Oxford University Quiz Society


The Oxford University Quiz Society is a student organization dedicated to promoting quizzing in Oxford. The aim of the Society, as stated in its Constitution, is "to work with the University of Oxford to stimulate an interest in and an understanding of the importance of academically-oriented general knowledge." In order to further this goal, the Society organises or takes part in many different kinds of events. Society members compete in quizbowl tournaments at other universities, including the annual British Student Quiz Championships and the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in the United States. The Society also hosts competitions throughout the year, including intercollegiate tournaments, tournaments for university teams from around the UK, and open tournaments in which anybody is welcome to take part. The Society also hosts social events, including some events co-hosted with other Oxford societies.

OUQS was founded in the 1980s, a decade that saw a boom in the fortunes of Oxford teams on University Challenge. The Society was started in order to facilitate the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Challenge Quiz, the forerunner of today's Intercollegiate Quiz. When University Challenge went on hiatus in 1987, however, interest in quizzing at Oxford declined. As a result, the Society had faded away by the early 1990s, although the intercollegiate tournament endured a few years longer.

When University Challenge was revived by the BBC and Granada in 1994, interest in quizzing picked up again in Oxford. After consecutive victories on the programme by Magdalen College in 1997 and 1998, a group of quiz enthusiasts decided to resurrect the Society and the Intercollegiate Quiz. Since then, the Society has grown rapidly in both size and stature. The 2011 Intercollegiate Quiz, the largest ever, included 44 teams.

Oxford has historically been very successful at tournaments within the United Kingdom. Oxford has beaten Cambridge in all thirteen Varsity Matches that have been played, including most recently a 240-215 victory in May 2013. Oxford or one of its constituent colleges has also won eight of the nine British Student Quiz Championships, including the May 2013 tournament. Oxford has also previously sent teams to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in Chicago.

The variety of quizbowl we play is the standard tossup-bonus format most common throughout the English-speaking world. It is derived from the old American show College Bowl, which was also the ancestor of University Challenge. Unlike University Challenge, however, the Quiz Society attends and sponsors only tournaments that use "pyramidal" tossup questions that is to say, questions that start out specific and difficult, then become easier and more general toward the end. Such questions not only allow for a fairer and less aggravating game, but allow for a much higher level of play.

Those reading this website should note that the Quiz Society plays no formal role in selecting or supporting teams to compete on University Challenge, nor is the purpose of Squad practices to prepare members to compete on that programme. Instead, University Challenge teams are selected solely by the individual colleges they represent. Nevertheless, many Quiz Squad members have enjoyed success on University Challenge recently. The winning Magdalen team in the 2010-2011 series featured three former squad members (Matthew Chan, Will Cudmore, and Kyle Haddad-Fonda), while the second-place St John's team in the 2009-2010 series included two (George Woudhuysen and Oliver Chen). Recent Quiz Society Presidents Ewan MacAulay, Jonathan Lane, Tom Speller, Katie McGettigan, Peter Sloman & Edmund Dickinson have also appeared on the programme. Prospective contestants hoping to represent their colleges on University Challenge are encouraged to enter their teams in the Quiz Society's Inter-Collegiate Quiz each Hilary term.