We run a year-round programme of Oxford-themed talks, walks and visits aimed to encourage an awareness and understanding of our city. The talks (free and open to all) are given by leading speakers in interesting locations across the city. Topics can include Oxford’s history, buildings, arts and science, and current development projects.

The extensive programme of visits and walks (members only and usually for a small charge) is led by local experts and held both in and out of Oxford.

New this year, and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Oxford Civic Society, we are presenting three Big Debates. These will cover:

  • The need for housing versus the protection of the Green Belt,
  • Cutting pollution in Oxford; the Zero Emission Zone, and
  • The Expressway.

Admission to the debates is open to all (members and non-members) by paid ticket only. Look under the ‘Big Debates’ tab for full information on these as they take shape. Booking for the Green Belt debate is now open; tickets for this event are £7 per head. Follow the link on the event page to buy tickets (maximum two per person).


Open talks — all welcome

Come and learn about your city. No pre-booking, free of charge.

  • ‘Heaven might be something like North Oxford’

    Wednesday 20 February, 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Architectural historian Professor William Whyte of St John’s College will reflect on the North Oxford Conservation Area, designated just over 50 years ago.

  • Securing nature’s recovery

    Thursday 7 March, 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    Wildlife today faces many serious threats and is in general decline. Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of the largest local wildlife conservation charity in our area, the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) will talk about what needs to be done to reverse the trends.

  • OCS@50: half a century of changing Oxford

    Tuesday 2 April 7pm, AGM at 8pm
    Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, OX1 2JA

    How has Oxford changed in the 50 years since the Society was set up and what role has the Society played in influencing those changes? Recently we commissioned local historian Liz Woolley to investigate. Tonight she reveals her assessment of our first 50 years. An illustrated booklet will be available. The AGM will follow her talk.

  • Ghosts, science and ghost hunters: a history

    Wednesday 17 April, 8pm
    Magdalen College Auditorium, Longwall Street

    The ‘scientific’ study of ghosts from the 17th century onwards was followed by ‘scientific’ ghost-hunting in Victorian times. Historian Dr Allan Chapman of Wadham College lifts the lid on a fascinating application of science. What do scientists, theologians and the public think about ghosts today?

Members-only Walks and Visits

Tickets are needed for these events. Download the booking form here. Closing date 10 December. download booking form

  • Culham Science Centre – a visit

    Wednesday 20 March 6.30pm

    Culham, world-famous for its cutting-edge research into fusion power, is also a powerhouse of other high technology innovation. This 2.5 hour visit will take us behind the scenes to learn about this fascinating work.

  • Oxford’s ancient water boundaries – a walk

    Monday 8 April 2pm

    The outer bounds of the City of Oxford were defined on three sides by its waterways. In the first of a series of walks led by local historian Mark Davies you will hear about some of the unusual and amusing experiences of the mayor and his retinue over the past 400 years.

Big Debates - ticketed events

The Big Debates are ticketed events open to everyone. See individual events for how to book.

  • The Battle for the Green Belt

    Thursday 11 April, 7.30pm
    Assembly Rooms, Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, OX1 1BX

    Should we prioritise the Green Belt or new homes for Oxford? In this, the first of a series of public debates to mark the 50th anniversary of Oxford Civic Society, Bob Price, former leader of the City Council, will argue that the release of Green Belt land to meet housing need can benefit the common good without undermining the enduring purposes of the Green Belt.

    His view will be keenly contested by Mike Tyce, Trustee of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire. The audience will have a chance to have their say before the two opposing speakers wind up the debate.

    Doors open 7.00pm; debate starts 7.30pm. Tickets required – no entry on the door.

    Tickets for this event are £7. Click here to go to the Eventbrite booking page.