Here’s the thing. When it comes to Oxford colleges, we all secretly think we’re the best place for you to study. The question you need to ask yourself is why. Is it because we’re the oldest, the biggest, the richest, the proudest?
At Somerville, it’s none of those reasons. We think students like Somerville because we’re an Oxford college that has always chosen to do things differently.
Below you will find a list of the ways in which Somerville is different – and why we will always welcome students who want to do things differently themselves, using their intellect and passion to create a better, more hopeful world.
Somerville was born out of 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.
Our unconventional origins allowed us to develop into one of the friendliest and least formal colleges in Oxford. This is a true community, where people come together across disciplines and generations to advance learning and forge new relationships. Just take a look at College Quad on a summer’s day, where people stop every few yards for a chat or pull benches together for a tutorial on the lawn. You’ll see that same 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.
Our Financial Support
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.
Another consequence of being different is that we were founded on the edge of Oxford’s historic centre – in a location which is now smack bang at the heart of the university. We’re minutes from the Mathematical Institute, the Physics and Engineering Faculties 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.
It’s not just our community and our heritage that make Somerville special. Our buildings and gardens are also unique, with every one of them – from elegant Darbishire to Brutalist Vaughan – telling a new chapter in the Somerville story. Best of all, our buildings offer enough space for you to be accommodated in college throughout your degree – a real rarity among Oxford colleges. At the very 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.