Colleges of the University of Oxford

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Aerial view of many of the colleges of the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford has 38 Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) of religious foundation. Colleges and PPHs are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university, and all teaching staff and students studying for a degree of the university must belong to one of the colleges or PPHs. These colleges are not only houses of residence, but have substantial responsibility for student teaching. Generally tutorials (one of the main methods of teaching in Oxford) and classes are the responsibility of colleges, while lectures, examinations, laboratories and the central library are run by the university. Most colleges take both graduates and undergraduates, but several are for graduates only.

Undergraduate and graduate students may name preferred colleges in their applications. For undergraduate students, an increasing number of departments practise reallocation to ensure that the ratios between potential students and subject places available at each college are as uniform as possible. For the Department of Physics, reallocation is done on a random basis after a shortlist of candidates is drawn upon and before candidates are invited for interviews at the university.[1]

For graduate students, many colleges express a preference for candidates who plan to undertake research in an area of interest of one of its fellows. St Hugh's College, for example, states that it accepts graduate students in most subjects, principally those in the fields of interest of the Fellows of the college.[2]

A typical college consists of a hall for dining, a chapel, a library, a college bar, senior, middle (postgraduate) and junior common rooms, rooms for 200-400 undergraduates as well as lodgings for the head of the college and other dons. College buildings range from the medieval to very modern buildings, but most are made up of interlinked quadrangles (courtyards), with a lodge controlling entry from the outside.

2008 saw the first modern merger of colleges, with Green College and Templeton College merging to form Green Templeton College. This reduced the number of Colleges of the University from 39 to 38.[3] The number of PPHs also reduced in 2008, when Greyfriars closed down.[4]

Brasenose College in the 1670s



The University of Oxford's collegiate system arose because the university came into existence through the gradual agglomeration of independent institutions in the city of Oxford.

The first academic houses were monastic halls. Of the dozens that were established in Oxford during the 12th to 15th centuries, none survived the Reformation. The modern Dominican permanent private hall of Blackfriars (1921) is a descendant of the original (1221), and is therefore sometimes described as heir to the oldest tradition of teaching in Oxford.

As the University took shape, friction between the hundreds of students living where and how they pleased led to a decree that all undergraduates would have to reside in approved halls. Of the hundreds of Aularian houses (from the Latin for "hall") that sprang up across the city, only St Edmund Hall (c 1225) remains. What put an end to the halls was the emergence of colleges. Often generously endowed and with permanent teaching staff, the colleges were originally the preserve of graduate students. However, once they began accepting fee-paying undergraduates in the 14th century, the halls' days were numbered.

The oldest of Oxford's colleges are University College, Balliol, and Merton, established between 1249 and 1264, although there is some dispute over the exact order and precisely when each began teaching. The fourth oldest college is Exeter, which was founded in 1314 and the fifth is Oriel, which was founded in 1326. The most recent new foundation is Kellogg College, founded in 1990, while the most recent overall is Green Templeton College, 2008 (the result of a merger of two existing colleges).

Women entered the university for the first time in 1878, becoming members of the University (and thus eligible to receive degrees) in 1920. Women's colleges before integration included Somerville College, St Anne's, St Hugh's, and Lady Margaret Hall. All colleges are now co-educational, although one of the Permanent Private Halls, St Benet's Hall, only accepts men. St Hilda's decided to accept male members at all levels from 2008. Some colleges, such as St Cross and Linacre, accept only graduate students. All Souls College accepts only Fellows. Harris Manchester College accepts only "mature students" with a minimum age of 21.[5]

