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Encyclopedia > Colleges of Oxford University

The University of Oxford comprises 39 Colleges and 7 religious Permanent Private Halls (PPHs), which are autonomous self-governing corporations within the university. 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 the teaching of undergraduates. Generally tutorials (the main method of teaching in Oxford) and classes are the responsibility of colleges, while lectures, examinations, laboratories and the central library are run by the university

A typical college consists of a great 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 mediaeval to very modern buildings, but most are made up of interlinked quadrangles (courtyards), with one or more large wooden gates controlling entry from the outside.

Brasenose College in the 1670s


The University of Oxford's collegiate system springs from the fact that 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 settled in the university during the 12th to 15th centuries, none survived the Reformation. The modern 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 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. 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.

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. Hugh's, and Lady Margaret Hall. Almost all colleges are now co-educational, the only remaining women-only college being St. Hilda's. Some colleges accept only graduate students.

List of colleges

For a list of Oxford and Cambridge sister colleges see List of Oxbridge sister colleges. For the college scarf colours see Oxbridge scarf colours

List of Permanent Private Halls

Fictional Colleges of Oxford

For a list of fictional colleges of Oxford University see List of fictional Oxford colleges.

See also:

Colleges of the University of Oxford

All Souls | Balliol | Brasenose | Christ Church | Corpus Christi | Exeter | Green | Harris Manchester | Hertford | Jesus | Keble | Kellogg | Lady Margaret Hall | Linacre | Lincoln | Magdalen | Mansfield | Merton | New College | Nuffield | Oriel | Pembroke | Queen's | St Anne's | St Antony's | St Catherine's | St Cross | St Edmund Hall | St Hilda's | St Hugh's | St John's | St Peter's | Somerville | Templeton | Trinity | University | Wadham | Wolfson | Worcester

Permanent Private Halls at the University of Oxford

Blackfriars | Campion Hall | Greyfriars | Regent's Park College | St Benet's Hall | St Stephen's House | Wycliffe Hall

  Results from FactBites:
Somerville College - University of Oxford - The College (644 words)
For the next forty years the history of women in Oxford was one of steady infiltration, as they gradually secured admission first to lectures, then to examinations, and finally, in 1920, to university membership.
In Oxford legend it soon became known as the "bluestocking college", its examination results spectacularly refuting the widespread belief that women were incapable of high academic achievement.
As a mixed college, Somerville continues to take pride in its pioneering history, its traditions of academic excellence and public service, its scientific reputation, and its literary heritage, seeking to maintain and reinterpret for the 21st century its founders' commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in education.
University College, Oxford - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (590 words)
), is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
It is a contender for being the oldest of the colleges of the university, and is amongst the largest in terms of population.
A specially constructed building in the College, the Shelley Memorial, houses a statue by Edward Onslow Ford of the poet Shelley – a former member of the college, who was expelled for writing The Necessity of Atheism – depicted lying dead on the Italian sea-shore.
  More results at FactBites »



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