Boswells Blog

21st September 2019

Your Guide to Our Student Check List Essentials

Your Guide to Our Student Check List Essentials

Whether you’re heading off to university for the first time, or returning for another year of study, we’ve put together a guide to student essentials to get you started for the new academic year. Don't forget to sign up to our Student Club to get 10% off now and other offers throughout the year!

You can scroll to read the entire guide, or simply click the options on the menu below.


Arriving in Oxford Making Yourself At Home Bedding and Towels
Kitchen Essentials Space Saving Solutions Making It Your Own
On the Go Starting Your Studies Beating the Fresher’s Flu
  Enjoying Your Time in Oxford  


Arriving in Oxford

Bridge of Sighs Image

Arriving in a new place can be a bit daunting at first while you figure out how to get around and what to expect from your new location. Oxford has lots of exciting things to offer, from its iconic dreaming spires to its museums, restaurants, pubs and shops, but it’s also an old city with many an interesting sight to be found off little side streets and winding passages. If you’re new to the area we recommend picking up a copy of the Pitkin Oxford City Guide to get to know the area.

The guides are available in nine different languages, and offer a comprehensive guide to Oxford’s attractions, big and small, along with a map of the city centre and suggested walking routes. If this is your first time living in the UK then a visitor to the UK travel adaptor will allow you to run 240v mains devices, like your phone or tablet, and so we recommend this as must have item.

We think Oxford is a fantastic place to live, but it seems that Oxfordshire's clothes moth population does too. Although the moths are pretty harmless (except to clothing) we suggest investing in something to keep them at bay, which will protect your clothes and soft furnishings from getting munched. Zensect Moth Proofer is a good way to do this, as you can discreetly hide the lavender scented balls, and there’s no need to be spraying chemicals near your clothes.


Making Yourself At Home

One of the most important parts about settling into any new home, whether its student halls or a new flat, is making it your own. Partly this comes down to practical purchases, but also adding your own decorative flair to your new place.


Bedding and Towels

Bathroom ImageThe first things you’ll need are the more practical items—your bedding, towels and something to go in the kitchen. To get you started we highly recommend a bed bundle. The single duvet bundle comes with one hollowfibre 13.5 tog duvet (perfect for draughty college halls) and one free hollowfibre pillow.

The bundles are all non-allergenic, and great value as there’s no need to buy a separate pillow. Plus, the double and king size bundles each come with 2 free pillows! We suggest also taking a look at our low cost range of sheets and pillow cases to get you started.

When you buy your towels you can mix and match the colour to personalise your bathroom a little. We recommend our range of Bliss Pima towels by Deyongs, which are currently at a fantastic price, and are made from 100% cotton (so they’re nice and soft!). These towels are available as a face cloth, a hand towel, a bath towel and a bath sheet in a range of different colours.


Kitchen Essentials

Cooking ImageNext you’ll need to fill your kitchen with the essential implements to keep you well fed during your time at university. We highly recommend the 1.7L cordless kettle from Igenix, which has all the safety features you’d expect, like a locking lid and automatic shut off. The Igenix 2 slice toaster is also a fantastic buy, and a great idea for grabbing a quick piece of toast before your morning lecture!

For those of you with greater culinary ambitions than toast, we’re currently selling a good selection of low-cost saucepans and frying pans in our Cookshop. In particular we suggest taking a look at our range of stainless steel Royal Cuisine saucepans, which are sold individually at 16cm, 18cm and 20cm. They’re suitable for electric, gas, ceramic, halogen and induction hobs, and they’re fully dishwasher safe, which means that whatever facilities you have in your accommodation these pans should do the trick.

Our China & Glass department is stocked up with lots of glasses, plates, bowls and mugs, and there’s plenty to choose from within an affordable budget. 


Space Saving Solutions


Student housing can often mean getting a little creative with space, so we have some items to help you out there as well. We suggest checking out our range of clothes hangers—its hard to appreciate just how essential they are until you arrive to an empty wardrobe with no way of hanging up all of your clothes! The mix & match range have proven to be a favourite with our customers, probably because they’re available in 17 different shades, and come in a pack of 5.

A collapsible airer is also worth investing in so that you have somewhere to dry your washing that can also be packed away when you aren’t using it. We also do a pop up laundry basket, which can be stored away when not in use. And for those of you with awkwardly placed plug sockets, an extension lead will give you a bit more freedom as to where you can set up any tech you’ve brought with you!


Making It Your Own

Throw ImageOnce you’ve stocked up on the basics you may want to personalise your new place a little. We aren’t going to lie to you, fairy lights aren’t strictly speaking essential, but adding some fun touches to your accommodation can be a really important part of settling in to your new environment, especially if this is your first time away from home.

