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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.

Table of contents
1 History
2 List of colleges
3 List of Permanent Private Halls
4 Fictional Colleges of Oxford


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 sister college.

List of Permanent Private Halls

Fictional Colleges of Oxford

See also: