University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

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Museums and collections

oxford museums – full of wonderful treasures

Oxford has collections of international importance – databanks for research, teaching and study – full of wonderful treasures that anyone can enjoy. Here we highlight the five major museums and the Botanic Garden, but there are other collections in departments and colleges. All welcome volunteers to work with the public or the collection.

Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean is the world’s oldest public museum and one of the greatest museums of art and archaeology outside London. The collections range from artefacts of the world’s great ancient civilisations; to Renaissance Europe; right up to contemporary art from around the world. Following a historic redevelopment project in 2009, the Museum opened 39 new galleries and a range of state-of-the-art facilities which provide hands-on access to teaching collections. A new special exhibition centre hosts a major international exhibitions programme which will be of interest to all students, and of particular use to students in Ancient and Modern History, Fine Art, History of Art, Archaeology, Classics and Anthropology.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The spectacular neo-Gothic architecture of a Grade I listed building houses the University’s zoological, entomological and geological specimens. Among its famous features are a dodo, the first dinosaur to be scientifically identified, and the swifts in the tower. The Archaeology, Biology and Earth Sciences courses make use of its staff expertise and collections.

Museum of the History of Science

The world’s oldest purpose-built museum building houses an unrivalled collection of scientific instruments from antiquity to the 20th century. Astrolabes, sundials, quadrants, mathematical and optical instruments and apparatus associated with chemistry, natural philosophy and medicine are displayed, alongside temporary exhibitions. The collections are used in teaching History of Science and History of Art.

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers is a museum of ethnography and world archaeology, celebrated for its period feel and the density of its displays. Courses that use the museum’s resources include Human Sciences, Archaeology and Anthropology, Geography, Classics, History of Art and Fine Art. It was founded in 1884 when General Pitt-Rivers, an influential figure in the development of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, gave his collection to the University of Oxford. In addition to a collection which now numbers over half a million objects, the collection includes extensive photographic and sound archives.

Bate Collection

The Bate Collection is one of the most magnificent collections of musical instruments in the world. The Bate has more than 2,000 instruments from the Renaissance, through the baroque, classical and romantic periods up to modern times. More than a thousand instruments are on display, by all the most important makers and from pre-eminent collectors. Music and History of Art undergraduates make use of the collection.

Botanic Garden

This acts as a reference collection of 4,500 types of plant: it is the most compact yet diverse collection of plants in the world, and the oldest such garden in Britain. Plants grown here support teaching and research, in the University and elsewhere, and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The 130-acre Harcourt Arboretum is also part of the Botanic Garden and is the site of a new wildflower meadow restoration project. The garden contributes to the Biological Sciences and Medicine courses.


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IT Services

The university wi-fi network covers most of central Oxford, including parks and pubs

Mobile Oxford

Whether you need maps, library books, the next bus, or even collection times at the nearest postbox, Mobile Oxford is here to help.

Podcasts and iTunes U

Public lectures, teaching material, interviews with leading academics – all available to download for free.

IT learning programme

You can choose from more than 200 different free or low-cost courses each term. From fundamental skills in the common Office applications through to web design, programming and multi-media, you can find it all at

Getting started

This webpage will tell you all about what to bring and how to get started with IT at Oxford, as well as how to get help if you need it:

Language Centre

You can learn a new language or keep up an old one, whatever , degree you re studying

LASR (Languages for Study and Research) term-time courses in French, German, Modern Greek, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Welsh, at most levels from beginner to advanced. These are primarily (but not exclusively) for those who need foreign languages for their study or research.

OPAL (Oxford University Programme in Languages) – certificated evening courses in a more limited range of languages (which includes Arabic, Chinese and Japanese) for highly motivated language learners.

Special courses are currently organised for undergraduates studying Chemistry (French, German and Spanish), Engineering Science (French and German), Law (Dutch), Mathematics (French, German and Spanish), Materials Science (any of the LASR and OPAL courses), Modern History (French and German), History of Art (Italian), and Physics (French, German and Spanish).

Charges apply for some courses, but these are often covered (at least in part) by your department.

English language support is offered to international students – see p 178 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note] for further details.

The Language Library has text, audio, video and computer-based material in about 150 languages, satellite reception in 13, and subscriptions to many language-learning websites.


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