Other little flourishes that can make you feel more at home are things like throws and rugs. We highly recommend the Ultrasoft single throw as a great bargain. There are 7 colours to choose from, and they’re as soft as the name would suggest—just the thing for keeping warm during the Autumn/Winter, and just generally great for brightening the place up.


On the Go

Since you won’t be spending the entirety of your time at university in your room you may need a couple of items for when you’re out and about. A Kikkerland portable phone charger is pretty useful; it charges via the mains and can slip into a bag or a pocket as a way of topping up your phone or mp3 player over the course of the day. A small umbrella to keep to hand is also a sound investment—if you’re new to the UK, be prepared for unpredictable weather and rain that can start and stop with little warning. The Fulton Miniflat umbrella is ideal for unexpected rain showers as it fits easily in a bag, and won't cost you a fortune.


Starting Your Studies

Fresher’s week won’t last forever, soon lectures and seminars will begin in earnest and you will need a few scholarly supplies. Firstly, it’s a good idea to get hold of an academic diary. This will help you to keep track of your classes and deadlines, and the diary covers the entire academic year, so no need to buy a new one in January. We also have a good range of pens and notebooks in store at the moment to help you get ready for the start of term.

Morning classes can be a pain, and so it’s also wise to get an alarm clock to help you get out of bed on time (which inevitably gets harder as it gets colder).


Beating the Fresher’s Flu

Colds and flu spread through universities with ease and efficiency—and don’t let the name fool you, it isn’t only freshers that are at risk, fresher’s flu will find you whether you’re a first year undergraduate or a post-graduate veteran…even your lecturers aren’t exempt. We’re offering a walk in flu vaccination service in store over the Autumn and Winter, available from early October 2018.

If a cold or the flu do catch up with you though we also have a range of products in our pharmacy to help you manage your symptoms, not to mention tissues and throat lozenges. 


Enjoying Your Time in Oxford

There’s usually plenty going on in town, and the city has some great annual traditions that are worth keeping an eye out for. Don't forget to pop into Boswells or visit our website to take advantage of our student offers while they last, and to get 10% off with our Student Club! Finally, and most importantly, have fun, study hard, and make sure you make the most of your time in here in Oxford!

1st September 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Student Offers in Oxford 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Student Offers in Oxford 2016

There are shops, cafes and restaurants all over Oxford helping you save money with a variety of great student discount offers this Autum, and wiith great discounts being offered by a variety of both independent and high street shops you’ll find yourself going home with a bit more money to spare. Many places will accept your student ID card but some deals are exclusive to NUS Extra, UNiDAYS or Student Beans, all of which are worth signing up to to make sure that you make the most of the discounts that are available!

Books & Stationery

The Norrington Room ImageBlackwell’s (Broad Street) - Blackwells, one of the UK's biggest bookstores, loves students. They offer a number of deals, including up to 50% off text books. You can also get second hand books at a cheaper price as well as special course bundles. Pictured is the famous Norrington Room in the basement.

Paperchase (Queen Street) - Students get a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Ryman (Queen Street) - The famous stationer brand offers students a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Waterstones (William Baker House, Broad Street) - Our neighbour has a 10% student discount with a UNiDAYS code when you spend £25 or over. They also have a Student Rewards point scheme.

WH Smith (Cornmarket Street) - You can get 25% off stationery with an NUS Extra card until 30th September.

Fashion, Health and Beauty

Accessorize (Queen Street) - Get a 10% student discount with an NUS Extra card.

Ede & Ravenscroft ImageEde and Ravenscroft (High Street) - Providing ceremonial robes, menswear, womenswear and graduation gowns for generations, this specialist shop offers a 10% student discount on certain items.

Fat Face (Cornmarket Street) - Enjoy a 10% discount with an NUS Extra card.

French Connection (Clarendon Centre, Queen Street) - Students receive a 15% discount with a valid student card or UNiDAYS code.

Jack Wills (High Street) - Get a 10% student discount available with a UNiDAYS code or an NUS Extra card.

Karen Millen (High Street) - 10% student discount available with an NUS Extra card.

Moss Bros (Cornmarket Street) - Students get a 15% discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Oasis (St Ebbes Street) - Discount of 10% for students with an NUS Extra card or a UNiDAYS code.

Office (Clarendon Centre, Queen Street) - 10% discount for students with a UNiDAYS code.

Schuh (Magdalen Street) - Get a 10% student discount with a valid student card.River Island (Cornmarket Street) - You will soon be able to get a 20% student discount with Student Beans. Check the River Island website for the start of this promotion.

Shepherd and Woodward (High Street) - As the largest supplier of academic gowns and robes for The University of Oxford, and selling classic & contemporary menswear, you’ll be sure to be making a trip here. They don’t have a student discount but they do have different package offers throughout the year.

Cornmarket Street Image

Topshop/Topman (Queen Street) - Students get a 10% discount with a UNiDAYS Code or with Student Beans.

