Brazil | University of Oxford
A view of Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).


Oxford’s links with Brazil are swiftly expanding, with an ever growing number of Brazilian students and staff across a widening range of disciplines. Work with and on Brazil takes place in the Brazilian Studies Programme, in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, in the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests and through individual collaborations across all of the University’s divisions.

Vice-Chancellor's trip to Brazil, July 2014

The key importance of the University’s relationship with Brazil was affirmed by the trip to Brazil made in July 2014 by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, to meet with alumni, institutional partners and others. The Vice Chancellor had fruitful meetings with a range of Brazilian businesses and foundations, where he discussed how Oxford could grow its partnerships in Brazil and recent Oxford-Brazil collaborations, such as an exploratory workshop on Energy held in Oxford in early 2013.

Professor Hamilton also met with the President of FAPESP, Professor Celso Lafer, to thank FAPESP for the huge contribution they will made to the work of the Structural Genomics Consortium by jointly funding the opening of the Protein Kinase Chemical Biology Centre (along with the University of Campinas) at UNICAMP. Professors Hamilton and Lafer also discussed how Oxford and FAPESP could work together to encourage researchers from both sides to intensify and multiply their collaborations.

The Vice-Chancellor visited the Escola Antonio Loureiro and the State University of Campinas, where he also gave a presentation to students and researchers.

Rio Branco Visiting Chair in International Relations

The University’s commitment to further developing its expertise on Brazil and to strengthening its links with Brazilian partners was illustrated by the establishment of a Rio Branco Visiting Chair in International Relations in 2012, which brings a leading Brazilian academic with special interests in International Relations to Oxford for three months each year.

Brazil Week

As a reflection of the central role that Oxford’s vibrant Brazilian community plays in university life, the University holds an annual Brazil Week offering students, academics and local residents a wide range of cultural activities to raise awareness of the richness and diversity of Brazilian culture. Highlights of the annual Brazil Week includes seminars, talks, and film screenings with prominent Brazilian guests.

OUP in Brazil

Just as Brazilian culture has a strong place in Oxford, Oxford also has a notable presence in Brazil itself. Oxford University Press (OUP) has a branch office in Brazil, based in São Paulo, and English Language Teaching (ELT) offices in other parts of the country (e.g., Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba). In recent years OUP Brazil has been particularly focused on the development of projects which deliver educational solutions to meet, to meet specific needs, and to help teachers and students achieve the best results in the classroom. Programa Múlitplo de Educacão, to be launched this year, comprises print and digital cross-curricular materials for the 9 grades of Ensino Fundamental, and a package of services with a continuing development programme to support schools.

Brazilian Studies

The Latin American Centre, part of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, has a dynamic and vibrant Brazilian Studies Programme. It promotes a greater understanding of Brazil’s history, society, culture, politics, economy, ecology, and international relations through lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences, research projects, and publications. It extends and strengthens academic links between Oxford, various universities and research institutions in Brazil, and other centres of Brazilian studies around the world. The current Brazilian Studies programme is a successor to the Centre for Brazilian Studies that played a major role in the development of Brazilian Studies from 1997 to 2007 under the leadership of Professor Leslie Bethell.  Each year the Brazilian Studies Programme hosts a number of visiting academics, including junior postdoctoral researchers and senior scholars. The four major research clusters within the Brazilian Studies Programme are International Relations, Comparative Politics, Language and Culture, and Environmental Studies.

Brazilian Politics and International Relations

Brazilian politics, both domestic and international, is also studied frequently, both in its own right and in comparative perspective with other countries. Since the mid-1990s the Brazilian Studies Programme has engaged in active research on the quality and sustainability of Brazil’s post-1985 democratic regime. Topics include democratic consolidation, the design of political institutions, parties and elections, and political culture and public opinion in contemporary Brazil.

