Administered by:
University of Cambridge
Somerville College, Oxford
Somerville has the biggest college library in Oxford and is known for its friendly and liberal atmosphere, varied architecture and excellent hall food. Its liberal character traces back to its foundation by social liberals as the first non-denominational college in Oxford, deliberately unlike the strictly Anglican Lady Margaret Hall, the other women's college opened in the same year. Somerville is one of the few Oxford colleges where students may walk on the grass and in 1964, Somerville became one of the first colleges to abandon the policy of locking its gates at night to prevent students staying out late. No gowns are worn during Formal Halls.

This new effort resulted in the founding of Somerville Hall, named for the then recently deceased Scottish mathematician and renowned scientific writer Mary Somerville. It was felt that the name would reflect the virtues of liberalism and academic success which the college wished to embody. She was admired by the founders of the college as a scholar, as well as for her religious and political views, including her conviction that women should have equality in terms of suffrage and access to education.

Today House is home to only one or two students. It also contains Green Hall, where guests to college are often greeted and in which prospective students are registered and wait for interviews. This hall contains paintings by Roger Fry. Until 2014, it housed the college bar. Most of the administration of college and academic pigeon-hole messageboxes are located in House. A staircase from Green Hall leads up to Hall. House also contains the Mary Somerville Room, a reception room featuring paintings by Mary Somerville, George Romney and George Frederic Watts.

The Penrose block was designed by Harold Rogers in 1925 and its first students were installed in 1927. It is situated at the south western end of the main quadrangle on the site of 119 and 119A Walton Street. A row of poplars had to be removed in 1926 for the construction of Penrose.

Built largely with funds provided by alumna Emily Georgiana Kemp in 1935, Somerville Chapel reflects the nondenominational principle on which the college was founded in 1879. No religious tests were used for admission and nondenominational Christian prayers were said in college. The chapel's history, architecture, and artworks give valuable insights into the religious, intellectual, and cultural roots of what would subsequently become a global norm. The chapel can be seen as both a manifestation of the aspirations of liberal Christianity in the interwar years, including the advancement of women and ecumenism, and of the contestation of the role of religion in higher education among elites in the same period.

Somerville College was the first Oxford college to provide a nursery for the children of Fellows and staff and is still one of the few colleges to do so. Alumna Dorothy Hodgkin donated much of her Nobel Prize money to the project. St Paulís Nursery is also open to families who are not connected with the college and cares for 16 children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years.

The red brick building will have a frontage on to Walton Street and additional access from the college gardens, aligning with key levels on the adjacent Penrose Building. The bedrooms will be arranged in clusters with kitchens and circulation spaces forming social focal points.

Somerville formed a rowing team in 1921. The college competes in both of the annual university bumps races, Torpids and Summer Eights. The women are the most successful women's rowing team at the University of Oxford, having won the title Head of the River eight times in Summer Eights and five times in Torpids. The club shares the award-winning University College Boathouse on The Isis with St Peter's College, University College and Wolfson College.

Somerville alumnae have achieved an impressive number of "firsts", both (inter)nationally and at the University of Oxford. The most distinguishable being that of the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher; the first, and only, British woman to win a Nobel Prize in science Dorothy Hodgkin and the first woman to lead the world's largest democracy Indira Gandhi, who was Prime Minister of India for much of the 1970s.