Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University
Type Public
Established 1865 (Oxford School of Art)
1891 (Oxford City Technical School)
1956 (Oxford College of Technology)
1970 (Oxford Polytechnic)
1992 (Oxford Brookes University)
Endowment £2.5 million (at 2015)[1]
Chancellor Katherine Grainger
Vice-Chancellor Alistair Fitt
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 17,460 (2014/15)[3]
Undergraduates 13,535 (2014/15)[3]
Postgraduates 3,930 (2014/15)[3]
Location Oxford, England, United Kingdom
51°45′15.36″N 1°13′21.72″W / 51.7542667°N 1.2227000°W / 51.7542667; -1.2227000Coordinates: 51°45′15.36″N 1°13′21.72″W / 51.7542667°N 1.2227000°W / 51.7542667; -1.2227000
Campus Urban, Suburban
Affiliations University Alliance
Universities UK
Association of MBAs
Association of Commonwealth Universities
Website http://www.brookes.ac.uk

Oxford Brookes University is a new university in Oxford, England. It can trace its origins to 1865 when the former Oxford School of Art was established. The university was renamed in 1992 to honour its former principal, John Henry Brookes. The university's School of Architecture is one of the largest in Britain.

In 2016 it was ranked 359th in the world according to the QS World University Rankings and is in the 401-500 bracket according to Times Higher Education's 2016-2017 list of the top 1000 universities in the world. Oxford Brookes University is the sixth largest employer in Oxfordshire.[4]


Oxford Brookes started in 1865 as the Oxford School of Art, located in a single room on the ground floor of the Taylor Institution at St Giles', Oxford.[5] In 1870 the School of Science was added and in 1891, under the administration of the City Council's Technical Instruction Committee, it was renamed the Oxford City Technical School, incorporating the School of Art, which remained distinct. Plans were made to relocate to the former Blue Coat School for Boys on St. Ebbes.

In 1934 the School of Art and the Technical School were merged and John Henry Brookes, Head of the School of Art and Vice Principal of the Technical School, was appointed the first principal of the merged institution.[6] By 1950 the college had 4,000 students. A new campus was built on a site offered by the local Morrell brewing family. Renamed "Oxford College of Technology", it opened on the new site in 1956.[6] Its first residence hall was established in 1960 and the college relocated to Headington in 1963.

In 1970, it became Oxford Polytechnic, and in 1992, following enactment of the Further and Higher Education Act, it became Oxford Brookes University, the only one of the new universities to be named after its founder.

In October 2003, Oxford Brookes University became the first university in the world to be awarded Fairtrade status.[7]

In 2007, Graham Upton retired as Vice-Chancellor and his successor, Janet Beer, was inaugurated in September. In July 2008, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, replaced Jon Snow as chancellor of the university.

In March 2015 Alistair Fitt was inaugurated as Vice-Chancellor, replacing Janet Beer. Dr Katherine Grainger, CBE, British Olympic rower also replaced Shami Chakrabarti as Chancellor. Katherine is Britain's most decorated female Olympic athlete and the first British women to win medals at five successive games[8] (Rio 2016, London 2012, Beijing in 2008 and Sydney in 2000).

In 2015 Oxford Brookes University celebrated its 150th anniversary. A range of events and activities took place including celebrations recognising John Henry Brookes, the university's modern founder. The first Founder's Day was held in May 2016.[9]


Oxford Brookes University has three main campuses and a fourth in Swindon.

Headington campus

The Headington campus is in a residential area of Oxford. The campus is made up of three sites; the main site on Gipsy Lane, home to a number of departments from across the university's four academic faculties and the John Henry Brookes Building which opened in 2014. Across the road is the Headington Hill site, home to the School of Arts and School of Law, and a short walk from main site is the Marston Road site a dedicated space for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and home to subjects including Nursing Midwifery and Occupational Therapy.

Located on the campus are the main halls of residence, including Crescent Hall, Cheney Student Village, Clive Booth Hall, Clive Booth Non-Ensuite (formerly Morrell Hall), Warneford Hall and Paul Kent Hall.

Headington Hill Hall, the home of the School of Law
Wheatley campus

The Wheatley campus is near Wheatley in the Oxfordshire countryside, seven miles south-east of the city centre, and is where business, IT, mathematics and engineering are taught.