Anne Veck (St Clement’s Street) - This award winning hairdresser gives students with a valid student card a 20% discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Specsavers Opticians (Queen Street) - Save 25% on the price of designer frames with an NUS Extra card or another valid student ID.

Superdrug (Market Street) - Show your NUS Extra card with a Superdrug Beauty card and get a 10% discount.

Vision Express (The Golden Cross, Cornmarket Street) - Save 20% on prescription glasses and contact lenses with an NUS Extra card and a voucher that can be downloaded from their website.


The Co-Operative - Get a 10% discount with an NUS Extra Card. Based in several locations around Oxford.

Cafés and Restaurants

You don’t have to stop eating out when you’re a student thanks to these great deals from local and national restaurants:

ASK Italian (George Street) - You can get 25% off your bill with an NUS Extra card on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Gloucester Green Image

Bella Italia (George Street) - Check out the student menu (including pizzas, pasta and 2 for 1 cocktails) and dine for only £5, Sunday-Thursday. Look out, also, for their student nights, which give you the chance to get up to 50% off the bill.

Castle Pub (Castle St) - Is Hook Norton's first Oxford Centre pub. Jem contacted us in January 2018 and is keen for you to know that Student's get 25% off food on presentatio of Student ID. 

Combibos (Gloucester Green) - This family owned and run coffee shop in the centre of Oxford gives students a 10% discount.

Dominos (Park End Street) - Deals include 25% off when you spend over £25 with an NUS Extra card.

El Mexicana (Gloucester Green) - 10% discount with a valid student ID card. You can also earn points for free food with their app.

Giraffe (George Street) - Students get a 20% discount with an NUS Extra card.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (George Street) - A 30% student discount is available when you download their free app.

Jimbob’s Baguettes (Magdalen Street) - This sandwich shop has a huge variety of bread and filling options to choose from and gives students a 10% discount.

Las Iguanas (Park End Street) - Get a 25% discount Sunday-Thursday with a valid student ID.

McDonalds (Cornmarket Street) - With a valid student card or UNiDAYS code you can get a free Mayo Chicken, Cheeseburger or McFlurry Original when you buy an Extra Value or a Wrap Meal.

Noodle Nation ImageNoodle Nation (Gloucester Street) - A 15% student discount is available with a valid student card.

Pizza Express (The Golden Cross, Cornmarket Street and Castle Street) - Offers up to 40% discount on Monday and Tuesday, 20% on Wednesday and Sunday, and 3 courses for £11.95 on Friday and Saturday with an NUS Extra card.

Pizza Hut (George Street) - Get 20% off food when you show a valid student ID card.

Yeti (Cowley Road) - Get 10% off some great Nepalese food with a valid student ID card.

YO! Sushi (George Street) - Eating sushi doesn’t have to be expensive with 25% off when you join YO! Sushi’s student club.

Zizzi (George Street) - You can get 40% off the total of your bill on Mondays and Tuesdays with an NUS Extra card, and 25% off on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Offer ends October 5th 2016.

Leisure and Travel

Taking some time out for a little fun is essential, and all the more affordable thanks to these great deals:

16-25 Rail Card (Oxford Station) - Save a 1/3 on rail fares within the UK. If you’re over 25 and in full time study you’re still eligible, you just need to get confirmation from your university or college.

Odeon (George St and Magdalen St) - Save money on the price of tickets with a valid student ID card, and get a further discount of up to 25% with an NUS Extra card! Prices and discounts may vary depending on the film, cinema and showing time.

Ultimate Picture Palace Image

The Oxford Playhouse (Beaumont Street) - Save £2 on ticket prices with a valid student ID card.

The Phoenix Picture House (Walton Street) - Sign up for student membership for £15 to get 2 free tickets and 10% off food and drink.

STA Travel (George Street) - Keep an eye out for great student deals and prices on amazing adventures throughout the year, after all, you'll need something fun to fill the holidays with!

The Ultimate Picture Palace (Jeune Street) - Students get £1 off standard ticket prices and £2 off Thursday matinees with a valid student ID card. Student membership (£20) will also get you lots of goodies like 2 free tickets and even more money off ticket prices.


You don’t have to leave the house to get access to great discounts. A huge number of online stores also offer student discounts.

Adobe - A valid student ID card can help you get up to 69% off the price of software.

ASOS - Students get a 10% discount with a valid student email address.

Apple ImageApple Store for Education - Save up to £339 off the price of a Mac and up to £50 off to an iPad with a UNiDAYS code.

Boohoo - 10% student discount available with a UNiDAYS code.

GHD - Students get 10% off certain products with a UNiDAYS code.

HP - Get up to 30% student discount with a UNiDAYS code.

I Love Fancy Dress - A 10% student discount is available with Student Beans.

Pretty Little Thing - Get a 15% student discount with a UNiDAYS code.

