Oxford Jargon

Sometimes it may feel like Oxford has a language of its own and it can take a while to get your head around it all. Here are some common Oxford terms to get you started:

0th Week: The week before term officially starts. In Michaelmas 2014, this is 5th-11th October. It’s pronounced “noughth week”.

Battels: The bills that College sends you once a term. This includes your rent and any meals you eat in Hall, plus anything else you choose to be “battelled” for.

Blades: A term used in rowing, a college team is said to have ‘got blades’ when they ‘bump’ the boat in front of them on each day of Torpids of Summer VIII’s.

Blue: The traditional colours of Oxford and Cambridge are particular shades of blue, Oxford being the darker of the two. When competing in Varsity competitions on behalf of one’s University, the award for the winning team is ‘a blue’. Sports deemed not of national standard receive a ‘half blue’.

Bod Card: Your university ID card. This is needed to get into libraries and your department, and can be shown to get a student discount in shops.

Bodleian (the ‘Bod’) Library: The largest academic library in the world, and the academic heart of Oxford.

Bop: An organised College social/dance party.

Collections: An Oxford tradition, students meet briefly with the Principal to discuss their academic progress.

College Advisor: The Fellow assigned to you by College. They receive copies of your academic reports and are your first port of call for any academic concerns you have, particularly if you run into issues with your supervisor or department.

D.Phil: Doctorate of Philosophy (the equivalent of a PhD) the highest research degree offered by the University. Oxford is one of a small number of institutions not to call it a PhD.

Encaenia: The ceremony at the end of Trinity where honorary degrees are awarded.

Examination School: Located on High Street. All exams are conducted, and theses are submitted, here.

Fellow: Academic Member of College, and/or member of the College’s Governing Body.

Full Term: The three eight-week periods that make up the Oxford academic year. Each is preceded by noughth week, -1 week and so on, and followed by ninth and tenth week.

G&D’s: Oxford’s own ice-cream bar.

High Table: Where Fellows dine during Second and Formal Hall. Postgraduates may join them at various times.

Hilary: The name given to Oxford’s Second Eight-Week Term. (January – March)

Isis: The part of the Thames that runs through Oxford.

JCR: Junior Common Room – primarily for undergraduates.

Junior Dean: Works with the Dean in relation to College discipline and welfare issues.

Matriculation: A compulsory formal admission ceremony into the University for new entrants. Everyone dresses in sub-fusc and sits in the Sheldonian Theatre to listen to the Vice-Chancellor speaking in Latin, followed by an afternoon in the pub.

May Day: On the first of May, choristers from Magdalen College School climb to the top of the tower and sign hymns at dawn. Morris Dancers also perform throughout the city.

Maxwells: A club previously frequented by MCR members. Sadly, it is no longer with us – RIP.

Michaelmas: The name given to Oxford’s First Eight-Week Term. (October – December)

OUSU [pronounced ‘OW-zoo’]: Oxford University Student Union, responsible for representing student views to the University and facilitating the provision of various social and welfare services.

Oxbridge: due to their history and similarity of structure, this amalgam term is used when referring to both Oxford and Cambridge.

Pidge: Your pigeonhole (mailbox) in the Porter’s Lodge.

Porters: Helpful people who staff the Lodge. They can open your room if you accidentally lock yourself you, provide you with laundry cards, and can answer many of your questions about College.

Porter’s Lodge: The name of each college’s reception area. The Jesus Lodge is located at the Turl Street entrance of College. The Lodge is run by the Porters and where your pidge is located.

Principle: Head of the College. At other Colleges they may be known as Master, Provost or various other titles.

Proctor: Senior university officer responsible for enforcing discipline at the University level. They manage examinations and enforce academic and ceremonial protocols.

Punting: Rectangular flat bottomed boats (‘punts’) used to meander the rivers.

Quads: Big, grassy squares hidden inside colleges. Jesus College has three (named First, Second and Third Quad).

Rad Cam: The Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library. This beautiful study space is located a short stroll from College.

Rustication: Temporary suspension from a degree.

Scouts: the member of College staff who empties your bin and vacuums your floor. Leave your bin outside your door the night before if you don’t want to be disturbed.

SCR: Senior Common Room. For Fellows of the College.

Sent Down: Permanent expulsion from the University.

Sub-Fusc: Oxford’s Academic Dress, worn to official university events and examinations. Dark suit, or dark trousers/skirt/tights, a white shirt, dark shoes and dark socks, and a white bowtie or black ribbon. Notions of gender specific options are not enforced, and graduate students encouraged to wear whatever combination they feel comfortable with. Gowns should be worn, and Mortar boards should be carried and tucked under one arm.

Summer VIII’s: The main inter-collegiate rowing event, held over four days in Trinity Term.

Term Card: the schedule of MCR events for the term.

Torpids: The first inter-collegiate rowing even of the year, held in Hilary. Blues rowers are not allowed to compete.

The Union: The Oxford Debating Society.

Trinity: The name given to Oxford’s Third Eight-Week Term. (April – June)

Varsity: Sports fixtures between Oxford and Cambridge.

Viva: short for ‘viva voce’. A one to three hour oral examination of a student who has submitted a D.Phil thesis (and some Masters theses).


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