Studying at Balliol is hard work but also rewarding and often entertaining. The emphasis is on independent study, and you will need motivation and commitment to organise your time. In return, your efforts are given careful attention by an academic expert.

Scientists spend a good deal of time in their department, attending lectures and laboratories. Arts and social science students spend more time on their own or in libraries. All students have regular tutorials.


Balliol is committed to the tutorial system of teaching, which is what makes Oxford special. Tutorials usually consist of a tutor and two or three students. Tutors and students can get to know each other, developing a relationship that yields real intellectual growth.

In the humanities and social sciences, tutorials focus on student essays based on reading set by tutors. In science, they tend to involve working through problem sets. Tutorials can be adapted to your particular interests and abilities.

Tutorial teaching is provided largely in Balliol, though you will receive tutorials in specialist subjects from tutors at other colleges. Tutorials are integrated with lectures, classes, and practicals organised by the University and attended by students across all the colleges.

The tutorial system enables you to think for yourself, to think critically, to go beyond the superficial. It is challenging – there is nowhere to hide – but it is also extremely stimulating and productive. We find that students thrive on this system.

What our students say

To get more of a feel for what studying at Balliol is like, read our students' stories.

Scholarships, exhibitions and prizes

Balliol rewards academic merit by awarding scholarships and exhibitions, usually after consistently good performance, which is reflected in excellent undergraduate examination results. Both scholarships and exhibitions are held for one year, but people who receive them are usually re-elected each year until they finish their undergraduate course. A Scholar receives £200 and an Exhibitioner £150 a year. There are no particular obligations that the student has to fulfil after being elected, although it is assumed that he or she will endeavour to keep up a high standard of work. The normal pattern is for an exhibition to be awarded first, followed by a scholarship in subsequent years. 

In addition, the College awards a number of subject prizes and other College prizes.