Oxford, University of

Oxford, University of,

at Oxford, England, one of the oldest English-language universities in the world. The university was a leading center of learning throughout the Middle Ages; such scholars as Roger BaconBacon, Roger,
c.1214–1294?, English scholastic philosopher and scientist, a Franciscan. He studied at Oxford as well as at the Univ. of Paris and became one of the most celebrated and zealous teachers at Oxford.
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, Duns ScotusDuns Scotus, John
[Lat. Scotus=Irishman or Scot], c.1266–1308, scholastic philosopher and theologian, called the Subtle Doctor. A native of Scotland, he became a Franciscan and taught at Oxford, Paris, and Cologne.
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, John WyclifWyclif, Wycliffe, Wickliffe, or Wiclif, John
, c.1328–1384, English religious reformer. A Yorkshireman by birth, Wyclif studied and taught theology and philosophy at Oxford.
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, and Bishop GrossetesteGrosseteste, Robert
, c.1175–1253, English prelate. Educated at Oxford and probably also at Paris, he became one of the most learned men of his time. He taught at Oxford and later, as rector, made the university an important center of learning.
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 were associated with it. It has maintained an outstanding reputation, especially in the classics, theology, and political science.

Colleges

Oxford has its beginnings in the early 12th cent. in groups of young scholars who gathered around the learned monks and teachers of the town. The system of residential colleges began with Merton College (1264), although University College and Balliol had been founded earlier. Consisting of a corporation of scholars and masters, having its own statutes, property, buildings, and customs, the medieval college maintained almost complete autonomy within the university, as it does today.

The present colleges, with their dates of founding, include University (1249), Balliol (1263), Merton (1264, for men), St. Edmund Hall (1269), Exeter (1314), Oriel (1326, for men), Queen's (1340), New (1379), Lincoln (1427), All Souls (1438, for male fellows), Magdalen (1458; pronounced môd`lĭn), Brasenose (1509; pronounced brāz`nōz), Corpus Christi (1516), Christ Church (1546, for men), Trinity (1554), St. John's (1555), Jesus (1571), Wadham (1610, charter received 1612), Pembroke (1624), Worcester (1714), Keble (1871), Hertford (1874), Lady Margaret Hall (1878, charter received 1926), Somerville (1879, charter received 1926, for women), St. Hugh's (1886, charter received 1926, for women), St. Hilda's (1893, charter received 1926, for women), St. Anne's (1893, charter received 1952), St. Peter's (1929, charter received 1961), St. Catherine's (1962), and Rewley House (1990). Nuffield (1937, charter received 1958), St. Antony's (1948, charter received 1953), Linacre (1962), St. Cross (1965), Wolfson (1965), and Green (1979) are postgraduate colleges of men and women. Most of the undergraduate colleges were founded as either men's or women's colleges and later became coeducational.

Faculties, Instruction, and Facilities

Oxford's faculties include theology, law, medicine, literae humaniores, modern history, English language and literature, modern languages, Oriental studies, Japanese studies, modern Middle Eastern studies, Slavonic and East European Studies, mathematics, physical sciences, biological sciences, physiological sciences, psychological studies, social studies, music, fine arts, archaeology and the history of art, and anthropology and geography.

Instruction at Oxford is by lectures and the tutorial system, by which each student writes a weekly paper on a prescribed subject and discusses it with his tutor. Women first received degrees in 1920, but they were not admitted to full university status until 1959. Oxford's Rhodes scholarships, originally for certain foreign students, were initially financed by a gift from Cecil RhodesRhodes, Cecil John
, 1853–1902, British imperialist and business magnate. Business Career

The son of a Hertfordshire clergyman, he first went to South Africa in 1870, joining his oldest brother, Herbert, on a cotton plantation in Natal.
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.

The Ashmolean Museum (see under Ashmole, EliasAshmole, Elias
, 1617–92, English archaeologist and antiquary. He made exhaustive antiquarian studies, especially The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Order of the Garter (1672) and The Antiquities of Berkshire (3 vol., 1719).
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) and the Bodleian LibraryBodleian Library
, at the Univ. of Oxford. The original library, destroyed in the reign of Edward VI, was replaced in 1602, chiefly through the efforts of Sir Thomas Bodley, who gave it valuable collections of books and manuscripts and in his will left a fund for maintenance.
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 are notable features of the university. Oxford Univ. Press was established by 1478, and the Oxford Union is a world-famous debating society. Until 1948 the university had two representatives in Parliament.

Bibliography

See C. E. Mallet, History of the University of Oxford (3 vol., 1924–27, repr. 1968); F. Markham, Oxford (1967); J. P. V. D. Balsdon, Oxford Now and Then (1970).

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