Venerable halls of learning halls of learning

WHY should you choose Oxford rather than any other university? Because it is one of the best known universities in the world, with a long-standing tradition of excellence in teaching and research? Because here you will find unrivalled resources for learning in libraries, museums and laboratories? Or because of the beauty of its ancient buildings? These are perhaps the best known aspects of Oxford, but they alone do not account for the special experience which Oxford students share.

Today the university has 36 colleges, founded between 1249 and 1990, whose architectural splendour, together with that of the university's libraries and museums, gives its unique character.

Their college system fosters a sense of community, both among students themselves and between tutors and students, that lasts long after you have left the university.

The faculties and departments give you the opportunity to come into contact with some of the leading researchers in your chosen field.

Moreover, the enormous variety of student societies and sporting activities ensures that students meet others who share their interests.

Andrew Toland, 18, has been accepted by Oxford and starts an undergraduate course at St Peter's College, Oxford, in October.

Andrew, who will study English Language and Literature, said: 'I will treasure the experience, not for the fame of Oxford but because I will benefit from exposure to a long-standing tradition of excellence in teaching English.' English at Oxford is an exacting course. Students are taught to weigh evidence, to judge, and to discriminate.

English studies involve understanding how language ideas and structures work together, and how individual writers relate to their times and traditions.

'I will need to enjoy reading widely in poetry, fiction, drama and criticism,' said literature-lover Andrew.

The course explores the whole range of English writing, from the beginnings to the present. Reading texts in their original form is crucial; this is true both for the early periods of English literature and for any special options in classical or European literature which students might select.

Andrew, who is from Australia, said: 'In the first year, I will study English Literature from 1832 to the present, and the language and literature of the Old English period.' The framework of the course ensures that students learn about every period of literature, but within different periods the students can follow their own interest.

'I will be encouraged to develop my own tastes, because there are few set texts,' Andrew said.

The three-year course is covered primarily by college-based teaching, usually with tutorials done by the students.

University lectures and classes offer opportunities to hear other views and to discuss the subject with lecturers and students from other colleges.

For entry requirements, most students would have an Advanced Level in English, and it helps to have some experience with languages. For more information, call the British Council on 2879-5151.