The Oxford University

The higher education in Great Britain. The Oxford University, its history, structure of the university, sources of knowledge, the famous graduates of the university. Substantial donations, loans, and purchases of the museums in Oxford University.

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Дата добавления 09.11.2010
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In Great Britain there are 89 universities, from them 39 are considered new. They were created after the Certificate (act) of 1992.

Oldest universities - Oxford (is open in 12 century) and Cambridge (13 centuries). The Scottish universities St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh were open at 15-16 centuries. The Oxford and Cambridge universities are known everything, even by (with) the people who are not going to study abroad. And I think, everybody can say that the Oxford and Cambridge is the best universities. Certainly, any high school in the world can not be compared to these by two universities on prestige. For eight centuries of existence history them has appeared filled various events. The famous people here studied. For example, Margaret Tetchier has ended faculty of chemistry in Oxford. This university has turned to national legends.

I want to tell you about the Oxford University. In my report I considered its history, structure of the university, sources of knowledge, life in Oxford, the famous graduates of the university.

Brief History of the Oxford University

Oxford is a unique and historic institution. As the oldest English-speaking University in the world, it lays claim to eight centuries of continuous existence. There is no clear date of foundation, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.

In 1188, the historian, Gerald of Wales, gave a public reading to the assembled Oxford dons and in 1190 the arrival of Emo of Friesland, the first known overseas student, initiated the University's tradition of international scholarship. By 1201, the University was headed by a magister solarium Oxon, on whom the title of Chancellor was conferred in 1214, and in 1231 the masters were recognized as a universities or corporation.

In the 13th century, rioting between town and gown (students and townspeople) hastened the establishment of primitive halls of residence. These were succeeded by the first of Oxford's colleges, which began as medieval 'halls of residence' or endowed houses under the supervision of a Master. University, Balliol and Merton Colleges, established between 1249 and 1264, were the oldest.

Less than a century later, Oxford had achieved eminence above every other seat of learning, and won the praises of popes, kings and sages by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum, doctrine and privileges. In 1355, Edward III paid tribute to the University for its invaluable contribution to learning; he also commented on the services rendered to the state by distinguished Oxford graduates.

Oxford early on became a centre for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century Master of Balliol, campaigned for a bible in the vernacular, against the wishes of the papacy. In 1530, Henry VIII forced the University to accept his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford. The University was Royalist in the Civil War, and Charles I held a counter-Parliament in Convocation House.

In the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The 18th century, when Oxford was said to have forsaken port for politics, was also an era of scientific discovery and religious revival. Edmund Halley, Professor of Geometry, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name; John and Charles Wesley's prayer meetings laid the foundations of the Methodist Society.

The University assumed a leading role in the Victorian era, especially in religious controversy. From 1811 onwards The Oxford Movement sought to revitalize the Catholic aspects of the Anglican Church. One of its leaders, John Henry Newman, became a Roman Catholic in 1845 and was later made a Cardinal. In 1860 the new University Museum was the site of a famous debate between Thomas Huxley, the champion of evolution, and Bishop Wilberforce.

From 1878, academic halls were established for women, who became members of the University in 1920. Since 1974, all but one of Oxford's 39 colleges have changed their statutes to admit both men and women. St Hilda's remains the only women's college.

In the years since the war, Oxford has added to its humanistic core a major new research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. In so doing, it has enhanced and strengthened its traditional role as a focus for learning and a forum for intellectual debate.

Structure of the University

Oxford is an independent and self-governing institution, consisting of the central University and the Colleges.

The Vice-Chancellor, who holds office for seven years, is effectively the 'Chief Executive' of the University. Three Pro-Vice-Chancellors have specific, functional responsibility for Academic Matters, Academic Services and University Collections, and Planning and Resource Allocation. Chancellor, who is usually an eminent public figure elected for life, serves as the titular head of the University, presiding over all major ceremonies.

The principal policy-making body is the Council of the University, which has 26 members, including those elected by Congregation, representatives of the Colleges and two members from outside the University. Council is responsible for the academic policy and strategic direction of the University, and operates through four major committees: Educational Policy and Standards, General Purposes, Personnel, and Planning and Resource Allocation.

Final responsibility for legislative matters rests with Congregation, which comprises over 3600 members of the academic, senior research, library, museum and administrative staff.

