Europe region | University of Oxford
Europe region
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Europe region

The study of Europe takes place in a series of specialist centres and departments and some examples are listed here.

European Studies

The European Studies Centre at St Antony’s College is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Europe, particularly in politics, history and international relations. The Centre’s research projects include investigations into the political economy of financial markets, welfare reform, civil resistance, media and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, and a programme directing and coordinating the study and discussion of modern Poland to name just a few.

Within the Centre, South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) focuses on the interdisciplinary study of the relationship between European integration and the politics, economics and societies of the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

St Antony's is also home to the Russian and East European Studies Centre in the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies which is home to graduate studies and research into the region. Research includes a project on understanding the political impacts of migration, studying the effect of economic change and state priorities in Russia on the wellbeing of vulnerable groups and a multi-region project looking at coalitional presidentialism.

European History

Oxford is a leading centre for the study of European history. Its History Faculty hosts several centres and programmes exclusively on the study of Europe.

The Britain and Europe Group brings together Oxford historians working on the cultural and intellectual relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe since the eighteenth century.

The Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research (OCBR), based at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies is a research hub which brings together experts from several disciplines including history, archaeology and classics. It hosts seventy scholars, including 19 professors - an unusually high number - of which 13 are Fellows of the Royal Academy.

The Modern European History Research Centre (MEHRC) within the History Faculty has consolidated Oxford’s position as the largest and foremost centre in the world for research on European history since the Renaissance. The MEHRC has research programmes with partner institutions in the USA, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany and others.

Modern Languages

The Faculty of Modern Languages undertakes teaching and research in many European languages. Research projects range from investigating voices in Medieval French Narrative, through representing migration in contemporary media and narrative in Italy, to a project devoted to extending and developing the corpus of Brecht's works in English. Themes studies include the History of Ideas and Cultural History, Prose Fiction, Drama and Performance, and Translation.

Social Sciences

In the social sciences, the Department of Politics and International Relations offers studies focused on Europe through its MPhil in European Politics and Society.

Europe-focused research projects within the Department include a project led by Professor Jan Zielonka on "Europe Unbound: geopolitics, economics and communication", a Leverhulme Trust-sponsored project on "Responded to Neo-Fascism in Europe" led by Professor Giovanni Capoccia, and a project on the "Economy, Constitutional Variation and Cabinet Survival in Europe" led by Professor Petra Schleiter.

The Institute of European and Comparative Law aims to enhance the European dimension of the Law Faculty’s teaching and research activities. It works to strengthen links with other major European institutions, to expose Oxford students to other legal jurisdictions in Europe, and to deepen inter-disciplinary collaboration within Oxford. 

Wider research on European issues

Beyond specialist centres, teams of researchers from all over the University’s departments focus their research on all corners of Europe.

  • In Western Europe, researchers at the Health Economics Research Centre have conducted studies looking at the cost of dementia care provided by family and carers in western European countries. The Centre is also looking at the economic burden of cardiovascular disease in the enlarged European Union.
  • In Eastern Europe, the Oxford Institute of Ageing has set up one of its three regional networks on ageing named EAST, the Eastern-European Ageing Societies in Transition network.
  • In Southern Europe, a team from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have been carbon dating a knucklebone found under a church floor in Bulgaria which is suspected to have belonged to John the Baptist.
  • In Northern Europe, Oxford zoologists have looked at the spread of blue tongue cattle disease.

Each of these provides just one example of the multitude of projects being undertaken by Oxford’s faculty.

Libraries and Museums

Bodleian Library

The University’s libraries and museum also house an exceptional collection of European artefacts and resources. The Bodleian library holds extensive books and manuscript relating to and written by Europeans, including some incredibly rare and unique items. It has a collection of over 7,000 books printed before 1500 AD (known as incunabula) mainly sourced from Western Europe including The Elements of Euclid, AD 888, the oldest surviving manuscript of what would become Euclid's Elements; a manuscript of Marco Polo's Travels from the 14th century; and one of only five Kennicott illuminated Hebrew Bibles, made in 1476 at Corunna in north-west Spain.