Spotify - Enjoy 50% off Spotify premium with a UNiDAYS code or NUS Extra card.

UniBulkBuy - Students get 25% discount with a NUS Extra card.

Treasurer’s Treats

Treasurer’s Treats is a card exclusive to University of Oxford students. Bought from The Oxford Union, this card gives deals and discounts at a variety of different businesses around the city. The treats change each term.

Department Stores

Boswells ImageBoswells (1-4 Broad Street) - We couldn't very well leave ourselves out, could we? Sign up to our Student Club and you'll get 10% off everything in store and online between 6th September and 16th October. This 10% is also available every Wednesday the rest of the year, and we'll provide other offers throughout the year too! 

We have everything you need to make your new room or flat feel like home in no time, including, cookware, bedding, desk lamps, rugs, plates and bowls, and of course those all important clothes hangers! For a few tips on what you'll need to get you started for your time at university, click here to read our blog.

You can join our student club here.

13th November 2015

Get Inspired by Adult Education

Get Inspired by Adult Education

An academic life straight after school isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it can be a rewarding and enjoyable addition in later life. Rosie in our Pharmacy shares her experience at Oxford's own Ruskin College.

You're Never Too Old To Learn!

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so be more cat. Academic life isn’t for everyone and many people miss that first step from school to college. It’s a doozy. They invented gap years and clearing to help with the transition from college to University, but, contrary to popular belief, the world won’t end if you don’t get the exam results you wanted. Reality can be tough and it often seems like your choices are limited, and life certainly fills up with chores, hobbies, friends, family, work and debtsand studying disappears from view. I certainly didn’t get the results I had expected and had to radically change my plans. After re-taking exams at the local college I thought that I had enough to get a job. My friends who had studied, moved away to University. I gave up on education and settled for a more domestic life.Exam Image

Still there was something missing. I tried the odd writing course at youth centres and theatres. I even went to Oxford Brookes to learn how to use computers! This wasn’t taught when I was at school but seemed to be essential in the 21st century. With help from the local library and the job centre I gained qualifications that enhanced my C.V. When I started work in a pharmacy I found that part of my employment contract was to study all the medicines that I was going to be selling. With a lot of help and hard work I gained a Medicine Counter Assistant Certificate—and a pay rise!

You’re never too old to learn, but it wasn’t until a leaflet came through my door in 2012, about the courses at Ruskin College, that I was persuaded to follow my dream. I applied to Ruskin College to study Writing for Performance and was amazed that they let me in. It was the start of two of the most challenging, exciting and happy years of my life. I graduated last year with a Foundation Degree and now write pieces for the company blog (like this one) which I really enjoy—I would never have considered doing anything like that before.

Ruskin College is well known around the world for the second chance it gives to people, no matter what their background. Some take incredible journeys to get here because they want to learn and gain the bits of paper that had eluded them at school, or to go on to study at other universities, or improve their skills in their chosen profession. 

Graduation ImageRuskin is aware of the obstacles that make it difficult to study at any age, and offer support for students both with their personal and their emotional difficulties. Several students discover at a mature age that they have dyslexia or other problems that were missed at school, and Ruskin offers specialist help to improve their learning experiences. Though Ruskin is a small college it welcomes students from all over the world with a wonderful sense of community. It was the staff and the other students that made it such a magical place to study for me. The college allows multicultural people of all shapes and sizes to learn together in a supportive environment in the leafy suburb of Old Headington. 

What to Look For in a Course

Wherever you are thinking of studying I recommend looking for these facilities to make a truly supportive experience:

  • Small class sizes and weekly tutorials to allow you to get time to work directly with a tutor and to develop your knowledgebase and skills.
  • An excellent acedemic reputation with highly qualified staff who are there to support your learning every step of the way.
  • A supportive and encouraging environment to boost your confidence.
  • Opportunities for professional and career development .
  • Funding opportunities to help you realistically balance your work, home and study life. 
Learning Image

My friend, the late poet Davey MacArnold, used creative writing to help him overcome the horrors he had seen as a military veteran. Ruskin for him was a lifeline and led to performing his Homeless Oratorio in London. Philip Stevens has collected stories from Adult learners at various colleges (including Ruskin) in his excellent book Rita and Gerald: Adult Learning In Britain Today, so if you think studying isn't for you read about how others discovered a better life through education.

Stay curious and discover more about the things you are interested in. Perhaps you’ll end up teaching or who knows, writing a book. Why not make an academic qualification the next chapter in your life?

For more information on adult education why not take a look at:

The Open University,281595982,17976108862,[part%20time%20study]&mkwid=ga187-857-7519&KWID=374912437&keywordid=ggluk_[part%20time%20study]&kwcampaign=bau%20england%20-%20generics%20-%20exact#

Oxford Brookes

Ruskin College

Library Image

Birkbeck College: University of London

Other Local Study Programmes