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Famous facts about Oxford and our specialist arts college

Posted 05 October 2015
Oxford punting boats

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Oxford is one of the world’s most famous university towns, and it’s easy to see why. It has educated 26 British Prime Ministers, and it’s regularly ranked in the top five universities in the world. The University has given the city a place in history as a renowned seat of learning, making Oxford a great place to start your education in the UK.

Oxford is one of the world’s most famous university towns, and it’s easy to see why. It has educated 26 British Prime Ministers, and it’s regularly ranked in the top five universities in the world. The University has given the city a place in history as a renowned seat of learning, making Oxford a great place to start your education in the UK.

So what else can we tell you about the City of Dreaming Spires?

A powerhouse for Arts, Humanities and Law

The University of Oxford regularly ranks 1st or 2nd for Law in UK university tables, and in 2013 it was ranked 1st in the QS World Rankings for Arts and Humanities. Our humanities students also rank exceptionally well, with 78% of Bellerbys College humanities students receiving A* to B grades at our specialist college for arts, humanities and law last year.

Full of famous faces 

The city has long inspired great artists, thinkers, lawmakers and innovators. Oxford Brookes University has some very notable alumni, including:

  • Musician Jonny Greenwood - founding member of the band, Radiohead 
  • The artist Gilbert Proesch - one half of the iconic Gilbert and George
  • Yasmeen Lari - the first woman architect in Pakistan and advisor to UNESCO
  • Graham Francis Defries - lawyer and Times cartoonist
  • Alice Bowe - garden designer, broadcaster and writer
  • Jeremy Clarkson, noted Top Gear TV presenter and journalist

Bellerbys College is partnered with more than 70 prestigious universities in the UK, and Oxford Brookes is one of them. Its famous alumni show you just how many exciting career routes your arts, humanities and law education can open up for you.

People love to Punt

People have been punting on the River Cherwell in Oxford since the 1860s. Punting means taking to the river in a flat-bottomed boat, which you move along with a long paddle. Pleasure punting began on the River Thames and soon spread across the country, and it remains a popular way to tour the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside today. Bellerbys College organises regular trips to the river so you can try out punting for yourself.

The Ashmolean Museum - a world’s first

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford is the world's first university museum, and the first museum in the world to be opened to the public. It was officially opened in 1683. First built to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677, it’s now home to a huge and fascinating collection of art and archaeological finds, including new galleries focusing on Egypt and Nubia. As part of our enrichment programme at Bellerbys College in Oxford, we have regular guest talks from conservators at the Ashmolean, giving unique insight into this historic treasure trove.

William Turner’s inspiration

Our Pensons Gardens student residence is located in a part of Oxford called St Clements. Just a 10-minute walk from the city centre and a 25-minute walk from the College, St Clements was also once home to the famous English landscape painter William Turner of Oxford. With a beautiful park and leafy surroundings, St Clements provided artistic inspiration for Turner, as this sketch of his held at Tate Britain shows.

The home of Harry Potter

Many of the scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed at sites around Oxford, including New College and Christ Church, two of the most renowned colleges of the University of Oxford. Christ Church’s dramatic Grand Dining Hall inspired the set designers of Hogwarts Dining Hall. You can find out all about how the Harry Potter films came to life as part of our Bellerbys Oxford enrichment programme, which includes a tour of the nearby Warner Brothers Studios where the films were made.

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