We encourage you to focus on your current studies in order to achieve highly and recommend that you read as much literature as you can. Read authors you love, read new authors, read some classics, read different genres and types of literature (poetry, plays, fiction, non-fiction and more)! Above all, start training yourself to become an active reader. Think about what you have just read critically: ask yourself if you enjoyed it, why (or why not), whether it has similarities with other works you’ve read, why might the author have chosen a particular word or phrase, etc.
Our admissions criteria specify that you must take English Literature or English Language and Literature Combined at A-Level, IB Higher-Level, or equivalent qualification in order to be considered. You can see all of our academic requirements and more course information here: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/english-language-and-literature. Other than that, we have no preference for subjects; the only qualifications we don’t accept are General Studies A-Level or those awarded from creative writing courses. The choice of subjects is a completely personal one and we generally recommend that you study whatever you enjoy most and focus on achieving three strong grades, rather than four or five weaker ones. For the avoidance of doubt, Maths and Further Maths are viewed as two separate A-Level qualifications.
Oxford University does not set any requirements for grades (or subjects) at GCSE, only at A-Level (or equivalent), so as long as you are predicted the relevant grades and are studying English Literature then that’s fine. You can find our requirements on the University webpage at: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses-listing/english-language-and-literature. We understand that some students mature later than others and that academic passions develop at different times, often later than in GCSE years.
Candidates are encouraged to give a detailed account of their academic interests and of the reading they may have undertaken independent of school or college work; the personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm for and commitment to the study of literature, and to nominate particular literary interests which may be discussed at interview. We are not able to look at your statement, but encourage you to discuss it with friends and family to ensure your authentic voice comes through. The content will be wholly determined by an individual’s interests and there are no ‘magic books’ which will make an application more appealing to a tutor. It is, after all, a personal statement.
We have comprehensive advice on what written work to submit on our Faculty website: https://www.english.ox.ac.uk/shortlisting-and-selection-criteria-undergraduate#collapse385886.
One thing to note is that we suggest not submitting a critical exercise (for example, a literary commentary) because this displays a very similar skill to that assessed by the Oxford ELAT. Submitting a different piece gives you an opportunity to show off your wider ability. We understand that this may be the only option of work to submit, in which case that would be fine. The only restriction is that you should not submit a piece of creative writing.
While an Extended Project Qualification is not a requirement for application to our English degree, it can be a good indicator of your ability to conduct independent research and undertake an extended piece of writing. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon relevant EPQ experience when writing their personal statement and it could form a point of discussion if you are invited to interview. However, candidates are advised to prioritise their A-Level (or equivalent) studies, as we do not include the EPQ in our conditional offers. The final grades in your standardised qualifications are much more important than your EPQ result.
You are allowed, but are not obligated, to state a college preference on your UCAS form when applying. This does not automatically mean that you will be interviewed at your stated college; if it is oversubscribed one year, you may be reallocated to a college with less direct applications and they might invite you for interview. While the stats vary year-on-year, roughly a quarter of applicants are invited to a college that was not their preference. You can also submit an open application, indicating that you have no preferred college. In this case, your application will be assigned to a college that has relatively fewer applications for your course in the year you apply. Every year, roughly a fifth of applicants make open applications.
While colleges have more similarities than differences, there are some factors you may wish to compare when deciding your preference: size, age, location, accommodation offer, facilities, accessibility, which professors are based there, famous alumni, etc. If at all possible, come to a University Open Day and look round several colleges. This will help you decide what college characteristics and facilities are important to you. You can also read more about each college on the college pages or on their own websites.
Programmes for Visiting Students are run by the colleges, not by the Faculty. If you would like to pursue this further, please see the details on this webpage: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/new/visiting.
It is not possible to transfer onto an Oxford degree course. Our students all study a full three-year programme and the University does not accept transfer students. You are welcome to make an application via UCAS, the details of which you can see here: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/guide.
Whether your disability is seen or unseen we can provide the support you need at all stages of the application process and for the duration of your studies at Oxford. We welcome applications from students with disabilities, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs). Our admissions decisions are based on academic merit alone and our Disability Advisory Service currently has over 4,000 students registered. Over 1,000 of these students have declared a Specific Learning Difficulty.
DECLARING A DISABILITY
Whatever your particular circumstances, the earlier we know about your individual requirements then the sooner we can begin to meet them. We only ask you to tell us so that we can offer support if it is needed and make reasonable adjustments to facilitate your access to your course and our University. Please tell us about any disability on your UCAS form, and perhaps ask your referee to mention it too. Please follow our guidance on declaring your disability on your UCAS form. UCAS also has further advice about how best to do this.
