Why choose Somerville

Somerville is unique. It was founded for women when they were barred from the University and it refused to tie itself to a religious affiliation. This combination was unknown in Oxford at the time. Somerville’s open and inclusive ethos has grown even stronger since the admission of male students in 1994.

From its creation in 1879, it quickly became known as the ‘bluestocking’ College – the College that attracted only the brightest students. Somerville has a legacy of including the excluded.

Here are just a few reasons we’d love you to think about coming to Somerville.

Somerville is…

Friendly and Welcoming

Every College says this, right? But at Somerville you can walk on the grass anywhere you like and this reflects an ethos and an atmosphere that are friendly and egalitarian. It’s a community that’s big on openness and small on hierarchy. There are lots of College clubs and teams to enjoy and our alumni choose to remain involved in the life of the College decades after they leave.

Ambitious and Academic

Somervillians work hard and do well – they really do go on to change the world. We educated the first woman prime ministers of both India and the UK, the only British woman to win a Nobel prize for science, the first woman to chair a major UK bank and the first woman to chair a major UK firm of accountants. Just two decades after they were admitted to the College, our men are already making waves too.

Today our male alumni include a government frontbencher, a Google Young Entrepreneur, the Deputy Editor of Times Literary Supplement and an organist who released his first album with a commercial label in his early 20s. In 2014 four of our finalists won the top Firsts in the University in their respective subjects – and we got to the finals of University Challenge! We have recently established the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development and we house the Global Ocean Commission.

Roomy and Convenient

Around 85% of our undergraduates are guaranteed a room in College and we continue to build new accommodation in order to increase that figure. The College is next to a number of big departments, including Maths, Philosophy and Engineering. The Science Area is a five-minute walk away.

We’re also next to Jericho – Oxford’s coolest little neighbourhood has an art house cinema, great cafés, pubs and restaurants, and if you like huge you green spaces there’s Port Meadow five minutes walk west and University Parks five minutes walk east.

Beautiful and Tasty!

Our grounds are magnificent and receive national attention on a regular basis. They’re also very extensive and there are few better spots in Oxford to sit or lie out in the summer sun. Our food is a special highlight too and Somerville was voted the best of all 40 Colleges and Halls for food. We also have above-average self-catering facilities if you like to try your hand.

Bookish and Musical

Somerville has the biggest open-access library collection of any College in Oxford and the library is open 24 hours a day, which makes an enormous difference during exam prep and those essay crises! (In the annual student surveys conducted from 2010 to 2014, Somerville’s library satisfaction rating averaged 98%, against a Colleges average of 87.1%.)

It’s also home to the John Stuart Mill Collection, the private library of the great Victorian philosopher and his father, as well as to a number of other special collections.

Our choir is rated as one of the best College choirs in Oxford and has produced a number of albums as well as going on tours abroad.
Somerville enables you to prosper in your studies, pursue your passions, be yourself and enjoy your years in Oxford.

Sporting and Arty

There are a wide range of different sports to choose from at Somerville, with most sports teams competing against other colleges in ‘cuppers’ matches. Take your pick from rowing, cricket, rugby, football, netball, hockey, pool, tennis, lacrosse, badminton, squash, croquet and basketball.

The College plays host to an annual Arts Week, which is organised by the JCR Arts Officer, and aims to showcase as many art forms as possible. This year, Arts Week included a student zine launch, a poetry open mic night, a comedy workshop and life drawing.


Read our Prospectus here