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Music, Arts and Drama


Historically, Exeter College has had a lively and productive Music, Arts and Drama (commonly abbreviated in Oxford to just ‘MAD’) – scene. This is reflected by the accomplishments of the College’s alumni, which include the classical composer Hubert Parry, the leading lights of the Victorian Arts and Craft movement William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, and celebrated actors Richard Burton and Imogen Stubbs. The College has also taught famous writers in a variety of genres, including Philip Pullman, Will Self, Amy Sackville, JRR Tolkien, and Qian Zhongshu.

More recently, Joe Ray (2002, Philosophy and Modern Languages) won a Grammy in 2013 for his dubstep band Nero’s work, and in 2016 Helen Marten (2005, Fine Art) was awarded the Turner Prize for her work.

Moreover, both within the College and the wider University there is a huge variety of orchestras, magazines, exhibitions and plays which students can become involved with. In addition, Exeter College’s Junior Common Room (normally referred to by its acronym JCR), which comprises, and represents, the undergraduate student body, has a dedicated MAD Officer, elected by students every year to coordinate music, arts and drama at Exeter.

Turl Street Arts Festival

The Turl Street Arts Festival (TSAF) is one of the highlights of the year at Exeter and sets the experience at Exeter apart from other colleges.

The student-run festival, held annually since 1997, sees Exeter participate in a programme of plays, concerts, talks and exhibitions with Exeter’s sister colleges along Turl Street: Lincoln and Jesus (and from 2017 onwards Brasenose too).

Each year’s festival sees an impressive variety of events take place and, as an entirely student-run event, the Turl Street Arts Festival provides a fantastic opportunity for students to get involved in both creative and organisational positions.

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The Exeter College choir is a mixed-voice choir of students from across the College who sing in the beautiful surroundings of the College Chapel.

The choir is also active outside of Exeter: in recent years it has performed in St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, it has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, and every year the choir tours overseas.
In 2016 the choir produced a Christmas CD which sold out in record time.

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To get in touch, visit the choir’s contact page.

Concerts and Orchestras

Exeter sees a varied calendar of concerts throughout the year, with many taking place in the College Chapel or the recently opened auditorium at Cohen Quad.

Turl Street Orchestra

The Turl Street Orchestra is a non-auditioning orchestra which offers a relaxed environment in which to perform. It is open to all members of the University, and rehearses and performs in the Exeter College Chapel.

Oxford University Music Society

The Oxford University Music Society (OUMS) organises ensembles such as a jazz orchestra, a brass band, and a string ensemble.

Oxford also boasts two large symphony orchestras: the Oxford University Orchestra, and the Oxford University Philharmonic, which give concerts adjacent to Exeter in the Sheldonian Theatre. Auditions for these are held at the end of Freshers’ week.

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Practice Room, Performance Space and Equipment

The College has a music practice room with a variety of instruments and equipment which all students are welcome to use. The grand piano in the Chapel can be used by students with the Organ Scholar’s permission, and a number of bedrooms contain pianos for those who like to play.

The College has a variety of atmospheric performance spaces including the intimate setting of the Rector’s drawing room, the splendour of Exeter College Chapel, renowned for its acoustics, and the state-of-the-art auditorium opened in Cohen Quad in 2017. Students are encouraged to make the most of the opportunities these spaces present.


JCR Art Collection

Exeter College JCR is fortunate to possess a sizeable collection of artwork, which is lent out to students living in College each year to brighten their rooms.

Ruskin School of Art

The Ruskin School of Art offers life drawing courses during term time, available at a discounted rate to University members. As the home of Oxford University’s Fine Art Department, the school often holds exhibitions of current students’ work, in addition to hosting collaborative art events.

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Ruskin School of Art

Modern Art Oxford

Modern Art Oxford is one of the UK’s leading galleries for the presentation of modern and contemporary visual art, with an established international reputation. It hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions by artists from all over the world, live events, workshops and educational activities.

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Modern Art Oxford

Ashmolean Museum

Located just a few minutes away from Turl Street, the Ashmolean is home to an outstanding collection of art and antiquities. It regularly hosts engaging exhibitions of art from the last century along with lectures, workshops and night time openings.

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Ashmolean Museum

Christ Church Picture Gallery

The Christ Church Picture Gallery has an extensive collection of paintings and is free to members of the University.

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Christ Church Picture Gallery


Oxford is home to a variety of student publications publishing reviews, opinions and news stories from around the University. All students are encouraged to get involved, or even to set up their own publication!


Oxford sees a steady stream of student productions throughout each term. Recently, the Exeter College JCR has given money to help fund student productions such as Pussyfooting in 2016, a play which explored gender and performed femininity, and subsequently found success at the Edinburgh Fringe.

In Michaelmas term Drama Cuppers is held, an inter-collegiate competition for first years to produce a piece of short drama, which is then performed at the Burton Taylor studio in Oxford.

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Oxford University Drama Society

Oxford University Theatre Technicians and Designers, a society for students working on the technical side of theatre and theatre design


The Oxford University Dancesport Club (OUDC) offers classes in a variety of dance styles, including: ballroom, Latin American, salsa, Argentine tango, and Zumba.

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Oxford University Dancesport