List of colleges

NameFoundationSister college at CambridgeFinancial endowment (July 2010)[6]UndergraduatesGraduatesTotal studentsAcademicsEndowment per studentAcademic-to-student ratioUndergraduate-to-graduate ratio
All Souls College1438Trinity Hall£219,827,000[7]000
Balliol College1263St John's College£58,031,000[8]403228631
Brasenose College1509Gonville and Caius College£82,867,000[9]360190550
Christ Church1546Trinity College£282,196,000[10]425250675
Corpus Christi College1517Corpus Christi College£69,238,000[11]239126365
Exeter College1314Emmanuel College£46,915,000[12]340200540
Green Templeton College2008St Edmund's College£1,845,000[13]0500500
Harris Manchester College1786, College status 1996Homerton College£5,857,000[14]11040150
Hertford College1282, College status 1740£39,988,000[15]396216612
Jesus College1571Jesus College£110,463,000[16]325150475
Keble College1870Selwyn College£26,656,000[17]435245680
Kellogg College1990, College status 19940400400
Lady Margaret Hall1878Newnham College£24,337,000[18]424174598
Linacre College1962Hughes Hall£8,141,000[19]0410410
Lincoln College1427Downing College£65,310,000[20]281299580
Magdalen College1458Magdalene College£135,529,000[21]395185580
Mansfield College1886, College status 1995Homerton College£10,097,000[22]212129341
Merton College1264Peterhouse£154,155,000[23]302298600
New College1379King's College£133,226,000[24]420180600
Nuffield College1937£138,016,000[25]07474
Oriel College1326Clare College£80,630,000[26]304158462
Pembroke College1624Queens' College£35,762,000[27]402119521
The Queen's College1341Pembroke College£158,930,000[28]350133463
St Anne's College1878, College status 1952Murray Edwards College£24,759,000[29]425250675
St Antony's College1950, College status 1963Wolfson College£28,148,000[30]0400400
St Catherine's College1963Robinson College£36,340,000[31]450160610
St Cross College1965Clare Hall0400400
St Edmund Hall1226, College status 1957Fitzwilliam College£28,418,000[32]412220632
St Hilda's College1893Peterhouse£32,151,000[33]420150570
St Hugh's College1886Clare College£21,755,000[34]419205624
St John's College1555Sidney Sussex College£313,319,000[35]370245615
St Peter's College1929, College status 1961St Catherine's College£24,814,000[36]346130476
Somerville College1879Girton College£37,546,000[37]39688484
Trinity College1554Churchill College£74,853,000[38]302125427
University College1249Trinity Hall£106,299,000[39]420144564
Wadham College1610Christ's College£62,408,000[40]460180640
Wolfson College1966, College status 1981Darwin College£27,705,000[41]0614614
Worcester College1714St Catharine's College£16,701,000[42]408167575

List of Permanent Private Halls

Blackfriars1221, refounded 1921
Campion Hall1896
Regent's Park College1752, moved to Oxford 1927
St Benet's Hall1897
St Stephen's House1876, PPH status granted in 2003
Wycliffe Hall1877

College and permanent private hall arms and colours

Each college and permanent private hall has its own arms, although in some cases these were assumed rather than granted by the College of Arms. Under King Henry VIII Oxford colleges were granted exemption from having their arms granted by the College of Arms; and some, like Lady Margaret Hall, have chosen to take advantage of this exemption, whilst others, such as Oriel, despite having used the arms for many centuries, have recently elected to have the arms granted officially. The blazons below are taken from the Oxford University Calendar[43] unless otherwise indicated. Shields are emblazoned as commonly drawn, and notable inconsistencies between blazons and emblazons (the shields as drawn) are indicated.

Each college also has its own colours used on items such as academic scarves and rowing blades.

