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Oxford A-Z

“A is for…”

Academic review

…is an annual meeting with your tutors and the Master where they discuss your progress. They only last about 5 minutes and, provided you’ve more or less kept up with work, are nothing to be afraid of.



1. The main road off which Pembroke is situated, also home to Christchurch (see below)

2. A pub local to Pembroke but not our actual ‘local’.


“B is for…”


The generally good-natured teasing that abounds between sports teams, colleges, university societies and among friends. Perhaps not unique to Oxford but it’s something that we’re damn good at.



These are the bills you pay to college at the beginning of each term for accommodation, hall food, and utilities.  Drinks at bops and at the Boat House during regattas can also be ‘batteled’ (it’s a verb too). It doesn’t feel like you’re spending real money which can be very good indeed but can equally be very dangerous…



Someone who plays for a University sports team (as opposed to simply a college one). Technically you have to have played in a Varsity match (e.g. against Cambridge) to acquire a Blue.



1. The Bodleian Library. Oxford’s biggest and most famous library, it holds every book ever published in this country, apparently. Books here are reference only, which can be handy if all the books on your latest reading list have been pillaged from faculty libraries by your course-mates -when it comes to books, Oxford’s a dog-eat-dog world.

 2. Your Bod Card is your University Identification Card which gives you access to Oxford’s libraries (including the Bod, your faculty library and college library), proves you’re a student for discounts, and is something you should have on you at all times.



Oxford libraries are (unsurprisingly) well stocked, so there’s no need to rush out and buy books. 



The name for a college-organised party. There’s always a theme which calls for a pre-closing time Primark run on the day where you’re highly likely to bump into some fellow Pembrokians doing the same.



A few miles down the road from the city centre lies the ‘other’ university in Oxford. The source of endless banter when it comes to academic prowess, Brookes students are, nevertheless, well-respected for their fun-loving nature which you can sample at any of the Brookes club nights.



Oxford is an expensive place. Beware because the end of the month tends to get tight financially. Many use apps to stay on top of their expenses.

 “C is for…”


The meeting point of four major roads in the centre of Oxford (St Aldates’, Queen Street, High Street and Cornmarket Street), on the corner of which is a 13th Century bell tower. Also an easy place to hail taxis.


Cherwell, the

1. Part of the river on which you can punt.

2. The name of one of Oxford’s major student newspapers.


Christ Church

It might have a Cathedral, Harry Potter may have been filmed there etc., but what they have in size and money, Pembroke’s got in charm, friendliness and unity. And for the record, they don’t own us.



Exams taken at the start of each term to make sure you’re ‘consolidating’ your work over the holidays.


College parents

Most colleges give freshers ‘parents’ – students in higher years who help you find your feet.


Coming up

Whether or not you live south of the city, returning to Oxford from home at the start of term is referred to as coming up.



Cowley, or more precisely Cowley Road, in East Oxford is where most 2nd years rent houses. A short bike ride from college, it has an eclectic mix of places to eat, drink and shop.


Crew date

A booze- and banter-fest which sees a sports team attempting to drink the sports team of another college (of the opposite sex) under the table. Beginning at a BYOB curry house, they usually move onto a college bar followed by a club (for those that make it that far, that is).


“D is for…”


Looks after the undergraduates at Pembroke – being ‘deaned’ means reporting to the dean to be disciplined.



Refers to any of the following; fellow, tutor, lecturer, or professor.


“E is for…”


Abbreviation, ‘entertainment’ – college fun organised by the JCR Entz reps.


Essay crisis

The inevitable realisation that there aren’t enough hours in the day – ideal remedy; pro-plus, g&d’s coffee and Pembroke’s 24-hour ‘ladbrary’ – the McGowin library.


“F is for…”

Farthings Cafe

The social hub of Pembroke; Farthings is located in Rokos Quad and offers coffee, sandwiches, paninis, bagels, cooked breakfast and a variety of cakes. Great for a quick lunch, library break or just a general chat.


Food Shopping

Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and M&S (oooh fancy) are all within two minutes of Pembroke, so get a nectar card and clubcard ASAP.


Formal hall

On Tuesdays and Thursdays you get posher food served to you at dinner. There is, however, a choice to opt in or out of formal hall. Fellows often sit at High Table on these days (eating even posher food). The meal begins with grace and you must wear your gown. Sounds uptight but they’re actually quite good fun. You can always play with the melted candle wax if the conversation doesn’t set you alight.


“G is for…”


Unflattering bits of black cloth which are worn on Matriculation Day, at formal hall, for academic reviews and collections and a few other occasions. If you manage to get a First in your mods/prelims, you’re rewarded with a more expensive and flamboyant gown. May appear elitist but there are enough of us ‘commoners’ (that’s genuinely what the rest of us are called) to put those scholars in their place!


“H is for…”


People who are heavily involved in Oxford Union or OUSU politics. Often found loitering in the porters’ lodge around election time, luring potential voters with chocolate biscuits and a cheesy grin.



The second term – spring term.


“I is for…”

Isis, the

1. The bit of the Thames where the termly rowing competitions take place and home to most Oxford college boathouses. Found just off Christ Church meadows.

 2. A student magazine.


“J is for…”


1. The Junior Common Room is the collective name for anyone studying an undergraduate degree in the college. JCR meetings are held once a fortnight during term on Sunday evening in the common room. Any member of the JCR (undergraduate) can bring motions to the meeting, which are then discussed and voted on.

 2. The large room designed as a central common room for the college, containing the pool table, boardgames, newspapers and magazines and some comfy-ish chairs. Ideal for procrastination.


Junior deans

Postgrads who perform an important welfare role, looking after undergrads, lending a sympathetic ear. Also involved with disciplinary matters in college.


