Canada | University of Oxford
Boat in Vancouver harbour
Boat in Vancouver harbour
(Image credit: Shutterstock).


Canada boasts remarkably strong connections to Oxford with a long-standing relationship anchored in our people: students, academics, and alumni. The connection between Oxford and Canada also includes a number of vibrant research collaborations and a large branch of Oxford University Press.

Oxford has formal ties with the University of British Columbia (UBC) through its sister colleges, Green College at UBC and Green Templeton College at Oxford, both of which were partly funded by gifts from Dr Cecil Green, founder of Texas Instruments.

Oxford University Press Canada (OUP), founded in 1904, was the second OUP office to be established outside the UK and has its head office in Toronto. Its first Canadian title, The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, was published in 1913. In addition to making available all OUP publications from the UK, the US, and other branches to Canada, the office also publishes materials within Canada itself. There are over 1,000 Canadian titles in print and approximately 100 new titles are published annually.

Canada studies at Oxford

The study of Canada is mainly focused in the North American Studies programme at St Antony’s College. The programme was launched with funding from Canadian donors including IDRC (International Development Research Centre). In this programme, Canada is studied in its regional context, a unique approach given that the countries on the North American continent tend to be studied individually.

Research about Canada at Oxford

In the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), Professor Jennifer Welsh is a specialist in Canadian Foreign Policy. Amongst other, numerous publications, she has co-edited with Professor Ngaire Woods Exporting Good Governance: Temptations and Challenges in Canada’s Aid Program (2007). Professor Welsh’s book At Home in the World: Canada’s Global Vision for the 21st Century (2004) was nominated for the Annual Canadian Political Science Association 2005 book of the year.

Opportunities to study and work in Canada

For those students who do not study Canada as an aspect of their course or research, there is an opportunity to come to know the country through Oxford’s Summer Internship Programme, which provides students with the opportunity to spend the long vacation learning new skills in a new country. One of the very first placements offered in the first year of the scheme was a research internship at the University of Toronto.

Collaborations with Canadian institutions

Oxford academics work collaboratively with their Canadian colleagues across a broad range of disciplines.

Medical Sciences collaborations

Enabling the development of new medicines

The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) is a public-private partnership led by Oxford and the University of Toronto, along with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. It is a not-for-profit organization that aims to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins of medical relevance, and place them in the public domain without restriction for anybody to access and use in their medical research with the aim of enabling new drug discoveries. The SGC catalyses research in new areas of human biology and drug discovery by focusing explicitly on less well-studied areas of the human genome, accelerating research in these new areas by making all its research output available to the scientific community, and by creating an open collaborative network of scientists around the world and in nine global pharmaceutical companies. Together, this network of academic and industry scientists is driving a new scientific and drug discovery ecosystem whose primary aim is to advance science and is less influenced by personal, institutional or commercial gain.

McGill University neuroscience collaboration

Oxford's award-winning neuroscience collaboration with McGill University, extended in June 2013 to include the Neuroscience Centre Zurich (Zentrum Für Neurowissenschaften), supports ground-breaking work in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, psychiatric diseases, multiple sclerosis, cognition, chronobiology, neuroplasticity and pain. The partnership, established in 2009, was awarded Canada's prestigious McCarthy Tétrault Award of Excellence for Partnership in 2012. The research programme brings together world-class neuroscientists at McGill, Oxford and Zurich in collaborative programmes of research in both the basic and clinical neurosciences. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to enhance human health, particularly in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences collaborations

Measuring freshwater levels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Oxford scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences have boarded two Canadian coastguard vessels in the far northern regions of Canada, an area which is extremely difficult to travel to due to ice conditions, strong winds and fog. The team is measuring freshwater levels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Along with the ship’s crew who are almost all Canadian, the expedition includes scientists and technicians from the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada.

Advancing research in quantum computing

Researchers from the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University and from the National Research Council of Canada in collaboration with the National University of Singapore investigated the quantum state of ‘entanglement’. In particular, in December 2011 the team reported that they had managed to recreate the state between two separated diamonds at room temperature, a feat never before achieved outside of a climate at absolute zero and previously thought to be unobservable in those conditions. This early result could go on to have important consequences for quantum computing, communications and electronic encryption.

In June 2012, a team led by Simon Fraser University, Canada and featuring scientists from Oxford’s Department of Materials announced that it had managed to sustain this quantum state, this time in the material silicon, for a total three minutes and 12 seconds, over 100 times longer than the record of 1.75 seconds previously achieved. Given that silicon hosts most modern computing, the prospect that the same material might enable quantum computing could have major implications for future computing.

