Here’s the thing. When it comes to Oxford colleges, we all secretly think we’re the best. The question for you is why. Is it because we’re the oldest, the biggest, the richest, the proudest? At Somerville, it’s none of those reasons. It’s because we’re an Oxford college that has always done things differently.
Here are three reasons why Somerville is different:
- We’re one of the friendliest colleges in Oxford – a true academic community of good people doing good things, inspired by our radical heritage of inclusivity and equality.
- We’re smack bang in the middle of the university’s future, located minutes from Maths, Physics and Engineering Departments and overlooking the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for the Humanities (opening in 2024).
- We’re committed to changing the world through our students and their scholarship – and we offer more funding and scholarship opportunities than most Colleges to support you in realising your ideas and fulfilling your potential.
Want to learn more? Then read on to discover how doing things differently has always made Somerville a special place to be.
Somerville was born out of hope – hope and a refusal to accept the status quo. Our College was created for women when universities refused them entry, and for people of diverse beliefs when conformity was essential if you wanted to succeed.
Today that same mixture of hope and intellectual determination remains the defining characteristic of our College. It is why everyone in our community, from students and academics to the people who’ve worked here for thirty-five years, all pull together in support of the same causes, from sustainability to civil rights.
The differences don’t stop with how we think. Our unconventional origins mean we are also one of the friendliest colleges in Oxford, where people walk on the grass and we don’t stand on ceremony. Just take a look at College Quad on a summer’s day, with people stopping for a chat every few yards or pulling benches together for a tutorial on the lawn. You’ll see that warmth everywhere you go – from our thriving sports clubs and societies to our exceptional choir.
‘You want university to feel like a home away from home. The atmosphere at Somerville and the people here who created it made me feel at home as soon as I arrived in Fresher’s Week. I haven’t looked back since.’
EMANNUEL AMISSAH-ESHUN, LAW STUDENT & JCR PRESIDENT 2018-19
Our Academic Edge
Having a reputation for being different also means we attract world-class academics who support our progressive ethos. For you, that means learning from tutors who are not just recognised leaders in everything from ancient civilisations to artificial intelligence, but also approachable and empathetic people. Taught in groups of two or three through Oxford’s world-famous tutorial system, you’ll receive all the support you need to excel.
Another consequence of being different is that we were founded just on the edge of the very centre of Oxford – which is now right at the working heart of the university. We’re minutes from the Mathematical Institute, the Physics and Engineering and we literally overlook the new Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for the Humanities (opening 2024). All of which means that Somerville guaranteed a front row seat for years to come.
It’s also worth mentioning that our location puts us right in the heart of the vibrant Jericho neighbourhood, with more pubs, bars, cafés and bakeries (plus arthouse cinema) than you can shake a stick at. A bit further up the road you’ll also find Port Meadow, with its famous views over Oxford’s dreaming spires and a lazy stretch of river where many students go for walks and wild swimming.
Then, there is Somerville College itself. Our buildings may not be quite as grand as some places, but we love them all dearly; from elegant Darbishire to brutalist Vaughan, each one tells a chapter in the story of Somerville. Best of all, they provide enough room for you to be guaranteed accommodation in college for every single year of your degree. At the heart of college is our stunning library. Built when women were denied access to the Bodleian, it has grown into one of the best-stocked undergraduate libraries in Oxford, meaning you’ll likely never have to buy your own textbooks.
So if you want to do things differently – if you want to use your intellect and passion to create a better, more hopeful world – then come to Somerville.