Three students walking down an Oxford street
Three students walking down an Oxford street
(Image credit: Oxford University Images / John Cairns Photography).

Europe region

European studies at Oxford

Oxford is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Europe’s history, society, economy and culture. Study and teaching related to Europe take place throughout the University.

One of the major centres at Oxford dedicated to European studies is the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.  It is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of European language, literature and culture, and covers a wide range of European languages, usually in both modern and historical forms.

European history is studied and taught extensively at Oxford’s Faculty of History, which also hosts several dedicated centres and programmes on the subject, such as the Oxford Centre for European History and the Britain and Europe Group.

The Greco-Roman world is studied and taught at the Faculty of Classics, which covers classical languages and literature, ancient history and classical archaeology. The faculty also hosts the interdisciplinary Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies.

St Antony’s College hosts both the European Studies Centre, an interdisciplinary centre focusing on politics, history and international relations, and the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, a major part of research on that region at Oxford.

The Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) has both research and teaching on Europe. The Faculty of Law hosts the Institute of European and Comparative Law (IECL), and offers degrees on which students can study a European legal system abroad.

Libraries and museums

The collections of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum chart the development of European culture from classical Greece and Rome to the modern period. Its European holdings include artworks, musical instruments, objects and artefacts. For example, Impressionist art including paintings by Pissarro, Manet and Renoir; drawings by Michelangelo, Raphael, Dürer and Goya; Stradivari’s ‘Messiah’ violin; and 5,000 year old figurines from the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea.

Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum holds more than 80,000 ethnographic artefacts from Europe and the British Isles. These include amulets and witchcraft-related objects, musical instruments, costumes and textiles, and archaeological artefacts. Notable also is the museum’s collection of early photographs of European subjects and landscapes.

The Bodleian Library has been acquiring material from Europe since its inception in the early 17th century. Highlights of its European collections include rare scientific works by Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler; illuminated medieval manuscripts and classical papyri; and the largest archive of material from the composer Felix Mendelssohn outside Berlin.  Notable individual items in its collections include the oldest known manuscript of the French national epic Chanson de Roland, one of 48 surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and a very rare first edition of Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The Faculty of Music’s Bate Collection of musical instruments is the most comprehensive collection in Britain of European musical instruments. More than 1,000 instruments are on display, including instruments by all the most important English, French and German makers, showing the development of wind and percussion instruments from the Renaissance to the present day.


Collaborations with institutions in Europe

Oxford University has substantial links with European institutions, universities and other organisations.

It is a major participant in research projects funded under the European Commission’s ‘framework programmes’, which are the main way the EU funds research and development activities. Many of these projects involve collaboration with institutions across Europe.

Oxford is also bound to key European universities through two alliances. It is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), a consortium of 23 of Europe’s strongest research universities. It is also a founding member of the Europaeum, an association of leading European universities formed to promote a better ‘sense of Europe’ among scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences through collaboration and academic mobility.

The Maison Française d’Oxford (MFO) is a French academic centre in Oxford that is associated with the University and which facilitates collaboration with France. It hosts French academics working on long-term collaborative projects with colleagues at Oxford, supports visiting French students, and promotes French culture and language in Oxford. The MFO has three French parent organisations, the Universités de Paris, the Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs, and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The Oxford–Berlin Research Partnership is a major strategic research partnership between Oxford and four Berlin universities, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Formed in 2017, the partnership aims to support high-quality joint research initiatives across all disciplines of the member institutions.

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences collaborations

Oxford is one of the founding members of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, a major long-term project that is one of four main experiments that use the collider based at CERN in Switzerland. ATLAS’ purpose is to test the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics. Oxford physicists play an ongoing role in ATLAS, and were also responsible for developing parts of the detector used in the experiments.

Oxford is also a member of the Linear Collider Collaboration (LCC) study, which aims to create a collider to complement CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The new collider would produce different kinds of collisions than the LHC, allowing discoveries from the LHC to be studied in greater detail than is presently possible.

Medical Sciences collaborations

Oxford and the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk have a substantial and long-standing relationship in the area of diabetes and metabolism research. Among other activities, Novo Nordisk funds a fellowship programme in diabetes and metabolism research to support early-stage researchers who have the potential to become leaders in the field. Novo Nordisk has also co-located a research centre at one of the University’s campuses, working on treatments for diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases. The Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford enables strong relationships to form between Novo Nordisk’s own researchers and the research community in Oxford.

LAB282 is a partnership funding drug discovery work at Oxford.  It joins Oxford University, the German-headquartered global drug discovery company Evotec, and the Oxford Sciences Innovation investment fund to support the translation of fundamental biological research at Oxford into focused drug discovery programmes. The projects funded by the partnership are able to take advantage of Evotec’s drug discovery expertise and platforms.

Social Sciences collaborations

Oxford’s Department of Politics & International Relations (DPIR) is a member of the EU Differentiation, Dominance and Democracy (EU3D) project, along with partners across Europe. The project looks at differences in the degrees to which countries choose to participate in European Union integration. The aim of the project is to develop a theory describing when greater differentiation between countries is viable or legitimate and when not.

Scholarships and travel assistance

There are many schemes offering funding for international undergraduate students and particularly funding for international graduate students to study at Oxford, as well as schemes to help students already at Oxford travel abroad.

Student societies

Oxford has official clubs and societies for people interested in, or who have a connection to, many different countries and regions.

European alumni

Oxford has a large number of alumni groups around the world.

Famous European alumni include:

  • Sir Isaiah Berlin, British-Russian philosopher
  • Harald V, king of Norway
  • Dame Iris Murdoch, Irish-British philosopher and author
  • Ernst Schumacher, German economist