Oxford skyline at dusk
Oxford skyline from New College Tower (Image credit: Graduate Admissions)

Oxford tops QS rankings across eight subject areas

The University of Oxford has come top in eight subject areas in the latest and internationally-respected QS rankings, earning the highest number of subject firsts in the UK for the second year in a row.

In the rankings published today, Oxford triumphed for: Anatomy & Physiology, Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics & Ancient History, English Language & Literature, Geography, Modern Languages, Pharmacy & Pharmacology. 
Globally, Oxford comes behind only MIT and Harvard in the US for the number of top subject spots. The rankings reflect the University's strengths in education and research, being based on surveys of academic peers, employers and assessments of research impact.
On a broader level, the rankings are testament to the growing strength of the UK’s higher education sector, with 34 of the 99 featured UK institutions having at least one program ranked among the top ten in the world for their discipline.

Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at Oxford University, said: ‘I am thrilled to see that the University has been recognised at the top of the QS University World Rankings in so many disciplines. The University topping eight subject areas- up from five last year - is a recognition of the enduring excellence of an Oxford education and the calibre of our academic staff. We pride ourselves on our international academic reputation and are committed to providing and supporting the best educational environment.’
The University of Oxford remains the world’s leading institution for the study of Archaeology for the fourth year in a row (2017, 2018, 2019).
Professor Amy Bogaard, Head of the School of Archaeology, said: ‘We are very proud to have retained our position at the top of the QS University World Rankings in our subject for the 4th year running, and amongst other excellent departments. Maintaining the top spot in such a dynamic global discipline is a testament to the creativity and dedication of our staff and students. We will continue to strive for innovation and impact in our research and teaching, and to prepare our talented graduates for a rapidly changing world and its new opportunities.’

Prof David Paterson, Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics,  who also triumphed this year, said: ‘We are delighted to recapture this position once again.  This reflects the world leading nature of the work undertaken in the Department, and everyone (both academic and non-academic staff) should be congratulated and feel proud of this achievement.’

Jack Moran, QS Spokesperson, said: “Over the last five years, our results have illuminated the increasing competitiveness of the global higher education sector, with both the American and Australian systems seeing their share of top-ranked programs decrease sharply since 2016. Furthermore, the British higher education sector has also experienced no small amount of uncertainty since the 2016 referendum. It is therefore a testament to the University of Oxford’s enduring quality that it has not just kept pace with the rate of improvement enjoyed by highly-ambitious, well-funded peers abroad – but has actually managed to continue raising the bar in many areas. Not only do more of its departments enjoy world-leader status than ever before, but we observe nearly half of its 39 ranked departments improving their position: no mean feat, given their already lofty starting-point. A deeper delve into our dataset highlights the outstanding regard in which Oxford’s graduates are held, and the extraordinary impact of the academic inquiry taking place among the spires.”

Each of the subject rankings is compiled using four sources. The first two of these are QS’s global surveys of academics and employers (83,000 academics and 42,000 employers), which are used to assess institutions’ international reputation in each subject. The second two indicators assess research impact, based on research citations per paper and h-index in the relevant subject. These are sourced from Elsevier’s Scopus database, the world’s most comprehensive research citations database. 

These four components are combined to produce the results for each of the subject rankings, with weightings adapted for each discipline.

The results are available at www.TopUniversities.com