Day-to-day decision-making in matters such as finance and planning is devolved to the University's five Academic Divisions - Humanities, Life and Environmental Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences and Social Sciences. Each division has a full-time divisional head and an elected divisional board. Continuing Education is the responsibility of a separate board.

The Colleges, though independent and self-governing, form a core element of the University, to which they are related in a federal system, not unlike the United States. In time, each college is granted a charter approved by the Privy Council, under which it is governed by a Head of House and a Governing Body comprising of a number of Fellows, most of whom also hold University posts. There are also six Permanent Private Halls, which were founded by different Christian denominations, and which still retain their religious character. Thirty colleges and all six halls admit students for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Seven other colleges are for graduates only; one, All Souls, has fellows only, and one, Kellogg College, specializes in part-time graduate and continuing education.

Oxford's current academic community includes 78 Fellows of the Royal Society and 112 Fellows of the British Academy. A further 100 Emeritus and Honorary College Fellows are Fellows of the Royal Society and 145 Emeritus and Honorary College Fellows are also Fellows of the British Academy.

The University of Oxford has more academic staff working in world-class research departments than any other UK university.

Academic year

The academic year is divided into three terms, determined by Regulations. Michaelmas Term lasts from October to December; Hilary Term from January to March; and Trinity Term from April to June.

Within these terms, Council determines for each year eight-week periods called Full Terms, during which undergraduate teaching takes place. These terms are shorter than those of many other British universities. Undergraduates are also expected to prepare heavily in the three holidays (known as the Christmas, Easter and Long Vacations). Internally at least, the dates in the term are often referred to by a number in reference to the start of each full term, thus the first week of any full term is called «1st week» and the last is «8th week». The numbering of the weeks continues up to the end of the term, and begins again with negative numbering from the beginning of the succeeding term, through «minus first week» and «noughth week», which precedes «1st week». Weeks begin on a Sunday. Undergraduates must be in residence from Thursday of 0th week.

Life in Oxford

Oxford lies about 57 miles (90 km) north-west of London. A medium-sized city with a large student population, Oxford has a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere, with excellent cultural, leisure, sport and retail amenities.

Oxford's historic architecture is well renowned. Amongst its beautiful buildings and modern facilities are parks, gardens and waterways. In addition to those offered by the University, the city of Oxford has its own cultural facilities, including the Museum of Oxford and the Museum of Modern Art. Drama productions are performed at, amongst others, the Oxford Playhouse, and the Apollo Theatre, and there are several cinemas. Sports fans enjoy county cricket in the University Parks and third-division football at Oxford United, as well as punting, swimming, and ice-skating in the city centre.

There is heavy traffic in Oxford, and much of the city centre is now closed to private traffic. Fortunately, most of the University area can be comfortably covered on foot or bicycle. Secondhand bicycles can be hired or bought and local bus services are excellent.

Oxford is also well served by national road and rail links. A direct 24-hour coach service connects the city with London, and with Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

The city and surrounding area are home to various industries including a growing number of high-technology companies in areas such as IT and biosciences, which have developed from University research or are attracted by the proximity of the University. Oxford is also a major tourist centre.


Students at Oxford enjoy a wealth of opportunity to involve themselves in music, as listeners and performers, and at all levels. At the top end the University boasts student orchestras of professional calibre (notably the Oxford University Orchestra and the Philharmonic), and choirs of renown (Christ Church, Magdalen and New College, along with the Schola Cantorum).

Other levels of accomplishment are catered for by college music societies, many of which run ambitious programmes of chamber, orchestral and vocal music. Opera is represented by at least two University-based organizations. Other organizations within the University cater for almost every other conceivable interest, from Soul to Jazz, from Indian to contemporary.

Oxford plays host to musicians from far and wide, including opera companies from Glynbourne and Cardiff, and orchestras of distinction such as the CBSO and the orchestra of St John's Smith Square. And if you feel there is something missing, Oxford is the ideal place to do your own thing with the unlimited musical talent the University has at its disposal.


The University provides a spring-board for sportsmen and women to achieve at county, national and international level, partly because of excellent sporting facilities at college and University level. The majority of colleges provide sports grounds, squash courts and boat houses on the river Isis for the annual inter-college rowing competition, 'Eights'.

