Undergraduate Admissions



St Catherine's College is a modern college and most of its buildings are accessible. It is located near to the city centre, the Science Area and most University faculties and libraries (the English, Law and Economics faculties are literally next door) yet is surrounded by meadows and parks. The College has admitted students who were wheelchair users and would gladly consider changes to buildings thought necessary by a disabled applicant.

College Site:

The car park is on the left as you enter the College from Manor Road. The Porters' Lodge in the Arumugam Building, to which there is level access, is next to the car park. Disabled members of the College will be given priority in the allocation of car parking spaces. There is flat access from here to the Main Quad off which most facilities are found. All the staircases are opened with a keypad that is at a suitable height for those in a wheelchair.

The Library has flat access from Main Quad through two heavy wooden doors. Whilst many of the books are stored on the upper level the Librarian is willing to fetch them if necessary. The Bernard Sunley Building is next to the Library and has flat access to the Middle Common Room, a teaching room and to the base of the lecture theatre. There is a wheelchair platform lift  to the teaching rooms and law library on the first floor. The computer rooms adjacent to the Junior Common Room and  in Staircase 18 adjacent to the car park have flat access. All of the administrative offices are adjacent to the Senior Common Room and have flat access from the car park.

The Dining Hall and Junior Common Room (spacious college bar, TV area, email room and music practice room) are located in a separate building that has flat access from the Main Quad and car park. Inside, they all have flat access and moveable chairs or benches. The laundry is in a separate building which also has flat access. The College gym also has ramped access. 

The Bernard Sunley Building, Mary Sunley Building and JCR lecture theatres have induction loops that can be enabled on request.

Automated door access is present in the Lodge, Staircase 20, JCR entrance, Library external entrance and Bernard Sunley Building east entrance.


The vast majority of undergraduates live in college for three years. There are ground floor bedrooms suitable for wheelchair users. All study-bedrooms have internet access and the possibility of a telephone connection.

There are six bedrooms with en-suite facilities and adapted shower rooms which are situated in Staircases 17, 18 19 and 20 adjacent to the car park. The College has a further 40 ground floor bedrooms with en-suite shower rooms for students.


Students eat in Hall on a 'pay as you eat' basis.


St Catz Charity Music Concert

Catz student Daniel Shao (2013, Music) and Catz Music Society have organised a music concert in aid of the Oxford branch of ‘Crisis’ (the national charity for single homeless people). The concert will showcase a wealth of musical talent, and Catz alumni will perform alongside current Catz students.

Date: Monday 11 May 2015

Time: 17:30-18:30

Venue: Holywell Music Room, Holywell Street, Oxford, OX1 3BN

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale delivered his Inaugural Lecture as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre on Monday 2 March 2015 at St Catherine's College.


Simon’s Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘Everything’s remade/With shovel and spade’: Playing Shakespeare with Simon Russell Beale is now available as a Podcast.

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale Lecture Podcast

Simon Russell Beale delivered his Inaugural Lecture as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre on Monday 2 March 2015 at St Catherine's College.


Simon’s Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘Everything’s remade/With shovel and spade’: Playing Shakespeare with Simon Russell Beale is now available as a Video and Podcast.

Simon appeared in conversation with broadcaster, Libby Purves. He spoke on his distinguished career in the theatre, with a focus on his Shakespearean roles in contemporary theatre.

About Simon Russell Beale

Actor and music historian, Simon Russell Beale has been hailed as ‘the greatest stage actor of his generation’. A graduate of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, his diverse career has spanned theatre, television, film, and radio. He has taken on some of the most distinguished roles in theatre, including the title roles in King Lear at the Olivier Theatre and Hamlet at the Lyttelton Theatre. An Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his many accolades include a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in Henry IV Parts I & II and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in Uncle Vanya. From May to July 2015, Simon will star in Temple, a new play at the Donmar Warehouse about the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests.