All Souls CollegeAll-Souls College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgOr, a chevron between three cinquefoils gules.
Balliol CollegeBalliol College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgAzure a lion rampant argent, crowned or, impaling gules, an orle argent.
Brasenose CollegeBrasenose College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgTierced in pale: (1) Argent, a chevron sable between three roses gules seeded or, barbed vert (for Smyth); (2) or, an escutcheon of the arms of the See of Lincoln (gules, two lions of England in pale or, on a chief azure Our Lady crowned seated on a tombstone issuant from the chief, in her dexter arm the Infant Jesus, in her sinister arm a sceptre, all or), ensigned with a mitre proper; (3) quarterly, first and fourth argent, a chevron between three bugle-horns stringed sable; second and third argent, a chevron between three crosses crosslet sable (for Sutton).[a]
Rowing Blade Black.svg
Christ ChurchChrist Church Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgSable, on a cross engrailed argent, a lion passant gules between four leopards' faces azure, on a chief or a rose of the third, seeded or, barbed vert, between two Cornish choughs proper.
Corpus Christi CollegeCorpus-Christi College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgTierced per pale: (1) Azure, a pelican with wings endorsed vulning herself or; (2) Argent, thereon an escutcheon charged with the arms of the See of Winchester (i.e. gules, two keys addorsed in bend, the uppermost or, the other argent, a sword interposed between them in bend sinister of the third, pommel and hilt gold; the escutcheon ensigned with a mitre of the last); (3) Sable, a chevron or between three owls argent, on a chief of the second as many roses gules, seeded of the second, barbed vert.
Exeter CollegeExeter College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgArgent, two bends nebuly within a bordure sable charged with eight pairs of keys, addorsed and interlaced in the rings, the wards upwards, or.
Kingston Rowing Club Blade.svg
Green Templeton CollegeGreen-Templeton College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgOr between two flaunches vert on each a nautilus shell the aperture outwards or a rod of Aesculapius sable the serpent azure.
GTBC Blade.gif
Harris Manchester CollegeHarris-Manchester College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, two Torches inflamed in saltire proper; on a Chief Argent, between Two Roses of a field barbed and seeded an open Book also proper.
Hertford CollegeHertford College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgGules, a stag's head caboshed argent, attired, and between the attires a cross patty fitchy at the foot, or.
HCBC Rowing Blade.svg
Jesus CollegeJesus College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgVert, three stags trippant argent attired or.
Jesus College Oxford Rowing Blade.svg
Keble CollegeKeble College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgArgent, a chevron engrailed gules, on a chief azure three mullets pierced or.
KCBC Blade.jpg
Kellogg CollegeKellogg College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgPer pale indented argent and azure on the argent a chevron enhanced gules in base a book azure leaved argent on the azure an ear of wheat palewise or the whole within a bordure gules.
Lady Margaret HallLady-Margaret-Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgOr, on a chevron between in chief two talbots passant and in base a bell all azure, a portcullis of the field.
Linacre CollegeLinacre College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgSable an open Book proper edged or bound gules the dexter page charged with the Greek letter alpha the sinister page charged with the Greek letter omega both sable the whole between three escallops argent.
Lincoln CollegeLincoln College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgTierced per pale: (1) Barry of six argent and azure, in chief three lozenges gules, on the second bar of an argent a mullet pierced sable; (2) Argent, thereon an escutcheon of the arms of the See of Lincoln (i.e. Gules, two lions passant guardant or, on a chief azure the Blessed Virgin Mary ducally crowned seated on a throne issuant from the chief, on her dexter arm the infant Jesus and holding in her sinister hand a sceptre, all gold; the escutcheon ensigned with a mitre azure garnished and stringed or); (3) Vert, three stags trippant argent attired or.[b]
Magdalen CollegeMagdalen College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgLozengy ermine and sable, on a chief of the second three lilies argent slipped and seeded or.
Mansfield CollegeMansfield College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules an open book proper inscribed DEUS LOCUTUS EST NOBIS IN FILIO in letters sable bound argent edged and clasped or between three cross crosslets or.
Merton CollegeMerton College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgOr, three chevronels party per pale, the first and third azure and gules, the second gules and azure.
New CollegeNew College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgArgent, two chevronels sable between three roses gules, seeded or, barbed vert.
New college blade-1.png
Nuffield CollegeNuffield College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgErmine on a fesse or between in chief two roses gules barbed and seeded proper and in base a balance of the second three pears sable, and for crest on a wreath or and gules a demi bull gules armed and unguled or resting the sinister hoof on a winged wheel or.[c]