The University provides generous sporting facilities in all areas including sports not normally available at college level, such as volleyball, athletics, fencing and judo. Many of these facilities are located at the Iffley Road Sports Complex, which also boasts a modern multi-gym, an all-weather track, and a newly-opened artificial hockey pitch. Association football, lawn tennis and rugby are also catered for at this site, along with a rowing tank and gymnasium. A 25-meter swimming pool should be completed soon.

Sources of Knowledge

The Bodleian Library is the principal library of the University, taking its name from Sir Thomas Bodley who refounded it on the site of an earlier library. It was opened in 1602 and has an unbroken history from that time. When publishing and copyright became subject to statute the Bodleian became, and remains, one of the libraries of legal deposit. Material published elsewhere than in Great Britain and Ireland is extensively acquired, mainly by purchase.

The Library's collections are housed in several buildings. The central group consists of the Old Library, the Radcliffe Camera, the New Library, and the Clarendon Building. A large part of the Library's holdings of some seven million volumes is housed in the bookstacks of the New Library. Reading rooms on the central site contain on open access selected material on English language and literature, history, theology, classics, bibliography, education, music, geography, philosophy, politics and economics, management studies, Latin American studies and Slavonic and East European studies. Western manuscripts and early printed books are normally consulted in Duke Humfrey's Library within the Old Library, and the Modern Papers reading room in the New Library. Oriental books and manuscripts are consulted in the Oriental Reading Room.

Books on science and medicine, law, South Asian studies, Japanese studies, the Middle East and China (teaching and loan collection) and Eastern Art, and American and Commonwealth history, are kept in other libraries within the group, described separately below.

The majority of printed accessions are listed in the OLIS online catalogue, which may be consulted on terminals throughout the Bodleian. Terminals in all reading rooms in the Bodleian may be used to connect to OxLIP, a range of electronic resources, bibliographic and full-text, in all subject areas, mounted both on the local network and on remote computers. These resources are also available from other workstations connected to the University network in colleges, faculties and departments. Workstations also give access to the Bodleian catalogue of pre-1920 books, both via OLIS and on CD ROM. The Chinese and Japanese catalogues are partially recorded in original script on the Allegro system and may be accessed via the network or the Internet. Work on converting the card catalogues is well advanced.

Students formally registered with the University are entitled to readership upon complying with certain formalities; arrangements will be made through their colleges. The central Bodleian is not a lending library, nor are readers in general admitted to the bookstacks. There are facilities for reading microform material, and photographic and photocopying services. Readers may use their own laptop computers.

More detailed information about the Library as a whole may be found in a general guide to the Bodleian Library and its dependent libraries, and about the Central Bodleian in Guide to the Central Bodleian Library. Both are obtainable free at the Library and in PDF format from the Library's web pages.

Museums of the university

The Museum of the History of Science, housed in the Old Ashmolean Building in Broad Street, is primarily a museum of scientific instruments of historical interest. The very fine building was erected by the University to house the collections of Elias Ashmole (1617-92), and to serve for lectures in natural philosophy and as a chemical laboratory; it was opened in 1683. The Ashmolean Museum (now in Beaumont Street) remained in the building until the end of the 19th century. The building became a museum again in 1925, after the Lewis Evans Collection was accepted by the University and placed in the upper gallery; in 1935 the scientific collections had so increased in size and scope that the name was changed to the Museum of the History of Science.

Substantial donations, loans, and purchases have continued to augment the collections, which comprise:

1. The Lewis Evans and Billmeir collections of mathematical, time-telling, and surveying instruments, including a remarkable collection of armillary spheres, astrolabes, quadrants, and sundials, dating from the medieval period to the 19th century.

2. The Barnett and Beeson collections of clocks and watches, especially rich in clocks and watches made by Oxfordshire craftsmen.

3. Astronomical instruments derived from the Savilian and Radcliffe Observatories, from the Royal Astronomical Society, and other sources, including exceptionally interesting instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries.

4. The Clay collection of optical instruments, which includes many early microscopes, the Royal Microscopical Society's collection of early microscopes, and a large collection of telescopes and other optical instruments.

Beyond these discrete collections, the Museum contains a wealth of apparatus and instruments covering a broad spectrum of the history of science. Its collections are especially strong from the medieval period until the early 19th century.

The Museum has recently undergone major refurbishment, with new displays, and, in the basement, a special exhibitions gallery, education room, public toilets, and library. The basement area is entirely accessible for wheelchair users, and is reached by a lift in the Sheldonian Yard. An MSc course in History of Science: Instruments, Museums, Science, Technology is taught within the Museum by the curatorial staff.