Humanities collaborations

A definitive reference work on medieval Latin

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMBLS) was a project coordinated at Oxford by Dr Richard Ashdowne and run in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Toronto, the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin and the Institut de France in Paris. Based entirely on original research, the DMLBS is the most comprehensive dictionary of Medieval Latin to have been produced and the first ever to focus on British Medieval Latin. Completed in print in 2013, the DMLBS is a definitive survey of the vocabulary of one of the most important languages in British and European history.

Digitising ancient cuneiform tablets

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative is a project led by Oxford (Dr Jacob Dahl), UCLA and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin which includes 42 partners across the world, including University of Toronto. The project represents the efforts of an international group of Assyriologists, museum curators and historians of science to make available through the internet the form and content of cuneiform tablets dating from the beginning of writing, ca. 3350 BC, until the end of the pre-Christian era.

Interdisciplinary collaborations

Investigating how religion is linked to morality

Evolution of Religion and Morality is a six-year project, running from 2012 to 2018, which brings together the expertise of over fifty scientists, social scientists and humanities scholars from universities across North America, Europe and East Asia—along with postdocs and graduate students—into a research network that will be called the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium (CERC). Over this six-year project, CERC aims to answer the question of what religion is, how it is linked to morality, and why it plays such a ubiquitous role in human existence. Collaborative partners include the University of Oxford and the University of British Columbia.

Canadian students at Oxford

Canada is the sixth largest source of international students at Oxford. There are currently over 380 Canadians studying at Oxford, mostly at postgraduate level, with the largest concentration of Canadian students being in the social sciences.

Scholarships for Canadian students

Canadian students wishing to pursue their graduate studies at Oxford have access to a range of scholarships to support them. The Clarendon Scholarships, created by Oxford University Press to support graduate students, are open to applicants from all countries. Clarendon disburses approximately £7.5 million to support about 300 students annually. In addition to scholarships open to all international students, Canadians can also apply to Oxford’s prestigious Rhodes Scholarships which are awarded to students of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service from selected countries. As an illustration of the strong links between Canadian alumni at Oxford and their alma mater, the Canadian Rhodes Scholars’ Foundation has been set up to offer a reciprocal award for Oxford graduates to study in Canada. They are the only Rhodes organisation in the world to have done this. Up to three scholarships for two years of graduate study are offered each year, funded by former Canadian Rhodes Scholars. At the doctoral level, Canadian researchers can apply to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholarship.

Student societies

Once students arrive at Oxford, there are a range of societies and sports groups available to them including the Oxford University Canadian Society and the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club.

Canadian academics at Oxford

With around 100 Canadian citizens on faculty, Canada is the twelfth largest source of international academics.

Professor Sir John Bell

Professor Bell is Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and has made major contributions to the development of UK clinical and medical science. He founded the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, the first to focus on the genetics of common diseases, and then led the creation of four other clinical research institutes in Oxford. His own research on the immunogenetics of HLA, T cell receptors and autoimmune diseases has been sustained and ground breaking.

Professor Bell is a past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society and was made a Knight Bachelor for services to medicine in the 2008 New Year’s Honours.

Professor Bell was educated at the University of Alberta, Canada, before taking his medical training at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1992. His academic posts include a Clinical Fellowship at Stanford University, where he stayed from 1982 until his return to Oxford in 1987, where he became Nuffield Professor and Head of Clinical Medicine in 1992.

Professor Jennifer Welsh

Jennifer Welsh is Professor in International Relations, a Fellow of Somerville College and co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. She is a former Jean Monnet Fellow of the European University Institute in Florence, and was a Cadieux Research Fellow in the Policy Planning Staff of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. Jennifer has taught international relations at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the Central European University (Prague). She is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on international relations. She is currently occupying a professorship at the European University in Florence.

Oxford alumni in Canada

Canada is home to the 4th largest concentration of Oxford alumni outside the UK. Oxford’s alumni – more than 4,900 – are involved in every kind of career imaginable, from business to non-profit work, from the civil service to sports. The Canadian branches of the Oxford University Society (OUS) and the Oxford and Cambridge Society are some of the most active in the international alumni network. There are seven branches across Canada.

Notable Canadian alumni

There has been a particular concentration of Canadian alumni in public life, including:

  • Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
  • Robert Bourassa, former Canadian provincial premier
  • Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England
  • Thomas Cromwell, Supreme Court Justice
  • Astrid Guttmann, Clinician Scientist in the Division of Paediatric Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, and a Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Ontario
  • Alex Jadad, Chief Innovator and Founder of the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at the University of Toronto (the Jadad scale, the most widely used procedure in the world to independently assess the methodological quality of a clinical trial, is named after him)
  • Peter Milliken, Former Speaker of the House of Commons
  • David Naylor, former President of the University of Toronto
  • Lester B. Pearson, former Prime Minister of Canada and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Bob Rae, former Canadian provincial premier
  • John Turner, former Prime Minister of Canada