Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Questions about the EU referendum?

Please see the information posted here. The university appreciates that there are other questions to which applicants and offer holders seek answers, such as access to the NHS and post-study right to work. The University will update this page as the implication of the referendum result become clear and as UK and EU negotiations advance.

I am taking Maths and Physics A-Levels, does it matter what I choose for my third A level?

We accept any subject except General Studies and Critical Thinking.  However, the third A-level is an important part of your preparation for the course, which is highly academic.  If it is available to you, there is little doubt that Further maths is the most relevant subject, closely followed by Chemistry.  Other subjects with a scientific or methodical structure can also be very helpful.

I know I need an A* in Maths, Further Maths or Physics - does it matter which?

If you receive an offer, this will not be specified.

A-Levels taken other than in Year 13

The standard minimum entrance requirements outlined deliberately do not specify that your A2-levels, Advanced Highers, IB HL subjects, or equivalents should all have been obtained in the same examination period. However, based on our consideration of all relevant information available to us, such a requirement may form part of a conditional offer for an individual candidate.

Does it matter which college I apply to?

You can apply to a specific college stating the preference in the UCAS form, or can submit an Open Application, in which case the college is designated by the University Admissions Office. The admissions office does not tell colleges which candidates submitted an open application. If you do not have a particular preference for a college then making an open application is the best thing to do.

What should I say in my personal statement?

This is the opportunity to say why you want to do engineering - what it is that specially interests you about engineering, and what you have done about pursuing that interest. You may have an engineering-related hobby (e.g. building combat robots, or beading) so as well as explaining what pleasure it gives you (beating up other robots, or making bead necklaces) you should also say if you can what engineering principles you have learned from it (optimum relative mass of hammer head, or what it is that limits the maximum rate you can increase a peyote stitch).

Whilst we recognise that it is not possible for everyone to get on a Headstart course or get some engineering-related work experience, if you have managed to do this say so - and don’t forget to include what personal and engineering lessons you have learned from it.

Be careful not to succumb to the temptation to overstate or fake your interest, or dredge up an indolently pursued hobby from the past in order to impress. If you are invited to interview it is likely, if you mention them, that you will be asked about your hobbies and work experience. If your avid interest in building combat robots turns out never to have progressed beyond watching battles on TV then that will not create a good impression.

What happens at interview?

You will have two interviews. The first, usually in the morning and lasting between 30 and 45 minutes, will be at your preferred college (or the one that has been allocated to you). The second will be at another college in the afternoon will last 30 minutes.

The morning interview will explore your interest in engineering and also test how well you can develop your ideas in mathematics and physics. The maths question will be based on what you have done at school. The questions on physics will usually centre round an electrical or mechanical situation chosen to match the particular subjects you have covered at school. You will be asked to explain the physics of what is going on and, with help from the interviewers, will be expected to develop the physical arguments using simple maths to see how good you are at expressing physical concepts mathematically. A typical example can be found here.

The afternoon interview will usually be shorter and may consist of the mathematics and physics questions only.

How can I prepare for the interview?

The purpose of the interview is to find out how good you are at explaining your ideas and how quickly you can pick up and develop new ones. To some extent this is does not depend on how much you know, but clearly the more you do know the more concepts you will be able to call on to explain what is happening. The questions will always start from material you will have covered in your school courses, so we will expect you to be familiar with all the maths and physics you have covered in school – even if you ‘have not done it since last year’. Don’t cram for the interview though. If you get stuck or are unsure about anything, you can (and should) ask the interviewer for some help – do not be embarrassed about this, it is expected that you will need some help at some time.

Where should I look for information about funding?

Please look at our Fees, Scholarships & Funding page.

Engineering Prospectus 2014Where can I get an Engineering Science Prospectus?

A printed prospectus about the Undergraduate Engineering Course is available from:

Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3PJ
Tel: (+44 or 0) 1865 273006