Oxford University and Cambridge University are among the oldest institutions in the UK. In fact, together they are termed as “Oxbridge”, which is their portmanteau. Both Oxford and Cambridge have a lot in common in terms of their teaching methodology, collegiate structure and the sheer amount of resources at the disposal of its students.
Needless to say, the application process at these top institutions is among the most rigorous in the world. Only a select few are chosen in the hallowed portals of Oxford and Cambridge, with the ones who get in attract great admiration and prestige.
Are you determined to choose the university that suits you among these two? If yes, then we have jotted down some key differences between Oxford and Cambridge.
The College System
As mentioned earlier, both the universities have a collegiate structure, which means they comprise of a number of colleges and academic departments.
All students are considered to be members of the University, their department as well as their college. Course content, exams, core teaching (lectures and projects) and awarding degrees is the prerogative of these individual universities’ degrees. This implies that wherever you go, you will study for a similar degree in Oxford and Cambridge.
During the study period, a college will serve as the student’s home. Colleges are the source of many facilities, academic support as well as to set up tuition for small groups. This system has numerous benefits of not only being a subset of a big University but also a part of the college community, which is smaller and more interdisciplinary. It is applicable for both graduate and undergraduate students. You get access to college facilities like IT and a sizeable library, in addition to University resources.
To make sure that the best candidates enter the college of their choice or allocation, both Oxford and Cambridge work hard to filter and choose candidates. This can lead to your interviews from multiple colleges and offers from a college you didn’t apply to.
Choice of Courses
Contrary to popular perception, Oxford and Cambridge do not teach identical courses. There are some courses that have common areas of study but other courses are offered only at one of these two universities.
For example, there are differences in the courses offered by both institutions when it comes to the science stream. At Oxford, you have to choose from single subject courses in science, while Cambridge offers flexibility in its natural sciences degree, allowing a combination of any physical and biological sciences or a specialization based on your interest.
Similarly, while a joint or combined degree can be taken at Oxford, you cannot do the same in Cambridge, even though you finish a module in another subject of your interest.
What to Choose- Course or College?
It is easy to get swayed by the two prestigious names of Oxford and Cambridge while choosing what to study and where to study. However, you should ensure that your focus lies solely on the course you want to enrol to, instead of the university you wish to attend. Also, make sure that you are mindful of the key differences in the content of similar courses at both institutions.
Oxford as a City
A small city with ancient architecture and a busy tourist circuit is Oxford for you. Of course, we have Oxford University, but the city can be covered on foot due to its tiny size.
Oxford has a livelier footprint than Cambridge and this is evident with its hustle and bustle. It has numerous galleries, museums and shops for culture aficionados. Also, as far as the bar and club scene goes, Oxford beats Cambridge hands-down with its more vibrant nightlife.
Cambridge as a City
Cambridge as a city gives the vibe of a small town with everything revolving around the University and about 20 per cent population of students.
The city is also more relaxed and friendly than Oxford, not to mention being far prettier. If going to a pub instead of a club is your way of unwinding for the day, you will not be disappointed at Cambridge.
The Best and the Brightest
While there is no perceptible difference in the reputations of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, you will find them alternating between the top and second place in the annual university tables.
However, many students who wish to pursue a career in sciences prefer Cambridge over Oxford, while students inclined to do humanities and social science courses opt for Oxford over Cambridge.
Teaching and Assessment
Both the universities employ similar teaching methodologies comprising of lectures, classes and laboratory work pertinent to each course. A high amount of teaching time with field-level experts benefits you immensely for your career. A difference can be pointed out in the names given to this teaching time. Oxford calls them “tutorials” while Cambridge calls them “supervisions”.
To participate in these sessions, you need to make an essay or perform some work in advance. Usually, supervisions or tutorials sessions happen once in a week, with students meeting supervisor for a discussion about the work in small batches. While being used to review progress, these sessions are inconsequential to degree classification and are not assessed formally.
Assessment in both universities takes place based on written exams with a relevant practical assessment. One paper in the exam can also be replaced with a dissertation if you are in the final year.
Speaking of Oxford, the assessment of most courses is done at the end of the first and final years. Cambridge University conducts this formal process at the end of each year.
Apply for a Scholarship in Oxford or Cambridge Universities:
The University of Cambridge
Two Fully-Funded Programs for PhD Study in the UK, 2020
The University of Cambridge is awarding two fully-funded scholarships for PhD Study for the academic year 2020-2020. The award is available for the high achieving candidates from the UK and EU. These grants will cover both maintenance and fees for all three fee-paying years.
Application Deadline: January 7, 2020
Award: Cover both maintenance and fees
Cambridge University MBA Scholarship in UK, 2020
The Boustany Foundation is inviting applications for Boustany MBA scholarship at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Candidates of any nationality can apply for this application. The grant will provide £23,000 towards tuition fees, travel and accommodation expenses related to the internship.
Application Deadline: May 15, 2020
Jardine Scholarships for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies in UK, 2020
Applications are invited for Jardine Scholarships for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies in the UK funded by the University of Cambridge. Aspirants can be of any nationality. The studentship will provide the cover fees, tuition, the cost of necessary books and equipment, board and lodging and reasonable living expenses, travel expenses.
Application Deadline: Applications open in mid-Aug 2020.
The University of Oxford
Fully-Funded Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa in the UK, 2020
The Rhodes Trust is inviting West African applicants who wish to pursue their higher studies at the University of Oxford. Candidates from West African countries are eligible to apply. This is a fully funded studentship.
Application Deadline: September 30, 2020
Award: Fully funded
Fully-Funded Rhodes Scholarships for Indian Students in UK, 2020
Rhodes Trust is presenting Fully-funded Rhodes Scholarships at the University of Oxford. Only Indian applicants are accepted for this studentship. The award will be fully-funded for the postgraduate applicants.
Application Deadline: July 31, 2020
Award: Fully funded
Rhodes Funding for Canadian Students at the University of Oxford, UK
The great scholarship opportunity is now available for Canadian students. The Rhodes Trust is giving scholarships for students to study the undergraduate degree course at the University of Oxford. The program will cover tuition fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for 2 to 3 years.
Application Deadline: August 30, 2020
Award: Tuition fees
Two 3.5-Year D.Phil. Studentships for UK/EU Students in the UK, 2020
The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford is offering two 3.5-year D.Phil. studentships, available from January 2020. The studentship is available to UK or EU nationals only. The studentships will cover a stipend of £22,000 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further 2.5 years.
Application Deadline: 26 July 2020
Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities are powerhouses of excellence in their own might. From the May Week tradition and private police force at Cambridge University to the distinction of enrolling 26 British Prime Ministers at Oxford University, it all boils down to the career path you have chosen for yourself.
Whether you fancy a science curriculum or a humanities course, your selection must boil down to the right college in Oxford or Cambridge instead of an exaggerated focus solely on the University.