Oxford's learning resources are world-class, and as a student, you have free access to them all. This means that you will very rarely have to spend money on academic books of your own, or pay to have access to the other resources that you might need as part of your studies. You will also have the chance to study in some truly inspiring buildings. Some of Oxford's Bodleian libraries are iconic.
Over 100 libraries
Oxford’s libraries are among the most celebrated, not only for their incomparable collections of books and manuscripts, but also for their buildings, some of which have remained in continuous use since the Middle Ages. The Bodleian Libraries Group includes major research libraries, libraries attached to faculties, departments and other institutions of the University and, of course, the principal University library – the Bodleian Library. As well as the main group of University Bodleian Libraries, there are separate libraries in each college.
The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library. It is also one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK so can request a copy of any item (including digital and online) published in the UK or Ireland.
All this means that as an Oxford student, it is possible to complete your entire degree without having to buy a single book on your reading lists and you will be able to work in some of the best-resourced and most-inspiring places in the world.
Sitting in the Bodleian Library at the same desk that might once have been occupied by John Locke and Robert Hooke, I feel part of the University's rich history.
College libraries open 24/7
Many college libraries are open 24 hours a day (just in case you have a late-night essay crisis) during term time, and there are also a vast number of online resources available to students, including databases, books, reference materials and journals. There are over 4000 study spaces in the main libraries, so you'll always find somewhere to work.
Help finding what you need
If you're not sure where to start, then the library staff in your own college or in the Bodleian are on hand to help.
The Radcliffe Science Library is also next to the Pitt Rivers Museum which makes it a good spot to take a break. There is also a prayer room nearby which makes it a convenient study location.
Facts and figures
- There are dedicated libraries for all the subjects taught at the University, plus many other related fields. The Bodleian has a list of department and faculty libraries.
- Around 13 million printed items on 400 kilometres of shelving are held in the University main library
- Over 80,000 e-journals are available to students
- As well as books, there are collections of rare manuscripts, maps, and music
- You may recognise bits of the Bodleian from lots of films and TV programmes.
State-of-the-art laboratories and equipment
Oxford's facilities for studying and exploring science are amongst the best equipped and most advanced in the UK. Spread across the departments of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Social Sciences, students can take advantage of the enormous range of laboratories and research equipment available.
Oxford University has invested over £400 million over the past ten years into its science facilities and infrastructure. One of our newest facilities is the Beecroft Building, a state-of-the-art laboratory and teaching facility for the Department of Physics, which will create a space for discussion, collaboration and cutting-edge science.
Here are just some of the facilities we have available:
- one of the largest magnetic resonance facilities in the UK
- one of the largest and best-equipped mass spectrometry labs in the UK
- a Becton and Dickenson 3-colour flow cytometer (FACScalibur)
- access to a Diamond Light Source and ISIS neutron source (at Harwell)
- facilities to study X-ray crystallography, surface analysis, ESR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, stable isotope analysis, electron micro-analysis, biophysics, high-resolution microscopy, protein crystallisation and proteomics
'Laboratories with Leaves'
Together the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum hold over 5,000 types of plant, some of which are grown nowhere else. Wytham Woods is 1,000 acres of ancient semi-woodland and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. With over 500 species of plants, a wealth of woodland habitats and over 800 species of butterflies and moths, it is one of the most researched pieces of land in the world.
Thousands of amazing art and artefacts and award-winning architecture
Oxford's researchers have been collecting works of art, fascinating cultural objects and specimens from the natural world, for many hundreds of years. The data represented by these objects are used every day by students and academic staff to inform their research. Together, the University's four famous museums hold over 8.5 million objects and specimens amid spectacular and award-winning architecture.
Free priority access
Students at the University have priority access to these important collections, and they offer an extra set of resources for helping you with your studies.
Although the museums can be used by everyone, they are used particularly extensively by students on the following courses: Archaeology and Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Classics, Earth Sciences, History and History of Art.
Oxford's world-famous museums and collections
Here are just some of the resources you will have free access to:
- the Ashmolean Museum runs the Ashmolean University Engagement programme for students on many different courses
- the Museum of Natural History houses Oxford’s internationally significant collections of geological and zoological specimens
- the Museum of the History of Science holds a huge collection of early scientific instruments
- the Pitt Rivers Museum has over half a million objects, including photographs, film, manuscripts, and archaeological and ethnographic objects
- the Christ Church Picture Gallery houses more than 300 Old Master paintings and 2000 drawings
- the magnificent and much-loved Bate Collection holds 2,000 instruments dating from the Renaissance
Super fast IT at Oxford
Don't be fooled by the age of some of our buildings - Oxford's IT infrastructure is super fast and on tap to all our students. Whether you want to bring your own laptop or device, or use some of the many hundreds of computers around the University, you'll be able to tap into the 300 kilometres of optical fibre that link our researchers to the rest of the world.
Here are some facts and figures about using IT at Oxford:
- our IT system is one of the largest private networks in the UK
- the system handles over 100,000 devices and 16 million emails every week
- PCs are available for students to use in libraries, departments, and colleges around the University
- you can also use our eduroam Wi-Fi to connect your own laptop or mobile device from wherever you are in the University
- lots of programs and applications are available to students for free - including office, email and virus protection
- almost 6000 hours of free content is available in podcasts and on Apple Podcasts
- every student is able to access free IT training courses, both from our University trainers and from Lynda.com
- course materials, tools, and lecture recordings are available via our WebLearn system
This webpage will tell you all about what to bring and how to get started with IT at Oxford, as well as how to get help if you need it: welcometoit.ox.ac.uk
The University Language Centre
Learning a language (or keeping up a language you already speak) is something that many students want to do - either as part of their course, to enable them to work or study abroad, improve job prospects, or just for fun. The University has language classes and resources that are suitable for everyone.
Here are some facts and figures about languages at Oxford:
- the University Language Centre offers courses in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish
- Advanced English classes in writing and communication skills are available to international students
- classes are offered at different times during the day so they're easier to fit around your other studies
- as well as these taught classes, the Language Centre has teach-yourself resources covering 200 different languages
- you can also offer to teach another student your native language, in exchange for support with a different language that you'd like to learn (at the moment, the Language Exchange board in the Language Centre lists students happy to teach others Swedish, Korean, Thai and Urdu, amongst many other languages)
And if learning a language has given you a passion for a country you can always see if there's a club or society that might help you explore even more of that culture.