Harcourt Hill campus

The Harcourt Hill campus is situated on Harcourt Hill on Oxford's western perimeter, two and a half miles from the city centre. Education, Philosophy, Religion, Theology, Media and Communication, and many other subjects are taught here. It has two halls of residence: Harcourt Hill Hall and Westminster Hall. A regular devoted bus service links the campus to other campuses at Headington and Wheatley.

The campus was formerly the site of Westminster College, Oxford, an independent Methodist higher education institution which specialised in teacher training and theology. The campus was leased to Brookes by the Methodist Church, and Westminster College became the Westminster Institute of Education of Oxford Brookes University, located at the Harcourt Hill campus.

Swindon campus

Oxford Brookes opened its new Swindon campus in August 2016.[10] The university moved from the former Ferndale campus in Swindon to a new, larger campus situated to the west of the town centre at the Delta Business Park. The building is named the Joel Joffe Building after Lord Joel Joffe, long-time Swindon resident and former human-rights lawyer. Adult Nursing, Operating Department Practice (ODP) and a range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses are taught there. The new campus features a 185-seat lecture theatre, new library and social learning spaces, teaching rooms and three clinical skills suites.

Oxford Brookes partners with Swindon College as part of its Associate College Partnership to deliver foundation and degree courses, provides widening participation activity with local schools and is a co-sponsor of the town’s university technical college (UTC Swindon) for 14-19 year olds.

The front of the new 'John Henry Brookes' building.


In recent years the university has seen major redevelopments including the opening of the £132 million John Henry Brookes Building, named after the University's spiritual leader,[11] which opened on the Headington campus in 2014. It brings together the library and teaching spaces with student support services and the Students’ Union (Brookes Union), who were formerly housed in the Helena Kennedy Centre on the Headington Hill site. The building has won multiple awards including a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) National Award; three RIBA regional awards; Oxford Preservation Trust Award and the Student Experience category of the 2014 Education Estates Awards.[12]

In 2013 the redeveloped Abercrombie Building opened on the Headington campus, offering facilities for architecture students with design studios and collaborative learning spaces. In October 2014 it won the Architect's Journal Retrofit Award.[13]

In January 2015 Oxford Brookes announced a major estates investment for the next 10 years, with £13 million per year to be spent on redevelopment across all its campuses.[14] This is to include additional building on the Headington and Harcourt campuses as well as a new campus in Swindon.

Part of this investment will see all activity moved from the Wheatley campus by 2021/22.

The Faculty of Business is expected to move from Wheatley into modernised facilities at Headington campus from 2017.

The university's redevelopment proposals were vigorously opposed by local residents in 2009 when presented to the local planning committee, with many undesirable aspects of the large student population in Oxford being discussed. However, the plans for the new building were eventually approved and building work began in 2010.

Academic profile


In September 2011 Oxford Brookes moved from eight schools to four faculties[15] which sit across its four campuses.

     Faculty of Business

     Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

     Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

     Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Reputation and rankings

(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2016/17, national)
(2016/17, world)
(2017, national)
The Guardian[21]
(2017, national)
Times/Sunday Times[22]
(2017, national)

Oxford Brookes University was ranked one of the world's top universities for its international outlook in the Times Higher Education's (THE) Top 200 international universities,[23] and one of the top young universities in the world under 50 years old in the THE's 50 Under 50 Rankings 2016.[24]

It is among the top 400 universities in the world, ranked 359[25] in the QS World University Rankings 2016/17.

Hotcourses UK ranked Oxford Brookes University in the top 15 of the most culturally diverse institutions in the UK in July 2016.[26]

The university was named among the world’s elite institutions in 12 subject areas in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016.[27]

Their Global MBA programme is ranked fifth in the world[28] in the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2016.

In July 2016 Headington and Harcourt Hill campuses received a Green Flag Award for the quality of their green spaces for the fifth year in a row.

The university has been awarded nine National Teaching Fellowships from the Higher Education Authority in seven years and was among the top 25 in the UK for teaching quality in the Times Good University Guide 2016.[29]

In 2015 Oxford Brookes moved into the top 20 for higher education institutions in England for student satisfaction[30] (17th amongst 126) in the National Student Survey (NSS).


The School of Architecture is one of the largest in Britain and is consistently ranked in the top five schools in the UK[31] and in the top 50 in the world,[32] ranking above schools at Yale University and the University of Bath.

