New Graduates

Howdy Freshers!

This page contains a general overview of the MCR. Have a look at our accommodation and contacts pages as well!

Overview of our MCR

Welcome to the St Catherine’s College MCR – one of the friendliest and most energetic graduate communities in Oxford!

The term “MCR” (short for “Middle Common Room”) is a bit of Oxford-speak: it refers both to the society for graduate students at St Catherine’s, and to the physical common room area which is the hub of graduate life here. The MCR is run by its students for its students. We’re a set of friendly faces outside the formal structures of department and university, and our purpose is to support (and entertain!) you, and to represent your interests in College, the University and beyond. We also run a busy program of social events throughout the year and generally have a lot of fun! Catz and Oxford are great places to live and study, and the MCR is here to help you make the most of it all.
One of the highlights of our social calendar is the regular Friday night Guest Dinner and post-dinner session in the MCR, when we gather to relax, enjoy some great food, and have a bit of fun to see out the week. We try where posible to organise joint activities with the Junior Common Room (JCR – undergraduates) and the Senior Common Room (SCR – tutors, fellows etc) to promote ties with the rest of the College. To make sure you don’t miss out on news about upcoming events and other information, you should sign up to the MCR email lists and keep an eye on the MCR Termcard. The activities of the MCR are coordinated by an elected MCR Committee, which is composed of 9 Executive Officers and a number of Regular Officers. The Committee will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the MCR or College.

The MCR has a set of facilities reserved exclusively for the use of MCR members and their guests. These include a common room and lounge area (with comfortable chairs and sofas, TV, and newspapers and magazines); a kitchen where you can make tea and coffee and other refreshments; a bar; and a private courtyard garden.

Please do browse around the website to find out more about the MCR, and contact the Committee if you have any questions. We look forward to meeting you if you decide to join St Catherine’s!

Catz MCR Online

Catz MCR is on FacebookTwitter and Instagram (as CatzMCR).

MCR Handbook

The Handbook from a few years ago (2015) can be found here.


Tutor for Graduates

The Tutor for Graduates is Ashok Handa. The Tutor for Graduates oversees graduate matters in the College. Responsibilities include the College side of graduate admissions and course administration, organisation of academic and related matters affecting graduates within the College, graduate scholarships, monitoring of academic progress, representing graduate interests on College committees and liaison with the MCR. The Tutor is a representative of graduates freely available to meet you to discuss matters related to these responsibilities, or for any other matters.

College Postal Address

The address for all Fellows, lecturers, students and staff of the College is:

St. Catherine’s College
Manor Road
United Kingdom

College Contacts

A list of useful college contacts can be found here: College Contacts

College Email

College email addresses are based on the following format:

College Websites

The College website, and the JCR website.

Some tips for Oxford

  • Getting a UK bank account? Good companies are HSBC, NatWest, Santander and Barclays.
  • Do not miss the gym inductions! St Catz has a free gym (cardio upstairs, weights downstairs) and 2 squash courts, however your uni card (issued in Freshers’ Week) will not open the door unless you’ve completed a gym induction (advertised in Freshers’ Week). Also, don’t be late for the induction since the door locks.
  • Dress codes: Lots of dinners state “formal attire” which usually means a lounge / evening suit with shirt and tie for guys and dresses / skirts and smart top for girls. Super formal stuff is called “black tie” which means a dinner jacket, dress shirt and bowtie (not long tie) for guys and cocktail dresses for girls. It’s worth having both formal and black tie clothes to be honest.
  • Do I need a gown or posh clothes? For ‘Matriculation’ (the ceremony when you join the University, held the week after Freshers’ week for those joining in October) requires you to wear a dark suit, white shirt, white bowtie for guys and black skirt, black tights, white shirt, black ribbon for girls, both with black socks and shoes. It also requires you to carry a mortarboard hat (or some women choose the women’s soft cap but that’s pretty rare) and wear a graduate commoners gown. Many shops in Oxford sell or hire combinations of the gown, mortarboard and white bowtie / black ribbon though, so don’t worry if you don’t have them.
  • What counts as ID in bars? Usually an EU driving license will do or something with your DATE OF BIRTH clearly on it. Obviously passports are fine. For student deals, you will need a uni card but those are issued to you when you join Oxford so don’t worry about that.


