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Poets Laureate

Cambridge University Oxford University

Oxford University is the oldest in Britain. The university now has 38 colleges (in 2008 Green and Templeton Colleges merged) (see the list of colleges).

The colleges
Nineteen of these 38 colleges were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries, whilst the other 19 have foundation dates stretching back as early as 1249, the year the oldest college - University College - was founded.

Many of the foundation years given for the colleges don't reflect the fact that they often replaced even more ancient halls of residence, used by students who studied in Oxford before the college system had even developed. These institutions often date back into the 11th century or further.

Oxford University - especially its older established colleges - has seen many of its former students go on to achieve notable things.

No degree
But a successful completion of their studies was not always necessary for former students to achieve success in life. The Poet Laureates
Sir William D'Avenant, Robert Southey and John Betjemen, the poet Percy Shelley and the writers Samuel Johnson and Robert Graves all left Oxford without a degree. A degree also eluded Edward VII, the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the founder of the US state of Pennsylvania William Penn and the Elizabethan adventurer Walter Raleigh.

It wasn't until 1879 when Lady Margaret Hall and
Somerville College opened that women were finally admitted to Oxford. Since then graduates have included the first British woman to win a Nobel Prize, Dorothy Hodgkin; Britain's three women Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Liz Truss; the writers Iris Murdoch and Dorothy L. Sayers; India's first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and the Burmese winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The following list shows the 38 colleges, grouped by the century in which they were founded.

The colleges founded before the 18th century include information on a selection of famous people who have been connected to the college and links to the college website and its history webpage.

The colleges founded since 1700 have links to their websites.

The 38 Oxford Colleges


13th century


University College
Founded: 1249

Balliol College

Founded: c. 1263

Merton College

Founded: 1264

14th century


Exeter College
Founded: 1314

Oriel College

Founded: 1326

Queen's College

Founded: 1341

New College
Founded: 1379

15th century


Lincoln College

Founded: 1427

All Souls College

Founded: 1438

Magdalen College

Founded: 1458

16th century


Brasenose College
Founded: 1509

Corpus Christi Coll.
Founded: 1517

Christ Church

Founded: 1546

St John's College
Founded: 1555

Trinity College
Founded: 1555

Jesus College
Founded: 1571

17th century


Wadham College
Founded: c. 1613

Pembroke College
Founded: 1624

18th century

Worcester College
Founded: 1714

19th century

St Catherine's College
Founded: 1868

Keble College

Founded: 1870

Hertford College

Founded: 1874

Lady Margaret Hall
Founded: 1879

St Anne's College

Founded: 1879

Somerville College

Founded: 1879

Mansfield College

Founded: 1886

St Hugh's College

Founded: 1886

Harris Manchester Coll.

Founded: 1889

St Hilda's College

Founded: 1893

20th century

St Peter's College

Founded: 1929

Nuffield College

Founded: 1937

St Antony's College

Founded: 1950

St Edmund Hall

Founded: 1957

Linacre College

Founded: 1962

St Cross College
Founded: 1965

Wolfson College
Founded: 1965

Kellogg College
Founded: 1990

Green Templeton College
Founded: 2008

15th century
Lincoln College A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Lincoln College was founded in 1427 by the Bishop of Lincoln, Richard Fleming.

Its earliest students all studied for the clergy and tended to come from the counties of Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Northamptonshire as well as Wales and the West Country.


Famous People

John Wesley Founder of Methodism
Fellow, 1726-51

Nobel Prize Winners

Howard Florey Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1945
Fellow, 1934-62
Professor of Pathology, 1935-62

Prime Ministers

Rishi Sunak Prime Minister of Britain, from 2022
Undergraduate, 1998-2001

Writers and Poets

William D'Avenant Poet laureate, 1638-68
Undergraduate, 1621-22 No degree
D'Avenant broke off his studies after the death of his parents

John Le Carré Writer
Undergraduate, 1952-56

All Souls College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

All Souls College was founded by Henry Chichele, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the foundation stone being laid in 1438.

Set up to educate men for the clergy its students originally came from Canterbury.


Artists and Architects

Christopher Wren Architect
Fellow, 1653-57
Savilian Professor of Astronomy, 1661-73

Explorers and Adventurers

T.E. Lawrence Adventurer. Writer
Fellow, 1919-26

Famous People

Isaiah Berlin Philosopher
Fellow, 1932-38 and 1950-66
Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, 1957-67
See New College

Nobel Prize Winners

John R. Hicks Nobel Prize for Economics, 1972
Fellow, 1965-71

Joseph E. Stiglitz Nobel Prize for Economics, 2001
Fellow, 1976-79

Amartya Sen Nobel Prize for Economics, 1998
Fellow, 1980-88

Prime Ministers

Marquess of Salisbury Prime Minister of Britain, 1885-86, 1886-92 and 1895-1902

Magdalen College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

In 1448 William of Waynflete, the Bishop of Winchester founded Magdalen Hall close to the college's present location.

Waynflete needed more land to realise his ambitions for the institution and so he acquired the site of a derelict hospital just outside the then city boundary. It was here that in 1458 Magdalen College was founded.


Famous People

Reginald Pole Archbishop of Canterbury
See Corpus Christi College

Terrence Malick Film director
Rhodes Scholar, 1966-68

Inventors and Scientists

Edmund Cartwright Inventor
MA, 1766 Fellow, 1764-73

Nobel Prize Winners

Charles Sherrington Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1932
Fellow, 1913-35
Waynflete Professor of Physiology
, 1913-35

Howard Florey Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1945
Rhodes Scholar, 1921-23 MA, 1924
See Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge

John Eccles Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1963
Rhodes Scholar, 1925-29 Fellow, 1934-37

Robert Robinson Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1947
Fellow, 1930-55
Waynflete Professor of Chemistry
, 1930-55

Peter B. Medawar Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1960
Undergraduate, 1932-35 Fellow, 1938-44 and 1946-47

Erwin Schrödinger Nobel Prize for Physics, 1933
Fellow, 1933-38

Anthony J. Leggett Nobel Prize for Physics, 2003
Fellow, 1963-67

A. Michael Spence Nobel Prize for Economics, 2001
Rhodes Scholar, 1966-68

Seamus Heaney Nobel Prize for Literature, 1995
Fellow, 1989-94
Professor of Poetry, 1989-94

Writers and Poets

Thomas Hobbes Philosopher
Undergraduate, 1603-08

Oscar Wilde Writer
Undergraduate, 1874-78

C.S. Lewis Writer
Fellow, 1925-54
See Magdalene College, Cambridge

John Betjeman Poet laureate, 1972-84
Undergraduate, 1925-28 No degree

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