Taylorian Library

The Taylor Bodleian Slavonic and Modern Greek Library holds an extensive range of materials for East European literary and linguistic studies and has one of the country’s leading collections in this field.

Bate Collection

In the University’s Bate Collection, one of the most magnificent collections of musical instruments in the world, there are over 2,000 instruments from the Western orchestral music traditions from the renaissance, through the baroque, classical, romantic and up to modern times.

Oxford Digital Library

Amongst its digital collections in the Oxford Digital Library, the University holds an archive of the archaeological records and papers of Sir Arthur Evans (Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, 1884-1908), which in the most part relate to his excavations at the Bronze Age site of Knossos on Crete, carried out between 1900 and 1931.

Oxford also receives a significant proportion of its research funding from European sources, and collaborates on a number of high-profile pan-European research projects. 

Collaborations in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences division

Physics

Oxford’s department of Physics has been deeply involved for over a decade in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. As one of the founding members of the ATLAS experiment, Oxford scientists have contributed to one of the two major experiments in particle physics being run at the collider. Key parts of the collider and its particle detectors were engineered in Oxford laboratories.  Now that the collider is running, the Oxford ATLAS Group continues to work on a number of aspects of the project, including hardware, computing and physics analysis.  

Astrophysics

In the field of astrophysics, Oxford is a key collaborator of a number of cutting edge European projects of space exploration, both those based on earth and those journeying into space.  Oxford University scientists are taking a lead role in creating the instrumentation for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) based in Chile. 

Oxford’s expertise in astrophysics is not just confined to ground based projects like the E-ELT. Oxford has a strong history of contributing instrumentation and data analysis techniques for outer solar system missions. This tradition of excellence is being continued with Oxford’s participation in the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), a space mission to explore Jupiter and its moons which is due to launch in 2022 and reach Jupiter in 2030. Oxford will contribute instrumentation needed for the flight to Jupiter and the proposed experiments to be carried out by the mission. The project involves collaborators from top universities in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

Mathematical Institute

In the field of mathematics, Oxford’s Mathematical Institute is one of 12 European institutions participating in the EU funded ‘Stochastic Analysis and Its Applications’ project. This collaborative project aims to develop an improved mathematical understanding of random systems and at the same time provide training and research opportunities for young researchers.  It draws on the expertise of scientists in 6 European countries and has employed at least 20 young researchers.   

Collaborations in the Medical Sciences

At the technological end of Oxford’s medical research, researchers from Oxford, Valencia Polytechnic Universities, and University of Szeged, Hungary, have been working alongside pharmaceutical companies in Fujitsu laboratories to create a simulation which models the effect of drugs on the heart, which could potentially lead to considerably safer and more accurate methods for testing the coronary impacts of new medicines. This European Commission funded project, preDICT, is part of a much wider aim of working towards the development of a Virtual Physiological Human.

Collaborations in the Humanities and Social Sciences

International Migration Institute

The International Migration Institute in the Oxford Martin School coordinated the THEMIS project along with three main collaborators: Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and the University of Lisbon. This international study took a new look at how patterns of migration to Europe develop, focusing on the development of initial moves by pioneer migrants into well established migration systems. The project encompassed migration from three origin countries, Brazil, Morocco and the Ukraine.

The IMI is also a partner in EUMAGINE, a three-year collaborative European research project which aims to investigate the impact of perceptions of human rights and democracy on migration aspirations and decisions.

Modern European History Research Centre (MEHRC)

Oxford historians at the Modern European History Research Centre (MEHRC) have collaborated with European colleagues to explore the wave of activism of 1968. Unlike previous studies, this project explored activism not only in the democracies but also in the dictatorships of southern Europe (Franco’s Spain, the Greece of the Colonels) and in the Communist dictatorships beyond the Iron Curtain (the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the USSR). The 14 strong MEHRC team included historians from the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic, and focused on uncovering neglected narratives, investigated whether there were common or conflicting experiences across countries, and traced transnational links between activists. A major legacy of the project is a database of activists and networks containing sound files of original oral testimony.

