OXFORD University has been ranked number one in the world in four subject areas in a new league table.

The city institution, where teaching has existed in some form since 1096, came first in anatomy and physiology, archaeology, English language and literature and geography.

But the achievement is massively overshadowed by several American institutions.

The survey, compiled by 'global higher education analysts' Quacquarelli Symonds, ranked Harvard University - founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, number one in 15 subject areas including history, law, medicine and politics.

Oxford did not even come second, the silver medal being taken by Harvard's perennial rival MIT - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ranked number one in 12 subjects including physics, mathematics and linguistics.

The gold medal for teaching nursing went to University of Pennsylvania; veterinary sciences to the University of California and 'sports-related subjects' to Loughborough University.