Colleges of the University of Oxford

From Academic Kids

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. The fifth oldest college is Oriel, founded in 1326.

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

Academic rankings

For some years an unofficial ranking of colleges by performance in Final Honour Schools examinations has been published annually, known as the "Norrington Table" - [1] ( As the table only takes into account the examination results for the year it is published in, college rankings may fluctuate considerably. Nonetheless, there is a clear correlation between the wealth of a college and its position in the tables. The university and colleges have at times attempted to suppress the Norrington Table, largely unsuccessfully.

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

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Arms of the University

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


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