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 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.

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.

Submitted by Nizam Balinese on Sat, 29/07/2017 - 10:20

Hello everyone.. ☆ Have you ever been to Oxford? - I've heard that the prestigious Oxford University has been learning students for hundreds of years and it's produced some of the greatest minds and successful people in the world. Unfortunately, I've never been to go there, but I'd love to go if I'd chance to visit London one day. ☆ Do you know of any other world famous university? - Yes, I know some of the oldest university in the world such as Harvard and Yale University in the U.S, University of Bologna in Italy, Cambridge University and even I've ever read in a magazine about the oldest existing university was built in 859 in Marocco, Karueein University. ☆ Why do you think universities are important? - to me, degree from university is a investment, regardless of wheather the economy is performing well or not, degree holders tend to find job better and easier, you know.

Submitted by crovina on Fri, 30/06/2017 - 00:54

No. Unfortunately I have never been to Oxford, but one day I want to make a course there. I like to study business administration and I think that Oxford has a great MBA course. In Great Britain I think that Cambridge is a great university too.

Submitted by Wolves on Mon, 12/06/2017 - 10:57

I am certain that knowledge it's the most important thing we individually must develop in order to make things going better, whether as species or as individuals, and both in quality and in quantity. By knowing qualitatively makes us able to decide about a specific context, whereas to know quntitatively makes us able to choose more wisely about what is better to do in a specific situation. In anyway, i think knowledge is a process of investigation which requires above all an enquiring and critical mind's acctitude: it's not just a process of gaining informations or notions using some memory's technique (for istance), but a process of costruction, to which we learn to know an object by ourselves's experience, and by the specific background that concerns us: the Kknowledge it's never one, but it's multiple with regard of our personal story! This is what i mean for having a critical and enquirig mind: to be creative. Hence, in my opinion universities have the role of theaching how to be flexible and creative in developing the learning ability, without reducing the education in some kind of passive aquisition!

Submitted by s_sabeti on Sun, 09/04/2017 - 11:35

Hi everyone It is my only dream to be studying in one of the most eminent universities such as Oxford. I hope one day this luxury come true.

Submitted by Cam Blare on Sun, 12/02/2017 - 14:13

Hello everybody! I haven't been to Oxford yet, but I hope one day I will. I also know some others: Cambridge, Harward, Yale. Studets studing there are really lucky dogs. In my opinion, universities play a big role in helping person to become a personality, find his way, make a contribution to the world.