The Museum is open to the public, from 12 noon to 4.00 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, throughout the year, except for Bank Holidays, and for about a week after Christmas. The library may be used, on application, by students and others engaged in research. It is open regularly to the Museum's own graduate students.

The Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the UK, and the third-oldest scientific garden in the world. It contains representatives from over 90% of the world's higher plant families.

Oxford maintains a number of museums and galleries in addition to its libraries. The Ashmolean Museum, founded in 1683, is the oldest museum in the UK, and the oldest university museum in the world. It holds significant collections of art and archaeology, including works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, and Picasso, as well as treasures such as the Scorpion Macehead, the Parian Marble and the Alfred Jewel. It also contains «The Messiah», a pristine Stradivarius violin, regarded by some as one of the finest examples in existence. The Ashmolean is scheduled to complete a ?49m redevelopment in 2009, doubling the display space as well as providing new facilities.

The Museum of Natural History holds the University's anatomical and natural history specimens. It is housed in a large neo-Gothic building on Parks Road, in the University's Science Area. Among its collection are the skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, and the most complete remains of a dodo found anywhere in the world. It also hosts the Simonyi Professorship of the Public Understanding of Science, currently held by Marcus du Sautoy.

Adjoining the Museum of Natural History is the Pitt Rivers Museum, founded in 1884, which displays the University's archaeological and anthropological collections, currently holding over 500,000 items. It recently built a new research annexe; its staff have been involved with the teaching of anthropology at Oxford since its foundation, when as part of his donation General Augustus Pitt Rivers stipulated that the University establish a lectureship in anthropology.

The famous graduates of the university

Throughout its history, Oxford has produced gifted men and women in every sphere of human endeavour who have studied or taught at the University. Among these are 5 kings, 40 Nobel prize-winners, 25 British Prime Ministers, 9 current holders of the Order of Merit, plus 3 Saints, 85 Archbishops and 18 Cardinals.

A few of these famous Oxonians, past and present, are listed here; the date shows the start, or a known date, of their time at Oxford.


In conclusion I will tell you about higher education in Great Britain. There are many universities in Great Britain but on my view the most important universities are Oxford and Cambridge.

Oxford and Cambridge are the oldest and most prestigious universities in Great Britain. They are often called collectively Oxbridge to denote an elitarian education. Both universities are independent. Only very rich and aristocratic families can afford to send their sons and daughters to these universities. Mostly they are former public schools leavers.

The tutorial is the basic mode of instruction at Oxford and Cambridge, with lectures as optional extras.

The normal length of the degree course is three years, after which the students take the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). Some courses, such as languages or medicine, may be one or two years longer. The students may work for other degrees as well. The degrees are awarded at public degree ceremonies. Oxford and Cambridge cling to their traditions, such as the use of Latin at degree ceremonies. Full academic dress is worn at examinations.

Oxford and Cambridge universities consist of a number of colleges. Each college is different, but in many ways they are alike. Each college has its name, its coat of arms. Each college is governed by a Master, The larger ones have more than 400 members, the smallest colleges have less than 30. Each college offers teaching in a wide range of subjects. Within the college one will normally find a chapel, a dining hall, a library, rooms for undergraduates, fellows and the Master, and also rooms for teaching purposes.

The Cambridge University started during the 13th century and grew until today. Now there are more than thirty colleges.

On the river bank of the Cam willow trees weep their branches into the water. The colleges line the right bank. There are beautiful college gardens with green lawns and lines of tall trees. The oldest college is Peterhouse, which was founded in 1284, and the most recent is Robinson College, which was opened in 1977. The most famous is probably King's College because of its magnificent chapel, the largest and the most beautiful building in Cambridge and the most perfect example left of English fifteenth-century architecture. Its choir of boys and undergraduates is also very well known.

The University was only for men until 1871, when the first women's college was opened. In the 1970s, most colleges opened their doors to both men and women. Almost all colleges are now mixed.

Many great men studied at Cambridge, among them Desiderius Erasmus, the great Dutch scholar, Roger Bacon, the philosopher, Milton, the poet, Oliver Cromwell, the soldier, Newton, the scientist, and Kapitza, the famous Russian physicist.

The universities have over a hundred societies and clubs, enough for every interest one could imagine. Sport is part of students' life at Oxbridge. The most popular sports are rowing and punting.

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