The university is a “city university” in that it does not have a main campus; instead, colleges, departments, accommodation, and other facilities are scattered throughout the city centre. The Science Area, in which most science departments are located, is the area that bears closest resemblance to a campus. The ten-acre (4 hectare) Radcliffe Observatory Quarter in the northwest of the city is currently under development. However, the larger colleges’ sites are of similar size to these areas.
Iconic university buildings include the Sheldonian Theatre used for music concerts, lectures, and university ceremonies; and the Examination Schools, where examinations and some lectures take place. The University Church of St Mary the Virgin was used for university ceremonies before the construction of the Sheldonian. Christ Church Cathedral uniquely serves as both a college chapel and as a cathedral.
In 2012–13, the university built the controversial one-hectare (400m × 25m) Castle Mill development of 4–5-storey blocks of student flats overlooking Cripley Meadow and the historic Port Meadow, blocking views of the spires in the city centre. The development has been likened to building a “skyscraper beside Stonehenge”.
To be a member of the university, all students, and most academic staff, must also be a member of a college or hall. There are 38 colleges of the University of Oxford and six Permanent Private Halls, each controlling its membership and with its own internal structure and activities. Not all colleges offer all courses, but they generally cover a broad range of subjects.
The Permanent Private Halls were founded by different Christian denominations. One difference between a college and a PPH is that whereas colleges are governed by the fellows of the college, the governance of a PPH resides, at least in part, with the corresponding Christian denomination.
Christ Church (Latin: Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ædēs, of Christ, and thus sometimes known as “The House”) is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. The college is associated with Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.
Like its sister college, Trinity College, Cambridge, it was traditionally considered the most aristocratic college of its university. It is the second wealthiest Oxford college by financial endowment (after St John’s) with an endowment of £310m as of 2012.
Christ Church has produced thirteen British prime ministers, which is equal to the number produced by all 45 other Oxford colleges put together and more than any Cambridge college (and two short of the total number for the University of Cambridge of fifteen).
The college was the setting for parts of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, as well as a small part of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. More recently it has been used in the filming of the movies of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and also the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel Northern Lights (the film bearing the title of the American edition of the book, The Golden Compass). Distinctive features of the college’s architecture have been used as models by a number of other academic institutions, including the National University of Ireland, Galway, which reproduces Tom Quad. The University of Chicago and Cornell University both have reproductions of Christ Church’s dining hall (in the forms of Hutchinson Hall and the dining hall of Risley Residential College, respectively). ChristChurch Cathedral in New Zealand, after which the City of Christchurch is named, is itself named after Christ Church, Oxford. Stained glass windows in the cathedral and other buildings are by the Pre-Raphaelite William Morris group with designs by Edward Burne-Jones.
The Great Hall at Christ Church was replicated in the film studios to create Hogwart’s Hall for the Harry Potter movie. Only one of our portraits moves, sadly, but many of the faces are the real “Wizards” who have changed the way we understand the world. As Harry and the new first-years enter Hogwarts they are greeted by Professor McGonagall. This scene was shot on the 16th century staircase which leads up to the Great Hall. The cloisters in Christ Church were first built 1000 years ago. This ancient vintage made them the ideal setting for various scenes. It is here that Harry is shown the trophy his father won as a seeker in Quidditch.
Christ Church is also partly responsible for the creation of University College Reading, which later gained its own Royal Charter and became the University of Reading.
The college has admitted women as junior members since 1978, with the first female students graduating in 1980.
The University maintains the largest university library system in the UK; and, with over 11 million volumes housed on 120 miles (190 km) of shelving, the Bodleian group is the second-largest library in the UK, after the British Library. The Bodleian is a legal deposit library, which means that it is entitled to request a free copy of every book published in the UK. As such, its collection is growing at a rate of over three miles (five kilometres) of shelving every year.
The buildings referred to as the University’s main research library, The Bodleian, consist of the original Bodleian Library in the Old Schools Quadrangle, founded by Sir Thomas Bodley in 1598 and opened in 1602, the Radcliffe Camera, the Clarendon Building, and the New Bodleian Building. A tunnel underneath Broad Street connects these buildings, with the Gladstone Link connecting the Old Bodleian and Radcliffe Camera opening to readers in 2011.
The Bodleian Libraries group was formed in 2000, bringing the Bodleian Library and some of the subject libraries together. It now comprises 28 libraries, a number of which have been created by bringing previously separate collections together, including the Sackler Library, Social Science Library and Radcliffe Science Library. Another major product of this collaboration has been a joint integrated library system, OLIS (Oxford Libraries Information System), and its public interface, SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online), which provides an electronic catalogue covering all member libraries, as well as the libraries of individual colleges and other faculty libraries, which are not members of the group but do share cataloguing information.
The Divinity School is a medieval building and room in the Perpendicular style in Oxford, England, part of the University of Oxford. Built between 1427 and 1483, it is the oldest surviving purpose-built building for university use, specifically for lectures, oral exams and discussions on theology. It is no longer used for this purpose, although Oxford does offer degrees in divinity taught by its Faculty of Theology, which is housed at the Theology Faculty Centre, 41 St Giles’, Oxford.
The ceiling consists of very elaborate lierne vaulting with bosses, designed by William Orchard in the 1480s.
The building is physically attached to the Bodleian Library (with Duke Humfrey’s Library on the first floor above it), and is opposite the Sheldonian Theatre where students matriculate and graduate. At the far end from the Bodleian Library entrance, a door leads to Convocation House (built 1634–7).
Oxford has inspired some towering figures of literature, with many of the city’s historic landmarks and streets playing a key role in the lives of authors such as Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings).
Opposite the Oxford University Church’s entrance, there is an elaborate wooden door marked in the centre by the face of a wise lion. This is the “Narnia Door”, said to have inspired C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe door that the Pevensie children walked through in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The book has motivated blockbuster movies and indeed ornate stage plays as the video below shows.
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