Commenting on his appointment, Simon said ‘I am hugely looking forward to my year as Visiting Professor, and feel very honoured to have been asked. It allows me to indulge, even further, my obsessive interest in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and I hope that the students I meet will enjoy our working together. I know for certain that I will learn a huge amount.’              

The Master of St Catherine’s College, Professor Roger Ainsworth, said ‘We feel immensely privileged to be welcoming Simon Russell Beale to St Catherine’s, and I am delighted that he has agreed to take on the role of Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre. Simon’s impressive list of stage and screen acting credits span a remarkably diverse career, which has included theatre, television, film, and radio. Our students will be very fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to learn from such a versatile actor.’


About the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre

The Chair of Contemporary Theatre, founded through a grant from the Mackintosh Foundation at St Catherine's College, aims to promote interest in, and the study and practice of, contemporary theatre. The Visiting Professorship has previously been held by actors, writers, directors, and producers including Stephen Fry, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Phyllida Lloyd and Patrick Stewart.


Click here for more information on the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professorship, including a list of previous Professors and links to watch their Inaugural Lectures.

Photo courtesy of Guy Bell: www.gbphotos.com


Studying English at St. Catherine’s is a rigorous and rewarding intellectual challenge that will prepare you to excel in wide range of future careers, but we all know that literature is more than an academic subject and impacts our lives in ways that can’t be measured by exams. This is why the Catz English tutors and students have founded their very own Literary Society, named ‘Catz-22’ in honour of one of most famous literary alumni, Joseph Heller, author of the novel Catch-22, who studied at Catz as a graduate student and later went on to become an Honorary Fellow of the college.

Catz-22 is a forum where students can develop their love of literature beyond the tutorial and classroom.  We welcome anyone studying literature at Catz, including English and Modern Languages, and throw our doors open to those from other subjects who have an interest in literature too.  This year saw a wide range of events taking place, from trips to the theatre to regular theory reading groups and termly film screening to a Careers Workshop featuring Peter Knowles, Controller of BBC Parliament, who read English at Catz in the 1980s. In our theory reading groups, over a glass of wine, tutors and students have discussed everything from literary games, developments in contemporary feminism, avant-garde British poetry, and African-American literary activism.

Catz has one of the largest communities of undergraduates and graduates studying English, and a rich history of producing writers such as the acclaimed novelist Jeanette Winterson (Oranges are Not the Only Fruit), poet Caroline Bird, award-winning novelist Katherine Rundell, and Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington.  As a vibrant new addition to the life of literature at the College, Catz-22 ensures that no student will ever end up in the position of poor Clevinger in Heller’s Catch-22: “He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it.” 

Pictures above: Recent events include a trip to see 'The Pillowman' at the Playhouse Theatre in Oxford and a film screening of 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari'.

John Simopoulos 1923-2015

The College is deeply saddened to announce that John Simopoulos (BPhil, MA), Emeritus Fellow and Dean of Degrees, died on 4 March 2015 aged 91.

Tutor in Philosophy at St Catherine’s Society from 1953-60, he was a Founding Fellow of St Catherine’s College from 1960, before becoming an Emeritus Fellow upon his retirement in 1988. John served as the College’s Dean of Degrees until his death, a role he performed 'with all the authority of tradition and lightness of youth'.

Studying Biochemistry at St Catherine’s College

Carolyn | 4th year Biochemistry undergraduate

While biochemistry may be one of the smaller programs at Oxford, it provides excellent opportunities to challenge yourself academically, while enabling you to pursue your extra-curricular interests.

In the first three years, you have 10-15 hours of lectures a week, plus different problems classes (in first year) and tutorials (throughout the first three years). The first year lectures aim to provide a strong foundation on all aspects of biochemistry – from quantum mechanics to the metabolism of ethanol. The lectures are supported by a variety of problems classes, which will require extra reading, review of lecture notes, and the completion of problem sets, but ensure that you have a solid understanding of the material and will be well prepared for the Preliminary Examinations (Prelims) at the end of first year. You will also have tutorials, usually with your college biochemistry tutor (in first year) over a range of key topics, which will help acclimatize you to the tutorial-based educational system used at Oxford. In the second and third years the lectures increase in detail and depth, maintaining a strong knowledge base, but also taking you to the cutting edge of many different research fields. At the end of third year, you sit Part I exams – six papers, four from the different lecture modules: Structure and Function of Macromolecules, Energetics and Metabolic Processes, Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Cell Biology and Function. The two additional papers assess your general biochemical knowledge and data handling and interpretation abilities.