Oriel CollegeOriel College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, three lions passant guardant in pale or within a bordure engrailed argent.
Oriel College Boat Club Rowing Blade.svg
Pembroke CollegePembroke College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgPer pale azure and gules, three lions rampant, two and one, argent, on a chief per pale argent and or, in the first a rose gules, seeded or, barbed vert in the second a thistle of Scotland proper.
The Queen's CollegeQueens College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgArgent, three eagles displayed two and one gules, legged and beaked or, on the breast of the first eagle, a pierced mullet of the third as cadency mark.[d]
Queens College (Oxford) Boat Club Rowing Blade.svg
St Anne's CollegeSt-Anne's College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, on a chevron between in chief two lions' heads erased argent, and in base a sword of the second pummelled and kilt or and enfiled with a wreath of laurel proper, three ravens.
St Antony's CollegeSt-Antony's College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgOr on a chevron between three tau crosses gules as many pierced mullets of the field.
St Catherine's CollegeSt-Catherines College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgSable a saltire ermine between four Catherine wheels or.
St Cross CollegeSt-Cross College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgArgent a cross potent purpure a quarter counterchanged.
St Edmund HallSt-Edmund-Hall College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgOr, a cross patonce gules cantoned by four Cornish choughs proper.
St Edmund Hall Rowing Blade.png
St Hilda's CollegeSt-Hilda's College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgAzure on a fess or between in chief two unicorns' heads couped and in base a coiled serpent argent three estoiles gules.
St Hugh's CollegeSt-Hughs College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgAzure a saltire ermine between four fleurs-de-lis or.
St John's CollegeSt-John's College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, on a bordure sable eight estoiles or; on a canton ermine a lion rampant of the second; on the fess point an annulet of the third.
St Peter's CollegeSt-Peters College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgPer pale vert and argent, to the dexter two keys in saltire or surmounted by a triple towered castle argent masoned sable (representing Oxford bailey) and on the sinister a cross gules surmounted by a mitre or between four martlets sable (for Chavasse), the whole within a bordure or.
Somerville CollegeSomerville College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgArgent, three mullets in chevron reversed gules, between six crosses crosslet fitched sable.
Trinity CollegeTrinity College, Oxford.svgParty per pale or and azure, on a chevron between three griffins heads erased four fleurs-de-lys, all counter-changed of the field.
Trinity College Boat Club Rowing Blade.svg
University CollegeUniversity College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgAzure, a cross patonce between five martlets or.
University College Oxford Blade.svg
Wadham CollegeWadham College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, a chevron between 3 roses argent, seeded or, barbed vert, impaling gules, a bend or between two escallops argent.
Wolfson CollegeWolfson College Oxford Coat Of Arms (Motto).svgPer pale gules and or on a chevron between three roses two pears all countercharged the roses barbed and seeded proper.
Worcester CollegeWorcester College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgArgent, two chevronels between six martlets, three, two and one gules.[e]
BlackfriarsBlackfriars Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGyronny of sable and argent, a cross flory counterchanged.[f]
Campion HallCampion Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgArgent on a cross sable a plate charged with a wolf's head erased of the second between in pale two billets of the Weld that in chief charged with a cinquefoil and that in base with a saltire gules and in fesse as many plates each charged with a campion flower leaved and slipped proper on a chief also of the second two branches of palm in saltire enfiled with a celestial crown or.[g]
Regent's Park CollegeRegent's Park College Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgArgent on a cross gules an open Bible proper irradiated or the pages inscribed with the words DOMINUS JESUS in letters sable on a chief wavy azure fish or.
St Benet's HallSt Benet's Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgPer fesse dancetté or and azure, a chief per pale gules and of the second, charged on the dexter with two keys in saltire or and argent, and on the sinister with a cross flory between five martlets of the first.
St Stephen's HouseSt-Stephen's Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules a celestial crown between three bezants two and one or, on a chief sable an apostolic eagle between two crosses crosslet or.
Wycliffe HallWycliffe Hall Oxford Coat Of Arms.svgGules, an open book proper the pages inscribed with the words VIA VERITAS VITA in letters sable on a chief azure three crosses crosslet argent and in base an estoile or.[h]


