Linacre College
Linacre Main Enterence.jpg
Linacre College crest.svg
Arms: see below
LocationSt Cross Road
Coordinates51°45′34″N 1°14′59″W / 51.75935°N 1.24984°W / 51.75935; -1.24984Coordinates: 51°45′34″N 1°14′59″W / 51.75935°N 1.24984°W / 51.75935; -1.24984
MottoNo End To Learning
Named forThomas Linacre
Previous namesLinacre House (until 1965)
Sister collegeHughes Hall, Cambridge
PrincipalNick Brown
GraceBenedictus benedicat
Endowment£19.0 million (2020)[1]
Boat clubLinacre College Boat Club
Linacre College, Oxford is located in Oxford city centre
Linacre College, Oxford
Location in Oxford city centre

Linacre College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the UK whose members comprise approximately 50 fellows and 550 postgraduate students.

Linacre is a diverse college in terms of both the international composition of its members (the majority of whom are from outside the UK and represent 133 countries), as well as the disciplines studied. Linacre was the first graduate college in the UK for both sexes and all subjects. Unlike most colleges, students and fellows share the same common room and there is no high table.

The college is named after Thomas Linacre (1460–1524), founder of the Royal College of Physicians as well as a distinguished renaissance humanist — multidisciplinary interests that the college aims to reflect.

The college is located on St Cross Road at its junction with South Parks Road, bordering University Parks to the north and the University Science Area to the west.


Thomas Linacre, c.1460–1524
Thomas Linacre, c.1460–1524

Linacre College (called Linacre House for its first three years) was the UK's first graduate society for both sexes and all subjects.[2] Founding Principal John Bamborough described it as "a deliberate experiment by the University to see whether the needs of graduate students could be met by a new type of society."[3]

It was founded on 1 August 1962, in premises on St Aldate's formerly occupied by St Catherine's Society (now St Catherine's College) and currently home to the university's Music Department. Initially there were 115 members of whom only 30 were British. The first senior members included Isaiah Berlin, Dorothy Hodgkin and John Hicks.[4]

In November 1964, Linacre became a self-governing society[3] and then on 1 August 1986 an independent college of Oxford University by Royal Charter.[5] In 1977, Linacre moved to its present site at Cherwell Edge, a Queen Anne building designed in part by Basil Champneys, which was formerly a private home, a convent of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and a residence for students of other colleges.[3] Since 2010, the principal has been Nick Brown.

Coat of arms and motto

In 1988 Linacre College was granted a coat of arms blazoned:

Sable an open Book proper edged Or bound Gules the dexter page charged with the Greek Letter Alpha the sinister page charged with the Greek Letter Omega both Sable the whole between three Escallops Argent.[citation needed]

The college motto beneath the escutcheon is No End To Learning. College colours are grey, yellow and black (or silver, gold and sable) but only the latter two colours are used for rowing blades and most sports clothing.[citation needed]

Both scallop shells and the alpha and omega are common symbols in heraldry and can have religious significance. Scallop shells are traditionally a symbol of the Way of St. James (pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela) and alpha and omega often a Christian reference to God. A secular interpretation is as reference to the completeness of study (alpha being the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega the last) and the process of scholarship akin to a pilgrimage/journey.[citation needed]

College Grace

The College Grace is said in Latin by the Principal (or a designated Fellow) at formal dinners in Hall. Before commencement of the meal the words "Benedictus benedicat" ('May the Blessed One give a blessing') are said, all standing. After the completion of the meal the words "Benedicto benedicatur" ('May the Blessed One be blessed') are said, all standing.[citation needed]

Proposed renaming

On 31 October 2021, the college signed a memorandum of understanding with SOVICO Group, represented by their chairwoman Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao to receive a donation of £155 million. The MoU sets out the intention to create a new graduate centre and endow graduate access scholarships. After receipt of the first £50 million, the College will approach the Privy Council to ask for permission to change the name from Linacre College to Thao College.[6][7][8] The donation and proposed name change has been a source of controversy for some university staff and students due to SOVICO's interests in fossil fuel industries.[7]

In June 2022, UK Education Minister Michelle Donelan announced that there would be a formal investigation into the memorandum of understanding between the College and SOVICO group, due to concerns raised in the House of Commons.[9]

Buildings and facilities

Linacre College from New College Sports Ground
Linacre College from New College Sports Ground

Linacre's main site is on the corner of South Parks Road and St Cross Road. In addition to the original building of 1886 (now known as the OC Tanner Building) there are three much newer accommodation blocks on the main site, all built of "Linacre College Special Blend Brick" with matching Queen Anne style architecture.[10] The Bamborough, Abraham, and Griffiths buildings were completed in 1986, 1995, and 2008 respectively,[11] raising the total number of student rooms on the main college site to 92.[12]

OC Tanner Building

Library of Gilbert Ryle
Library of Gilbert Ryle

The oldest part of the college, known as the OC Tanner Building, contains most of the central facilities, all staff offices and some student accommodation. The heart of the building is the large common room, which has a bar and other leisure facilities. The college library, formerly a chapel,[13] includes shared computing facilities for college members.