Dr Timothy Power, Director of Brazilian Studies, working alongside Dr Paul Chaisty and Dr Nic Cheeseman on a comparative project, was awarded a grant by the Economic and Social Research Council to study the dynamics of executive-legislative relations in Africa, Latin America and the former Soviet Union. Brazil, a classic case of a coalitional legislature working alongside a President with strong formal powers, will be a key focus for the project.

Oxford is consistently ranked highly in the world for politics and international relations, and is one of the world’s leading centres for graduate work and advanced research in International Relations. Oxford has a unique capacity to combine cutting-edge social science with flourishing regional and area studies expertise and a strongly global outlook.

This is particularly true of the study of Brazilian international relations, pioneered by Professor Andrew Hurrell FBA, the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations and a long-time specialist on Brazilian foreign policy. Several of Oxford’s current IR research projects have a strong Brazilian dimension, including the comparative study of regional powers (in partnership with FGV Rio and GIGA in Hamburg) and the role of emerging powers in global governance. The Rio Branco Chair in International Relations has further strengthened Oxford’s connections with the Brazilian academic and policy communities.

Portuguese Language and Brazilian Literature

The study of Portuguese language at Oxford goes back to 1933, and Oxford is one of only two universities in the UK where Portuguese can be studied as an independent language. The Sub-Faculty of Portuguese has more than 50 students and has two permanent lecturerships in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. Teaching and research interests of members of the Sub-Faculty include Linguistics, Brazilian literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, Women Writers and Brazilian cinema. The Sub-Faculty welcomes Visiting Professors nominated by the Brazilian Academy and a steady stream of Brazilian academics on sabbatical leave, with reciprocal visits by Oxford academics.

Students of Portuguese at Oxford have many opportunities to broaden their use of the language: current students are enjoying writing a blog for BBC Brazil, Para Inglês Ver.

Brazilian Culture and Anthropology

Research on Brazil at the Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology focuses mainly on the comparative study of indigenous Amerindian societies and lifecycles, particularly through its teaching and research programme on Amazonian anthropology. In particular, current anthropological research focuses on indigenous conceptions of personhood and social identity, the interrelatedness of people and their environments, and relations between the material and social world. The Institute has recently hosted visiting scholars and students from the University of São Paulo as well as the Federal University of Santa Catarina.

Faculty of Music

Jason Stanyek is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Faculty of Music. As an ethnographer, his research focuses principally on music and dance in Brazilian immigrant communities in the United States and he has also done long-term fieldwork in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. At the Faculty of Music he has given a graduate seminar on the history of bossa nova in the United States (based on a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press) and one section of his undergraduate course on “global hip hop” looks at the politics of hip hop in São Paulo. He has produced an hour-long radio show for Public Radio International about music in the Brazilian diaspora.

Libraries and Museums

Students, researchers and academics interested in Brazil have at their disposal an extensive range of items housed in the University’s museum and library collections.

The Taylor Institute Library is the University’s centre for the study of modern European languages and literatures. The library houses a teaching collection which includes a range of texts and a growing collection of Portuguese films. It also has a research collection of Portuguese language and Luso-Brazilian literature and has particular strengths in the medieval and contemporary periods.

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Beyond just studying and researching Brazil, Oxford is engaged in a number or collaborative relationships with Brazilian colleagues and institutions, rooted in equal partnership and mutually beneficial knowledge exchange.

Structural Genomics Consortium

The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at Oxford University has strong links with Brazil. Its collaboration with the National Laboratory of Biosciences (LNBio) on human NEK kinases and human myosins has already yielded impressive results.

The SGC has an agreement with the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) which has, over 4 years, brought to SGC Oxford up to 5 post-doctoral fellowships and DPhil studentships from Brazil per year.

