PPH stands for permanent private hall. PPHs are very similar to Oxford colleges, except that they tend to be smaller and typically offer a narrower, more specialist range of subjects. University of Oxford students at PPHs are members of the University just like students at colleges, and have access to exactly the same University facilities and activities. PPHs tend to have a close-knit community due to their smaller size, which enables students to be known and supported as individuals.
The University of Oxford has six PPHs, all of which are Christian foundations, although each has its distinctive ethos and purpose. You do not need to be religious to attend a PPH, as there is no obligation to take part in any religious activity.
Students joining St Stephen’s House, all of whom are ‘mature students’ (over 21 years old) tend to fall into three groups:
- Ordinands – men and women studying to become priests in the Church of England
- PGCE students – studying towards teaching qualifications, specialising in a variety of subjects such as Maths, Science and Religious Studies
- Graduate students – studying towards post-graduate qualifications such as Masters and Doctorates across a range of subject areas related to the fields of Theology, Education, Oriental Studies and Late Antique and Byzantine Studies.
The student community consists of approximately 80 students, of whom roughly a quarter are undertaking training for ordination, another quarter are PGCE students, and the rest are graduate students pursuing other qualifications.
Our ordinand students either study for University of Oxford degrees or Common Award degrees through the University of Durham.
Our graduate and PGCE students are a diverse mix of ages, nationalities and religious (or non-religious) backgrounds, with a significant proportion of graduate students studying part-time. We welcome the different perspectives and academic interests they bring.
At the college’s core remains the original mission to train priests in the catholic tradition of the Church of England. Our ordinand community includes men and women, both single and married, who bring with them a wide range of academic and professional experience. Many ordinands come to us with experience of studying at degree level, but a good proportion do not, or have been out of education for a long time.
Yes, as a University of Oxford student based at a PPH, you will get full access to all University services, facilities and activities. There is no distinction in this regard between college and PPH-based students.
We welcome applications from overseas students, and have a small but thriving international community. Please visit the ‘Study’ section of our website for details of courses, fees, and how to apply.
All students, of all faiths or no faith, are welcome to apply to St Stephen’s House, and many have found a home here.
It is essential, however, that all those within the community respect the Christian ethos and purpose of the college. At its core remains the original mission to train priests in the catholic tradition of the Church of England, so much of the natural rhythm of the life of the college is based around this formation.
PGCE and Graduate students are not required or expected to attend any of the regular College prayer and worship, but are most welcome to participate if they wish.
Like most colleges, we run regular services in the chapel and church which all members of the college community are welcome to attend if they so choose. These are not compulsory for graduate and PGCE students. For those studying for ordained ministry they are an integral part of their residential training and formation.
Candidates for ordination in the Church of England are sponsored by the bishop of their diocese. Under normal circumstances, bishops will only sponsor candidates who have been recommended for training by a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP). In the first instance, those thinking about a vocation to ordination should speak to their parish priest and to their Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO).
For more information on discerning your call to ordination, please see the vocations section of the Church of England’s website.
St Stephen’s House welcomes conference bookings during vacation periods and has a wide range of spaces and facilities, including a 500-seat performance space in the college church. Please see our ‘Hire‘ page for further details.