There are three primary accommodation options for graduate students at St Catherine’s:

College Accommodation

The accommodation offered by College is located at on the main College Campus. For more information, see the MCR Accommodation Guide 2015. Please note that Catz is well-equipped with rooms and other facilities suitable for students with disabilities and/or special needs.

College Campus
Rooms come equipped with the following: a bed with mattress, pillows and a duvet; a desk and work chair; a desk lamp; shelves; an arm-chair; a small table; cupboards (including a clothes hanging facility) and drawers for clothes and other items. Bed linen (sheets and pillow cases) can be provided if required, but you will need to supply your own towels. A launderette and ironing facilities are available onsite.

All rooms are connected to the internet and University network. They also have telephone sockets, though if you want a telephone you can pay by Upay. Please get in contact with the lodge for more information.

The rooms on the main College site date from three different periods. The original rooms (in the Meadow and River blocks) are Jacobsen-designed and were built in the 1960s. Subsequently there have been two major extensions, both designed by Stephen Hodder: Phase I (1994) and Phase II (2004). Currently, the college is building a brand-new graduate center and 78 additional graduate bedrooms next to the Stephen Hodder extension. This extension is expected to be completed before start of the 2019/2020 academic year, providing graduates at St. Catz with additional bedrooms on the college site and a state-of-the-art graduate center. Rooms in the graduate staircases in the original blocks have shower and toilet facilities shared – usually four showers and two toilets for each floor of nine people. Some staircases also have baths! The blocks have shared kitchen facilities on each floor. Rooms, kitchens and bathrooms are all cleaned on a regular basis by the College “scouts”.

College continues to provide meals during vacation (except during the official College closure periods), though the times and arrangements may differ slightly from those during term.

Catz House
Catz house, with its newly refurbished rooms and facilities, is located just off St Clements Street, east of Oxford city centre. Its location is ideal with the city centre, Catz and central University departments being only 5-10 minutes cycle away. If you are based at one of the Oxford hospitals in Headington these are only 15 minutes cycle away. Catz sports ground with tennis courts and playing fields is just around the corner on Marston Road.

St Clements and the surrounding areas, including Cowley and Iffley Road, have all the amenities you will need during your stay in Oxford. St Clements itself has pubs, bars and restaurants as well as a small supermarket. On Cowley road you will find banks, a large supermarket, pharmacies, cafés, a multitude of cycle shops and restaurants from all corners of the world. If you are interested in night life there are a number of pubs and bars as well as the O2 Academy for live music. Only 5 minutes away, on Iffely Road, you will find the University sports centre with a gym, pool, climbing walls and more. If you are looking to relax Catz house is only a few minutes’ walk from South Park and Headington Hill Park, perfect for picnics.

Planning a trip to London or abroad? The Oxford Tube and X90 bus services provide a quick and easy link to London. The bus stop is conveniently located on St Clements Street, on the doorstep of Catz House, and services are frequent. If you are travelling abroad there are coach links to London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted departing regularly from St Clements.

Catz House welcomes you to Oxford and the joys of living in the exciting St Clements area.

Allocation of Accommodation

The College endeavours to provide single accommodation in College-owned or -managed accommodation during the first year of study for all graduates based outside the EU at the time of application, provided that they return a completed financial guarantee form by 30 June (no rooms are allocated to incoming students before that date). At this stage, accommodation for first-year graduates based in the EU at the time of application is more limited, as is accommodation for later-year graduates. (In general, later-year graduates should not count on being offered College accommodation.) Priority is given to those coming to the College from the greatest distance and those likely to experience difficulties in the local accommodation market.

Please ensure that you inform the Admissions Office of any special requirements, e.g. disabled facilities.

University Accommodation

The Oxford University Accommodation Office has a variety of accommodation on offer, including places for couples and families. Even if you are not sure whether you’ll need University accommodation, it is good idea to put your name on the waiting lists as soon as possible, as the waiting periods are long – often over a year. There is no obligation to take accommodation that is offered to you. And so long as you reply and say “no” to an offer within a specified time, your name goes back onto the list in the same place. For full details, including descriptions of properties, see the Accommodation Office website.