A $4.3-million (USD) grant from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) plus an in-kind contribution of US$ 1.9 million by The University of Campinas (UNICAMP), totalling US$ 6,2 million – announced in March 2015 – will establish Brazil’s first open-access research facility, the Protein Kinase Chemical Biology Centre at the UNICAMP in Brazil. The Centre, led by Professor Paulo Arruda of UNICAMP, will examine the protein kinases in the human genome that are key regulators of RNA biology and epigenetics and explore the application of the new discoveries to plant research. The new Centre will advance unrestricted discovery as a member of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) — a public-private partnership that supports the discovery of new medicines through open access research — that is based in Oxford, U.K. and Toronto, Canada.

Jenner Institute

Researchers at the Jenner Institute are studying infectious diseases and developing vaccines to prevent diseases of importance in Brazil and Latin America more generally. In particular, researchers are developing a vaccine to prevent Chagas disease, dengue and malaria caused by P. vivax. These three diseases, particularly dengue, have a substantial disease burden in Brazil. Oxford's Jenner Institute has established connections and is beginning to work collaboratively with Brazilian research groups in Sao Paulo, Florianopolis, Goiania and Minas Gerais who are also working on developing vaccines for these diseases. Several Brazilian post-doctoral scientists began work at the Jenner Institute in October 2013.

BNDES Partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government

In 2012, Oxford University's new Blavatnik School of Government was delighted to announce that the BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank) had become an official partner. BNDES has been partnering the school’s annual ‘Challenges of Government’ conference, and both partners are in discussions exploring other kinds of cooperation for the future. In 2013 the Lemann Foundation established a series of fellowships for BSG students from Brazil. Furthermore, Dr Pérsio Arida, former Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil, is on the BSG International Advisory Board.

As it grows, the School aims to build on the University’s Brazilian links to collaborate on challenges and opportunities that are central to Brazil’s intellectual, academic and public policy life.

Environmental Sciences

The University of Oxford has a number of staff and research projects that focus on environmental issues in Brazil. The greatest concentration of researchers is associated with the tropical forest programme, coordinated from the Environmental Change Institute and the School of Geography and the Environment, which has a high-profile international reputation for research on the future of the Amazon forest. In collaboration with Brazilian scientists at the Goeldi Museum (Belem), the National Amazon Research Institute (Manaus), and several Brazilian universities, the Oxford team maintains a number of unique long-term forest research sites across the Brazilian Amazon, a part of a Global Ecosystems Monitoring Network (GEM) coordinated by Oxford.

In addition, the group collaborates closely with the Brazilian National Space Research Agency (INPE) in the monitoring of fire, deforestation and carbon emissions in the Amazon. Every year a number of senior Brazilian scientists are hosted on sabbatical visits in Oxford. Other staff and postgraduates in ECI, Geography, Development Studies, Zoology and Plant Sciences also conduct research in Brazil, including work on climate policy and greenhouse gas emissions, water resources, birds, palms, and indigenous resource management.

Herbaria and Plant Sciences

The BRAHAMS database, developed in Oxford, is a powerful data management system designed for botanical researchers and herbaria. The database integrates data and images from specimens, botanical surveys, field observations, living collections, seed banks and literature. The database is currently being used at one of the three largest herbaria in Amazonian Brazil (Herbário IAN, Belém), and by botanists working on the plant biodiversity of the Brazilian Amazon.

Earth Sciences

The University’s Department of Earth Sciences continues to collaborate with Petrobras in a growing partnership. As well as fully sponsoring one of its staff members on a doctoral programme for a DPhil in Earth Sciences at Oxford, the Brazilian energy giant is supporting several small-scale collaborative projects, as well as visits between the Petrobras Chemostratigraphy Group and colleagues in the Earth Sciences Department.

Department of Materials

Professor Marina Galano, Associate Professor of Materials Science, leads a research group developing light weight alloys and metal matrix composites. Her foci include Al based systems, rapid solidification processes, study of phase transformations and alloy/ composites development enhancing mechanical behaviour. Professor Galano works in collaboration with the staff of the Departamento de Engenharia de Materiais (DEMa) of the Universidade Federal de São Carlos. The collaborative group focuses on light weight nanostructured alloys development and the work extends towards areas of development, processing and mechanical and microstructural characterisation.

