The core of an Oxford education is the tutorial and it is the College that provides these. Teaching also takes place in classes, practicals, seminars and lectures, but these tend to be arranged by University faculties.

Whichever subject you are reading you will have at least one tutorial a week, normally as part of a pair. You will be asked to prepare a piece of written work on a subject which you will be expected to discuss in some detail. This means that you will range far beyond the scope of your piece of work, and attempt to master the topic dealt with in the tutorial.

The person teaching you – your tutor – will be a specialist in the field; the connection between research and teaching in Oxford is intimate. But you will be expected to contribute your own ideas to what is meant to be an intellectual discussion, not a lesson. This puts a considerable onus on you, but the rewards can be correspondingly great. Far from being a confrontation, in the best sort of tutorial – which happens with surprising frequency – tutor and undergraduate work together to develop an understanding of the topic so that both come away having learned from the experience.

The individual attention which you receive in tutorials means that, within the (broad) outlines of your degree course, you are encouraged to develop your own interests. This degree of individual attention is, with the exception of Cambridge, virtually unequalled in any university anywhere in the world. It is one of the most important justifications for the collegiate system.