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Colleges of the University of Oxford

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Colleges of the University of Oxford

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 at 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 Common Room (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 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


  • History 1
  • List of colleges 2
  • List of Permanent Private Halls 3
  • College and permanent private hall arms and colours 4
    • Notes 4.1
  • Heads of Houses 5
  • Academic rankings 6
  • College rivalries 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes and references 9


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

Name Foundation Sister college at Cambridge Total assets[6] Financial endowment[6] Undergraduates[7] Postgraduates[7] Visiting students[7] Total students[7] Assets per student
All Souls College 1438 Trinity Hall £319,613,000[8] £286,425,000 0 8 0 8 £34,357,000
Balliol College 1263 St John's College £101,564,000[9] £80,730,000 387 325 2 714 £120,000
Brasenose College 1509 Gonville and Caius College £127,464,000[10] £106,712,000 364 205 4 573 £193,000
Christ Church 1546 Trinity College £322,553,000[11] £310,052,000 434 188 0 622 £519,000
Corpus Christi College 1517 Corpus Christi College £99,504,000[12] £87,874,000 252 98 2 352 £283,000
Exeter College 1314 Emmanuel College £68,650,000[13] £48,763,000 337 216 27 580 £118,000
Green Templeton College 2008 St Edmund's College £49,192,000[14] £27,222,000 95 427 0 522 £94,000
Harris Manchester College 1786
College: 1996
Homerton College £15,329,000[15] £6,808,000 98 116 2 216 £56,000
Hertford College 1282
College: 1740
None £57,454,000[16] £42,647,000 409 266 28 624 £92,000
Jesus College 1571 Jesus College £148,872,000[17] £124,001,000 353 171 2 526 £283,000
Keble College 1870 Selwyn College £54,643,000[18] £27,425,000 443 224 6 673 £81,000
Kellogg College 1990
College: 1994
None [note 1] 0 795 0 795
Lady Margaret Hall 1878 Newnham College £52,276,000[19] £29,564,000[20] 401 203 23 627 £83,000
Linacre College 1962 Hughes Hall £17,245,000[21] £7,663,000 0 380 0 380 £45,000
Lincoln College 1427 Downing College £128,644,000[22] £98,494,000 306 291 4 580 £149,000
Magdalen College 1458 Magdalene College £211,743,000[23] £182,003,000 411 184 6 601 £291,000
Mansfield College 1886
College: 1995
Homerton College £16,707,000[24] £9,593,000 214 102 36 352 £47,000
Merton College 1264 Peterhouse £232,932,000[25] £212,788,000 276 278 1 592 £329,000
New College 1379 King's College £205,955,000[26] £181,075,000 441 285 18 744 £219,000
Nuffield College 1937 None £153,253,000[27] £136,046,000 0 94 1 95 £1,613,000
Oriel College 1326 Clare College
(Trinity College, Dublin)
£48,288,000[28] £42,514,000 306 180 3 489 £99,000
Pembroke College 1624 Queens' College £83,474,000[29] £43,983,000[29] 354 190 32 576 £145,000
The Queen's College 1341 Pembroke College £201,368,000[30] £157,098,000 348 113 5 466 £432,000
Somerville College 1879 Girton College £56,635,000[31] £40,110,000 394 131 0 525 £108,000
St Anne's College 1878
College: 1952
Murray Edwards College £45,945,000[32] £29,352,000 428 281 30 739 £62,000
St Antony's College 1950
College: 1963
Wolfson College £44,734,000[33] £29,842,000 0 432 2 434 £103,000
St Catherine's College 1963 Robinson College £58,041,000[34] £40,582,000 487 268 44 799 £73,000
St Cross College 1965 Clare Hall £11,700,000[35] 0 534 0 534 £21,910
St Edmund Hall 1226
College: 1957
Fitzwilliam College £46,314,000[36] £33,190,000 427 230 21 678 £68,000
St Hilda's College 1893 Peterhouse £45,278,000[37] £37,309,000 395 189 1 585 £77,000
St Hugh's College 1886 Clare College £41,685,000[38] £22,192,000 430 255 1 686 £61,000
St John's College 1555 Sidney Sussex College £386,943,000[39] £340,701,000 392 194 3 589 £657,000
St Peter's College 1929
College: 1961
None £29,988,000[40] £25,257,000 336 115 25 476 £63,000
Trinity College 1555 Churchill College £126,300,000[41] £104,202,000 305 105 0 410 £254,000
University College 1249 Trinity Hall £130,898,000[42] £102,895,000 372 221 0 593 £221,000
Wadham College 1610 Christ's College £102,930,000[43] £73,718,000 448 128 31 607 £179,000
Wolfson College 1966
College: 1981
Darwin College £45,764,000[44] £30,404,000 0 548 0 548 £84,000
Worcester College 1714 St Catharine's College £31,793,000[45] £15,512,000 412 180 16 609 £52,000
  1. ^ The financial statements of Kellogg College and St Cross College, due to them not having Royal Charters, are only included in the aggregate university accounts, and so it is not possible to discern their exact assets or endowments.