“K is for…”


Kitchens are located in staircases 8, 9, 14, 16, 17 18 and the Mac. Ovens can be found in 8 and 18, all other kitchens have microwaves and all except 17 have hobs.


“L is for…”


Laundries are located in staircase 14 and the Mac, equipped with washing machines, tumble dryers, irons and ironing boards. The current cost is £2 for a wash and another £1 per 50 minute dry, and the machines only accept £1 coins so make sure you hoard up.


“M is for…”


Head of Pembroke College – the big cheese.



On Matriculation day (Saturday of 1st week) you officially become a member of the University after a service spoken in Latin at Exam Schools.  After the important stuff is over, it’s straight to the pub – hence the name Macriculash



Another excuse for a night out, the tradition is to go out the night before and stay up until dawn on the 1st of May to hear the Magdalen choir sing from Magdalen Bridge.



The Middle Common Room consists of any graduate students based at Pembroke. If you’re a 4th year undergraduate, you are also automatically part of the MCR, and can use their common room and go to their events too.



The first term of the academic year – Autumn Term.



These are the First Public Examinations you take at Oxford which do not count towards finals, but are required to be passed in order to begin your finals course. The name of and point at which you take these exams depends on the subject, but most will complete them at the end of 1st year.



A great way to put forward new ideas, get your voice heard in college and mandate the JCR committee to act on your behalf, motions can be put forward by any undergrad. They can range from funding a party in the JCR to altering the catering services provided by college. Proposals are then voted for at the fortnightly meetings. Motions need to be submitted in advance of the meeting to the JCR Secretary.


“O is for…”


Not to be confused with the Oxford Union, OUSU is the Student Union representing every student in Oxford, their headquarters are found in Bonn Square. See the OUSU website for more info on their roles and services.


“P is for…”


Your pigeon hole in the Porter’s Lodge is where you’ll receive your battels bill, messages/essays from Tutors, and any standard post addressed to you. The wonders of pigeon post mean you can send stuff to anyone at any college in Oxford simply by putting their name and college on the envelope and handing it to the porter in the lodge.



Shortened form of the ‘Porter’s Lodge’, you need your fob-key to enter the college through here in the evening and on weekends. Important notices are often pinned up here and fliers (incl. domino’s discount vouchers) lie on top of the pigeon holes.



A series of porters man the lodge 24 hours a day. You can come to them if you’ve been locked out of your room, need to collect a package, wish to give in work to a tutor, or want a chat about the meaning of life.


“Q is for…”


A (normally) quadrilateral space in a college, usually with grass. In Pembroke we have several Quads - the more traditional Old and Chapel Quads, along with less conventional quads such as North Quad.


“R is for…”

Rad cam

Known as the Rad Cam, this is an extension of the Bodleian Library and frequented by History and English types.



We’re extremely lucky at Pembroke that College can offer us accommodation for 3 years. Rooms are allocated into different bands with rent varying accordingly;

Band A: Smaller room with sink (lowest rent)

Band B: Medium sized room with sink

Band D: Medium sized room with en-suite (most common room type)

Band E: Larger room with en-suite

Band F: Larger room with en-suite and double bed (highest rent)



Temporary suspension from the University, usually as a result of a major disciplinary offence, poor academic performance, illness, a difficult family situation, or other personal reasons. Essentially you take a year out and re-start your course the next academic year.


“S is for…”


The key that lets you in and out of college and allows you into hall can also be topped up with money to spend in Farthings and the College Bar. This can be done via the Pembroke intranet.



The wonderful person who cleans your room once a week and empties your bin everyday.  Comes with plenty of  awkward encounters when they come in your room when you last expect. Worth staying in their good books as they can be very helpful.



The Senior Common Room consists of all the fellows associated with Pembroke. It goes without saying that you’ll want to maintain good relations with this lot…


Student account

May seem like an obvious one, but get it sorted now and thank me later. Perks like rail cards and Amazon Student Accounts are not to be missed.



The garb you’re required to wear for Matriculation and for any University examinations you take (not collections). Boys, you need a dark suit, black socks and shoes, white shirt and collar and a white bowtie. And for girls, it’s a black skirt/trousers, black tights and shoes, white blouse, a black ribbon thing that you buy with your gown and, if you so wish, a dark coat/jacket. On top of this you wear your gown and hold your mortarboard (until you graduate, when you can wear it!) Girls have the option of a soft cap, but it’s not particularly attractive, it must be said, so stick with the mortarboard. Deals are available for mortarboards, white bows and gowns, bundled together for around £25.


Summer eights

In 5th week of Trinity Term, rowing fever descends on Oxford as the biggest rowing competition of the year takes place over 4 days, Summer Eights. An occasion for much merrymaking at the Boat House with Pimm’s galore. If you don’t row, be prepared for non-stop rowing chat!


“T is for…”


People from 'the other place' (Cambridge).



The third term of the year, worth the exam stress for the joys of a sun-drenched Chapel Quad.



Known as tutes, these are weekly sessions that are supposed to last an hour. In this time, you'll meet with your tutor to discuss your work from the week before, and to cover new topics. 


“U is for…”

Union, the

The Oxford Union is primarily the debating society, but they also invite world-class speakers and hold regular black-tie events. Life membership is £230ish, which sounds steep, and frankly is, but if you do join, make the most of what’s on offer.


“V is for…”


Short for Vacation, this is the Oxford term for holidays. Although you’ll be away from Oxford, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be free from work!



1. The term for any match between Oxford and Cambridge, the most notable of which is the Boat Race.

2. The largest student-run ski trip in the world, run every year for Oxbridge students. Chillingly cool, a once in a lifetime trip – watch out places will go fast at the beginning of Michaelmas.