About Balliol College
Founded in 1263, Balliol College is one of Oxford’s oldest colleges. It is also one of Oxford’s largest colleges.
Balliol has existed as a community of scholars on its present site on Broad Street without interruption since about 1263. Therefore, it lays claim to the title of oldest academic institution in the English-speaking world still on its original location.
The College was founded by John de Balliol and consolidated by his widow, Dervorguilla of Galloway, who guaranteed the future of the ‘House of the Scholars of Balliol’ by establishing a permanent endowment and giving it Statutes in 1282.
Today, this thriving academic community in the heart of Oxford exists to advance education at both undergraduate and graduate levels, to facilitate and encourage scholarship and research at the highest levels, and to promote excellence in learning as one of the colleges within the University of Oxford.
Led by the Master, the community consists of about 70 Fellows. Many of these are Tutorial Fellows who, with the College Lecturers, teach around 370 undergraduate students; about the same number of students read for graduate degrees. There are also about 120 non-academic staff.
The College is run by those Fellows who form its Governing Body through a system of committees composed of Fellows, students and staff.
Beyond the College walls, the Balliol community also encompases its Honorary and Emeritus Fellows and about 8,000 alumni.
Balliol College welcomes visitors who wish to tour the buildings and gardens. It is open as often as can be, but from time to time, there are College events that require the College to be closed. As part of admission, you’ll be able to visit the gardens, Chapel and Hall. Entry fees apply.
Balliol’s primary site is on Broad Street, in the centre of Oxford city. Behind its 19th-century façade is the Front Quad, with the Chapel, built in 1857, and the College’s oldest, 15th-century buildings. These house the Library, which is the intellectual hub of the College.
Through the Library Passage is the Garden Quad, a green oasis in the middle of the city. At the far end of this is the magnificent 19th-century Hall, where College Members eat – both informally and formally. The Buttery below the Hall serves drinks and light refreshments to Members and visitors.
Graduate students live in our graduate centre, based around Holywell Manor, a medieval house about five minutes’ walk away. There are further buildings in Jowett Walk and a new development, completed in 2021, at the Master’s Field — both sites adjacent to the sports field.
Balliol is one of the few colleges to have its own purpose-built studio theatre, the Michael Pilch Studio, which is in the Jowett Walk Building.