Oxford's resources | University of Oxford
St Catherine's College Library
(Image credit: Matt Stuart / Oxford University Images).

Oxford's resources

Oxford University offers fantastic resources to support its students.  Some facilities are provided by the colleges, while others are provided centrally, by the University.

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New College library.A student studying in the New College Library.
Oxford meets the needs of its students, academics and the international community with a wide range of services provided by the largest academic library system in the UK.

Sitting in the Bodleian Library at the same desk that might have once been occupied by John Locke and Robert Hook, I feel part of the University's rich history.


Read your key texts...

Whether you’re writing an essay or preparing for an experiment, you’ll be given a reading list to start from. You can find the books you need for this in your college or department, or both.

College libraries are open to everyone in your college. They stock the core materials for your course, and have generous lending arrangements. They are often open 24 hours a day, providing quiet, convenient places to study. The college librarian can help you to find what you need, and in many cases will order books in specially.

...or research a topic in-depth...

When you find something really interesting, Oxford makes it easy to go beyond your reading list and find out more. Most courses offer a chance to write a dissertation or carry out a research project.

Subject librarians are your guides to Oxford’s world-class research collections. They can advise on the latest publications in your field, or on the best databases to search. They often run classes to help you make the most of what they can offer.

The Bodleian Libraries form the UK’s largest academic library with combined collections of more than 12 million volumes on 400 km of shelves. The Bodleian Library is a legal deposit library, meaning it can claim a copy of any book or journal published in the UK or Ireland. All Oxford students are entitled to use 'the Bod’ for their research.

I think the big realisation for me was that you actually don't need to buy that much. So much is provided for you; for example, as a History student I've never ever had to buy a book or course materials. Everything I need is in a library, somewhere!


...without even leaving your room.

Oxford has an extensive online collection, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes databases, books, reference works and an excellent online journal collection. These are available to members of the University from anywhere with an internet connection:

  • SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) – lists all our books and journals, in print and online.
  • OxLIP+ – lists all our databases, electronic reference works and e-journals.
  • LibGuides – research assistance, subject guides and how the Oxford library system works.

(Although, you might want to leave your room.)

Oxford has a mix of old and new libraries, which offer a fantastic range of places to study. Choose from Duke Humfrey’s (built in 1488, and used as the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films), the elegant circular Radcliffe Camera, the bright modern Social Science Library, the recently refurbished Weston Library (with exhibition spaces, a shop and cafe) and many more.

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Museums and collections

Oxford has collections of international importance - databanks for research, teaching and study - full of wonderful treasures that anyone can enjoy.

Ashmolean Museum

Opened in 1683, the Ashmolean is the oldest public museum in the world. Its rich and incredibly diverse collections range from artefacts of the world’s great ancient civilisations to modern art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.  The Ashmolean hosts major international exhibitions which will be of interest to many students, and of particular use to students in Ancient and Modern History, Fine Art, History of Art, Archaeology, Classics and Anthropology.


Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The spectacular neo-Gothic architecture of a Grade I listed building houses the University’s geological and zoological specimens. Among its most famous are the only soft tissue remains of a dodo, the first dinosaur to be scientifically identified and the swifts in the tower. The Archaeology, Biological and Earth Sciences courses make use of its staff expertise and collections.


Pitt Rivers Museum

Pitt Rivers MuseumView from the Lower Gallery down over the Court of the Pitt Rivers Museum.
The Pitt Rivers is a museum of ethnography and world archaeology, celebrated for its period feel and the density of its displays. Courses that use the museum’s resources include Human Sciences, Archaeology and Anthropology, Geography, Classics, History of Art and Fine Art. In addition to a collection which now numbers over half a million objects, the collection includes extensive photographic and sound archives.


Museum of the History of Science

The world’s oldest surviving purpose-built museum building houses an unrivalled collection of scientific instruments from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Astrolabes, sundials, quadrants, mathematical and optical instruments and apparatus associated with chemistry, natural philosophy and medicine are displayed, alongside temporary exhibitions. The collections are used in teaching History of Science and History of Art.


Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum

Oxford is unusual among UK universities in having both a Botanic Garden and an extensive Arboretum, with over 6,000 species of plants from all over the world. The collections include several unique specimens, not in cultivation anywhere else. The gardens and glasshouses at the Botanic Garden, and the exotic collection, meadows, and native woodland at the Arboretum, are perfect for visiting any time of the year. These collections are particularly used by students in Biological Sciences.



Bate Collection

One of the most magnificent collections of musical instruments in the world, the Bate has more than 2,000 instruments from the Renaissance, through the baroque, classical and romantic periods up to modern times. More than a thousand instruments are on display, by the most important makers and from pre-eminent collectors. Music and History of Art undergraduates make use of the collection.


IT services

IT Language - info graphicThe university wifi network covers most of central Oxford, including parks and pubs! Eduroam is also available in many NHS sites and doctors' surgeries.

Mobile Oxford

Whether you need maps, library books, the next bus, or even collection times at the nearest postbox, Mobile Oxford is here to help.


Podcasts and iTunes U

IT-LanguagePublic lectures, teaching material, interviews with leading academics – all available to download for free and watch and listen to on the move.



IT Learning Centre

A wide range of free or low-cost courses and workshops to support your studies, both teacher-led and online.



Course materials and recorded lectures for your studies, and tools - eg for plagiarism awareness - for use on your mobile device.



Free 24/7 access to high-quality online courses for building business, creative, and technology skills in your own time.


Getting started

This webpage will tell you all about what to bring and how to get started with IT at Oxford, as well as how to get help if you need it:


Language Centre

IT Language - info graphicThe Language Centre’s term-time programmes of study offer students a chance to learn a new language or keep up an old one, whatever their degree.

The Language Library has a range of multimedia facilities including text and audio-visual material in over 190 languages.

Language classes are provided from day to evening. They are offered at different levels of proficiency and intensity, and some offer a certificate. You can learn languages for study and research, to support your career ambitions and for cultural and recreational purposes.

Tailored courses are provided for students from certain departments.

Courses in academic English are available for international students who would like to improve their English for study purposes while they are here.

Intensive week-long courses are run out of term-time in some of the most popular languages.

To find out more about language courses and fees see the Language Centre website.

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