St John's College, Oxford

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St John's College

Established: 1555

University: University of Oxford

Address: St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP, UK

Telephone: +44 1865 277300


Student Union/JCR website:

Graduate/MCR website: no

Admittance: Men and Women



St John's is very conveniently located on St Giles in the centre of Oxford, although in spite of its town centre location, the quads and gardens are very peaceful. It's a two-minute walk from a decent-sized Tesco and Sainsbury's and about three minutes to Cornmarket Street, which is the main shopping area in Oxford. This also means that you have very quick access to the main libraries and of course to Oxford's plethora of coffee shops! All of Oxford's libraries, and virtually all of the departments and faculties, are also very close - none is more than a 10-15 minute walk. A substantial minority of students have bikes, but these seem to be used mainly for enjoyment, for visiting friends at outlying colleges, and for turning that ten-minute trip to lectures into five - not for serious commuting as at some other colleges.

St Johns' location on the northern edge of the centre means that we have more spacious grounds and facilities while still being close to everything, and seem to be just off the main tourist routes. The location is also handy for the University Parks and museums, and Jericho is about as close as the main city centre, giving access to a good range of slightly more quirky and independent bars, cafes, restaurants and shops when you want a break from the chains and crowds of central Oxford.


St John's has some of the best accommodation in Oxford, but only if you don't mind the ugly 60s architecture of the Thomas White quad. Rooms in the old quads are generally very sought after. All undergrads are accommodated in college, or in college-owned and -managed houses in Museum Road, which is immediately adjacent (so close it's practically part of college anyway!) Graduate students are mostly housed along St. John Street (former residence of Radiohead's Thom Yorke), in gorgeous four story Georgian townhouses. Rooms vary massively in size - some being absolutely enormous, some less so. The price of accommodation doesn't vary much, however, and those in the largest rooms (usually won by virtue of JCR / MCR roles) do not pay very much more than those in the smallest. St John's accommodation costs are virtually unmatched by any other college - just one of the benefits of going to a wealthy college.

Apart from in the brand-new Kendrew quad, bathrooms are shared, though only between five or six people maximum. The kitchen facilities are pretty variable; all first-year rooms have access to a kitchen, while in subsequent years they vary from non-existent to modern and fully-equipped. After first year, you can pick a room (within the limitations of the ballot system) according to your own preferences, but note that unless you manage to get a room in North Quad, you're faced with a trade-off between having access to a kitchen and living in an old-school Oxford room for a year.


An explanation of the room ballot

From raven100 in the St John's thead ] You will be allocated a room in your first year (could be A, B or C). This room will have a certain points value, obviously highest for A and then descending in value for the others.

When the room ballot comes around, everybody is ranked according to their point values, with the lowest scores giving you the highest place on the ballot. People then choose their room one by one, with the people who were stuck with C grades in their first year getting first pick.

The system is slightly more complex though, with the order of ballots as follows:

1) The finalists ballot -generally second years picking the room they want for their last year in Oxford. 2) The remainder finalists ballot -4th years generally. 3) The housing ballot -first years wanting to move out into a house with their friends for their second year. 4) The remainder ballot - first years who didn’t secure a house and are left to pick a room in college for their second year.

Rent is a separate issue, better rooms obviously cost more, and you're stuck with what you get in your first year, but after that, it should usually not be a problem, as you can choose where to live. Those on the end of the ballot will likely be left with cheap rooms anyway, so equity isn’t usually an issue.

I can't be sure about adapted accessible rooms, but it can be quite difficult to find a low-level room if you have mobility issues. It would be best to contact college to discuss accommodation options before or after applying.

Social Spaces


Library and Computing

The main college library is stunning, with beautiful views of the Italian Renaissance Canterbury Quad on one side, and of the Great Lawn and gardens on the other. The library is open between 8am and 2am Monday - Saturday, and 10am - 11pm on Sunday during termtime. It's reasonably well stocked for English, Modern Languages and Classics, and most undergrad Physics and Maths students say they rarely need to venture outside of college for reading material. One of the advantages of SJC's wealth though, is that students can request books to be added to the collections via their tutors. It's the perfect place to go for quiet study, writing and / or revision, but not much good for research purposes - for that, it's down St Giles and then left for the Bodleian!

The college library isn't currently accessible, but there is a new wing being built which will be fully accessible to wheelchair users. Library staff will, however, bring books to college members who can't access them.

In addition to course books, the John's Library also has a collection of old and rare manuscripts, exhibited on a regular basis. To gain access to these books, you'd usually need a tutor's permission and a legitimate research purpose, as they are quite fragile and valuable.

There's also a Law Library next to the main one, with an extensive collection of books for Law Students, who never have to venture far for reference material.


There are two JCR-appointed welfare officers (who provide emotional support, organise welfare lunches, etc.) and a Disabilities Officer who are current undergraduates students. The college also has a number of staff members who also have welfare roles and a college-employed counsellor who is also a trained psychologist (you can usually see her more quickly than somebody the University-wide counselling service). College seem to be quite accommodating in terms of exam/ study arrangements (e.g. for people with SPLDs, ASD).

College is located about a five minute walk away from the University Counselling Service's offices on Worcester St. This service offers counselling and other treatments (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, EMDR). I believe (but am not entirely sure) that they also employ a psychiatrist who is able to carry out NHS-funded assessments.


The atmosphere of St. John's is friendly, relaxed, and open, with just the right balance of studiousness and a sense of fun. There are always opportunities to meet new people and make new friends, whether at lunch in hall, in the student bar, or in the JCR or MCR. We boast by far the best snowmen in winter too. The President of the College is very welcoming, and when she invites students into her house for events, she always makes a point of talking to everyone. St John's being one of the more 'academic' colleges, a certain amount of competitiveness and academic pressure is in the air, but not to an unhealthy extent.

Brief meetings with your tutors and the college's vice-president or president are held at the end of each term. There are in order to discuss your academic progress and where you could improve over the vacation. They really aren't that bad!


The JCR is extremely active, and has its own TV channel ([1]) - the only college to have one.

The MCR is fantastic - an all-new building with lots of facilities - two enormous TVs with plenty of seating, a pool table, a computer room, a kitchen, an unlimited supply of college wine, and a chilling out space which always stocked with the newpapers of the day (well, the Guardian at least). There are squash courts and a gym for everyone's use (including tutors - so watch out).


In addition to the 8 choral scholars the choir has open auditions for the remaining places. The standard is towards the upper end of mixed chapel choirs in Oxford - you don't necessarily have to have had singing lessons or to have had any formal examinations in singing. The main thing is good and accurate sight-singing. There are two services (Wednesday and Sunday) with a rehearsal of 90 minutes beforehand, and free formal afterwards on Sunday. You are paid £4 per service.

Student-eye view



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