EQUALSOC

Oxford’s Department of Sociology and the Nuffield College Sociology Group are joint representatives of Oxford University in EQUALSOC, a European Union funded Network of Excellence created to mobilise and develop research expertise across Europe on economic change, quality of life, and social cohesion.   

Biofresh

The Oxford Centre for the Environment in the School of Geography and Environment was one of 19 European partner institutions in Biofresh, an EU-funded international project that ran from 2009 until 2014 to build a global information platform for scientists and ecosystem managers with access to all available databases describing the distribution, status and trends of global freshwater biodiversity.  

NESSHI and the Saïd Business School.

As an example of Oxford’s commitment to working on truly multidisciplinary subject matter, the Saïd Business School is one of the participants in NESSHI, a three year, € 1.2 million project supported by four European research agencies. It aims to map the development of new neuro-social sciences and study their impact on society. This is achieved through surveying, observing, and following several communities of "neuro-social" scholars: neuroeconomists, neuromarketers and neurophilosophers. Other participants include Institut Jean-Nicos and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France; University of Mainz in Germany; and Erasmus, University and the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Netherlands.

U:Lab

Oxford collaborations are not just limited to externally focused research; through ULab, it has also been involved in innovative partnerships looking at universities themselves. The European Laboratory for Modelling the Technical Research University of Tomorrow was an innovative think tank of five leading technical and research-intensive European universities, running from 2011 to 2013: the Technical University of Madrid, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the Technical University of Munich, the Paris Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford, which is led by the Oxford Internet Institute. It reviewed, evaluated and experimented with current policy governing research, entrepreneurship and outreach activities at these five universities. It helped its members understand how better to develop technical research policies for future innovation in the universities of tomorrow.

Other Collaborations

Beyond these multiple partner European collaborations, individual researchers at Oxford are collaborating with colleagues at other European universities on a broad range of research.

Oxford researchers in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Oxford Martin School are collaborating with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics to investigate new ways of removing carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

Research directed by the University of Oxford and University College Cork in collaboration with the Laboratory of Prehistory at St Petersburg, Russia,has been dating fossils found at cave sites in the northern Caucasus in Russia and produced evidence that late Neanderthals died out over 10,000 years earlier than had previously been thought.

The Oxford Internet Institute has been collaborating with colleagues from the University of Zaragoza, Spain to analyse the use of social media in riots, revolutions and protests.

Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology, Switzerland, will use the latest genetic techniques to investigate organic remains that some have claimed belong to the ‘Yeti’ and other ‘lost’ hominid species.

In the medical sciences, clinical trials into a new drug for the muscle-wasting disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy led by researchers at Oxford University and the University of Bari in Italy produced promising results.

This list gives only a brief glimpse of the multitude of collaborative links in place between Oxford researchers and their European colleagues across all disciplines.

Student exchanges

As well as research links with other institutions across the continent, Oxford has student exchange agreements in place with nearly 30 universities in seven countries. These include Erasmus exchanges for student studying, for instance, Modern Languages, Biochemistry or Law, and exchanges supported by other funders, for instance the Michael Foster Memorial Scholarship, established to promote closer Anglo-German links within a European context.

Institutional Links

Oxford has also signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) agreements with prominent European universities and research institutions to further collaborative links. Active MOUs are in place with CNRS in France, Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute of the Open University of Catalonia in Spain, and Perm State University in Russia.

