The Best Oxford Colleges for Engineering

The Best Oxford Colleges for Engineering: Top 10 in 2024

As one of the world’s leading universities, the University of Oxford has some of the best engineering programmes. With over 30 colleges to choose from, deciding where to apply can be challenging and stressful. If we take into account that you need to work hard to prepare the Oxbridge application, this can trigger even anxiety for some school leavers.

We tried to break down the 10 best Oxford colleges for engineering based on facilities, student feedback, academic reputation, and more. Engineering Science is a very popular course at the University of Oxford.

If you are applying to Oxford, learn what are the best Oxford colleges for engineering.

What are the best Oxford Colleges for Engineering?

Keble College

Founded in 1870, Keble College tops our list as the best Oxford college for engineering. Keble has excellent modern facilities, including dedicated laboratories equipped with advanced IT infrastructure. The college spent £7 million renovating its engineering labs in 2018.

With around 415 students, Keble has a medium size student body. Every year Keble College accepts around 12 new engineering students. 

This gives students the benefits of a connected community while still allowing academic focus. In the 2019 National Student Survey, Keble students gave an impressive 93% satisfaction rating.

Keble is the closest college to the Department of Engineering Science, which means it is very suitable for engineering students. You will need just a short walk to Department. 

St. John’s College

St. John’s College is another excellent choice for bright engineers. It’s one of the best Oxford colleges in the overall ranking. They admit around 7 students every year. Witch means that is hard to get into an engineering course at St. John’s. College is constantly ranked in the top 4 in the Norrington table.

Pros and Cons St John's College in Oxford Univeristy

Founded in 1555, St. John’s has a rich history and impressive alumni network. The college offers outstanding engineering science facilities, including tools like laser cutters and 3D printers.

With around 390 undergraduates, St. John’s has a moderately sized student body. Students praise the college for its inclusive, welcoming atmosphere. 

In the 2019 National Student Survey, they rated overall satisfaction at St. John’s as 92%.

I chose St John’s as it’s super close to the engineering department, as well as the centre of town. Another big perk is it provides accommodation for all (four) years of my course, so we get cheap and good quality accommodation guaranteed!

– Jen, Engineering Course at Oxford University, St. John’s College

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Worcester College

Worcester College amidst 7 students for engineering every year. It is considered one of the best Oxford Colleges for Engineering. 

Worcester College punches above its weight for engineering, despite being one of Oxford’s smaller colleges. With around 230 undergraduates, Worcester offers a tight-knit academic community. The college recently invested £4 million in upgrading its engineering labs and IT equipment.

The main college library is open 24 hours during the semesters. 

At Worcester the food is good, one of the best of all Oxford colleges. Costs are for breakfasts around £2, lunch £4 and dinner is around £5.5.

Worcester is great at career support, helping engineering students secure internships and graduate jobs. In a 2018 survey by the Complete University Guide, Worcester came 5th for graduate prospects among all Oxford colleges.

Trinity College

Trinity College is home to Oxford’s famous James Martin School of Engineering. It’s 10 min walk from the Department of Engineering Science. It’s one of the top colleges for Engineering Science at Oxford. 

The college admits only 4 students for Engineering course, sometimes up to 6 but this varies from year to year. 

Trinity has great facilities, including hydromechanics and aerodynamics labs. Successful alumni from Trinity include the co-founder of ARM Holdings, Herman Hauser.

With around 300 undergraduates, Trinity manages to balance academic rigour with a friendly atmosphere. In 2018, the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey ranked Trinity as the top Oxford college.

Pembroke College

Pembroke College boasts excellent engineering facilities located a few minutes walk from the main college site. Pembroke’s dedicated Engineering Laboratory provides access to computing suites, prototyping equipment, and testing tools.

Pembroke’s student body includes around 330 undergraduates studying a diverse range of subjects. The college has an international outlook, with a higher proportion of students from overseas than many other Oxford colleges.

