Advice for new members of academic staff

New colleagues often find they have a lot to discover about how Oxford works during their first few weeks here. Oxford’s ethos is one of self-direction and autonomy. Although many people will be happy to answer your questions, they are not likely to come forward to offer assistance, trusting you to “get on with it”. You may be assigned a formal mentor in your department or college, though it's likely you will still need to be proactive in seeking out assistance from him or her or other colleagues. We hope these shortcuts will serve to point you in the right direction to find the answer to at least some of your questions, and to help you begin to settle in to your new role.


An Oxford Glossary (312kb) has been produced with the needs of new members of the University particularly in mind. It includes the terminology peculiar to Oxford, and outlines some of the University of Oxford's customs and key regulations.


Oxford Essentials: an introduction to teaching and learning at Oxford. The Learning Institute’s annual orientation event for newly appointed academics (formerly the ‘Introduction to Academic Practice at Oxford’, IAPO) will take place on Tuesday 26th September 2017. The event comprises a formal welcome to the University by the Vice-Chancellor alongside a suite of presentations and workshops that highlight key information on different aspects of teaching and learning at Oxford. The day is designed to provide networking opportunities, in addition to identifying further sources of support for staff. Highly recommended for new academic staff.


If you wish to find out more about teaching in the Oxford context you may want to look at some of our key resources, especially on Tutorial teaching and Small group teaching. Taking a course with colleagues can also help you familiarise yourself with the local teaching environment. According to your level of prior experience and current engagement in teaching activities, one of our Teaching Development Programmes may be of interest to you.

If you have concerns about the student welfare aspect of your role as a tutor, information about centrally-provided services is available - see Student Welfare and Support Services

The Learning Institute's Research Supervision website offers information on Oxford policy and practice, ideas and tools for good supervision, and brief summaries of some findings of research into doctoral education. Face-to-face workshops on research supervision are also offered. You may find there is a discipline-specific doctoral supervision workshop taking place for your department or faculty: the Learning Institute offers these on a bespoke basis.

WebLearn is the University of Oxford's Virtual Learning Environment, provided by IT Services, which tutors may use to facilitate aspects of teaching. Once you have received your Single Sign On (SSO) Username and Password, you can log in and set up your Profile. When you are ready you can sign up for Weblearn Fundamentals (entry-level) or more advanced courses. A wide range of further IT and information skills courses is available via the full Course Catalogue. Your college or department will advise you about your SSO and email accounts, etc., but see IT Services - Getting Started for information on more IT resources which are available for you to use. 


If you expect to be involved in Undergraduate Admissions during your first year in post, you will need to find out about the Learning Institute's online training course, and make time to complete it promptly. For further guidance consult your college Tutor for Admissions, or Admissions Officer.

Support for Graduate Admissions is also available in the form of online learning materials. These can be accessed using SSO.

Learning Institute support for other roles

Oxford Learning Institute support is not confined to matters of teaching; there are also seminars and programmes for academic leaders, researchers, managers, etc. See Programmes and related resources.

A wide range of information and guidance about the University's personnel policies and procedures is available on the Personnel services website. There are specific sections for academic staff and for managers, which may be particularly useful to new academics.

Equality and diversity - find out more about the University's Equality and Diversity Unit and learn about the University's policies in this area.

The Bodleian Libraries

A wide range of resources and support for your work are available from Oxford’s Bodleian libraries. The Oxford Libraries map lists 96 different library locations! See Getting Started.

  • A List of Subject Librarians is available. New members of academic staff may find it helpful to introduce themselves to the appropriate Subject Librarian who will be happy to inform them about Library services and to provide support for any teaching and research activities. Requests for book purchases and questions relating to reading lists may also be directed to the subject librarians.
  • Academics new to Oxford may find useful the Bodleian iSkills Workshops and Classes. These regular workshops offer general topics, including overviews of electronic resources and current awareness services, and subject-specific sessions too.
  • Go to Oxford LibGuides for subject resources, links to information skills advice and training, as well as library guides, finding aids, etc.
  • The Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) is a permanent and secure online archive of research materials produced by members of the University of Oxford.
    • As an author you may use ORA for the preservation and dissemination of your research publications and it can provide the means for compliance with research funders’ open access policies.
    • As a supervisor you should know that ORA is the home of Oxford digital theses. See also the For Supervisors section.