Interactive audio tour brings Oxford to life for students

19 September 2018

Oxford University launched an interactive audio tour today, to help new and prospective students to find their feet in the city.

Know Your Oxford uses smartphone navigation to guide newcomers around Oxford, with staff and students giving audio tips on one of the worlds’ oldest institutions as they go.

Narrated by Charlotte Laycock, a current Oxford student from Greater Manchester, the tour features presidents of the African and Caribbean Society and the Dramatic Society; a librarian at the Bodleian; and the President of the University’s student union, Oxford SU.

Know Your Oxford can be downloaded for free, and is the first university tour to be made available on the popular VoiceMap platform.

Narrator Charlotte Laycock started studying at Oxford in 2015 after leaving Aston Sixth Form College Ashton-Under-Lyne. She is now in her fourth year of a Clinical Medicine degree at St Hilda’s College.

Charlotte said: “Going to Oxford was daunting, but the tour will help new students orientate where the most important buildings are within Oxford for them - whether that be a particular library or department.

“Even before applying, this tour will help students to realise that whilst the university buildings are quite spread apart, there is never more than a 10-15 minute bike cycle between buildings.

“The highlights of the tour for me are the Covered Market and Gloucester Green. There is so much to explore in these areas and find something new to try.”

The tour outlines the role of the colleges and departments; gives an inside view on Oxford’s academic dress and ceremonies; and points out the museums, libraries and other attractions.

It also includes practical advice on being a student, with information about the students’ union and University services; as well as where to find shops, supermarkets, and places to eat and drink.

Winding through the historic heart of Oxford, it passes by iconic buildings including the Radcliffe Camera and the Sheldonian Theatre, revealing snippets of the city’s long history.

Martin Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Education, at the University of Oxford, said: “Oxford is a fantastic place to be a student, but those who are thinking about studying here, or have just started their studies, can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed.

“This tour provides practical advice in an interactive way, helping to dispel some of the myths about what being a student here is really like. I am hopeful that it will make Oxford seem less intimidating and give them a solid grounding for their future studies.”

Joe Inwood, President of Oxford SU, which worked with the University to develop the tour, said: “Oxford may feel small and compact sometimes but there is so much to explore and see, especially off the beaten track. This tour really shines a light on some of the hidden gems of Oxford.”

The tour was made possible by the Oxford University Innovation Challenges, which supports innovative ideas at the University.

Iain Manley, CEO of VoiceMap, the online platform that hosts the tour, said: “VoiceMap's tours are an invitation into a community - in this case, prospective students at Oxford, at the start of their university journey. I suspect other universities will wonder why they didn't use the technology first, and end up following in Oxford's footsteps."

Know Your Oxford is specifically designed for current and prospective students, and is not intended to be used as a general tour of Oxford.

Current or prospective students who would like to take the tour, but are not currently in the city, can hear the audio clips on the University website.

For further information, go to