Magdalen College

With an idyllic location next to the River Cherwell, Magdalen College offers a traditional Oxford experience. Ranked as one of the best Oxford colleges for engineering, Magdalen’s engineering facilities were upgraded in 2005 and include fluid dynamics and solid mechanics labs.

Magdalen college, University Oxford

Magdalen’s student body includes 355 undergraduates. The college has a strong academic community and provides excellent pastoral care. In a 2018 Oxford students survey, Magdalen came 2nd out of 29 colleges for satisfaction.

Christ Church College

As Oxford’s largest college, Christ Church offers first-rate facilities across academic disciplines. Engineering students benefit from newly refurbished labs and access to advanced IT resources. Located in central Oxford, Christ Church is conveniently close to department buildings.

It has 6 places available for new engineering students every year. 

The main stereotype for this college is that most of the students are “rahs”, but this does not seem to be true. You can meet students from all around the world with different backgrounds.

With around 430 undergraduate students, Christ Church has the benefits of a big college but still retains an intimate community feel. Past students include leading figures like John Locke, William Penn and WH Auden.

St Catherine’s College

Although one of Oxford’s newer colleges, founded in 1963, St Catherine’s has already established a top reputation for engineering at Oxford. It’s in the 6 position on the Norrington table. St Catherine’s offers outstanding facilities including wind tunnels and supercomputer access.

The college amidst 8 students for engineering courses each year. With its modern architecture and vibrant atmosphere, St Catherine’s provides a contemporary Oxford experience. In 2019, St Catherine’s came 4th out of 30 Oxford colleges for student satisfaction.

Balliol College

Dating back to 1263, Balliol College is one of Oxford’s oldest and most prestigious colleges. Balliol’s engineering programme benefits from the college’s central location and close ties with leading departments. Alumni include Adam Smith, Aldous Huxley and Christopher Hitchens.

Balliol College at University of Oxford

Applying to Balliol it’s a great opportunity to study at one of the best Oxford colleges for engineering science courses. 

With around 330 undergraduates, Balliol has a competitive admissions process and delivers outstanding academic support. Recent graduates give an 86% satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey.

Lincoln College

Lincoln College is toped as number 3 in the Norrington table in overall college rankings. Provides a picturesque setting alongside medieval buildings and idyllic gardens. Lincoln’s engineering facilities were upgraded in 2017, providing access to state-of-the-art labs and computing facilities.

Lincoln has around 90 undergraduate students in total which makes him a very small college. Considered among the best colleges for engineering courses at Oxford. Only has 6 available places each year for new Engineer students. 

Why Study Engineering at Oxford?

With its great facilities and renowned faculty, Oxford provides an amazing environment for studying engineering. With the 4 year course, you will be able to gain a general knowledge of every discipline of Engineering before finalising your choice. The course is focused on academic learning and practice. 

The general engineering course offers a fantastic opportunity to discover your true passion, especially for A-level candidates who might not have had the chance to explore all the available options thoroughly. It serves as a platform to delve into various engineering disciplines and helps you identify the field that truly ignites your enthusiasm.

Here are some key advantages of choosing Oxford Engineering:

  1. World-class reputation – Oxford is consistently ranked in the top 3 universities globally. An Oxford degree signals academic excellence.
  2. Access to advanced research – Work alongside professors on innovative projects with real-world applications.
  3. Strong industry connections – Leading engineering firms actively recruit graduates from Oxford.
  4. Multidisciplinary approach – Opportunity to combine engineering with a diverse range of subjects.
  5. Excellent career prospects – Oxford engineering graduates enjoy outstanding graduate employment rates.

Entry Requirements for Engineering at Oxford

Competition for engineering courses at Oxford is high, with a typical offer to 1 out of 4 applicants. There is no secret that the Oxford admission process is rigorous.