Gilbert Ryle Collection

As well as the main library there is also Gilbert Ryle's personal library, part of which he donated in 1968, and the remainder after his death in 1976. Ryle was involved in the creation of Linacre House in 1962, when the institution had no library. When Ryle retired in 1968, he donated many of his books to Linacre College, and the remainder of the collection after he died in 1976. The books are stored in the Linacre Bookcase and are available for use in the Linacre Library.[14]

Bamborough Building

The first major addition to the main college site was the Bamborough Building, which opened in 1985 and was officially named in 1986. It is located beside the OC Tanner Building to form a quad featuring an ornamental fountain. A plaque on the Bamborough Building commemorates it winning an Oxford Preservation Trust award in 1987.[citation needed]

Abraham Building

The Edward & Asbjörg Abraham Building, completed in 1995, is primarily a residential building offering single bedrooms for students. It was designed and built as part of a movement within Linacre to raise environmental awareness and promote sustainable development. The building was named UK Green Building of the Year 1996[15] and won the BCE Environmental Leadership Award as well as the Oxfordshire special conservation award of 1995.[16] A photovoltaic system was installed on the roofs of Abraham and Griffiths Buildings in 2011. The quad enclosed by the Tanner, Abraham and Griffiths buildings was named in 2012 after Jaki Leverson a former student,[17][18] and contains a sculpture entitled 'The Dancing Phoenix' by Hugo Powell.[19][20]

The basement of the Abraham Building houses a music practice room and the college gym, which has four ergometers, a good range of weights, various other gym equipment and space for several classes.[citation needed]

Griffiths Building

The newest residence on the main site is the Griffiths Building, named after former student and Honorary Fellow Rodney Griffiths. Completed in 2008, the building has 28 en suite single rooms and 4 en suite double rooms with shared kitchens. It was a finalist for two awards of The Brick Development Association.[21][22]

Dining Hall

Between the OC Tanner and Abraham Buildings is Linacre's large dining hall, added in 1977, which operates a canteen service most weekdays for lunch and evening meal.[citation needed]

The Rom Harré Garden

The most recent major development at Linacre has been the completion of a garden extension on the main site of the college in 2010. This is a quiet spot with flowers and outdoor seating. Rom Harré is a former Vice-Principal and Emeritus Fellow.[citation needed]

Off site accommodation

Linacre also owns or leases a number of buildings off the main site, including properties on Banbury Road, Bradmore Road, Divinity Road, Iffley Road, Stanley Road and Walton Street, which provide a further 102 rooms (including rooms for couples).[23] The college generally offers accommodation to all first-year students (freshers) and the percentage of graduate students housed within college accommodation exceeds the university average. Students typically move into private shared housing in and around Oxford after their first year.[citation needed]

Photograph gallery

Student life

Common Room

Much of the college's social and sporting life is coordinated through the Common Room, of which all students, fellows and staff are members. The Common Room's elected executive committee oversees activities and works closely with college officials to represent its members' interests.[citation needed]

The Common Room organises numerous events during term time. Particular highlights include termly bops, which are among the largest student-run parties in Oxford. Operating across two floors and outside areas, the bops are themed parties open to members of other colleges. The biggest bop of the year is usually the matriculation bop ("sexy sub-fusc” theme) which usually attracts a queue far in excess of the 450 person capacity. In 2015, 750 people enjoyed the event at any given time, and more than 950 people attended it throughout the night. Other social events include smaller college parties, movie nights, cake baking, cheese and wine tasting and lectures.[citation needed]

Linacre College rowing blades.
Linacre College rowing blades.

Clubs and societies

Like all colleges, Linacre has many active sports teams and its members also represent the university in various sports. Active societies and clubs include the Linacre Music Society, Linacre College Boat Club, Linacre Recreational Football Society, Linacre Ladies that Lift weightlifting society, Linacre Yoga Society, Linacre Green Society, and Linacre Intercultural Society and Linacre Photo Society, among others.[citation needed]

Sustainability and Ethics

The college has a strong environmental ethos and has gained a reputation as the 'green' college of Oxford through a number of environmental initiatives over the years including an official sustainability policy.[24][25][26] Linacre has been ranked greenest college by OUSU in a number of years.[27][28][29] The common room executive hosts an environment officer and there is an active green society since 2007 as well as an allotment society.[30][31][32][33] Linacre's Abraham building won Green Building of the Year 1996[15] and as well as the BCE Environmental Leadership Award.[16] In 2006 Linacre became the first carbon neutral college in Oxford by offsetting carbon emissions with a three-year contract with ClimateCare but stopped being carbon neutral in 2008.[34][35]

In 2010 Linacre committed to the 10:10 campaign to reduce carbon emissions 10% that year.[36] It has more recently set a target of 40% reduction over ten years until 2020.[37] A photovoltaic system was installed on the roofs of Abraham and Griffiths Buildings in 2011. In 2016 Linacre invested £100,000 into the Low Carbon Hub, a renewable energy social enterprise.[26][38] Linacre was the first Oxford college to achieve fairtrade status in September 2006.[39][40] In 2016 Linacre also hosted a seminar series on the sustainability and ethics of banking.[41]

Linacre runs two major public lectures each year:

Linacre Lectures on the Environment

Throughout its history the college has run an annual series of Linacre Lectures open to non-members, the first of which were given by Brian Aldiss, Robert Graves and Isaiah Berlin.[42] Since 1991 these public lectures have focused on environmental challenges.[43]

Tanner Lectures on Human Values

Notable members


See also: Category: Alumni of Linacre College, Oxford


See also: Category: Fellows of Linacre College, Oxford

Paul Nurse
Nick Brown (Principal)

Honorary Fellows



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