Freshers’ Info

Hi everyone! You’re bound to have been told this many times but it can’t hurt to hear it once more – a huge congratulations and welcome to Merton! This section of the JCR website is here to point you in the direction of some things you might find useful Merton before you get here.


Firstly, once you’ve been given instructions on how to log-in, visit the intranet freshers’ page. We’ve assembled a number of helpful guides to introduce you to life at Merton and Oxford, available below (these are last year’s):

Support & Advice Pre-Arrival

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch! You’ll be assigned College Parents in August, who would be happy to answer any questions, especially about your course and Merton life. Alternatively, please get in touch with someone on the JCR Committee! We are always happy to answer any questions, or refer you to someone who can.

Oxford Terminology

Oxford, and Merton sometimes seems to use a language of its own. Here’s a quick (and definitely not opinionated) summary:

Ahmed Merton’s favourite kebab man: winner of the UK Kebab Awards (Kebab Van Category) 2019

ALUMNUS Someone who used to go to the college (their alma mater). We tend to boast about Tolkien, Randolph Churchill, T. S. Eliot, William Harvey, Mark Haddon, Max Beerbohm, Adam Hart Davies, the current Emperor Naruhito of Japan, Princess Akiko of Japan, Basil Blackwell, Thomas Bodley, Roger Bannister…

BATTELS College bills, paid at the start of every term.

BLUE If you represent the University at the highest level in sport, you win a blue. We’re dark blue, Cambridge are light blue. 

BOD Bodleian Library. Big place with over 7 million books – in fact every book ever published in the UK. Means there’s little chance to use the “I couldn’t find that book” excuse. Includes the much-photographed Rad Cam.

BOD CARD Your University Card, used to gain access to the Bod, to take out library books (except from the Bod, which doesn’t lend), and at Merton, to pay for food, and (most importantly) to gain access to BOPs… Try not to lose it!

BOP Fortnightly JCR ENTZ event, involving fancy dress, drink, dancing, and music. Ostensibly stands for “Breach of the Peace”.

BRUNCH Delicious fry-up from 11am every Sunday. One of the most popular meals.

BURSARY Pay your bills here.

COLLECTIONS College exams, usually at the start of each term. Book tokens if you get a first, but don’t worry too much about them. That’s what PRELIMS, MODS and FINALS are for.

DPOP Deputy Principal of the Postmasters, along with the POP (Principal of the Postmasters), in charge of disciplinary procedures within the college.

ENTZ Entertainment provided by the JCR including BOPS, nights out, karaoke and various other forms of “entertainment”.

EXHIBITIONER Someone who gets a first in their PRELIMS or MODS, usually. Wear fancy gowns and have plenty of book tokens.

FINALS The big exams. Usually third year for artists, and end of each year (except the first) for scientists. If you want to annoy a finalist, tell them you’re stressed about your PRELIMS or MODS. Works every time.

FRESHER That’s you. Fresh-faced and enthusiastic first-years. We look forward to meeting you – hopefully you’ll look forward to meeting us too (at least slightly).

GRADUATION You’ve finished your degree. Now enjoy the ceremony, the prestige… and the pretty, furry gown.

HACK Someone active on the political scene for the sake of a principle, that principle being their self-interest and self-aggrandisement.

HILARY Second term of the year, in spring. Commonly abbreviated along with year, e.g. HT19 for Hilary Term, 2019.

JCR EXEC Executive Committee of the JCR. A team of highly dedicated, fantastically intelligent and incredibly nice people who represent you to the college and keep things running smoothly.

LABS Practical fun for scientists. Usually one or two afternoons a week.

LECTURES Arts students may have two or three per week. Scientists will usually have two or three per morning.

MATRICULATION Isn’t as painful as it sounds, it’s actually the University admissions ceremony. You get talked at in Latin for a few minutes by the Vice Chancellor, and then head straight down to the pub (not an official part of the ceremony).

MCR Middle Common Room. Common room for graduate students.

MERTON NEWS Scurrilous gossip rag, written by Walter de Merton. Regardless of where, what or when it happened, Walter saw it.

MICHAELMAS First term of the academic year, in autumn. Abbreviated to MT.

MODS Equivalent to Prelims. Exams for subjects such as Law and Classics (Classics Mods being particularly evil, with over 30 hours in second year) which occur in Hilary, rather than Trinity term.

OGM Ordinary General Meeting. Fortnightly meetings where JCR matters are discussed. The highlight of Oxford life!

PIDGE Pigeon hole. Your port of contact with the outside world. Location of all incoming mail and internal notices too. Very exciting when you have something, unless it’s from a bank.

PORT Strong, sweet fortified wine from Portugal. Popular with tutors, subject dinners and the TIME CEREMONY. Unpopular with mornings-after.

POSTMASTER Someone promoted from an EXHIBITIONER for further exam success. Nothing to do with letters.

PRELIMS First-year exams in most subjects. They don’t count towards your degree, but you can get book tokens and some money off BATTELS for good results. Classicists and Lawyers take MODS instead.


SCR Senior Common Room. Common room for fellows, and the fellows’ body.

SUB FUSC Official garb consisting of white shirts, dark suits, bow-ties, ribbon-ties, gowns and mortar boards for exams, etc. Very stylish and highly fashionable.

SUSPENSION Taking time out on health or welfare grounds. Often called RUSTICATION. Not nearly as bad as being “sent down”, permanent expulsion for academic or disciplinary reasons.

TAB Someone from the Other Place – variously known as Mordor, Hades, and Cambridge.

TIME CEREMONY Ancient Merton tradition, founded in 557 AD. Walking backwards around Fellows’ Quad when the clocks go back ensures that mystical time particles (‘chronicles’) don’t disrupt the space-time continuum. Vital for the continued existence of the Universe – play your part!

TRINITY Third and final term.

TUTORIAL Involves you and maybe a few other undergrads discussing your essay with your tutor. The jewel in the crown of the Oxbridge system, climax of the academic week, and not as scary as it might seem. Really.

WALTER DE MERTON Wondrously founded the College in 1264(-ish). Nowadays, he works mysteriously to produce ‘quality’ content for the JCR.

WARDEN Head of the college. Our new warden is Professor Jennifer Payne.

WARDEN’S COLLECTIONS Your annual meeting with the Warden, Senior Tutor, and subject tutor(s) to discuss your academic progress. Also, not as scary as they seem.