Private Rental Accommodation

Those who don’t live in College or University accommodation… live out! Oxford students tend to cluster in two main areas of town: in East Oxford, especially the area around Cowley Road, Iffley Road, and St Clements; and in North Oxford, from Jericho up through Summertown. North Oxford rents are generally a bit higher. Leases usually run for 1 year, beginning sometime in the summer (July, August, September).

As you’ll discover, Oxford is not the easiest or cheapest place to sort out private accommodation, but you’ll find that your fellow MCR members are excellent sources of advice (and flatmates!). Here is a list of resources which should help you begin your search:

  1. Have a look at our very own Catz MCR Accommodation Guide 2015
  2. OxGradHousing is a fb group to advertise house-shares, rooms in houses and short lets to Oxford postgraduate students.
  3. The Oxford University Student Union has a living out guide.
  4. The Accommodation Office has an excellent mailing list of private accommodation which has (mostly) been vetted. This list is updated regularly and often has properties that are unavailable elsewhere.
  5. Spareroom is a free service for placing ads for flatmates/housemates, rooms in shared houses etc.
  6. Daily Info has lists of rooms in shared houses and complete flats/houses. This site has high traffic and often a very quick turnover of properties, particularly at the start of the academic year.
  7. The Oxford Gazette has a small advertisements section which has rooms/houses to let. This is often overlooked as a source of information, but the properties can be on the expensive side.

Glossary for Fresher’s

Oxford Term Attempt of translation
Battels Your College bill.
Blue An honour (colours) for performing well in sport.
BOP A party in college organised by students, often with fancy dress themes.
Boat Race An annual event where Oxford and Cambridge compete at rowing on the River Thames in London.
Bodcard This is the term used for your university student card. It allows you to identify yourself in the University, borrow books from the libraries, open doors and pay for items in college.
Bursar We have two. The Home Bursar looks after the day to day running of the College buildings, facilities and personnel. The Finance Bursar looks after the investments and finances.
Cherwell Both a river and a student run newspaper.
College A residential community of scholars within Oxford. We have 38 of them in all.
Croquet A game played by knocking wooden balls through metal wickets with Mallets.
Division One of the four academic groupings of departments within the University
Fellow An academic at the College and typically a member of the College’s Governing Body.
Hall The dining hall where meals are served.
High Table Where the Fellows, College Lecturers and SCR Members typically dine within College during term-time. Graduate Scholars may dine here once a week and as a graduate student you may dine here once a year.
Hilary The second (spring) term of the year (abbreviated HT).
JCR/MCR/SCR The Junior/Middle/Senior Common Room. You are automatically a member of the MCR and JCR as a graduate student at Catz. Fellows of the College are members of the SCR.
Long vacation The summer break between Trinity Term and Michaelmas Term.
Master The Master is the Head of College.
Matriculation The welcoming ceremony of the University, technically you are not a member of the University until you have attended this.
Michaelmas The first (Autumn) term of the year (abbreviated MT).
Open Meeting The MCR hosts at least one of these a term, letting you get involved in the MCR’s activities and making your voice heard.
OUSU The Oxford University Student Union, a general Student’s Union for the Students of Oxford, generally attempts to look out for your interests University wide. You are member of OUSU regardless of the MCR’s affiliation status.
Oxford Student Both a person and a student run newspaper.
Pidge Your pigeon hole is where post is delivered; you have one in the Porters’ Lodge
Lodge The ‘Reception’ in College (and may also have one in your department). Check often!
Porter A very helpful person who mans the Lodge at each college. Porters deal with enquiries, check guests/students in and out of rooms, issue keys and are the first point of contact if there is a fire alarm or an emergency.
Punt A long flat boat you propel by pushing along the river with a very long stick.
Rowing A peculiar sport involving cold weather, water, and a large paddle that is often enjoyed by Oxford Students.
Scaf A cheap and quick self-service evening meal served in the hall.
Scout College Cleaning Staff
Trinity The third (summer) term (abbreviated TT) and a college.
UPay Payment system used in college. You can load credit on your University Card online that can be used to pay for meals in hall, laundry, vending machines and your battels.
Varsity A sports match played against teams from Cambridge University.
Week X Oxford operates in 8 week terms (1st to 8th) starting on a Sunday,however we also do 0th, -1th and all the rest.