Which Is The Best Oxford College For Medicine?

One of the factors to consider when applying for Medicine at Oxford is which college do you want to spend the next few years of your life at. We look at which college is best for Medicine students.

Last Updated: 30th November 2018

Author: Chloe Hewitt

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With so many different Oxford colleges available to you, knowing which one is right for your Medicine application is important. 

An Oxford Medicine application is an overwhelming time, but having countless college names thrown at you, it is, understandably, hard to decide which one to apply to. 

So, which Oxford college is best for Medicine?

The Oxford Collegiate System

The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, which means it operates through centralised teaching and teaching in colleges. 

These colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world and make it such a special place to study and live. 

Every student belongs to a college and is also a member of their course department and the University. The college will be where you eat, sleep and study with undergraduates living in college accommodation in their first and usually last year – though the option to live in for the duration of your course is available. 

Colleges have an active community with a vibrant social lift amongst members of the undergraduate body, and many unique traditions as part of this beautiful and historic city. 

After third year, the Clinical School also has its own common room called Osler House located on the grounds of the John Radcliffe Hospital where many social events are held to get to know one another.

This means all Oxford students have the benefits of belonging to both a large, world-class university and to a small and friendly academic community. 

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What Oxford Colleges Offer Medicine?

All colleges are academically strong, and your course will be excellent regardless of the college you are a member of. 

The college to which you apply has no bearing on the chances of gaining a place – the ratio of Interviews to places is the same across the board. Every applicant is Interviewed by at least two colleges, helping to ensure that the strength of each college’s cohort of applicants is very similar. 

But of the 34 colleges at Oxford, which ones consider applicants for Medicine?

Regardless of which college you belong to, you will be able to mix freely across colleges, you will also meet people not at your college in department and university-wide events.

Factors To Consider

Most teaching in Medicine is done through the university. This means students will attend lectures with everyone else studying Medicine.

Relatively little teaching, roughly four hours per week, is done through the college system and it will not be the biggest determinant of your overall academic success.

Also, the quality of college teaching mostly depends on the tutor you are assigned and this is near impossible to predict. So try not to choose a college based on a certain professor because chances are you will not be assigned to them. 

A Question Of Geography

With all the teaching centralised, students will spend a lot of time going between departments and labs. This means that the best Oxford college for Medicine might be the one which is closest to the departments. 

A lot of the teaching, especially in first-year, is on South Parks Road. The closest colleges are Keble and Trinity (Linacre is actually on the road but does not offer Medicine).

There is not much between them though, with Keble a six-minute walk away, Trinity seven minutes away, and St Catherine’s and New College about a nine-minute walk away. 

On the other end of the scale, St Hilda’s is one of the furthest away at about an 18-minute walk.

Other Factors

Certain colleges are closer to amenities, offer different societies, or have higher proportions of certain subjects. For example, for Medicine, most colleges accept four to six students. 

This is a small difference but if you wish to be around more like-minded people, you might want to consider applying for St Catherine’s which generally accepts the most Medicine students.

Different colleges offer different accommodation options so make sure you are aware of what your chosen college offers. The accommodation availability of each Oxford Medicine college is listed below: 

CollegeUndergraduate accommodation availability
BalliolFirst and third years live on the main site. About 30% of second-year students live out, with the other 70% living in Jowett Walk, just a short walk away from College. Postgraduate students are usually housed in Holywell Manor, just 10 minutes away from College.
BrasenoseProvided for whole course (1st year in college, 2nd year in Frewin Annexe, 3rd and 4th year split between the two). College is noticeably good with catering for disability needs!
Christ ChurchProvided for whole course (almost all rooms on-site; a few in Liddell Building annex)
Corpus ChristiProvided for whole course (first-years on main site; all others live on a number of other sites).
ExeterAll 1st years on main site. 2nd and 4th years typically live out. (New quad being built in Walton Street will mean almost everyone can be given accommodation.)
Hertford Provided for whole course (1st year undergraduates live on site, later years and postgrads are housed in various annexes).
JesusProvided for whole course (1st year in college, latter years in a couple of large annexes)
Keble1st and 2nd years guaranteed, and vast majority of 3rd years can be accommodated (undergraduate rooms are all on main site)
LincolnProvided for whole course (1st years live on site, 2nd years on Bear Lane, 3rd years on Museum Road, 4th years on various sites). Laundry facilities are available for all of these. Rooms are assigned by ballot in a way that if your room is slightly less nice in one year, you have higher chances for a better one in your next year.
Lady Margaret HallProvided for at least three years (all rooms on main site)
MagdalenProvided for whole course (1st year in Waynflete Building, latter years on main college site)
MertonProvided for whole course: 1st year in college, 2nd year in Holywell Street, latter years split between two
NewGuaranteed for 1st, 2nd and 4th years (most 3rd years live out). All first-year postgrads are guaranteed accommodation in the Weston Buildings by the college sport grounds, where they share a house between six students (4 bathrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities).
Oriel Provided for whole course (1st and 2nd years in college, latter years in annexe in Cowley)
PembrokeProvided for three years (all rooms on main site)
Queen'sProvided for whole course (rooms are split between the High Street and two annexes in East Oxford)
SomervilleProvided for the whole duration of your degree.
St Anne'sProvided for whole course (all rooms on single site)
St Catherine'sGuaranteed for 1st and 3rd years; almost always available for 2nd years
St Edmund Hall1st and 3rd years are provided with accommodation; other years normally live out
St Hilda'sProvided for 1st and final year; other years live out
St Hugh'sProvided for whole course (all rooms on a single site)
St John'sUndergraduate accommodation is provided for the whole course, and all rooms on single site in centre of Oxford. Postgraduate accommodation is provided both on and off site.
St Peter's1st years live in college; 2nd years live out; latter years normally in nearby college annexes
TrinityProvided for whole course (1st and 2nd years on main site; 3rd and 4th years in North Oxford)
UniversityUndergraduate students are usually guaranteed accommodation for the duration of their degree, though not necessarily on site. The college has an accommodation annexe in North Oxford, and this is where most second years, and some others, live. There are also a number of small other houses, including on Iffley Road and in Headington (which is convenient especially for medical students as this is where the hospitals are located). As for postgraduate student accommodation, University generally aims to accommodate first year graduates (mostly on site), and other than that, there are similar facilities available to postgrads and undergrads.
WadhamProvided for 1st and 3rd year students; other years normally live out (although can choose to live in college annexe in North Oxford)
WorcesterUndergrads are guaranteed on-site accommodation for the duration of their course, and postgrads for at least their first year at Worcester. More than half the rooms on site are en-suite, and all of them have some access to kitchen and laundry facilities.

Concluding Thoughts

Ultimately, the best Oxford college for Medicine is the one which you feel suits you the best.

Also, remember that at least two different colleges will Interview you for Medicine. This is an excellent opportunity for you to look around and really get a feel for how different the colleges are. 

And if you simply cannot make up your mind, you can submit an ‘open application’. This will mean that your application will be assigned to a college that has relatively fewer applications for your course. In 2021, 19% of applicants made open applications. 

The college is an important aspect of your time at Oxford. Still, it does not affect the academic quality of your education, and you should not worry about ending up at a college other than the one you applied for. 

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