A

Ashmolean
The University’s museum of art and archaeology, founded by Elias Ashmole in 1683. It is the oldest museum in the UK.

B

Battels
The charges made to a member of a college (student or Fellow) for accommodation, meals, etc.

Blue
The Blue is the highest sporting achievement at Oxford and Cambridge, and is awarded only to members of certain sports clubs who have competed in the annual Varsity Match.

Bodleian Libraries
The collective name for the University’s integrated library service, formerly known as Oxford University Library Services (OULS).

Bodleian Library
Also known as ‘the Bod’. The largest of the University’s many libraries. It is named after Sir Thomas Bodley.

Bursar
The chief financial officer of a college.

C


Chancellor
Elected by Convocation, the Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the University. The current Chancellor is Lord Patten of Barnes.

Class
(abbrev. Classification) the level of award of a degree (eg 2:1 or Upper Second).

Classes
A lesson attended by approximately 6 students (though may be expanded to 8-15 to meet high demand) and of 60 to 90 minutes duration; usually intercollegiate.

Collections
College exams taken at the start of each term on material covered in the previous term, or in special circumstances, such as Penal Collections which a student may have to take if tutors are concerned about poor performance.

Coming up/Going down
Arriving at Oxford at the beginning of the term/leaving at the end (cf sending down).

Commoner
A student who does not have a scholarship or exhibition.

D

Dean
A Fellow responsible for supervising the conduct and discipline of the Junior Members of the College. To be ‘deaned’ is to be sent to the Dean.

Demonstrating
The supervision of a practical class; the term derives from the now obsolete post titles of ‘University Demonstrator’ (now University Lecturer) and ‘Departmental Demonstrator’ (now Departmental Lecturer), and may be applied equally to those in charge of practical classes and to those who assist in practical class teaching in the laboratory.

Director of Study
Senior academic with responsibility for a particular course or area of academic endeavour.

Division
There are four academic divisions – Humanities; Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Medical Sciences; and Social Sciences.

Domestic Bursar
The college officer (often a Fellow of the College) with overall responsibility for domestic aspects of college life, including accommodation, security, catering and housekeeping, external lettings and sometimes sports facilities and administrative non-academic staff.

Don
A professor, a lecturer or a Fellow.

DPhil
Doctorate of Philosophy. The PhD is known as the DPhil in Oxford.

E

Eights
Inter-collegiate rowing races, held in Trinity Term.

Examination Regulations
The large grey book containing details of syllabuses for all courses, currently issued to all students as they start their course. Also known as The Grey Book and formerly called the Examination Decrees.

Exhibition
A lesser student scholarship.

Expulsion
The permanent loss of membership of the University and college, for serious disciplinary offences.
Fellows
In colleges, the senior members of college who, together with the college head, constitute the governing body of the college.  Colleges may also have other categories of fellow, such as honorary or emeritus fellows, who are not members of the governing body. There are also research fellowships of various kinds in the University.

F

Finals
Final examinations at the end of three or four years as an undergraduate student – the level of degree awarded is largely dependent on performance in these exams.

Finalist
A student taking, or about to take, their final public exams of their degree.

First
Highest class of degree.

First Public Examination
Exams normally taken at the end of the first year, although there are exceptions, and that must be passed for a student to be allowed to continue their course; called either Prelims or Mods.

Fresher
A first year student.

FormalHall
A traditional meal held in college. Depending on the college, formal attire and/or gowns may be worn, and guests from outside the college may be invited.

Full Term
The main undergraduate teaching period at Oxford. It lasts for eight weeks and runs from Sunday of First Week to Saturday of Eighth Week. The dates of Full Term are prescribed by Council and are published in the Gazette and on the University website.

G

Gaudy
College event for old members.

H

High Table
The table in a college dining hall, often on a dais, at which the Head of House and Fellows dine. Guests may sometimes be invited to High Table.

Hilary Term
The second of the academic year’s three terms, running from January to mid-March (c.f. Michaelmas, Trinity).

I

Isis
The part of the River Thames that runs through Oxford.

J

JCR (Junior Common Room)
In addition to being the formal undergraduate student organisation of a college, the Junior Common Room is the hub of undergraduate social activity; also a physical location in a college for student recreation.

Junior Member
A Student Member of the University, undergraduate or postgraduate.

L

Lecturer
Lecturers are those who have the responsibility to present lectures, to which all University students in that discipline may go. In Oxford, not all lecturers are Fellows of colleges.

Long Vac
Long vacation – the name widely used for the period between the end of the Trinity Term and the beginning of the Michaelmas Term each year.

M

Matriculation
Matriculation confers membership of the University on those students who are enrolled at the University of Oxford and following a degree-level course.

