Religion and belief

The University of Oxford encompasses a diverse group of staff and students from varied religious or non-religious backgrounds. Part of our duty to promote equality and value diversity is to provide an inclusive environment in which staff and students of all religions and none will thrive.

Students and members of staff will find that there is a wide variety of places of worship within the University and in and around the City centre. For details see the faith societies and belief groups webpage.

The EDU’s religious calendar includes details of religious festivals for which staff might reasonably request leave.

The University has adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

The Opening Oxford website was launched in 2021, to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Universities Tests Act, which removed the last religious restrictions for scholars attending the University of Oxford. The website provides more information about the diverse religious history of the University since the 1871 Act – with a series of blogs, an exhibition and further resources.

External resources about religion and belief

The EDU has collated these resources for anyone who would like to explore the topic further, but please note that they are not endorsed by the University.

In brief

Advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about what constitutes religion or belief discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The EHRC has also produced a short video explaining the legal context.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) resource Religion, belief and employment provides an overview of the UK legal context, as well as outlining good employment practices to help prevent religious discrimination in the workplace.

ACAS has produced a briefing which provides further guidance: Religion or belief discrimination: key points for the workplace.

This blog from the Employers’ Network for Equality and Inclusion ‘How we can celebrate differences and forge togetherness in the workplace’ explores how people can come together across religious and cultural lines at work.

In depth

Guidance from research and case studies


Advance HE carried out an extensive study Religion and belief in higher education: the experiences of staff and students in 2011, based on research with more than 7,000 staff and students from across the UK. The executive summary provides a good overview of the findings and recommendations.

More recently, Advance HE issued guidance to HEIs across the UK on how to support the inclusion of staff and students of different faiths and beliefs including those with no religious beliefs. Religion and belief: supporting inclusion of staff and students in higher education and colleges provides practical recommendations for institutions, developed following consultation with organisations and individuals representing a range of different religions and non-religious groups. Case studies of good practice are included throughout the guidance.

The British Council has published a Religion and Belief Equality Guide, which, whilst focusing on their approach as an organisation, serves as a useful case study with applicability to other workplaces. See in particular the suggestions in Part 2 about promoting good practice.

Faith-specific advice

Universities UK have produced two helpful briefings:

Tackling Antisemitism: practical guidance for UK universities.

Tackling Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred: practical guidance for UK universities

Imperial College London have Ramadan and Eid guidance for staff and managers which is of general relevance rather than being institution-specific.