Knowledge is GREAT - Part 1

Richard goes to one of the world's greatest universities: Oxford. He discovers some of its history and hears about its famous students.


The search for knowledge is central to British life. In fact, four of the world’s top ten universities can be found here. Every year, huge amounts are invested in science and research in this country… so why is knowledge so important to Great Britain?

Oxford has been a place of learning for hundreds of years and more world leaders have been educated here than any other university. This is the Old Schools Quad, which is part of the famous Bodleian Library, at the heart of this historic establishment.

A quad or quadrangle is a courtyard with buildings on all sides. Oxford University is made up of thirty-eight different colleges. There are twenty thousand students studying here, from nearly a hundred and fifty countries.

Dr Sally Mapstone is Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education.

Richard: Sally. Tell me about Oxford University.

Sally: Oxford University is one of the world's leading universities. It's highly international, it's very modern and it has a great sense of history.

Richard: And how old is it?

Sally: The university has been here for nine hundred years. Many of the colleges are almost as old as that too, though some of them were established in the twentieth century.

Richard: You've had a lot of famous names here over the years.

Sally: Yes, we've had a lot of famous people at Oxford, from prime ministers, such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, David Cameron, US presidents, such as Bill Clinton, writers, such as Oscar Wilde, and even film stars, such as Hugh Grant.

Richard: So why is it, do you think, that the search for knowledge and education is so important to Great Britain?

Sally: Great Britain and universities like Oxford have always had a rich interest in critical enquiry. By that I mean the search for knowledge, the investigation of truth, the asking of questions. Whether it's to do with drama, to do with development, or even to do with disease, we're always asking the big questions to try and change things for the better.

There are universities all across the UK but they're not the only places where you can gain knowledge.

Task 1

Which of these topics do we hear about?


Task 2

Use a word or number to complete the sentences.


Task 3

Put the two halves together to make phrases from the video.


Task 4

Use the verb in brackets, and decide on the best verb form for each of these sentences.



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Submitted by arashjahanbakht on Sat, 18/02/2023 - 04:43


Although I'm a person who loves studying, I suppose that nowadays, studying at university is not crucial. Everyone can be successful despite not studying at university. We all know a lot of famous and successful people who are not educated well. There are numerous well-known athletes and footballers, actors and actresses, Tv presenters, investors and even scientists who haven't been to a university at all.

Submitted by candranuraini on Sat, 26/06/2021 - 04:08

My name is Chandra. I am from Indonesia. in 2018 I went to England and visited oxford city. but did not visit the university of oxford. because it is quite far from the city center. In addition to oxford, I also visited Birmingham. I also visited Birmingham university and bought some souvenirs. Another famous university is Harvard University. in march 2020 I have visited Harvard University. although not for further study only to add insight into the situation and conditions about Harvard as the best university in the world.

Submitted by gracemetni on Mon, 16/11/2020 - 05:35

My name is Grace. I have never been to Oxford but I would like to. I heard about Harvard and Georges Washington university in USA. I studied business administration and I think that the university is a place to specialize whether in medicine , engineering , law, business.....and to deepen knowledge by doing masters and doctorate. It s a place to discuss points of view , to debate , to update education , to learn other ways of thinking by the process of exchange to students with other universities all over the world. Finally it s a place to progress .

Submitted by Sammojan on Fri, 27/09/2019 - 23:36

Now, I am living in Oxford for studying, and I also know some of the famous universities in the world such as of course University of Oxford, University of Cambridge or Harvard University. For the last question, I think university is the gate for everyone to open their eyes for the world and be able to get more opportunities to learn what we are interested with to further the career path in the future.

Submitted by Emilia on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 16:49

Unfortunately, I’ve never been to such famous universities as Oxford, but I’d love to visit one of them one day because they usually have rich and interesting history. I’ve heard of such world-famous universities as University of Cambridge, Stanford university, Harvard University, Princeton University. I believe that universities are important because they give knowledge to the students. One of the most important functions of all the universities is to help students find and understand their vocation.
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Submitted by btriton on Tue, 22/05/2018 - 17:52

unfortunately, I have never been in Oxford, but I would want one or both of my children take a course or career in this prestigious University. Yes I heard about Cambridge and London School of Economist, Harvard, MIT, UCLA these last in USA. The universities are very important because all the research and innovation taking place here, and all the people graduated in these centers represent the development of the country.