  1. ^ Brasenose: the blazon of the arms of the See of Lincoln given here differs from that at Lincoln College; the two forms are simply interpretations of the simpler blazon gules, two lions passant gardant or, in a chief azure Our Lady sitting with her Babe, crown and sceptre of the second.
  2. ^ Lincoln: although the three stags are blazoned as trippant argent attired or they are universally drawn as statant attired or. See also note on Brasenose above.
  3. ^ Nuffield: uniquely among the Oxford colleges the blazon of Nuffield recorded in the University Calendar also describes its crest.
  4. ^ Queens: the depiction of the pierced mullet is quite variable; a mullet of six points is common and the piercing is sometimes indicated schematically.
  5. ^ Worcester: although the six martlets are blazoned as gules (red) they are usually (but not always) drawn as sable (black).
  6. ^ Blackfriars: the blazon used here is that of the Dominican Order. Blackfriars also uses their simpler shield, blazoned as sable, a pile inverted argent.
  7. ^ Campion: the phrase billets of the Weld appears to be a misprint for billets of the field.
  8. ^ Wycliffe: the blazon used here is simply a description of the shield as usually drawn.

Heads of Houses

The senior member of each college is an officer known generically as the Head of House. His or her specific title varies from college to college as indicated in the list below. While the Head of House will usually be an academic, it is not uncommon for a person to be appointed who has had a distinguished career outside academic circles, especially in the Civil Service.

For a list of current Heads of Houses see Heads of Houses.

Until 2004 the President of Templeton was both Head of House and Chairman of the Governing Body. In 2004 the college statutes were amended so that these roles were separated. The Dean was the Head of House until 2008. When the college merged with Green the Head of the new college, Green Templeton, assumed the title of Principal. The Dean of Christ Church is head of both the college and the cathedral. The President of Kellogg is also Director of the Department for Continuing Education.

Academic rankings

For some years an unofficial ranking of undergraduate colleges by performance in Final Honour Schools examinations has been published annually, known as the "Norrington Table". As the table only takes into account the examination results for the year it is published in, college rankings may fluctuate considerably.

Beginning in 2005, the university started publishing a list of colleges classified by a "Norrington Score", effectively replicating the Norrington Table. The university claim to have published the results "in the interests of openness". Although the university says that the college listings are "not very significant", the 2005 table is the first Norrington Table with official data, and also likely the first to be truly correct. Dame Fiona Caldicott, the Chairman of the Conference of Colleges, has said that in previous years some students have used the Data Protection Act to ensure their results were not published, rendering the unofficial tables inaccurate.[44]

Rivalry between Colleges

A tradition of the University is a friendly rivalry between colleges. Often, two neighbouring colleges will be rivals, and each college will pride itself in its athletic victories over the other one. Examples include:

As well as historic rivalries based on geographical proximity, colleges often develop foes in the sporting arena that can become full-scale rivalries, although these are usually much more short-term. A recent example of this came as a result of the 2006 rugby Cuppers final between Pembroke and St Peter's that culminated in a fight between the Pink Pembroke Panther and the St Peter's Squirrel, the respective mascots of each team.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^
  2. ^ St Hugh's College : Oxford University Graduate Studies Prospectus 2008/09
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Who We Are". Harris Manchester College. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ at page 10
  8. ^ at page 8
  9. ^ at page 9
  10. ^ at page 12
  11. ^
  12. ^ at page 8
  13. ^ at page 8
  14. ^ at page 8
  15. ^ at page 11
  16. ^ at page 9
  17. ^ at page 11
  18. ^ at section 5
  19. ^ at page 8
  20. ^ at page 10
  21. ^ at page 11
  22. ^ at page 9
  23. ^ at page 112
  24. ^ at page 9
  25. ^ at page 11
  26. ^
  27. ^ at page 8
  28. ^ at page 7
  29. ^ at page 9
  30. ^ at page 8
  31. ^ at page 7
  32. ^ at page 9
  33. ^ at page 12
  34. ^ at page 8
  35. ^ at page 9
  36. ^ at page 11
  37. ^ at page 9
  38. ^ at page 9
  39. ^ at page 10
  40. ^ at page 11
  41. ^ at page 10
  42. ^ at page 11
  43. ^ University of Oxford Calendar 2010-2011. Oxford University Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-19-958663-9. 
  44. ^ "Oxford publishes college rankings". BBC News. 2005-09-06. Retrieved 2010-04-30.