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Oxford is currently home to over 60 students from Brazil, the university's largest source of South American students. The majority are studying at post graduate level, with nearly a third being research students. Student most frequently study Geography, Engineering Science, Zoology and Oxford’s prestigious MBA programme at the Saïd Business School.

Brazilian students applying to Oxford have access to a range of scholarship opportunities to support their studies, particularly at graduate level. The Clarendon Fund provides over a hundred fully funded scholarships to academically outstanding students each year. Recent Brazilian Clarendon Scholars have studied a range of subjects from Plant Sciences to Medieval and Modern Languages.

Oxford also actively participates in well-known scholarship programmes (such as the British Government’s flagship Chevening Scholarships) and hosts a wide variety of post-doctoral Research Fellowships.

In addition, prospective Brazilian doctoral students are eligible to apply for funding through the Brazilian Government’s Science Without Borders programme. Further details can be found here: Science Without Borders.

At undergraduate level, Brazilian students studying for an Oxford degree are eligible to apply for the Reach Oxford Scholarships, which cover university and college fees, living expenses and annual return flights.


Oxford currently has nineteen permanent members of research and academic staff from Brazil, all of whom specialise in medical and physical sciences. In addition to these permanent members, Oxford frequently welcomes a considerable number of visiting academics and scholars across its divisions.

Professor Anna Christina Nobre

Anna Christina (Kia) Nobre directs the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity, a state-of-the-art facility for scientists investigating the neural dynamics that underpin human cognition and the neural deficits in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Professor Nobre is a world leader in cognitive neuroscience, widely recognised for her innovative and rigorous approach to fundamental questions about the human brain. Professor Nobre is a Delegate for the Oxford University Press (OUP), advisor to the James S. McDonnell Foundation Program in Understanding Human Cognition, member of the Wellcome Trust Neuroscience and Mental Health Expert Review Group, and serves on the editorial board of several journals.

Professor Nobre grew up in Rio de Janeiro and then completed her university education in the United States, where she obtained her PhD from Yale University. She first moved to Oxford in 1994 to take up a Lectureship in Cognitive Neuroscience and a Junior Research Fellowship at New College.

Dr Wen Hwa Lee

Dr Wen Hwa Lee is currently Scientific Coordinator at the Structural Genomics Consortium at the University of Oxford. The Structural Genomics Consortium is an international public-private partnership that supports the discovery of new medicines through an innovative and pioneering open access research model. Presently the SGC is funded by charities, government agencies and six major pharmaceutical companies. Under the SGC’s main ethos of Open Access and Pre-Competitive Research, Lee has been involved in the planning of strategies, collaborations and alliances with external partners at institutional level to promote the discovery of new medicines and therapies through basic research.

Lee has a BSc and MSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. Subsequently Lee obtained his PhD at the Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron (LNLS - Brazilian National Laboratory of Synchrotron Light) and UNICAMP. His training included Biology, Molecular and Structural Biology, Protein Crystallography, Computational Biology and Drug Discovery, gathered in places as diverse as Brazil, USA (The Scripps Research Institute), France (Université Paris V) and UK (Oxford).


Oxford currently has around 450 alumni living in Brazil.

Oxford alumni of all nationalities who now live in Brazil and neighbouring countries can link with each other via the Oxford University Society alumni group in Brazil which holds an annual Oxford & Cambridge Dinner for Oxbridge alumni in the region to meet and socialise.

In addition, an Oxford Business Alumni chapter was launched in São Paulo in August 2012, in the presence of the Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton.

Oxford’s famous Brazilian alumni include Marcus Vinícius da Cruz e Mello Moraes (also known as Vinícius de Moraes and nicknamed O Poetinha (the little poet)) who was a poet, essayist, playwright, lyricist, and a seminal figure in contemporary Brazilian music.

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