The MOU with Perm State marks the 2nd such agreement between the institutions. This was renewed after the considerable successes of the first partnership which included placements in Perm State University for Oxford undergraduates studying Russian and for Oxford postgraduates doing research; annual one-month research visits by Perm professors to Oxford; completion of a 3-year project involving political scientists in Oxford and Perm to write a book jointly on Good Governance; an expedition for geography students to the Urals with Perm geography postgraduates; annual three-week study visits to Oxford by groups of teachers from Perm University; a major Oxford-Perm conference on contemporary English literature in Russia; exchanges of academics who have lectured to PSU students and faculty members in the faculties of law, physics, English, zoology, social studies and to Oxford students and faculty members in the faculties of Law and Modern Languages and Literature.

European University Associations

Oxford University is also a member of two prestigious associations and networks of excellence for European universities and research institutions.

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) was founded in 2002 as an association of 12 research-intensive universities sharing the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research. It now has 21 members, including the universities of Oxford, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Freiburg, Geneva, Heidelberg, Helsinki, Leiden, Leuven, Imperial College, UCL, Lund, Milan, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris-Sud 11, Strasbourg, Utrecht and Zurich.

The Europaeum, a consortium with 11 leading European university institutions as members was originally founded by the universities of Oxford, Leiden and Bologna in 1992, with joint activities launched from 1993. It was designed as an international "university without walls" in which future scholars and leaders of Europe have opportunities to share common learning and confront common concerns,together. The Europaeum offers regular opportunities for academic and graduate scholars to participate in a range of joint Europaeum MA programmes, Jenkins and other scholarship schemes, international conferences, summer schools and graduate colloquia and multi-disciplinary workshops, all heavily subsidized. Young scholars can mix with leading figures from the worlds of business, politics and culture, and take part in transnational and interdisciplinary dialogue with the world of scholarship. For more see our website (link below) or our Facebook page.

See also

At Oxford there are more than 3,200 students and 1,600 staff from across the EU. Europe has the largest concentration of Oxford alumni outside the UK and North America, with more than 16,000 graduates based in the region, from Norway to Serbia. There are more than 60 alumni groups in the region (some of them joint with Cambridge) across more than 30 countries.

Scholarships

European students are eligible for a variety of scholarships including the Jenkins Memorial Fund, the Scatcherd European scholarships, Marie Curie Research Training Grants and several national scholarships such as Rhodes Scholarships for Germany, the Linares-Rivas Scholarships for Spain, and Dulverton Scholarships and Weidenfeld-Hoffman  Scholarships and Leadership Programme for a range of Eastern European countries.

Students living in Europe are eligible for the Clarendon Scholarships, Oxford’s flagship graduate scholarships and for other awards such as Dulverton Scholarships and the Weidenfeld-Hoffman Scholarships and Leadership Programme. In addition, European undergraduate students from outside of the EU can apply for country specific scholarships including the Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Scholarship (Turkey), the Hill Foundation Scholarship (Russian Federation) and the Raffy Manoukian Scholarship (Armenia).

European Student Societies

Once students arrive at the University, there is a vibrant European community for them to participate in. The Oxford University European Affairs Society is a student-run non-partisan forum for the discussion of European issues and problems. The Society aims to foster an understanding of political, social and cultural issues relating to the whole continent of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals.

The Society provides an independent forum for debate and discussion by members and guests and has welcomed heads of European states, foreign ministers, and other senior politicians, civil servants, military officials, and opinion leaders from across Europe.

Country specific societies exist for French, German, Greek, Lithuanian, Czech, Swiss, Bulgarian, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Polish, and Portuguese students as well as those interested in their languages and culture.

Oxford European Reunion

Every two years the University Alumni Office organises a series of events over the course of a long weekend for Oxford alumni living in Europe. The host city changes each year and the purpose of the event is to bring together Oxonians who are European residents for a lively programme of academic and social engagements. In April 2015, the weekend was held in Vienna and brought together nearly 450 Oxford alumni for a bustling programme including panel discussions, tours of the city, as well as receptions and dinners.  The next weekend will be arranged in 2017.

In short, Oxford provides a home away from home for students and academics from across this diverse continent.

See also