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Oxford University’s Notable Alumni

Updated on 21 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Did you know that Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first female lawyer, was the first woman to study law at Oxford in the 1890s? Oxford University is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The renowned Oxford University’s notable alumni list includes prime ministers, presidents, and Nobel laureates from across the world. This article covers a list of a few such famous alumni.

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An Overview of the Oxford University 

According to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for the years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, Oxford was noted as the top university in the world. It offers many undergraduate and graduate degree programs and research opportunities to students from around the world. Some of the most popular subjects here include mathematics, medicine, law, engineering, and computer science.

The university has a long history of academic excellence and is known for its rigorous academic standards. It encourages students to think critically and pursue their interests inside and outside the classroom. Keeping up with the needs of the hour, Oxford also provides many student services, such as career counseling, mental health support, international student support, and financial aid advice.

Notable Alumni from Oxford University

Here’s a table summarizing some of the notable scholars, laureates, fellows, and scholars associated with Oxford University as of 2023:

Nobel Laureates56
Fields Medallists4
Turing Award Winners3 (till 2021)
Rolf Schock Prize Winners7
Abel Prize Winners2

Disclaimer: The numbers above may change as new awards & honors are presented, and new affiliates join the university.

List of Oxford University’s Famous Alumni

Here are the top 20 alumni of Oxford University from various countries who gained international recognition for their work while bringing laureates to their respective nations.

Alumni NameFamous forNationality
John DonnePoetEnglish
Oscar WildePlaywright, poet, and authorIrish
Frederick SoddyNobel Prize-winning chemistEnglish
Sir Robert PeelBritish Prime MinisterBritish
Lewis CarrollAuthor and academicEnglish
Adam SmithPolitical economistScottish
David VitterUnited States SenatorAmerican
Sir Andrew WilesMathematicianEnglish
Professor Oliver SmithiesNobel-prize winning scientistBritish-American 
Ernst SchumacherEconomistGerman-British
Sir Matthew PinsentFour times Olympic gold medal-winning rowerBritish
Dame Janet VaughanHematologist and radiobiologistBritish
Dr Manmohan SinghFormer Prime Minister of IndiaIndian
Mansoor Ali Khan PataudiCaptain of the Indian cricket teamIndian
Ken LoachFilmmakerBritish
Sir Peter MedawarNobel Prize-winning scientistBrazilian-British 
Norman ManleyFormer Leader of JamaicaJamaican
Bob HawkeFormer Prime Minister of AustraliaAustralian
Professor Stephen HawkingPhysicistBritish
Tony HallDirector General of the BBCBritish

A Peek at The Life and Achievements of Oxford University’s Famous Alumni

Here’s a list of 7 notable Indian alumni from Oxford University:

1. Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was an alumna of Oxford University, having studied at Somerville College from 1937 to 1940. She was the Indian Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, making her the world’s longest-serving female head of government.

As Prime Minister, she oversaw the nationalization of several major industries and made India a nuclear power. She also worked to improve relations with Pakistan and China.

Gandhi was a controversial figure, and her policies were not always popular with everyone in India. However, she is widely respected for her leadership during a time of great change for India.

2. Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is an Indian writer best known for his novels- The Circle of Reason (1986) and The Shadow Lines (1988). He has also written non-fiction books, such as In an Antique Land (1992) and A Passage to India (1997). Ghosh was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, and studied at Delhi University and Oxford University. He has taught at various universities, including Sorbonne, Columbia University, and Yale University.

Ghosh has written extensively about colonialism and its effects. He has explored the complex relationship between the East and West in his works, such as The Glass Palace (2000) and The Hungry Tide (2004). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007 for his contribution to literature. He is also a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, India’s highest literary honor, for his work- The Shadow Lines. Ghosh’s recent publications include Flood of Fire (2015), an epic trilogy set in colonial India and Southeast Asia.

3. Dr Manmohan Singh

Dr Manmohan Singh is an Indian economist and politician who served as the PM of India from 2004 to 2014. He is credited with boosting India’s economy in 1991, helping to spur the nation’s economic growth at a critical time.

Dr Singh was born in 1932 in Gah, Punjab. He studied economics at the University of Cambridge, completed his DPhil from the University of Oxford, and went on to become an economist and lecturer at several universities in India.

In 1971, he began working as an economic adviser for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and later, in 1982, became the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. In 1991, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao appointed him as the Finance Minister of India. During that time, he implemented a series of economic reforms that transformed India’s economy from socialism to free market capitalism.

4. Sujata Vasant Manohar

Sujata Vasant Manohar is an Indian-American jurist who served as a Supreme Court Justice in India from 1994 to 1999.

She grew up in Bombay, India, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Following her graduation from Elphinstone College, Bombay, she went on to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she received her master’s degree.

After completing her education, she worked as a civil rights attorney in San Francisco. She also served as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun at the Supreme Court of the United States from 1978 to 1979.

5. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was a world-renowned cricketer and the captain of the Indian national cricket team. He took his education at Oxford University, where he studied politics, economics, and history.

Pataudi was born on 5 January 1941 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He had a privileged background, as his father was the last ruling Nawab of Bhopal. As a young man, Pataudi excelled at cricket and was selected for the Indian national team in 1961. Pataudi captained India in 40 Test matches and led them to victory nine times. His batting average of 34.91 is among the best for any Indian batsman.

6. Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth is an Indian poet and novelist with several collections, including the Booker Prize-nominated, A Suitable Boy, and An Equal Music. He also translated works by Rabindranath Tagore and the Sanskrit classic The Mahabharata into English.

Seth was born in Calcutta in 1952. He attended The Doon School and then attended Tonbridge School in England. He went on to study philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Vikram Seth is also a noted environmental activist and supports many causes such as the conservation of tigers, helping farmers affected by drought in India, volunteering during the Gujarat earthquake relief efforts in 2001, and more recently, speaking out against violence against women.

7. Cornelia Sorabji

Cornelia Sorabji was an Indian lawyer, writer, and social reformer. She was also the first woman to study law at Somerville College, Oxford. After graduation, she became the first female barrister in India and the first female advocate in the Bombay High Court.

Sorabji’s legacy remains strong to this day, and she is considered an icon of women’s empowerment in India. In 2017, she was posthumously honored with a Google Doodle, celebrating her 151st birthday. In addition, several Indian universities have named scholarships after her in recognition of her pioneering work as a lawyer and feminist.

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Oxford University is home to some of the world’s most influential and successful people, including many Nobel Prize winners. From Prime Ministers and Presidents to famous actors, musicians, authors, and scientists – Oxford University can proudly boast an impressive list of alumni that stand as a testament to its quality education and commitment towards academic excellence.


Why is Oxford University considered so prestigious?

Interestingly, Oxford University is famous for its libraries! The university holds an incredible collection of books, manuscripts, and other study materials housed in its beautiful, historic buildings.




What values are most regarded at Oxford University?

Academic excellence, student-focused, inclusivity, accessibility, transformative, and supportive environment are all values held in high regard at Oxford University.








upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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