Portal:University of Oxford

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Coat of arms of the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford (informally "Oxford University" or "Oxford"), located in the English city of Oxford, is the oldest surviving university in the English-speaking world and is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions. Although the exact date of foundation remains unclear, there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge, where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two "ancient universities" have many common features and are sometimes collectively and colloquially referred to as "Oxbridge". For more than a century, Oxford has served as the home of the Rhodes Scholarship, which brings students from a number of countries to study at Oxford as postgraduates. (more about the university...)

The colleges of the university, of which there are 38, are autonomous self-governing institutions. All students and teaching staff belong to one of the colleges, or to one of the six Permanent Private Halls (religious foundations that admit students to study at Oxford). The colleges provide tutorials and classes for students, while the university provides lectures and laboratories, and sets the degree examinations. Most colleges accept undergraduate and postgraduate students, although some are for graduate students only; All Souls does not have students, only Fellows, while Harris Manchester is for students over the age of 21. All the colleges now admit both men and women: the last single-sex college, St Hilda's, began to admit men in 2008. The oldest colleges are University, Balliol, and Merton, established between 1249 and 1264, although there is dispute over when each began teaching. The most recent new foundation is Kellogg College, founded in 1990, while the most recent overall is Green Templeton College, formed in 2008 as the result of a merger of two existing colleges. (more about the colleges...)

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The main buildings of Jesus College are located in the centre of Oxford between Turl Street, Ship Street, Cornmarket and Market Street. Jesus College was founded in 1571 by Queen Elizabeth I, upon the petition of a Welsh clergyman, Hugh Price. The foundation charter gave to the college the land and buildings of White Hall, a defunct academic hall, to which new buildings were added. The first quadrangle, which included the hall, chapel, and principal's lodgings, was completed between 1621 and 1630; it has been described as "small and pretty" and possessing "a curious charm". Construction of the second quadrangle began in the 1630s and was completed in about 1712. Further buildings were erected in a third quadrangle during the 20th century, including science laboratories, a new library, and additional accommodation. The chapel was extensively altered in 1864; one historian of the college described the work as "ill-considered". The Fellows' Library, restored in 2007, contains 11,000 antiquarian books. A project to build new student and teaching rooms opposite the college was completed in 2010. Eleven parts of the college are listed buildings. (Full article...)

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Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins (born 1941) is a British biological theorist with a background in ethology. He is a popular science author focusing on evolution. He came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution. In 1982, he developed this view in The Extended Phenotype: The Gene as the Unit of Selection, emphasizing that the phenotypic effects of genes are not necessarily limited to an organism's body but can stretch via biochemistry and behaviour into other organisms and the environment. Dawkins is a prominent critic of religion, creationism and pseudoscience. In his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, he argued against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he described a dysteleological perspective on the process of evolution by natural selection as "blind", without a design or a goal. In his 2006 million-selling book The God Delusion, he contended that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist, writing that such beliefs, based on faith rather than on evidence, qualify as a delusion. Dawkins retired from his position at Oxford University in 2008. (more...)

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The college coat of arms

Corpus Christi College, founded in 1517, is one of the smallest Oxford colleges in terms of student numbers. It is located on Merton Street, between Oriel College and Merton College, in the centre of the city. It was founded by Richard Foxe, the Bishop of Winchester, who intended the college as lodgings for monks from St Swythun's Priory in Winchester; however, the college moved away from this initial plan and became dedicated to the study of the classics, a subject in which it still has a strong reputation. The pelican sundial in the main quadrangle was added in 1581. John Rainolds, Corpus's seventh President, was involved in the inception and translation of the King James Bible, published in 1611. Former students include John Keble (a leader of the Oxford Movement, later to be commemorated by the foundation of Keble College), the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the British Labour Party brothers and politicians Ed and David Miliband. The college won the 2009 series of the BBC television quiz programme University Challenge, under the leadership of Gail Trimble, but were later disqualified for fielding an ineligible player. (Full article...)

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Did you know...

Articles from Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives about the university and people associated with it:

Marshal Foch

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Gordon Brown, expressing his views in May 2000 about the Laura Spence Affair

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The Berlin Quad of Wolfson College is named after the college's first President, Sir Isaiah Berlin. It was given Grade II listed building status in 2011.
Credit: Mtcv
The Berlin Quad of Wolfson College is named after the college's first President, Sir Isaiah Berlin. It was given Grade II listed building status in 2011.