Michaelmas Term
The first term of the academic year which begins in October and ends in December (c.f. Hilary, Trinity).

MCR (Middle Common Room)
The self-governing body and social centre for graduate students in a college. Fourth year students are also granted MCR membership. The MCR is also a room located in the college. Also known as the GCR.

Mods
(abbrev. Moderations) Honour Moderations are first year university (or in the case of Classics, second year) exams. They are the “First Public Examination” for the degree of B.A. Results are classified as Firsts, Seconds etc., Not all students take Mods – some take Prelims, depending on the subject in question. (c.f. Prelims).

N

Norrington Table
A league table of colleges published annually, showing comparative performance of students in Finals.

Noughth Week
The week before the beginning of Full Term.

O

OLIS
Oxford’s online library catalogue.

OUDS
Oxford University Dramatic Society, pronounced ‘owds’.

OUP
Oxford University Press.

OUSU
Oxford University Student Union.

P

Papers
Constituent parts of an examination.

Pigeon Post
Nickname for the University Messenger Service, the free internal mail system.

Postgraduate
A student who is studying having already completed (at least) one university degree. Often referred to as a Graduate or Graduate Student.

Prelims
(abbrev. Preliminaries) Preliminary examinations are first year examinations and are not classified into Firsts, Seconds etc. These are only awarded on a Pass/Fail/Distinction basis. See First Public Examinations (c.f. Mods).

Principal
The Head of House at St Edmund Hall

Proctors
The two Proctors (Senior and Junior) are elected each year by colleges in rotation to serve for one year.  The statutes provide that they ‘shall generally ensure that the statutes, regulations, customs, and privileges of the University are observed.  They serve on the University’s main committees and where not members of committees may receive their papers and attend meetings but not vote.  They have responsibilities under the statutes and regulations for aspects of student discipline, for ensuring the proper conduct of examinations and for dealing with complaints. They also carry out ceremonial duties, e.g. at degree ceremonies.

S

Schools
Various meanings – can refer to Examination Schools, a large building on High Street where some exams are taken and lectures are held; or to Prelims/Mods/Finals in general “to take Schools”; or to a course “Honour School of Philosophy”.

SEH
St Edmund Hall.

Sending Down
Known as ‘termination of course’; where a student is expelled from the University for failing the First Public Examination twice, or from college for failing penal collections, or for a disciplinary offence.

SCR
Senior Common Room – the organisation to which all Fellows and College lecturers belong. The SCR is also the name of the room in college which is used by SCR members for a coffee and reading room, as well as for special events hosted by SCR members. (See also the JCR and MCR).

Sheldonian Theatre
The main ceremonial hall used by the University for events such as Encaenia, Matriculation and degree ceremonies.

Split Finals
The idea of taking half of Finals exams at the end of the second or third year, and taking the second half at the end of the third or fourth year, with both counting towards the final degree attained.

Subfusc
Formal attire worn by students and academics on formal occasions, including matriculation, examinations and graduation. It is made up of a dark suit, skirt or trousers, a white shirt or blouse and a white or black bow tie, black full-length tie or black ribbon, worn with a black gown and a mortar-board. The name derives from the Latin subfuscus, meaning dark brown.

Suspension of Status
Suspension of status within the University ‘stops the clock’ for all elements of your degree, including residence, fees and terms for which a particular status may be held.
University information on suspending your studies can be found here, or check out the student led campaign for Suspended Students here

T

Teddy Hall
Affectionate name for St Edmund Hall.

Torpids
Inter-collegiate rowing races, held in Hilary Term.

Trinity Term
Summer term (c.f. Hilary, Michaelmas).

Tutor
Someone who teaches students on an individual basis or in pairs. They may be a Fellow, JRF, or a graduate. They act as both a teacher and an academic guide.

Tutorial
Undergraduates attend, on average, one hour-long tutorial every week, either on a one-to-one basis or with one or two other students. Students must undertake a considerable number of hours’ preparatory work for each tutorial, including background reading, essay-writing and problem-solving.

Tutorial System
The college teaching system whereby undergraduates are taught in very small groups by a tutor (usually a Fellow of the college). Through tutorials, students develop powers of independent and critical thought, analytical and problem-solving abilities, and skills in both written and oral communication and argument.

The Union
The University debating society (not to be confused with Oxford University Students Union, or OUSU).

U

Undergraduate
Someone studying for their first degree.

V

Vac
Abbreviation of vacation – the periods between terms; see also Long Vac.

Varsity
University, especially when concerned with sport.

Varsity Match
Sporting fixture between Oxford and Cambridge (c.f. Blue).

Viva
(abbrev. Viva Voce) oral exam.