10 Famous Oxbridge Students | Varsity Education

10 Famous Oxbridge Students

As the UK’s oldest and most prestigious universities, Oxford and Cambridge have had their fair share of students who went on to achieve great things in politics, business, academia, acting and beyond. We have compiled a list of some of the most famous and accomplished Oxbridge alumni. Perhaps one day someone will include your name on one of these lists?


1. Isaac Newton: Born in 1642, Newton is widely recognised as one of the most important people in the history of science. He provided final proof that the sun was at the centre of the solar system, and is credited with formulating the first theory of gravity.

2. Stephen Hawking: One of the most famous physicists of the modern age, he is perhaps best known for his theories regarding black holes, with ‘Hawking Radiation’ being named after him. His life was also the subject of a feature film, The Theory of Everything, in 2014.

3. Alan Turing: A mathematical genius, Alan Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, and played a pivotal role in breaking the German enigma code, thus allowing the Allies to intercept and interpret coded communications between German military units during the Second World War. This breakthrough, which made a significant contribution to the Allied victory, was depicted in the 2014 film The Imitation Game, where Turing was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

4. C. S. Lewis: Best known for his The Chronicles of Narnia novels, he is one of Cambridge’s most renowned authors. The Narnia books were adapted into Hollywood films during the 2000s, and altogether they grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.

5. Ian McKellen: Ian studied English Literature at St Catharine’s College before going on to a career in theatre. He has since starred as Magneto in a number of X-men films and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, making him one of the most recognisable actors in the world.


1. Michael Palin: Palin first became known as a comedian as part of the acclaimed British group Monty Python. Later, he embarked upon a new career as a travel writer and documentarian, which has taken him around the world, including across the Sahara, the Himalayas, and from the North to the South Pole. He has also had an asteroid named after him and was awarded a CBE in 2000.

2. J. R. R. Tolkien: The acclaimed author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, graduated with first-class honours in English Language and Literature from Exeter College. He went on to become a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford in Pembroke College, during which time he wrote The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings.

3. Edwin Hubble: You may have heard the name ‘Hubble’ before. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was named in the American astronomer’s honour, and after 26 years it remains in operation, having taken some of the most iconic images of deep space during that time. Hubble himself studied at The Queen’s College in Oxford as one of the first Rhodes Scholars, studying jurisprudence rather than science, as his father wished him to become a lawyer. Later, he resolved to become an astronomer. Eventually his discoveries would fundamentally change our understanding of the universe.

4. Emma Watson: Best known for playing Hermoine in the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson studied at Worcester College during the 2011-12 academic year. While she is the only person on this list not to be an actual Oxbridge alumnus, she is also by far the youngest! Outside of her career as an actress, she campaigns for gender equality and was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014.

5. Theresa May: After studying geography at St Hugh’s College, Theresa May worked for the Bank of England and served in various political posts until becoming an MP in 1997. Following David Cameron’s resignation earlier this year, Theresa May is now the second Prime Minister in British history. Coincidentally, the first, Margaret Thatcher, also studied at Oxford.

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