Oxford vs Cambridge University: The best Comparisons | Differences & Similarities

Oxford vs Cambridge Universities is among the best schools in the world and in the UK. They provide one of the best academic experiences and could easily be compared to each other.

But in this article, we will not only be looking at their comparisons; we will also look at the differences between the two schools and their similarities.

Therefore, if you have been considering applying to either of the schools, you might want to first take a look at this article.

Meanwhile, below is a table of content that summarizes this article.

According to Wikipedia, the rivalry between the Universities of Oxford vs Cambridge is a phenomenon going back many centuries. And the fact that they were the only universities in England and Wales did not help matters – as it made the rivalry even more acute.


The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, sometimes collectively known as Oxbridge, are the two oldest universities in England.

Both were founded more than 800 years ago, and between them they have produced a large number of Britain’s most prominent scientists, writers and politicians, as well as noted figures in many other fields.

Yet for many of these centuries the two universities were unrecognisable as universities in the modern sense, as they were largely institutions for producing clergymen and were thus strongly tied to the Church.

Today, however, they are best schools in the United Kingdom and among the best all over the world. The two schools have produced exceptionally talented people in the time of existence. People that has set the pace in their various fields.

Competition between Oxford vs Cambridge universities also has a long history, dating back to around 1208 when Cambridge was founded by scholars taking refuge from hostile townsmen in Oxford.

Which University Is Better?

There is no doubt that these two great institutions have many similarities. Nonetheless, they still have their differences.

For an undergraduate course, you can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge in the same year, so it’s important you make the right decision for you. 

To make the best decisions, do not trust only numbers. Make your own findings to really ascertain which institution is the best for you. You should do the same for the courses.

Must Read: Cambridge vs Oxford: 10 Differences Why I Should Choose One

Similarities And Differences Between Oxford vs Cambridge Universities

Perhaps the biggest or most obvious similarity between these two is that they are the oldest universities in the UK. Hence, the name Oxbridge.

They both date back over 800 years and are steeped in tradition. The universities tend to have a similar number of enrolled students, at around 24,000.


Oxford guarantees students accommodation within their college in the first year. After that, however, a student might be allowed to sort him or herself out as some colleges offer accommodation while others do not.

At Cambridge, students live within their college’s designated accommodations throughout their studies. Most student housing is on-site or close by.


To add greater confusion to the pile, the atmosphere within Oxford vs Cambridge University varies significantly from college to college. Students at one college might have an entirely different university experience from another. So it’s not just Oxford vs Cambridge you have to size up, but the different colleges too.

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A college that might seem overbearing and stuffy to one student might encapsulate the perfect ‘Oxbridge experience’ for another. You might actually prefer the modern colleges with their more relaxed attitudes, or long for the tradition and architecture of the older colleges.

Facilities And Services

This is another area the two universities have similar offerings. They both have hundreds of clubs and societies, competitive and recreational sports, active student unions, financial assistance, and strong academic and pastoral support networks.

Some colleges at both universities would prefer full-time students not to undertake part-time work during term time. You can find more information on this on each college’s website by clicking;




The city of Oxford lies around 60 miles northwest of London, which takes about an hour to reach by train. Cambridge town is around 60 miles north of London and takes under an hour to get to.

Both are fairly small and pretty locations that are easy to walk or cycle around. Oxford tends to be known as a bit larger and livelier than Cambridge. Cambridge is thought of as quieter and more picturesque.

Graduate Prospects

On the 2025 league table, Oxford has a graduate prospects score of 83.4%. Cambridge has a graduate prospects score of 86.7%. You can use the full league table to compare the universities in other areas.

See also: The University of Oxford Acceptance Rate

Oxford vs Cambridge University Teaching Methods 

Both universities are collegiate, where individual colleges and academic departments comprise the university.

Every student belongs to a college, an academic department, and the university itself, meaning you have the benefits of belonging to a large university and a small and friendly community.

Teaching methods at both institutions are similar. Learning takes place through lectures, classes, and laboratories and is led by expert professors. Additionally, students attend regular tutorials in small groups.


Students undertake formal and informal assessments via written exams, practical assessments, supervised work, coursework, and final-year dissertations.

Oxford usually assesses students at the end of the first and final years, and the final degree classification is based on the final-year exams.

At Cambridge, students are often assessed at the end of each year, where their final degree classifications are based on these collective results. 

Applying to Oxbridge

Both universities welcome interested students to one of their many open days and events. It’s a good idea to visit and see which one you prefer.

To apply to Oxford or Cambridge, students must apply online via UCAS before 6 pm (GMT) on 15 October. Both universities often ask applicants to complete a written assessment as part of the application. Shortlisted applicants are usually invited to an interview.

Those applying to Cambridge may have to complete a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) and a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) to support their UCAS application. Those applying to Oxford don’t usually need to submit any extra forms.

Note, you can only apply to either of the school at a time. Yes, the rivalry is that serious! So you have to stick your neck for either. Therefore, do not be in a haste to make the decision.

Check this out: Cambridge University Tuition Fee | How To Pay

Entry requirements

Typical entry standards at Oxford are AAA – A*A*A at A Level, 38 – 40 points at IB, or equivalent.

Typical entry standards at Cambridge are A*AA –  A*A*A at A Level, 40 – 42 points at IB, or equivalent.

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Oxbridge League Table Performances 

The University of Cambridge has topped the UK university league table for ten years. It places first overall in 2025, and features within the top ten for 44 subject areas. 

