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Oxford vs. Cambridge

Oxford vs. Cambridge

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.


According to Times Higher Education’s 2018 Global University Rankings, Oxford University is ranked at number 1 among all universities in the world. It is closely followed by Cambridge University, which is ranked number 2 globally.


Cambridge University offers 30 undergraduate courses that cover over 65 subject areas, whereas Oxford University has over 49 subject areas covered across a wider range of courses. Among these, 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


At Cambridge University, the tuition fee structure is different for Home fee status students and international students. It charges £9250 yearly for Home fee status students in the undergraduate degree program.

For international students, tuition fee ranges from £21,168 to £55,272 depending on the course you are studying. While Economics, History and Social Sciences course cost lower, Medical and Veterinary Science courses cost higher in the range.

Oxford University also has a similar fee structure for Home (UK) students at £9250 yearly for undergraduate courses. Overseas students have their fee structure ranging from £24,750 to £37,445, with courses teaching medicine costing at the higher end of the range.


Oxford University offers a Number of Awards that cover tuition fee as well as living costs, depending on the student’s nationality and household income.

The most notable among them is the Moritz-Heyman Scholarship offered to UK residents whose household financial income is less than £16,000 per year. You can find out more about each scholarship by visiting its specific information page on the university website.

Cambridge University runs a Cambridge Bursary Scheme that offers financial support to UK students if their household income is less than £25,000 per year. The studentships are also available for international students but they are limited in nature and depend on your nationality.

Research Quality

Oxford University is at the forefront of research to solve real-world problems through a network of partnerships across industry and academia. It is at the forefront of AI research and building the first iteration of Quantum Computers.

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings places Oxford at the top position due to its extraordinary efforts at cutting-edge research.

Research at Cambridge University is focused to build the next generation of batteries to eliminate carbon footprint, the study of the effects of intelligent machines that outweigh human thinking and biological research among other things.

The University has a robust research infrastructure and compares with the best in the world for its scientific findings and research contribution.


Oxford University students are among the most highly sought-after professionals in the industry. The university also offers career guidance and support services that serve as a platform for employers to connect with students for internships or research opportunities.

Cambridge conducts careers event across Banking and Finance, Law, Economics, Mathematics and more, in order to serve as a platform for prospective employers to connect with university graduates. This serves as an effective means of getting employment opportunities for students.

Oxford vs. 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.

Oxford vs. Cambridge

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.

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.

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.

Oxford vs. Cambridge

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 2019-2020. 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
Cover both maintenance and fees
Apply Now

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
Apply Now

Jardine Scholarships for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies in UK, 2019

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 2019.
Award: Varies
Apply Now

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, 2019
Fully funded
Apply Now

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, 2019
Fully funded
Apply Now

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, 2019
Tuition fees
Apply Now

Two 3.5-Year D.Phil. Studentships for UK/EU Students in the UK, 2019

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford is offering two 3.5-year D.Phil. studentships, available from January 2019. 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 2019
Apply Now

Oxford vs. Cambridge

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.

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