Oxford Glossary

Here's a (not quite, but nearly!) exhaustive list of all the phrases and abbreviations you'll often hear related to College Life. Let us know if there's something you keep hearing that isn't on here, and we'll add it!

ATBH - At the Boat House. Rowers and anyone watching Torpids and Summer Eights will run into this one. 

BNC -  The most common way to refer to Brasenose. 

DB - Domestic Bursar (and by extension their office as a whole), deals with College domestic administration. 

 

DTB - Down the Bar. 

DTG - Down the (sports) Ground. Our sports ground is off of Abingdon Road.

HCR. The Hulme Common Room, Brasenose’s Graduate Common room. Most colleges call their graduate common room the Middle Common Room (MCR) or Graduate Common Room (GCR), so don’t get confused. The words “HCR,” “SCR” and “JCR” can all be used to refer both to the people who belong to these common rooms and the rooms themselves. 

ITL. In the Lodge. 

JCR. The Junior Common Room, which is composed of both undergraduates and graduates. You will automatically be a member of the JCR. It is primarily run by and for undergraduates, however. The current JCR President is İrem Kaki. 

KA. The King’s Arms. A pub on the corner of Catte Street and Holywell. Keep an eye out for Hugh Grant here! 

OUSU. Oxford University Student Union, deals with University-wide student issues which are mostly welfare or finance-related, although it has recently been doing some work on the curriculum and the organization of courses. There is a graduate committee of OUSU which deals with graduate issues. 

RSL. Radcliffe Science Library. This is the science part of the Bodleian. 

SCR. The Senior Common Room. All the tutors and dons are members. 

Tute. Short for “tutorial” - an hour long class with your tutor.

Batels. An invoice or your termly bill, including college and university fees, rent for college accommodation, and any other additional charges. Batels are issued at the beginning of each term. If you have any problems paying, it is wise to tell the Bursary, who are quite good about deferring payment. It is best to speak with the college accountant, if you have any problems with Batels and payments. Overdue payment of Batels without informing the Bursary is a finable offense.

Boat Race. Oxford racing Cambridge on the River Thames. Usually a very popular and controversial event! 

Bodleian. (often called “the Bod”) the main University library which is one of only two copyright libraries in Britain. This means that it has the right to a copy of every book, which is ever published in Britain. You will be sworn in as a member of this prestigious institution at Matriculation at the end of 1st Week. 

Bod Card. The colloquial name for your university card. Technically, the card that gives you borrowing (and, in many cases, entry) privileges at the Bodleian Library and many departmental or college libraries around Oxford. It is also informally considered your main “student ID” from Oxford, because no other body issues such an identification. It carries a digitised photograph, in colour, which you provide on a form that is sent to the college before your arrival. Make sure not to staple over your head, or it will stay in the picture! 

Bop. Oxford-speak for a disco, “rave” or raucous party. Often themed around such things as ‘World Domination,’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ bops are known for cheap drinks, cheesy music and questionable dancing. It’s safe to say that there’s a bop for every occasion, and every occasion seems to demand a bop! 

Black tie. This is a formal dress code requiring gents to wear dinner jackets and bow ties. Suits and normal ties are not appropriate. Ladies should wear a cocktail dress or something similar. Depending on the type of event, a gown may also be required. 

Blurbs. A series of informal evening talks hosted by the HCR, in which a member of the HCR and SCR each present their particular research pitched to a general audience, so it is better to go to the topics which you know less about. Well worth going to, especially since there is an amazing High Table meal afterwards. 

Collections. These are tests set for students at the start of each term to test them on the work done the previous term. You will probably only face these if you are doing a second BA.

Come up, Go Down, Sent Down. These are quaint expressions still widely used to mean joining the university, and finishing at Oxford (hence “coming up” to Oxford in October of your first term). An unpleasant variant on the second is when someone is “sent down,” meaning that they have been expelled. Remember: everywhere else in the entire universe is down from Oxford (that includes the North Pole, Mount Everest, and most certainly Cambridge). 

Daily Information/ Daily Info. An information sheet which comes out daily in term time listing events, cinema showing times, gigs, exhibitions, plays taking place that day. If you want to get something put in it yourself, just phone them. It is displayed in the lodge and the HCR. During the vacations it often reduces itself to Weekly Information. It is also available on the web at http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk

Crew date When sports clubs from one college ‘date’ another colleges club. These ‘dates’ usually take place in Bombay’s or Jamal’s and are known to get quite rowdy! Be careful not to get your curry pennied! 

Dean and Junior Deans. They deal with discipline and general supervision of College social events. The Junior Deans are usually two

graduates who make sure that College rules are enforced, especially after the Bar shuts at night. 

Entz. Short for entertainment, i.e. bops, raves, quiz nights etc. 

Exchange dinners. The HCR organises three exchange dinners per term. Sign up for a fun night at formal in another college and chance to get to know new people! 

Fob. This electronic key allows you access into college (after hours), the HCR, the college library, and St. Cross Annexe (if you live there). 

Formal hall. Formal 3 course dinners provided by colleges. Brasenose has formals on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. These must be booked in advance, on Upay. Wear your gown over regular clothes to Brasenose formals. Non-college members shouldn’t wear gowns. Wine is not

provided but if you want to bring your own, it must be bought in the college bar. 

Frewin Annexe. The Brasenose annexe off New Inn Hall Street and St. Michael’s Street (just behind the Oxford Union). It used to be the graduate annexe but is now used for second and third year undergraduates. There are two erg machines and a table tennis table there, as well as music practice rooms. The undercroft can be hired for parties. 