It ranks first for 31 subjects, including:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Architecture
  • Computer Science
  • Geography & Environmental Science
  • Iberian Languages
  • Pharmacology & Pharmacy
  • Sociology
  • Theology & Religious Studies.

The University of Oxford features in the top ten for 37 subjects in the 2025 university subject tables. 

It places first in 11 areas, including:

  • Art & Design
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Middle Eastern & African Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Politics.
oxford and cambridge entry requirementsoxford and cambridge entry requirements

Check this out: Cambridge University Acceptance Rate for International Students

Law: Oxford or Cambridge?

Oxford: 2nd in 2025

The BA in Jurisprudence at Oxford has an emphasis on studying legal sources firsthand. This could mean reading long statuses and cases in their original forms.

Entry requirements are typically AAA at A Level, AAB at Advanced Highers with an additional Higher grade A, 38 points at IB with 666 at HL, or equivalent.

85% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

Cambridge: 1st in 2025

The BA in Law often referred to as LLB, covers English law, but also touches on other legal systems from history and around the world. 

Entry requirements are typically A*AA at A Level, 40–42 points at IB with 776 at Higher Level, or equivalent.

88% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

Medicine: Oxford or Cambridge?

Oxford: 3rd in 2025

Oxford’s pre-clinical Medicine course starts with the five-term ‘First BM’, where students study medical science and clinical problems. Lectures and practicals take up around half of the study week.

This is followed by a four-term BA course in Medical Sciences, which has a stronger focus on research, tutorials, and seminars. Students then have the opportunity to apply to the Oxford Clinical School and complete their clinical training through placements (BM BCh).

100% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025). Almost every medical school has a similar level of employment due to the high demand for medically qualified students. 

Cambridge: 7th in 2025

There are two Medicine courses available to study at Cambridge: the standard and the graduate options. After completing the first three years, students are awarded a BA degree. They then complete clinical studies and are awarded the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BChir).

In the first three years, course content initially focuses on the medical sciences, with around 25–30 hours of teaching time each week. During the next three years, students learn how to apply this knowledge to medical practice through clinical placements.

97% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

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Economics: Oxford or Cambridge?

Oxford: 2nd in 2025

Oxford offers a BA course in Economics & Management. It’s an academic subject delivered by the Social Sciences Division but taught by both Saïd Business School and the Department of Economics. A typical week could include six lectures and two tutorials or classes.

70% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

Cambridge: 1st in 2025

The BA Economics course at Cambridge covers the core, pure, and applied areas of the subject. It’s a specialized degree that uses ideas from other disciplines such as sociology, politics, history, and mathematics. Students can expect around 10–15 hours of teaching per week in their first year.

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85% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

  2. Economics guide

Engineering: Oxford or Cambridge?

Oxford: 3rd in 2025

Oxford’s Engineering Science course leads to an MEng degree. During the first two years, students study the fundamentals of engineering. They then choose to specialize in one of six branches: Biomedical, Civil, Chemical, Information, Electrical, or Mechanical.

89% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).

Cambridge: 1st in 2025

The Cambridge Engineering course allows students to graduate with a BA after three years and, if they wish, continue to study for an MEng degree. Students gain a broad understanding of engineering and specialize in a professional discipline from the third year.

92% of students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2025).


The purpose and structure of these interviews are very similar at both Universities. They’re a lot like a mini-tutorial or supervision, where students may be given a small passage to read or perhaps set a small problem that they’ll discuss in the interview.

The main focus of interviews is to get a sense of how the student applies their existing knowledge and skills to unfamiliar problems, and how they process the information available.

It’s not a matter of how quickly – or even whether – the student arrives at a particular answer. There often aren’t right or wrong answers, and it’s the process of reaching their answer that’s generally of the most significance (rather than the answer itself). The interviewers just want to get an insight into how the student thinks.

It’s important for students to understand that their performance at interviews alone doesn’t determine the outcome of their application – admissions decisions are made holistically, taking all available information into account.

School Reputation

We could blither on about how highly regarded these two schools are, but chances are that you’ve heard it all before. Therefore, let’s unravel their other reputations.

Cambridge is often regarded as the more “sciencey” one, whereas Oxford is considered better for the humanities.

Both, however, have produced their fair share of artists and scientists, so it would be foolish to base your decision solely on this. Both are equally renowned for science and humanities subjects.

Another stereotype is that Oxford is considered more conservative and Cambridge more progressive. It’s true that eight of the conservatives in the current cabinet, including the former Prime Minister David Cameron, went to Oxford, but you’ll find a mixture of conservative and more left-wing values at both universities.

In fact, it might be more dictated by which college you attend: certain colleges are renowned for being more conservative than others and vice versa.

Sometimes after you’ve weighed up all the pros and cons, done your research, and visited both universities, you just have to go with your gut feeling. Which university and which college do you think you’ll be happiest at?

If you’re able to answer this question, it will go a long way in helping you make the best decision.


There are really no laid down steps to follow if you’re looking to get admitted to any of these schools. If possible, I advise you to pay a visit to both of the schools. This is because having a first-hand feel of the school’s environment will definitely help you put things into perspective.

While the schools continue to be rivals and also continue to have things in common, they also have their differences. Therefore, demystifying things about the two schools and understanding their peculiarities and similarities would give you an edge in making a decision.

Whichever one you finally decide to choose, you’d be proud you made the right decision- because you are in for an awesome academic experience.

Good luck.


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