Oxford requires from applicants outstanding academic A-Level grades (or equivalent), including:

  • Math: An A* in A-Level Math or equivalent, with applicants usually studying Further Math.
  • Sciences: At least one (preferably two) science subject at A-Level or equivalent, such as Physics, Chemistry or Biology.

Overall to get an offer from Oxford Engineering admission tutors you will need typically A*A*A at A-Level. Some colleges with higher acceptance rates may require A*AA.

Oxford Engineering Acceptance Rate

In 2022, Oxford received over 1031 applications for undergraduate Engineering programmes, with 195 admitted places. This gave an acceptance rate of 18.9% for the Engineering course at Oxford.

Last year’s acceptance rate is below the 3-year average (2020-2022), which is 24.8%.

Keep in mind acceptance rates can vary significantly between different Oxford colleges. For example, Keble, Worcester and Brasenose tend to have the lowest acceptance rates at 10-13% overall for all courses. In contrast, St Hugh’s College and St Hilda’s have less competitive admission processes, with an acceptance rate of around 29-31%.

Overall, Oxford Engineering remains very competitive compared to other universities. Applicants should ensure they meet all requirements and showcase outstanding talent. 

Securing good references from teachers is also vital when applying to Oxford.

Is Oxford Good for Engineering?

With its 800-year history of innovation and excellence, Oxford is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading universities for engineering. As part of a Russell Group, the university is focused on innovation but with strong traditional roots. 

Key facts confirming Oxford’s excellence in engineering study:

  • Oxford Engineering consistently ranks #1 nationally in university subject league tables, according to Times Higher Education for 2023
  • In global rankings, Oxford Engineering is placed 3rd in the world (QS 2022).
  • Over 30% of engineering undergraduates achieve First Class degrees, compared to a UK average of 15%.
  • Strong research output, with Oxford, producing 15% of the UK’s top-cited engineering research papers.
  • Excellent graduate prospects – 95% in work or doing further study 15 months after the course.
  • Outstanding alumni network including pioneer engineers such as Stephen Hawking, Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreessen.

With great facilities, resources, pioneering research, and exceptional teaching, Oxford provides an amazing environment to study engineering courses at the undergraduate level.

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Does Oxford Have an Entrance Exam for Engineering?

All Oxford applicants to the Engineering Science course are required to take Physics Admissions Test (PAT) exam. 

Why PAT admission test is required? It gives additional insights and information for every applicant who is applying to Engineering. Many applicants have the best A-Level grades and good personal statements, but the admission test is something that helps tutors to make offers to the best candidates. 

The Physics Admissions Test (PAT) is a 2-hour admission exam for those applying to Physics, Materials Science or Engineering programmes. It is subject-specific and covers material from the first year of A-level math and physics. The test has computer-based questions but requires handwritten answers in a booklet. Students usually take the PAT at their high school or college’s authorised test centre.

The deadline to register for the PAT admission test is 29 September, and the exam date is 20 October 2024.

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The Best Oxford Colleges for Engineering 

Trying to choose which of Oxford’s historic colleges to apply to for an Engineering course? Our guide presents the 10 best colleges for engineering at the University of Oxford. Taking into account facilities, student satisfaction and more. With outstanding academics and resources, Oxford provides the perfect launching pad for a successful engineering career.

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Which one is better: Oxford or Cambridge For Engineering?

Both Oxford and Cambridge are great for engineering students. It is hard to say which one is definitively “better” as some things depend on individual preferences.

In terms of rankings, both universities consistently rank in the top 10 for engineering programmes worldwide. According to the 2022 Time Higher Education report, Cambridge is ranked 2nd for engineering and technology, while Oxford is ranked 1st in the UK.

Also, both universities have slightly different focuses within their engineering courses. Oxford’s engineering course is more interdisciplinary and academic, while Cambridge’s engineering programme is more focused on engineering fundamentals and innovation.

What if don’t get an offer from Oxford? 

It’s common practice that the majority of the applicants are without an offer from Oxford to the University of Durham or UCL. 

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