Governing Body. These are the meetings at which all the fellows of the College meet to discuss important College issues three times a term. Not all those with SCR rights have a vote at Governing Body (for example, the Chaplain and certain temporary lecturers). If you request College funding, for example to attend a conference, the Governing Body must approve it. 

Gown. Not something produced by Versace or Vivienne Westwood, but a rather unflattering piece of black cloth you have to wear for Formal Hall, Principal’s Collections, University exams, and some other occasions. Graduates wear a graduate gown or, if they are reading for higher degrees, they are allowed to wear the appropriate gown for whatever degree they already hold. Check the Blue Book or the University Decrees and Regulations (or “Grey Book”) for details. Both are available online, on the College and University websites respectively. Gowns can be bought in shops in the city centre such as Shepherd & Woodward’s. 

High Table. The table at the head of the dining hall where the fellows are fed incredibly good food. A few graduates (the HCR President and some Senior Scholars) have limited High Table dining rights as well. All graduates have the right to dine once a year, but space is limited. 

Living in/living out. You “live in” if you live in College accommodation (i.e. the main College site, St. Cross or Hollybush). You “live out” if you do not. Those living out must give their address to the lodge. Remember to still check your pidge for important mail even if you live out. 

Lounge suit. A slightly more informal dress code, gents should wear regular suits and ties. Ladies should wear something equivalent. 

Matriculation. This is the procedure by which you formally become a member of the University. The Vice-Chancellor welcomes you to the University, says a few words in Latin, and that’s that. You must wear Sub-Fusc for this. 

Mods, Prelims. These are the exams that students taking BAs have to take and pass usually towards the end of their first year (sometimes later, sometimes earlier in certain subjects). In some subjects they are called Honours Moderations (Mods) and in others the Preliminary Examination (Prelims) - the difference being that Mods results are classified in classes, while Prelims are not. People doing second BAs are usually allowed to skip Mods/Prelims and go straight to the second year. 

Oxford Union. The Union is a debating society which also provides speaker meetings, parties, balls and lots of other entertainment. Members have access to the Union building which has a very popular bar, the Re-Union night club, a library, restaurant and many other facilities. Not to be confused with OUSU, which plays the role of representing students to the University and providing rather less glamorous, but ultimately more important, services to all students. Membership of the Union is fairly expensive (£270 plus for three years) and so opinion is divided on whether it is really worth it. Before paying, go along to some of the free events in the first two weeks of term and talk to some old cynics who paid up and now wish they hadn’t! It should be noted, however, that the deal for International students is better, including lifetime membership. 

Pidge. Your college post box, situated in the Porter’s Lodge. You will share this with another person. Graduate pidges are on the left hand side at the back of the lodge. Check the little square boxes with the correct initial if you are expecting a parcel, then you will need to sign for it. 

Pigeon post. Another name for the University internal mail system. 

Principal’s Collections. These take place once a year in Hilary for first- and second-year graduates and in Trinity for third-years and beyond. Graduate students have ‘Principal’s Collections’ once a year. You will be required to meet with your College Advisor, the Tutor for Graduates and the Principal to discuss your supervisor’s reports. You must be prompt and it is optional to wear your gown (but you don’t need to dress up). 

Punts. Flat-bottomed boats propelled using a long pole. They seat five and the JCR hires three or four on a permanent basis during Trinity Term. HCR members can opt in to the scheme to use the punts whenever they want. The HCR also hires one punt for the summer vacation and members can sign up to the scheme (usually it costs £10-20 for the summer). Punting is one of the highlights of summer in Oxford. 

Rustication. Another quaint expression meaning to be required to take time off from your studies, usually for a year and usually for academic or disciplinary reasons. 

Scouts. These are College staff who clean your room and empty your bin. If you do not want to be disturbed in the morning, leave your bin outside your door. 

Second Desserts. This is commonly used misnomer in BNC used to describe the desserts provided by the HCR after formal hall (correctly, they are simply “desserts”). These occur after exchange dinners, graduate dinners, guest dinners and Blurbs. They include copious amounts of port, chocolates, nuts, and a fine selection of cheeses. 

Sub-Fusc. This is a traditional form of dress, worn for Matriculation, University exams, graduation and if you ever have to make a formal visit to the Proctors. Subfusc for men is a dark suit, white shirt, white bow tie and black shoes and socks. For women, you need a dark skirt or trousers, white blouse, black tie, and black shoes and stockings. Finally, everyone wears their gown and carries their mortarboard, but women have the option of wearing cloth caps. Details of the type of gown can be found in the Blue Book. Note that it is sometimes possible to buy a second-hand gown, so do ask when you go to buy one (there are a few shops that sell them - you should be receiving information on them) 

Torpids. An annual competition where college boat crews compete with each other. The aim is to ‘bump’ the boat in front of you. This is called Summer Eights in Trinity. 

Varsity trip: A university ski-trip in Michaelmas term, joint with Cambridge. If you love skiing and partying all night long with thousands of other students, then this is for you! 

Upay. This is an electronic system whereby you can top up your bod card meal balance, and book college formal dinners. Sign up online when you get to Oxford and sign up for formals in advance, spaces go quickly! 

White tie. This dress code is for the most formal of occasions, which in Oxford would mostly be commemoration balls. Men should wear black tailcoats, white waistcoats, white starched collared shirts and white bow ties. Ladies should wear ball gowns.