Fourth year in the biochemistry course provides a valuable opportunity to experience work in an active research lab, while conducting your research for your Part II project that culminates in your thesis. This research can be carried out in a variety of labs, both in Oxford and elsewhere while on exchange. The research project exposes each student to a real working research environment, to help them decide if a future PhD and/or a career in research is something they would be interested in pursuing. The Part II project also lets you explore a particular topic in depth, and enables each student to contribute to his or her field of interest. The fourth year culminates in two examined options courses, selected from a range of choices by the student.

Throughout the first three years, the lecture courses are supported by practical work, which are assessed by lab write-ups. The practical courses enable students to carry out some of the techniques they are learning about, understand how some of what they are studying was elucidated in the lab, and to be exposed to a range of different practical lab techniques, from isolating DNA to crystalizing proteins to working with various simple model organisms in the lab.

While you will receive tutorials on a wide variety of topics, some of which may not be your area of interest, you can focus on your favourite areas in your Part II project and focus on your stronger areas when preparing for exams, though it is essential to remain balanced and study a wide range of topics. This opportunity for focus, but the necessity of a strong foundation, applies throughout the entire course; ensuring students are prepared and well rounded. This also exposes students to a large range of topics, taught by world leaders and experts in their respective fields.

Tutorials can be a source of stress as a biochemistry student, as they do require extra reading, review of lecture notes and the preparation of a scientific-style essay to be handed in a day or two before the tutorial. During the tutorial, the tutor – an expert in the particular area being studied – will have marked the essays and have provided constructive criticism, invaluable when preparing for Part I exams. During the tutorial, the tutor will prompt discussion and pose questions to challenge your understanding of the material, but this takes place in a small group, and in a relatively relaxed environment so these are not scary experiences. Tutorials are one of the strongest aspects of the biochemistry program at Oxford – you get to learn about a topic from someone who is very active and involved in the field, in a small group setting. The important thing in a tutorial is to be confident and vocal with your knowledge.  Additionally do not be afraid to ask questions, clarify areas you had difficulty with, and ensure you not only know the facts, but also truly understand what they mean, their significance and how they were discovered – and confirmed! It is not the end of the world if you don’t know the answer to a question in a tutorial – it’s much better to find out then, discuss the topic with your tutor and classmates, then during an exam.

While each day will be busy with lectures, reading, a tutorial or practical work, biochemists are not restricted to spending all their time on academia. At Catz, the biochemists are involved in many different activities, from sports such as field and ice hockey, rowing and tennis, to helping produce a musical or organizing the Catz ball. As long as you have a strong work ethic and can manage your time, you can certainly partake in multiple activities while at Oxford. I have played on the ice hockey team for all of my four years at Oxford, and have been able to balance on and off-ice trainings, games and tournaments with my work. Additionally, some of my fellow biochemists are rowers and if they can manage early morning outings followed by lectures, anything is possible.

Biochemistry is a challenging program that is not for everyone, but is something that I have really enjoyed during my time at Oxford and I am pleased I selected it, even though I didn’t know anything about biochemistry when I applied. It is important to be a motivated, independent learner, but all the Catz biochemists have formed strong friendships – you do spend a lot of time with your classmates – so you can rely on them for support, along with your tutors and the older biochemists. Biochemistry at Catz has allowed me to explore my extra-curricular interests while exposing me to a wide range of topics and challenging me intellectually, but always in a supportive environment.

Picture above: Carolyn, 4th year biochemist, receiving the MVP award at Varsity from Diana Carney, Oxford and ice hockey team alum


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