List of Permanent Private Halls

Name Foundation Sister hall at Cambridge Religious affiliation Total assets Financial endowment Undergraduates[7] Postgraduates[7] Visiting students[7] Total students[7] Assets per student
Blackfriars 1221
Refounded: 1921
None Catholic
[note 1] 8 21 13 42
Campion Hall 1896 None Catholic
[note 2] 0 7 0 7
Regent's Park College 1752
Moved to Oxford: 1927
None Baptist £3,371,000[46] £1,286,000 105 53 11 169 £20,000
St Benet's Hall 1897 None Catholic
[note 3] 53 9 2 64
St Stephen's House 1876
PPH: 2003
None Anglican £8,099,000[47] £176,000 21 36 0 57 £142,000
Wycliffe Hall 1877 Ridley Hall Anglican £5,763,000[48] £800,000 97 27 50 174 £33,000
  1. ^ Blackfriars Hall is operated by the English Province of the Order of Preachers, part of the Dominican Order, who also run several priories and other charitable operations. The hall does not have assets or endowments specific to it that are possible to discern from the order's accounts.
  2. ^ Campion Hall is one of several institutions operated by the Society Of Jesus Trust Of 1929 For Roman Catholic Purposes. The hall does not have assets or endowments specific to it that are possible to discern from the society's accounts.
  3. ^ St Benet's Hall, due to its foundation as a hall for monks from Ampleforth College, was operated directly by the St Laurence Education Trust, part of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust, until 2011. Whilst it has had its own subsidiary trust from 2012, the accounts for this have not yet been published and so it is not possible to discern the assets or endowments of the hall.

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[49] 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.

College Arms Blazon Scarf Blades
All Souls College Or, a chevron between three cinquefoils gules.
Balliol College Azure a lion rampant argent, crowned or, impaling gules, an orle argent.
Brasenose College Tierced 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).[1]
Christ Church Sable, 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 College Tierced 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 College Argent, two bends nebuly within a bordure sable charged with eight pairs of keys, addorsed and interlaced in the rings, the wards upwards, or.
Green Templeton College Or between two flaunches vert on each a nautilus shell the aperture outwards or a rod of Aesculapius sable the serpent azure.
Harris Manchester College Gules, 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 College Gules, a stag's head caboshed argent, attired, and between the attires a cross patty fitchy at the foot, or.
Jesus College Vert, three stags trippant argent attired or.
Keble College Argent, a chevron engrailed gules, on a chief azure three mullets pierced or.
Kellogg College Per 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 Hall Or, on a chevron between in chief two talbots passant and in base a bell all azure, a portcullis of the field.
Linacre College Sable 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 College Tierced 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.[2]
Magdalen College Lozengy ermine and sable, on a chief of the second three lilies argent slipped and seeded or.
Mansfield College Gules 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 College Or, three chevronels party per pale, the first and third azure and gules, the second gules and azure.
New College Argent, two chevronels sable between three roses gules, seeded or, barbed vert.
Nuffield College Ermine 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.[3]
Oriel College Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or within a bordure engrailed argent.
Pembroke College Per 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 College Argent, 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.[4]
Somerville College Argent, three mullets in chevron reversed gules, between six crosses crosslet fitched sable.
St Anne's College Gules, 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 College Or on a chevron between three tau crosses gules as many pierced mullets of the field.
St Catherine's College Sable a saltire ermine between four Catherine wheels or.
St Cross College Argent a cross potent purpure a quarter counterchanged.
St Edmund Hall Or, a cross patonce gules cantoned by four Cornish choughs proper.
St Hilda's College Azure on a fess or between in chief two unicorns' heads couped and in base a coiled serpent argent three estoiles gules.
St Hugh's College Azure a saltire ermine between four fleurs-de-lis or.
St John's College Gules, 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 College Per 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.
Trinity College Party per pale or and azure, on a chevron between three griffins heads erased four fleurs-de-lys, all counter-changed of the field.
University College Azure, a cross patonce between five martlets or.
Wadham College Gules, a chevron between 3 roses argent, seeded or, barbed vert, impaling gules, a bend or between two escallops argent.
Wolfson College Per pale gules and or on a chevron between three roses two pears all countercharged the roses barbed and seeded proper.
Worcester College Argent, two chevronels between six martlets, three, two and one gules.[5]
Blackfriars Gyronny of sable and argent, a cross flory counterchanged.[6]
Campion Hall Argent 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.[7]
Regent's Park College Argent 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 Hall Per 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 House Gules a celestial crown between three bezants two and one or, on a chief sable an apostolic eagle between two crosses crosslet or.
Wycliffe Hall Gules, 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.[8]


  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 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 of Oxford started publishing a list of colleges classified by a "Norrington Score", effectively replicating the Norrington Table. The university claims 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 1998 to ensure their results were not published, rendering the unofficial tables inaccurate.[50]

College rivalries

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. ^ "File not found". 
  3. ^ Super User. "Welcome". 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Who We Are". Harris Manchester College. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h
  8. ^ at page 48
  9. ^ page 26
  10. ^ page 28
  11. ^ at page 16
  12. ^ at page 26
  13. ^ at page 18
  14. ^ at page 15
  15. ^ at page 11
  16. ^ at page 16
  17. ^ at page 19
  18. ^ at page 19
  19. ^ at page 15
  20. ^ at page 15
  21. ^ at page 17
  22. ^ at page 22
  23. ^ at page 21
  24. ^ at page 14
  25. ^ at page 37
  26. ^ at page 16
  27. ^ at page 15
  28. ^ at page 18
  29. ^ a b at page 18
  30. ^ at page 17
  31. ^ at page 19
  32. ^ at page 18
  33. ^ at page 17
  34. ^ at page 21
  35. ^
  36. ^ at page 15
  37. ^ at page 20
  38. ^ at page 18
  39. ^ at page 16
  40. ^ at page 19
  41. ^ at page 8
  42. ^ at page 18
  43. ^ at page 19
  44. ^ at page 16
  45. ^ at page 20
  46. ^ at page 8
  47. ^ at page 6
  48. ^ at page 10
  49. ^ University of Oxford Calendar 2010–2011. Oxford University Press. 2010.  
  50. ^ "Oxford publishes college rankings". BBC News. 2005-09-06. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
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