Why Balliol?

All graduate students at Oxford are members of a college or hall as well as a department or faculty, and being a graduate student at Balliol College is a particularly rich and stimulating experience.

The Graduate Centre and the Balliol MCR (Middle Common Room)

An important feature of this experience is being part of the Holywell Manor community. Graduates are accommodated in the Graduate Centre, five minutes from the main College site, and at the heart of this is Holywell Manor, a medieval house that is the setting for much of the vibrant graduate social and intellectual life for which Balliol is well known. 

The Balliol MCR (of which all graduates are members) is a very active one. Balliol prides itself in fostering independent thought and high-quality academic debate, and MCR activities at Holywell Manor include graduate seminars, political debates and visits from high-profile speakers – including Dervorguilla Seminars with female scholars (such as this one). There is also the termly Praefectus’s Seminar, which is preceded by a special dinner with the speaker. Balliol graduates host an annual biomedical symposium; and the biennial Holywell Manor Festival, a day of academic talks, music and performing arts which brings together past and present College members in an exchange of ideas and experiences.

With around 340 students of over 40 nationalities, the Manor community is diverse in ethnicity and subject of study. The MCR committee helps to foster an inclusive and supportive environment, with regular welfare programmes, women’s events, informal meals, and celebrations of national festivals such as North American Thanksgiving and Diwali. It also runs a busy programme of social events, with bops (Big Open Parties), formal dinners, movie nights and cultural outings. You can read more here about the special nature of the Holywell Manor community, captured by testimonials of those who have experienced it.

As a focus for graduate activity Holywell Manor allows Balliol’s graduate students to be an independent body, but they also enjoy the advantages of being part of a large established college, including its 24/7 Library, its central Oxford location, its sports, societies and choir, and its illustrious history. Every graduate student has an individual College Adviser, who can give general academic or pastoral advice and assistance throughout the student’s course of study.

‘Give it a shot. It is totally worth it. A life-changing experience.’ Balliol postgraduate, MJur, in the Student Barometer Survey 2016: read more here.

Financial support

One of the most attractive aspects of what Balliol has to offer graduate students is its range of scholarships. There is also financial support available in the form of bursaries and small grants. Graduate members of the College may be given bursaries of a value up to £500 (these are awarded annually). In addition, small grants of up to £150 are available to help with research expenses and the preparation of theses; and the College has a system of loans and grants to aid any graduates who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulties. For further details, see the Financial Support page.

Accommodation and facilities

Accommodation at the Graduate Centre (also known as the Holywell Manor complex) is at three sites:

  • Holywell Manor (rooms are in James Fairfax Yard, a 1930s annexe to the medieval house)
  • Block A at the Master’s Field, the first of the new student rooms to be completed as part of a new development under construction (see below): 
  • Jowett Walk, two minutes away, built in 1995 (undergraduates also live here)

Balliol is able to offer accommodation to most first-year postgraduates (although we are unable to guarantee accommodation to all), usually in one of the buildings in the Graduate Centre. In later years accommodation is allocated by ballot.

As part of the Master’s Field Project, currently under construction and due to be completed by June 2020, some existing graduate accommodation will be replaced with modern accommodation, which will add some 60 rooms to the total available for postgraduates. Applicants should be aware that:

  • If you are offered a place a Balliol, you will be sent additional information about the accommodation processes and the choices available.
  • During construction work, unfortunately some rooms may be affected by disruption and noise. The College has chosen a construction method designed to keep disruption and noise as low as possible, but we ask for the forbearance of those affected as the project proceeds.

The Manor itself, which dates from 1516, has a large and elegant garden, a common room, bar, gym, television room, music room and computer room. All graduates have the use of these facilities, as well as those available on the main College site in Broad Street (graduates are automatically members of the Junior Common Room as well as the MCR).

The College owns several rooms that are specially adapted for disabled students: for more information, please see this page. Unfortunately we do not have accommodation suitable for couples and families.

Further information