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What to bring

Do I need a computer of my own?

The University doesn’t require you to bring any digital device with you however the vast majority of students have their own laptop. Students who plan not to own one should check with their college regarding local provisions. Colleges, departments and libraries often provide computing facilities of some kind but quality and availability varies. Printers are generally available at a modest cost to cover the cost of paper, toner etc. Individual colleges may also lend laptops to students for whom the cost of buying their own is prohibitive.

What do most people bring?

Almost all students bring at least one digital device to Oxford, mainly a laptop and/or a smartphone. Tablets are gaining in popularity, although some students find the on-screen keyboard less convenient for writing essays. E-book readers such as Kindle are also a good idea, especially if your course involves extensive reading as many books are available in digital format free of charge.

There are no restrictions on the make, model, operating system or software of your digital devices, but individual departments may have specific recommendations and should let you know about these. For example, students reading science subjects are more likely to use software that runs on Unix/Linux systems.

If your subject involves specialist applications that require a lot of computing power, your department is likely to have a computer suite where you can use them. Other applications that may be useful to your studies are available free or at low cost.

See also our guidance on keeping your computer, portable devices and personal data safe.

How mobile do I need to be?

Email and other forms of digital communication are central to both academic and social life at Oxford. Changes to rooms and/or tutorial times are often communicated by email, and many social events are organised through Facebook. For this reason, students like to have a digital device to hand during the day, most often a smartphone.

Some students take their laptops out and about with them, while others prefer to keep their laptops in their rooms. It’s very much a question of personal preference. Most (if not all) libraries have plugs where mobile devices can be charged and used.

What if my device breaks down or I lose it?

Bring all your software CDs for faster re-install, especially:

  • any that came with the computer
  • any unusual or specialised software, non-English versions, etc.

Also bring any licences and/or warranty documents.

Make sure that your insurance policy covers your digital devices against theft both in your accommodation and elsewhere.

See Getting help and dealing with hardware problems for further information on sources of help and our computer hardware breakdown service.

See Free from IT Services for details about free and low cost software, classroom and online courses and other resources.

See the University Information Security website for how to stay safe online and what to do if you have a problem.