Academic Life

Studying at Christ Church

Christ Church offers an intensive academic experience within a supportive, collegial environment. The College brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, all of whom share a common enthusiasm for the study of their subject.

At Oxford, students are taught in university-wide lectures, small-group classes, and labs or practicals. These forms of teaching are underpinned by regular, college-based meetings known as tutorials. Tutorials are held once or twice a week with your tutor and at most one or two other students. These meetings are the focal point for teaching and learning at Oxford, and provide an opportunity for you to engage critically with your week’s study through debate and discussion with your tutor.

Thanks to the tutorial system, students receive individual and highly personalised attention from a tutor who is actively involved in research and who is often a leading expert in his or her field. Tutorials are not a passive form of learning, but instead depend on active participation from both sides. You are expected to be prepared to discuss your thoughts and ideas with your tutor, who in turn offers suggestions, encouragement, and constructive criticism to help you extend and deepen your understanding of the topic. Through regular tutorials, you will learn to think independently and critically, will never be content with a merely superficial understanding of a subject, and will discover how to form, express and, when necessary, revise or defend your own views.

A significant proportion of your working week is spent preparing for tutorials. The form this preparation takes depends on the subject. You may be asked to write an essay, answer a group of focused questions, or complete a set of problem sheets. All tutorial teaching is integrated with lectures, classes, and practicals. Typically, scientists spend a significant amount of time in the lab, whilst students in the humanities and social sciences tend to spend more time working independently in college or faculty libraries.

Though you are given individual feedback on the work you produce for your tutorials, this work does not count towards your final degree classification. Instead, tutorials are designed to promote learning free from the pressures of formal marking. Formal assessment is primarily done through exams, most of which are taken at the end of the final year of study. There are often opportunities for research projects and extended essays, which are then marked as part of the final degree classification.

Overseeing your studies at Christ Church is a personal tutor, normally a tutor in your subject. It is your personal tutor who checks that academic arrangements are in place and working well, guides you in the choice of optional subjects, and arranges tutorial teaching. Your personal tutor is also the person you can turn to for help with everything from navigating library and lab resources at Oxford to where to obtain advice about possible future careers.

A wide range of courses is available at Oxford, the vast majority of which are offered at Christ Church. All our courses initially provide a broad foundation in the subject before allowing scope for specialisation in the later years of study. The course content and structure do not vary from college to college, nor do the exams. The courses on offer at Oxford are academic and theoretical, and do not ‘train’ you for a particular job. Our degrees nevertheless prepare you for many different kinds of careers. Learning through the tutorial system is a process that broadens your outlook, nurtures your independence of thought, and develops tolerance and understanding of other points of view, all skills highly valued by employers.

Graduate Studies

Graduate students play an important role in the life of Christ Church. At any one time, we have around 260 students studying for higher degrees and diplomas, about half of whom are from overseas. Details of graduate programmes can be found in the University of Oxford Graduate Studies Prospectus, which is available online at: Further information about graduate studies at Christ Church is available from our Tutor for Graduates at:

Scholarships, Awards and Financial Assistance

As is the case at all Oxford colleges, no awards are offered on entry to Christ Church, apart from Organ and Choral Scholarships. All undergraduates are considered for a variety of scholarships and other awards on academic grounds for their second and subsequent years. Organ Scholarships and Academical Clerkships (Choral Scholarships) are awarded in most years. Organ Scholars are expected to study music; Academical Clerks may study any subject (For more information on Choral Scholarships, see: In addition, Instrumental Awards are offered to undergraduates in recognition of their contribution to the musical life of the College.

We are aware that the issue of student finance is a growing concern and possible barrier to access. We offer generous financial support to students who need it, in the form of bursaries, grants (for books, travel, and vacation residence), and interest-free loans, meaning that no student with the ability and potential to study at Oxford should be deterred from making an application to us based on financial grounds. Further details can be found by clicking on the Financial Support tab.


The College boasts some excellent resources to help its students with their academic work. The spacious Christ Church Library houses a collection of well over 160,000 books, including many of the core texts required for taught courses, in addition to numerous early printed books and manuscripts used by researchers. It is generally regarded as the largest and best-resourced library in Oxford outside the world famous University library, the Bodleian. There is also a separate Law Library with a valuable collection of legal works, which is open 24 hours a day.

Computer Facilities

The College’s two well-equipped computer rooms are available for use by all students. The terminals are fully networked, giving students access to email and the internet, as well as offering a full software package, including word processing, presentation tools, and teaching software such as that used for logic tuition. All student accommodation at Christ Church has access to the college's wifi network, which allows students with their own laptops to access the internet from their rooms free of charge. Many other areas of the college also have wifi, including the Library and Junior Common Room (JCR).

Picture Gallery

Christ Church is fortunate in having an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings housed in our own Picture Gallery. It includes works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck, and the Carracci. There are also frequent special exhibitions of both historical and contemporary art, including undergraduates’ work. The Picture Gallery is a convenient and invaluable resource to students of Fine Art, History of Art, and related disciplines, as well as those who simply enjoy the visual arts in general.

Art Room

We are fortunate in having an Art Room and Art Tutor available to all students, whatever subject they may be studying. The Art Room is very popular and enjoyed by a wide cross-section of the College’s members. It is equipped with basic artists’ needs (materials are for sale) and lots of space in which to work. The Art Tutor (who also looks after our Fine Art students) offers afternoon and evening classes such as life drawing and printmaking, as well as friendly, informal advice, and organises visits, discussions, and video displays. Resident artists are also invited, and the Art Room is used for displays of work and exhibitions.