Living in Oxford | University of Oxford

Living in Oxford

Clubs and societies at the University

Newcomers' Club
An organisation based at the University Club, which welcomes the wives, husbands and partners of visiting scholars, of graduate students and of newly appointed academic members of the University. It offers help, advice, information and the opportunity to meet others socially.

Oxford area Higher Education Staff LGBT network
A social network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff at the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and Oxford University Press.

Oxford Research Staff Society (OxRSS)
A social and professional network for researchers at the University.

Oxford Women’s Network
A social and professional network for female staff and students at the University.

Sports facilities
University staff are eligible to use the University Sports Centre. Most facilities are based at the sports complex on Iffley Road, which includes an athletics stadium, football pitch, tennis courts, and swimming pool. Membership charges and some booking charges apply.

Student clubs and societies
There are over 400 student-run clubs and societies across the collegiate University, many of which are open to staff. They range from drama and music to over 80 different sports clubs.

University Club
The University Club welcomes university and college staff and graduate students. The Club offers a bar, café, gym, all-weather pitch, sports field and accommodation for members and guests.

Courses and lectures at the University

Lectures and talks which are open to members of the University are listed in the Gazette, which is published weekly from September to July. Talks and events that are open to members of the University and to the public are listed in the Staff Events section of the Staff Gateway.

Courses in a range of foreign languages are run by the University Language Centre, which is located on Woodstock Road. The Centre supports University and college staff who need foreign languages for research, study and personal and professional development.

The University’s Department for Continuing Education offers over 600 short and part-time courses, including evening and weekend classes, residential and summer schools, undergraduate and graduate level qualifications, and professional development programmes. More than 15,000 people each year take part in courses offered by the Department for Continuing Education. This makes Oxford the fourth largest provider of continuing education in the UK. The roots of the department date back to 1878, when young Oxford dons began travelling to the Midlands and North to give public lectures. 

Further information

Events and festivals in Oxford

The city hosts a series of events and festivals throughout the year, including:

  • Oxford Science Festival, a three-week festival in March, which aims to engage and enthuse people about science.
  • Oxford Literary Festival, a week-long literary festival held in venues across Oxford in late March or early April.
  • May Day, when the choristers of Magdalen College School sing an invocation to summer from the top of Magdalen College Great Tower at 6am on 1 May.
  • Artweeks, a visual arts festival held during May, when artists and crafts people open their homes and studios to the public.
  • Oxford May Music, a classical music festival combining concerts and lectures that explore music, science and literature.
  • Oxford Pride, a one-week festival in June, which brings together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual communities.
  • Cowley Road Carnival, a one-day carnival held in East Oxford in July involving dance, theatre, and music.
  • Oxford Open Doors, a weekend event in September when University, college and city venues open their doors to the public.
  • Oxford Lieder Festival, a two-week festival of song, which takes place in late October.

Museums

Oxford’s museums, including the Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers, Museum of Natural History and Museum of the History of Science, contain collections of international importance. Details of events and exhibitions can be found on the Events page of the University website.

Each of the University’s museums has its own education service to develop programmes to increase public access to the collections. If you are interested in volunteering to help with tours and activities for visitors and local family groups, visit the Volunteering page on the museums' website. 

Further information

Music

The collegiate University has a long and distinguished reputation in music. Some college choirs, such as the Christ Church, Magdalen and New College choirs, can be traced back centuries. Oxford Philomusica is the University’s professional orchestra in residence, while the Oxford University Orchestra is a student orchestra of professional calibre.

The city also has a thriving music scene. Jazz venues include The Spin at the Wheatsheaf (High Street), while the Oxford O2 Academy (Cowley Road) hosts both local and international bands. Oxford Contemporary Music promotes a wide range of new music, from contemporary classical music to experimental rock and world music.

Further information

Parks and Gardens

Oxford boasts a large amount of green space, including beautiful riverside walks, the University Parks, the oldest botanic garden in the country, and college gardens.

Six miles south-east of the city, you can enjoy Harcourt Arboretum, which contains one of the finest collections of mature trees in the country. Entrance is free on presentation of a University Card. Wytham Woods, a 400-hectare expanse of woodland and grassland, lies three miles north-west of Oxford and can be reached via Wolvercote or the northbound A34. Entrance is free but you need to apply at least two weeks in advance for a permit. Permits are valid for three years.

Further information

Theatre and cinema

Theatres in Oxford include:

There are a number of resident theatre companies in Oxford, including Creation Theatre Company and the Oxford Shakespeare Company, which specialises in open-air theatre.

Each year, a major theatrical figure is appointed as Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre to give a series of lectures and workshops. Past names include Richard Attenborough, Patrick Stewart, Kevin Spacey, Michael Frayn, Trevor Nunn, Meera Syal and Stephen Fry.

Cinema-goers have a choice of four cinemas in the city: