Each academic year at Oxford University is divided in to three terms:
- Michaelmas term from October to December
- Hilary term from January to March
- Trinity term from April to June
Most teaching and learning takes places in the eight weeks of each term known as ‘full term’. These weeks are numbered: 1st week, 2nd week, etc. (See dates of term.)
New students are known as ‘freshers’. There is a ‘freshers’ week’ immediately before the start of Michaelmas term to help new students settle in, so you will probably be required to arrive in Oxford at the beginning of October or end of September in your first year. The exact date you will need to arrive may vary slightly between colleges.
International and European students (not including those from the UK) can also attend a welcome event offered by the Student Information and Immigration teams on Monday of freshers’ week. This event offers advice to students who may need more specific guidance about settling into academic and social life in the UK.
Students may also be required to arrive in Oxford a few days before the start of each subsequent ‘full term’ for any college exams. You may sometimes be required to stay in Oxford for a few days after the end of full term, in to 9th week, to complete any outstanding work or attend classes or tutorials.
Some students choose to stay in Oxford in 9th and 10th weeks of Michaelmas term (in December) to help with interviews in their college. Some students also stay in Oxford until 10th week in Trinity term (usually June/July) to help with University open days.
Some courses have extended terms where students will be required to be in Oxford for longer periods, usually in the later years of the course. These are explained in the course descriptions. Some courses have optional papers which would require you to submit work by 10th or 11th weeks of Hilary term (usually March/April). Some students choose to stay in Oxford until this deadline.
The University’s expectation is that undergraduate students treat academic study as a full-time commitment during full term, with approximately 40 hours per week typically being spent on focussed, concentrated academic work. Students should seek advice from their tutors if they find it impossible to meet their academic obligations without spending significantly longer than 48 hours per week on academic study on a regular basis.
The three holidays between the three terms are known as vacations: the Christmas vacation, the Easter vacation and the long summer vacation. Students are usually required to leave college accommodation during these vacations, so many students return home or travel, and may undertake paid employment. It is expected that students will use some of this time to consolidate learning from the last term and to read around their subject. You may also need to undertake pre-reading or work in preparation for the next term, or to revise for examinations.
Most Oxford courses are assessed by examinations at the end of the first and last years. First year examinations are often called Prelims or Moderations, and you need to pass these exams to progress to the second year. You must pass your final year exams, or ‘finals’, to pass your degree. Finals also determine the classification of your degree. For some courses you may also be assessed on your practical work, or you may be required to submit a dissertation. Please check the assessment details for your course.
Colleges may also set their own examinations, known as ‘collections’, at the start of each term. These exams are to check that you are progressing satisfactorily through the course. They do not count towards your final degree.
One of the benefits of studying at Oxford is that you will receive highly personalised feedback and support from your tutors each week during your tutorials (read more about tutorials). You would usually also receive feedback on your college examinations within four weeks.