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Information about the undergraduate course in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford: Common Questions

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Common Questions

Below, you'll find answers to some of the questions we get asked most often.

Don't see your question listed? Contact us and we'll do our best to help.

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My grades

I’m studying Maths and Physics A-Levels. Does it matter what I pick for my third A-Level?

Make sure you've checked our entry requirements.

Our standard offer is A*A*A. The two A*s must be in Physics AND Maths (or Further Maths).

It doesn't matter what your third subject is, but most people choose a subject which would be useful in studying engineering - something maths or science based would be ideal.

Does it matter what I study at GCSE level?

GCSEs will be taken into account when we consider your application but they are just one aspect that we look at. GCSE results will be considered alongside your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and performance in any written work or written test required for your course.

If you are shortlisted, your performance in interviews will also be taken into account.

Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context.

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

No, your offer will not specify which of the three require you to achieve an A*, just as long as you do so in two of them.

Do I have to take all my A-Levels in Year 13?

Whether you’re applying with A-Levels, Advanced Highers, International Baccalaureate Higher Level subjects, or another equivalent qualification, we don’t specify that they must all be obtained during the same exam period. However, assessed on a case-by-case basis, this requirement may form a part of your offer.

I want to be sure that I have a chance of getting an offer before I apply. If I get in touch with you and tell you what subjects I am taking, will you be able to tell me if I will get an offer?

No. Unfortunately, we cannot predict whether you are likely to get an offer as there are many stages involved in the application process and predicted grades are only one part of what we consider when assessing your application.

If you are likely to achieve the academic grades required then that's great - but you must also do well on the PAT test and attend an interview with an engineering tutor, who must be convinced by the end of it that the course is right for you.

How do I choose a college?

On your UCAS application, you’ll be asked for your preference of colleges. Whichever college you do choose, you will be studying for the same degree at the end of your course. Although all undergraduates belong to a college, it is the University of Oxford, not the colleges, which awards degrees.

All the colleges have different things to offer, and it’s a case of deciding which one is best for you. Click here for some tips on the sorts of things you should consider – and don’t forget to check that your college is one that offers Engineering Science.

If you don’t know which college you want to apply to, that’s fine too. Submit an Open Application, and the University Admissions Office will assign you to a particular college. The college won’t be told that you sent in an Open Application.

What should I write in my personal statement?

This is your opportunity to tell us why you want to study engineering: what is it about engineering that excites you, and how can you demonstrate that interest?

You could tell us about a hobby that shows off your love of engineering – maybe you’ve built a robot or taught yourself how to program. Make sure you mention what it is that you enjoy about it, and what engineering principles you’ve learned. Perhaps you’ve managed to find some work experience in an engineering-related field, or you’ve attended one of the UNIQ taking place around the country – or even in Oxford. Of course, this isn’t possible for everyone, but if it applies to you, tell us! Think about the personal and engineering lessons you took away with you.

One more tip – resist the temptation to exaggerate your interest or overstate your experiences. Your interviewer will probably ask you about the hobbies and work experience that you mention, and you’re sure to be found out!

For more advice on writing a great personal statement, check the UCAS website, where you'll find writing tips, worksheets and advice from admissions tutors.


What will my interview be like?

Your day will feature two interviews.

The morning interview will last for about 30-45 minutes and will take place at your preferred college (and the one that you’ve been allocated). The interviewers will ask you to talk about why you’re interested in studying engineering and why you chose Oxford. You will also be asked some maths and physics questions, based on topics you’ve already covered at school. You’ll be given a scenario and asked to explain the physics behind it, and then (with help from the interviewers) to demonstrate some simple maths skills that show us how good you are at expressing physical concepts mathematically. See below for an example of what you can expect these questions to be like.

The afternoon interview will take place at another college. It will last for about 30 minutes and may consist of the maths and physics questions only.

How should I prepare for the interview?

The interview is a chance for us to see how good you are at understanding, developing and explaining new ideas – so it’s not a test of how much you know. However, the more background knowledge you have, the more you will be able to make use of this in the interview.

The questions are all based on topics you will have covered at school, so you’re expected to have some familiarity with them – even if you haven’t covered them in a while! It’s worth looking back through your notes from school, but don’t try and cram for the interview. It's a good idea to take a look at some sample questions so you know what to expect.

If you get stuck or are unsure about anything, it’s okay to ask your interviewer for help. That won’t count against you – you’re expected to need help at some point.

How will Brexit affect my application?

The University of Oxford is and intends to remain a thriving, cosmopolitan community of scholars and students united in our commitment to education and research. The UK leaving the European Union will not change this; our students from all across the world are as warmly welcome as ever.

The University of Oxford has published a range of Q&As covering the sort of questions you might have about studying here now that the UK has left the European Union. You'll find answers to many of your questions, as well as details on who to contact to find out more at


Still got questions?

Contact us and we'll do our best to help.