oxideradio.co.uk

The Cherwell and Oxford Student newspapers publish everything from restaurant reviews and crosswords to investigative journalism and sports reports. www.cherwell.org, www.oxfordstudent.com

Isis Magazine is Britain’s oldest student publication. www.isismagazine.org.uk

The Oxford Union Society*

*Not to be confused with the students’ union (OUSU)

Established in 1823, the world’s most famous debating society aims to promote debate and discussion not just in the University, but across the globe. The Union is also a social centre and there are frequent lectures by all kinds of figures, from Ronald Reagan, the Dalai Lama and Tanni Grey-Thompson to Johnny Depp, Stephen Hawking and Shakira.



In and around Oxford

There are around 40,000 students at Oxford’s two universities (Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University). They make up a big part of the city’s 150,000 population. The city is youthful and cosmopolitan, with plenty to see and do.

Cowley Road

The area around the Cowley Road is vibrant and diverse. Its restaurants cater to all tastes -Jamaican, Thai, Polish, Kurdish, Italian, Lebanese and more. It is also home to lots of pubs and live music venues, including the O2 Academy which attracts many high-profile acts

Iffley Road

Home to the University sports centre and a lot of students ‘living out’, this part of town has a community feel

“The best thing about Oxford as a city is Iffley in all its glory.” George, 3rd year

River Thames or “Isis”

Summer Eights, the colleges’ rowing competition, takes place every June and attracts large numbers of students supporting their college from the river bank. Whether you are sporty or not, you can enjoy the buzz and party atmosphere at the event, which lasts several days.

“In summer a great thing to do is get a group of friends together and cycle up the river for a pub lunch.” Jacob, 4th year

Green spaces

“The green spaces around Oxford are beautiful. It’s a bustling city but it also has gardens and parks with rivers, cows(!) and lovely views of the dreaming spires.” Ella, 2nd year

“The Botanic Garden is my hidey hole, it’s a. haven of tranquillity.” Emily, 1st year


Living out

All students live in college accommodation in their first and usually last year, so there’s no need to look for accommodation before you arrive. In many colleges, you can ‘live in’ for your whole course. If you do have to ‘live out’ of college (or you prefer to) you can share a house with friends or rent a room in a family home. Most students who ‘live out’ do so in the area around the Cowley and Iffley Roads, or in Jericho.

City centre

You will find all the usual high street stores, as well as smaller independent retailers. The famous Covered Market has everything from quirky fashion boutiques to pie shops. If you want to go on a spending spree, you can catch a coach to the enormous Westfield shopping centre in West London. Many student club nights are held in the city.

“The city centre is so alive with people and music and colour.” Louise, 1st year

Arts & theatre

Modern Art Oxford is one of the UK’s most exciting and influential contemporary art spaces, with an international reputation for ambitious and innovative projects

The Oxford Playhouse is one of Britain’s leading theatres, with regular high-profile productions. The New Theatre stages a variety of touring shows, including West End musicals and famous comedians.

Special events

Summer events include Cowley Road Carnival, the Jericho Street Fair and Oxford Pride. Historic events include May Morning, where crowds gather at sunrise on 1 May to hear choristers sing an invocation to summer from the top of Magdalen College tower.

“My best Oxford memory (so far) is spending May Morning with friends, watching Magdalen Choir sing at sunrise.” Ben, 3rd year


“I’ve only visited the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers, but I still haven’t been able to fully explore them. The special events are really enjoyable -Northern Lights at the Pitt Rivers had a beautiful atmosphere to it, and the Ashmolean s Egyptomania-themed LiveFriday was right up my street” Jordan, 1st year


Just north-west of the centre, the part of town known as Jericho is famous for its cocktail bars and high-end restaurants, although Pepper’s burgers are also legendary. There’s also an arthouse cinema and picturesque walks across Port Meadow.


What’s the best…

We asked hundreds of Oxford students for their favourite places to spend free time in the city. These are just some of their responses:

“Park End Wednesdays, Wahoo Fridays, dinner at itsu, studying in the Bod, Turf Tavern, spending hours in Blackwells, exploring the charity shops, killing off a hangover in Starbucks, seeing student plays at Keble O’Reilly Theatre and obviously ice cream at G&D’s!” Giorgia, 1st year

...Coffee shop?

“The best thing about Oxford as a city is the coffee shops.” Amber, 1st year

“My favourite coffee house in Oxford is Missing Bean.” Marco, 3rd year

“Combibos - best coffee shop and breakfast in Oxford!” Orin, 2nd year

“Brew - it’s in North Oxford, very relaxed and very friendly, and great coffee too!” Ben, 3rd year

“My favourite place in Oxford is having coffee with friends in the Turl Street Kitchen.” Melissa, 1st year

...Night out?

“The best part of Oxford is definitely the Park End cheese floor, crazy tunes and a fantastic atmosphere.” Simon, 1st year

“Café Tarifa is my favourite cocktail bar, where they do some amazing film and music events.” Ida, 2nd year

“Itchy Feet club nights! Expect a night of good company, dancing, and 50s music.” Sarah, 1st year

“The nightlife is a lot better than I expected. I mean the pubs, clubs and even venues where bands perform like Freuds and the O2/Arts Bar. I really enjoy the funk & soul and 80s nights.” Mili, 2nd year

“Hassan’s is exactly the kind of food you want at 3AM after a night of hardcore dancing in Park End.” Holly, 2nd year


...Ice cream?

Founded in 1994 by two Oxford graduates, the three G&Ds ice cream cafés are a student favourite, providing an alternative to pubs and clubs for late-night socialising. Their ‘flavour petitions’ allow you to request any kind of ice cream you can imagine.

“My best Oxford memory so far is receiving a G&D’s ice cream cake for my birthday.” Charith, 1st year

“Where else can you get ice cream in a cafe at midnight?” Ryan, 2nd year


“My favourite restaurant in Oxford is Atomic Pizza.” Brigitte, 3rd year

“There’s an amazing sandwich shop on Broad Street that sells the best houmous and falafel wraps in THE WORLD.” Emily, 1st year

“My favourite place in Oxford is having scones at the Vaults and Gardens.” Farzeha, 3rd year

“I would like to thank Najar’s Place just outside St. John’s College for introducing me to a good falafel wrap. I have never looked back since.” Niloy, 1st year

“Taylor’s - a very convenient sandwich shop, and my number one stop on the way to lectures.” Charles, 1st year


Most students here will tell you that their own college is the best in Oxford. That’s just as true for the third of undergraduates who are at a college they didn’t specify when they applied – in general, they develop just as fierce a loyalty, if not more so!

“Before you know it you’ll be referring to Oxford as ‘home’. Your college becomes your family, and your friends become your siblings.” Orin, 2nd year

“It’s not like school where you know only the people in your classes: the year groups interact so much.” Louise, 1st year

“I wish someone had told me that my college was so friendly.” Simon, 1st year

“Karaoke night in the college bar gave me a real sense of how inclusive the college system is.” Sarah, 1st year

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