Feel at home in Oxford

With its medieval colleges, stunning nature reserves and unbeatable cultural activities, living in Oxford will be one of the highlights of your year on the Master of Public Policy (MPP). This short guide will give you an idea of the things you can look forward to when you spend a year studying in Oxford.

A global city of learning, culture and activities

Although the MPP is an intense course, you won’t miss out on all the exciting activities Oxford has to offer. 

Oxford is a vibrant city filled with knowledge and opportunities to explore new hobbies and interests. Through the Oxford University Students Union you will have access to over 400 clubs and societies. Whether you’re interested in taking up a new sport, joining an activist group or learning how to bake, there is something there for everyone.

If it’s art and culture you’re interested in, Oxford’s museums, galleries and theatres are unbeatable. Discover earth, science and nature at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and explore the archaeological treasures of the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Ashmolean Museum’s collections range from ancient Egyptian mummies to exhibitions of contemporary art. Don’t miss visiting Modern Art Oxford, which holds a range of temporary exhibitions every year along with interactive creative workshops.

Many of our students choose to join the Oxford Union, the University’s historic debating society. If you want to finesse your reasoning and debating skills, you can join their main debates every Thursday evening during term time. The Oxford Union is also famous for hosting closed-door speeches and debates by some of the world’s most prolific figures – from political leaders, to celebrated musicians, literary greats and spiritual leaders. 

Oxford is also home to many beautiful parks and nature reserves. Port Meadow is a short walk from the Blavatnik School of Government and is one of the largest open spaces in the city. Closer to the centre you can stroll through University Parks, or further east you can visit South Park or wander through the woods in The Kidneys. Find out more about the city’s open spaces on the Oxford City Council website.

Living arrangements
Find your home away from home

Moving city or country can be daunting. But settling in and finding a place to stay for the year you spend in Oxford doesn’t have to be.

You may decide you want to live in your college, which can be a great way to settle into University life and meet other students from outside of the Blavatnik School of Government. The college will explain their process for applying for accommodation when you receive your offer. 

Many students also choose to seek accommodation in the private sector. Find out more on the University and private accommodation page. The Oxford University Students Union (Oxford SU) also provides guidance on searching for private accommodation and can help you if you have questions or concerns about accommodation. You can also search for properties and rooms to let on the Oxford SU Accommodation Service website or on websites such as SpareRoom.

Living in Oxford
Supporting your family making the journey to Oxford

Oxford is a family-friendly city. Students coming to study with their families are welcome at the Blavatnik School of Government and we will be on hand to support you throughout your time here. 

Please note that the UK Home Office recently changed its regulations around bringing dependents whilst on a Student Visa. If you hope to bring any dependents we would advise reading carefully through the University and UK government information pages.

Through the University, you can access a range of accommodation options especially designed for students who come to Oxford with their families. There are a range of rooms, flats and houses in and around Oxford, on sites owned and managed by the University.

Your family will also have access to the University's Newcomers' Club, a volunteer-run organisation which helps spouses or partners of graduate students and other members of the University to settle in. They run a regular programme of social events in Oxford to help you get to know the city and people who live and study here.

If you are coming to Oxford with school-age children, there are a number of great state primary and secondary schools around Oxford, some of which are close to the Blavatnik School of Government building. You can find more information about enrolling your child in school through the Oxfordshire County Council website.

Exploring the city and the UK

There’s so much to see and do across the city and the UK. Luckily Oxford is compact and you can easily cover the city centre on foot or by bicycle. It also has great transport links for reaching the rest of the country. For various maps of the city, visit the University’s website.


Cycling is a popular way of getting around. If you want to buy or hire a bike, there are plenty of shops selling or renting new and second-hand bikes. 


Buses are another good way of getting about and information about local bus
companies and timetables can be found on the Oxford Bus website. You can buy tickets on
board but if you plan to use buses frequently you will save money by buying a smartcard called ‘the key’.


Oxford’s train station is located on Park End Street to the west of the city. You can buy tickets at the station or online in advance on trainline.com. Rail travel can be expensive but it can be much cheaper if you book at least three weeks in advance. A Young Person’s Railcard will also give you a third off your fare. This card is available to anyone who is under 30 or who is a full-time student and gives you 1/3 off most railway journeys throughout the UK.


Coach travel is another good way to travel the UK and is often cheaper than rail travel. Direct coach services between Oxford and London include the Oxford Tube. National Express coaches travel to locations throughout the UK.

Exploring further afield

Eurostar is a high-speed train between London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris. For inexpensive flying options in and out of the UK see Ryanair or EasyJet. Remember that you will need a passport and your UK visa to travel. You may also need to apply for additional visas to travel to other countries.

Food and drink
Fuel your studies at Oxford’s restaurants and cafés

From Japanese to Lebanese, Sri Lankan to Slovakian, there are cafés and restaurants to suit every taste in Oxford. Jericho (where you can find the Blavatnik School of Government) and the city centre both have excellent options. The Covered Market in the city centre has a range of independent cafés and places to buy fresh produce. If you’re venturing further there are also a range of great international options in East Oxford and Headington. 

Oxford also has a wide selection of specialist food retailers. A number of international food shops, including Chinese, South Korean, Indian, Caribbean, Russian, and Polish vendors, can be found on Cowley Road. There is also a Chinese supermarket on Hythe Bridge Street and a range of other international food stockists across the city.

If you’re into coffee, the city houses a number of great coffee shops and roasteries.      Colombia Coffee Roasters in the covered market and Summertown, Missing Bean in the centre and Cowley, and Jericho Coffee Traders on the High Street are excellent options. Many also sell coffee beans and grounds for you to prepare at home.