Sport, arts and societies | University of Oxford
Students boxing
Students boxing
(Image credit: Ashley Tsai / Graduate Photography Competition)

Sport, arts and societies

Take advantage of the University's excellent facilities for sport and fitness, music, art and theatre. Get involved with Oxford's many student groups and societies, which cover music, literature, sport, politics, drama, arts, media, faiths, cultural groups, science, opportunities for volunteering and much more. The annual Freshers’ Fair at the start of the autumn term is an ideal opportunity to find out what's available.

Sport and fitness

Oxford's tradition of academic excellence has historically gone hand in hand with a reputation for sporting excellence. During our history, 283 Oxford students have taken place in the Olympic games, winning 167 medals - of which 84 were gold.

But you don't have to be an Olympian to make the most of our world-class sports and fitness facilities—we cater for everyone. 

We have about 85 University sports clubs and over 200 college clubs, dedicated to a wide range of sports, from archery to ice hockey, and from canoeing to kendo. The Active at Oxford campaign encourages Oxford students to enjoy the benefits of sport and fitness, whether it’s casual or competitive, with plenty of taster sessions to let you try out new things. 

Oxford University Sport on Iffley Road is a state-of-the-art multi-sports complex. It is home to a gym, dojo, rowing tank, football pitches and tennis courts, as well as the competition-standard Rosenblatt Pool. You can even run on Oxford’s famous running track, where Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile under four minutes. The newly-opened Acer Nethercott Sports Centre has a four-court sports hall with a state-of-the-art LED-lined floor.

We also have outstanding sports facilities across Oxford’s colleges, from squash courts and fitness suites to boathouses, cricket pitches and lively clubhouses. 

Music, drama and media

Oxford has been a home of the arts for centuries, and our graduate students are fully involved in all aspects. 

Music

You’ll find dozens of student music societies across the University and its colleges, covering an incredible range of music styles. 

The Oxford University Music Society (OUMS) encourages students to get involved with music, and coordinates ensembles like the Oxford University Brass Band. There are also two major student orchestras of professional standard, the Oxford University Orchestra and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. Oxford’s world-famous choirs include the chapel choirs of Magdalen, New College and Christ Church, and chamber choirs such as the Schola Cantorum.

Many colleges also have their own orchestras, bands and choirs, with dedicated music rooms and practice spaces.

Theatre and film

Oxford has a thriving drama scene. With about 30 shows performed each term, there are plenty of chances to be involved. 

The Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) is large and very popular. OUDS posts auditions, crew calls and other opportunities throughout the year, and its annual calendar includes Cuppers, an intercollegiate drama competition; the New Writing Festival, a competition for playwrights; and the OUDS National Tour, when a production directed, performed and produced by students is showcased in venues across the UK, culminating in a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Media and journalism

Whether you’re interested in writing, editing, design, photography or broadcasting, there’s a wealth of opportunities for you at Oxford.

Oxford is home to the UK’s only independent student publishing house, and students are creating new media channels all the time. Oxford has two weekly student-run newspapers, Cherwell and The Oxford Student (‘The OxStu’). Students also publish a number of fascinating and beautiful magazines, including the Oxford Review of Books (ORB), Oxford’s literary and cultural review; The Oxford Scientist, the science magazine; and ISIS, the UK’s oldest independent student magazine for journalism, fiction and design.

Oxide is the student union’s radio station, broadcast online throughout term time.

Other societies and interests

Student unions

As a graduate student you’ll automatically become a member of the Oxford University Student Union (Oxford SU). Oxford SU is student-led, democratic and independent, and aims to support and represent Oxford students. You can get involved in Oxford SU’s campaigns, contribute to its media channels and take advantage of its resources and services. Each year a Vice-President for Graduates is elected to act as a spokesperson for Oxford’s graduate student body.

Your college will have a Middle Common Room (MCR), Graduate Common Room (GCR) or Common Room (in graduate colleges). This is the hub of graduate life within every college, and it refers both to a physical space for socialising within college and also to an active graduate community. Each MCR elects a committee every year, dedicated to organising social events in college and representing student views to the college and Oxford SU.

Student societies

Oxford has over 400 student societies, dedicated to everything from drones and fintech to classical drama and ukulele playing. There are also many political, national, regional and religious societies—these are a great way to meet others who share your interests, background, views or beliefs.

And if you think there’s a gap to be filled, you can also set up your own society and apply for funding from the University to help you get started.

The Oxford Union is the world’s most famous debating society. Not to be confused with the Student Union, it is part of the University but run by students, and it has an outstanding reputation for bringing internationally known guests and speakers to Oxford. Each term, the Union publishes a Term Card with a calendar of upcoming speakers, debates and other events. If you choose to join the Union as a member, you can take advantage of the Union’s social spaces and beautiful Old Library.

Charity and volunteering

Run by students, the Oxford Hub is the centre for student volunteering in Oxford. As a charity that aims to empower people to make positive change in the local community, it offers practical volunteering and skilled placements, incubates projects and runs a wide range of events. It works in collaboration with over 40 student groups and projects for social change, and supports over 600 students to volunteer in the Oxford community.

Raise and Give (RAG), Oxford SU's fundraising organisation, offers a way for students to raise money for charity while having fun, with events such as charity football tournaments, comedy nights and the first ever University-wide charity ball.

You can find out more about volunteering in Oxford on the Oxford Students website.

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