Unhealthy and low-lying as the Romans found it, Oxford was regarded as strategically important by the Saxons who made a settlement near the junctions of the rivers Thames and Cherwell.

The earliest written reference to Oxford is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in AD 912 The University may be said to date from 1214, when the first charter was granted by the Pope, but long before this date there had existed in the town a number of religious communities and these were the real beginning of the University.

The college corporate institutions with special rules and privileges came into being during the Middle Ages, but at first only graduates were full members of them and it was not until the 16th century that all undergraduates were admitted to them. The oldest College is University College (1249). Medieval scholars entered Oxford University to be educated as clerics. The head of a medieval University was a chancellor. Students were taught the seven liberal arts: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Music, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and the three philosophies: Moral, Metaphysical, Natural; also two languages: Greek and Hebrew. On graduating from the university they received the degree of Master of Arts.

Academic life in Oxford is full and varied. Some of the occasions are solemn, some exciting, and a few unashamedly frivolous. The principal annual events are Commemoration, Congregation and Convocation. The first is mainly concerned with the conferring of Honorary Degrees, the ceremony commemorating the opening of the Sheldonian Theatre in 1669.

Every college of the University has its own Library, and many of them are very large and comprehensive.

At present there are 45 colleges, the most recently established is Green College (1981), twenty-three among them are colleges for men. Each college is governed by its Fellows ("dons"), of whom there are usually twenty or thirty. The dons are also responsible for teaching the students of the college through the tutorial system. The Fellows elect the Head of the college. Colleges choose their own students, and a student only becomes a member of the University by having been accepted by a college. Students are chosen mainly on academic merit, but the policy of colleges in this respect varies from college to college. Some tend to be rather keen to admit a few men who are very good at rugby or some other sport, or sons of former students or of lords or of eminent citizens.

The University teachers are mostly Fellows of colleges who may at the same time hold university appointments as lecturers or professors. Part of the teaching is by means of lectures organized by the university, and any student may attend any university lecture. Attendance at lectures is not compulsory, and no records of attendance are kept.

Apart from lectures, teaching is by means of the "tutorial" system organized by the colleges.

Each student has a tutor who guides him through the process of studying. At the weekly meeting with the tutor the student presents the results of week's work. The student is expected to present not only information that he came across while reading, but his own solution of this problem. Student is expected to present his own ideas and thoughts. The main aim of this system is to teach young people to think themselves, to treat everything with a certain amount criticism and to mould their own critical point of view. After four years of study the students will get a Bachelor degree and after two more years a degree of a Master.

Several centuries of history and traditions of education make studying at Oxford complex and challenging.


  1. unhealthy – скудный

  2. low-lying – расположенный в низине

  3. was regarded as – был отнесен к

  4. junction – слияние

  5. chronicle – летопись

  6. charter – хартия

  7. grant – даровать, предоставлять

  8. corporate institution – корпоративные учреждения

  9. come into being – возникнуть

  10. Middle Ages – средние века, средневековье

  11. at first – на первых порах

  12. full members – полноправные члены

  13. undergraduate = student

  14. to be admitted to – быть признанным

  15. cleric – церковник

  16. liberal arts – гуманитарные науки

  17. Hebrew – иврит

  18. Master of Arts – магистр гуманитарных наук

  19. solemn – торжественные, священные

  20. exciting – захватывающие

  21. unashamedly frivolous – бессовестно легкомысленные

  22. principal – основные

  23. Commemoration - день поминовения (крупнейший в году праздник в Оксфордском университете, посвящается памяти основателей его колледжей; проводится в июне; во время торжеств присуждаются почётные степени, читаются стихотворения, удостоенные премии, даётся большой бал)

  24. Congregation - конгрегация (руководящий орган Оксфордского университета; в него входит весь преподавательский состав и администрация)

  25. Convocation - конвокация, совет (высший орган управления Оксфордского университета)

  26. concerned with – иметь отношение к

  27. conferring – присуждение

  28. Honorary Degree – почетная ученая степень

  29. commemorate – праздновать

  30. Sheldonian Theatre - театр Шелдона (ныне является домом совета Оксфордского университета; там происходят торжественные собрания, концерты. Здание построено К. Реном в 1699 на средства архиепископа Кентерберийского)

  31. comprehensive – well-equipped

  32. Fellow = don – преподаватель в Оксфордском университете

  33. tutorial system - университетская система обучения путем прикрепления студентов к отдельным консультантам

  34. merit – заслуга

  35. in this respect – в этом отношении

  36. tend to be – склоняться к

  37. admit – принимать (в университет)

  38. eminent - выдающийся

  39. appointment – должность

  40. by means of – посредством

  41. compulsory – обязательный

© Rudakoff, 2007

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