Oxford University’s famous alumni make it an inspirational location for a summer school. Many famous names studied there, from key individuals on the world political stage, to iconic literary figures and familiar faces from the silver screen.

Whether you’re walking under 19th-century buildings or past lamp-lit colleges at night, to visit Oxford is to feel part of history and to study there is to follow in the footsteps of many who have had a profound impact on the world.

With so many famous Oxonians to choose from, let’s take a look at Oxford University’s notable alumni who have helped build the iconic reputation of the university into what it is today.

World Leaders and Politicians

A significant reason why Oxford University is considered among the most prestigious universities in the world is that 28 British Prime Ministers and over 30 international leaders have studied there, forming a definite association between the colleges of Oxford and corridors of power.

As well as Harvard University Oxford is also a popular choice to start a political career, as is Colombia University where President Obama graduated.

Former president Bill Clinton attended University College as a Rhodes scholar and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Former British prime minister Tony Blair studied Law at St John’s College, and British politician David Cameron attended Oxford at Brasenose College.

The UK’s first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher studied Chemistry at Somerville College, and Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto studied at Lady Margaret Hall, she’d go on to become the first female leader of her country when she became the prime minister of Pakistan.

Boris Johnson also studied Classics at Balliol College where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986, and former prime minister of India Indira Gandhi also studied History at Oxford University.

As well as politicians, royals have also had their time in Oxford too, such as, King Abdullah ii of Jordan who attended in 1984 and underwent a one-year Special Studies course in International Politics and World Affairs.

If you have ever dreamt about feeling part of history in one of the most celebrated academic cities in the world, then you too can follow in the footsteps of world leaders and even sample the very same subjects at Oxford College. We have courses in Law and Politics & Economics where you can be part of inspirational courses as part of your own preparation for your own extraordinary future.


Imagine attending a lecture held by a Nobel prize-winning physicist. For some students in 1931 this would have happened, during one of three visits by Albert Einstein. Had Einstein been around some forty years later he may well have paid a visit to Oxford’s Department of Computer Science and met a certain Tim Berners Lee, a fellow physicist who graduated from the University of Oxford with a first-class degree in Physics in 1976, before going on to invent the world wide web in 1989.

From physics to metaphysics Oxford was also where William of Ockham studied centuries earlier. William of Ockham was an English Franciscan philosopher who challenged scholasticism and the papacy, he went on to become a philosopher best known for Ockham’s razor, which is the notion that: It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.

On many of our courses you too will have the chance to sample university-style lectures, get to engage and challenge ideas, and have the opportunity to present unique ideas of your own in our exciting Time to Shine projects.

Computer Science

Although Oxford University can feel like it is from the past, it continues to inspire the latest innovations and developments in technology.

Among Oxford’s more recent alumni is Joy Adowaa Buolamwini, who is a Ghanaian-American-Canadian computer scientist and digital activist who studied Learning and Technology at Jesus College. Buolamwini introduces herself as a poet of code, and daughter of art and science and her research highlights the social implications and harms of artificial intelligence (AI). She also founded the Algorithmic Justice League, an organization that challenges bias in decision-making software.


Entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, another tech champion, came to fame during the dotcom boom when she became the co-founder of holiday website Lastminute.com.

She studied at Magdalen college; and her and Buolamwini’s journey would have started using the very same twenty-first century skills that you can develop in our Time to Shine projects in our very own Business course.

Writers and Editors

Over a hundred years earlier a certain intellectual and poet named Oscar Wilde also studied at Magdalen College at Oxford. When Wilde looked back on his life after he had become the toast of English society for his essays and his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, he said, ‘the two great turning points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison.’

Another literary great who needs little in the way of introduction is J R R Tolkien, who attended Oxford and was in the middle of his studies in English Literature at Exeter College when the First World War broke out. He was able to defer enlisting until his degree was finished, when he joined the Oxford University Officer’s Training Corps.

Dr Seuss, the creator of the popular children’s book How The Grinch Stole Christmas, attended Lincoln College, and another popular author Helen Fielding, whose Bridget Jones Diary was also adapted into a film, studied English at St. Anne’s College.

Screenwriter Cecil Day Lewis studied English at Wadham College, where he would get to meet and work alongside the celebrated poet W.H. Auden.

Novelist and poet Graham Greene, who wrote Brighton Rock, graduated from Balliol College with a BA.

And among other great writers to have studied at Oxford included the philosopher Sir Richard Lovelace, the explorer Sir Philip Sidney, and satirist and poet Jonathan Swift, and among many successful editors who also studied at Oxford are current editor of Wall Street Journal – Emma Tucker.

Famous Oxford Alumni, Oscar Wilde


Many familiar names from the world of film at some point developed their acting skills at the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Including, well known actor Hugh Grant from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, who attended New College and studied English Literature. Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame also read English Literature at Brown University and later had a year in Oxford at Worcester College. Interestingly, Emma Watson actually did her much of her schooling in Oxford, where she attended Headington Independent School for Girls, which is also on our roster of summer school locations.

Mr. Bean went to Oxford!

The actor, Rowan Atkinson, who you might know more commonly as the world famous comedy act Mr. Bean, did a Masters in Electrical Engineering at The Queen’s College but he didn’t complete it, as he had already started working at the BBC.

If you too would like to learn more about what an Engineering Degree is like before beginning your journey to international stardom you can do so, with our very own Engineering programme.

Adam Smith

If you are interested in economics then you will have certainly heard of Adam Smith, who is regarded as the father of modern economics. Author of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ Adam Smith graduated in 1740, and actually traveled on horseback to Oxford, where he stayed at Balliol College. Thankfully things are much simpler now and our helpful admissions team will help support you in your journey to Oxford.

Summer Boarding Courses

At SBC we want to give you the opportunity of finding inspiration at the University of Oxford, by enjoying the very same surroundings of Oxford’s most famous alumni. With a variety of courses from Politics & Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine, International Relations, Law and Business to choose from, we want you to experience what elite education at a historic location feels like on your path to defining your bright future.

As well as helping shape your unique talents by helping your essential presentation and soft skills to grow, at SBC Oxford College we want to broaden your cultural horizons by taking you on unforgettable trips to places such as London and Cambridge, and not forgetting our fun packed activities programme carefully planned each year to help you make wonderful new friends and have a fantastic time to tell home about.

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