The School of Law is the 16th placed law school in the latest Guardian Good University Guide, higher than several Russell Group law schools[33] The law school is also in the top 30 of institutions for the study of undergraduate law in the current Times/ Sunday Times Good University Guide, with law courses placed at 28th out of 100 UK university law schools.[34] Moreover, Law courses provided by Oxford Brookes also are ranked in the top 150-200 bracket of the QS World University Subject Rankings.[35] The University has been successful in national and international mooting competitions, in 2016 winning both the ESU Essex Court National Competition and the Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Mooting Competition, meaning the national Magna Carta moot - to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta - as a consequence will be between two Oxford Brookes teams.[36]

Research standing

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework in 2014 (REF 2014) 94% of research was internationally recognised and 59% judged to be of 'world leading' quality or 'internationally excellent'.[37] This led to a 41% increase in quality-related research funding compared to a 3% rise across the sector.

Specialist study

The Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) in the School of the Built Environment was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize. CENDEP provides an academic setting for the study of cities, humanitarianism and refugees. Singer and activist Annie Lennox is patron of the Master's Course in Humanitarian and Development Practice.[38]

In 2008, the MSc in Primate Conservation was also awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize.[39]

The Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University is the UK's first research centre dedicated to functional foods. The centre was originally the Nutrition and Food Research Group at Oxford Brookes, founded in 2004, and was renamed in 2009.

Computer science

The Department of Computing and Communication Technologies is internationally recognised for its research especially in the area of robotics, web technology, networking and software engineering. The department has a strong international student population in both its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Automotive engineering

The Oxford Brookes School of Technology is known for its automotive and motorsports technology/engineering courses leading to undergraduate BSc(Hons), BEng(Hons) and MEng(Hons) degrees. Due to the close links between the school and several Formula 1 teams around Oxfordshire, the syllabus development for the undergraduate and post graduate courses are carried out in collaboration with F1 teams.[40] Over the decade, the school has developed a niche for producing Formula 1 design and race engineers,[41][42] who go on to build championship winning cars, participating in the FIA Formula 1 Championships. The school is also home and lead institution to Motorsport Knowledge Exchange[43] which is a Government-funded small cooperative of institutions, involved in delivering motorsport education at a variety of levels from technician to post-graduate.

In 2007, Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso sponsored 12 Spanish postgraduate students to study for an MSc in motorsport engineering or in race engine design within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the university.[44] The university boasts a teaching staff that includes Geoff Goddard, a former chief designer at Cosworth.[45]

The School of Technology at Oxford Brookes is one of the three core universities in Faraday Advance,[46] a partnership in advanced materials for transportation that develops future materials and technology for low-pollution, high-efficiency, cost-effective transport.[47]


Oxford Brookes University's partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) allows ACCA students to earn a BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting with the submission of a research and analysis project work while taking their ACCA examinations.

Tsinghua University will recognise the Oxford Brookes University BSc Applied Accounting degree. This degree has been successfully developed in conjunction with ACCA and enables students who have completed two parts of the ACCA qualification to apply for the Oxford Brookes degree.[48]

Munich Business School is the German partner-institution of the university.

The university has a partnership with the International Business School (Nemzetközi Üzleti Főiskola) based in Budapest (Hungary). IBS students can attend courses which, besides the Hungarian degree, also provide OBU BA degrees in different subjects, such as marketing and communications.[49]

The university has affiliations with Nilai University College in Malaysia. Affiliated subjects are computing, accounting and finance, business management, marketing management and hospitality management. All the subjects mentioned above are 3+0 programs.



Chancellors of Oxford Brookes University
Baroness Helena Kennedy, barrister, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords. 
Jon Snow, journalist, television presenter and main presenter of Channel 4 News. 
Shami Chakrabarti, lawyer and director of the British civil liberties advocacy organisation Liberty. 


Student life

Student Union

Oxford Brookes Students' Union is the students' union of the university and it exists to support and represent the students of Oxford Brookes. It is a member-led organisation and all students are automatically members. With a history dating back to 1921 it is one of the oldest in the country.


Cheney Student Village

There are currently 11 student halls of which there are four on the Headington Campus, two on the Harcourt Hill Campus, one on the Wheatley Campus and three more halls around Headington. In addition, there are three privately operated halls of residence which are managed in partnership with the university by housing associations: Slade Park Student Apartments, Sinnet Court Student Apartments and Dorset House Student Apartments.

Notable alumni


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