If you need to take one or more of our admissions tests as part of your application, you can be considered for whatever alternative arrangements you usually have for public exams (that is, your GCSEs and A-levels, or other equivalent qualifications). For example, this may be extra time, or a large print copy of the test paper. Lots of students do this, so please don’t miss out: make sure you mention your access requirements to whoever is registering you for your test or tests.
Your school Exams Officer, or open centre administrator can apply to arrange alternative provisions for you, so please let them know about your requirements as early as you can. Please note, the deadline for ordering modified test papers is earlier than the deadline for general registration. All other special consideration requests are made through an online form (open from September).
Once you have submitted your application, we would recommend contacting the college you have applied to so that they have time to put in place any reasonable adjustments or respond to any requirements during the interview process. With appropriate supporting evidence (e.g. an educational psychologist's or specialist tutor’s diagnostic assessment report or a medical letter), arrangements such as extra time, rest breaks, and word-processing can be considered. Please see our interview pages for general information on how to prepare for your interview and what you can expect.
RECEIVING AN OFFER
If you are offered a place at Oxford, please contact the Disability Advisory Service as soon as possible. There is no need to wait until your examination results are announced. It will help you to plan properly and get things in place before your arrival, so you can get on with enjoying student life and all it has to offer.
Our Disability Advisory Service provides support from the point you are considering an application right up until graduation, and are always delighted to hear from potential candidates. Have a look at the students with disabilities videos at ox.ac.uk/disabilityvideos to hear from current Oxford students; or see the dyslexia unbound video, a 15-minute film made by Oxford tutors for students with SpLDs.
Do visit the Disability pages to read lots more about the kind of support we offer to our students, and the Bodleian Libraries’ Accessible Resources Unit for information on study resources.
About the course
Although the title of our course is BA English Language and Literature, the degree is heavily literature-based. The English degree at Oxford is one of the broadest in the country, and you will have the chance to study all periods of English Literature, from 650 AD to the present day. You can see a summary of the course here: https://www.english.ox.ac.uk/course-summary.
"As an undergraduate with dyspraxia and autism who has recently completed their first year on the English course, it is only honest to say that I have struggled with organisational skills and overall presentation and have therefore found it difficult to plan or organise coherently over the last year. As someone autistic, the cumulative effect of ASD and dyspraxia has made it especially difficult to adjust to new learning environments, which played a substantive role in my struggles last year. At secondary school, I learnt to adapt to a plan and structure over several years aided by a strong support system that allowed me to settle on a fixed routine- a routine which has changed since university life began. My inability to adjust properly was further exacerbated by COVID, with restrictions making it more difficult to grasp how others would structure their study time and maintain a coherent routine, although these issues are not new to me. I struggle to visualise scenarios I’ve yet to personally experience because of my dyspraxia, often leaving me adrift when trying to adapt to a new academic environment. I struggled to plan and study successfully, partially because of an inconsistent time management plan as well as a truncated level of support caused by the COVID crisis. I reached out to my tutors at the beginning of Trinity Term in the last academic year, who all helped to alleviate my concerns and accommodate my needs more closely, but I would have benefited from discussing this with them earlier. My autism and dyspraxia also contribute to my clutter, where I struggle to enunciate words clearly when speaking. I am very self-conscious of this, which further undermines my confidence and makes me more reticent to communicate openly in class." - Anonymous undergraduate, 2021
The Faculty does not offer part-time degree courses. However, a range of shorter courses are available through the Department for Continuing Education.
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in creative writing whilst a student within the Faculty and a number of our academics are also published authors. Although the course does not include a specific paper on creative writing, the flexible nature of the teaching and the individual tuition/support provide opportunities for a wide range of writing and study.
Oxford's English Faculty also has some of the country's leading poets among its lecturers. They and Oxford's visiting Professor of Poetry give regular lectures and workshops. If you already write, or want to start, Oxford has been a source of inspiration to writers in a range of genres, and a range of student-run events and publication opportunities mean that you can use your spare time as an undergraduate to develop your literary skills without the pressure of having them formally assessed.
Whilst the Faculty itself does not offer courses in creative writing, there are courses available within the University through the Department of Continuing Education.
There are many opportunities to study drama within the Oxford English degree - you could choose to study dramatic texts in many of your period papers in the first and second years, write on drama or a dramatist for your dissertation, or possibly study Drama in English as your special option (in the years when this is offered). There is also a whole paper devoted to Shakespeare.
Oxford also has its own visiting professorship in drama, which is held in turn by directors, playwrights and actors – Alan Ayckbourn, Arthur Miller, Ian McKellan, and Diana Rigg have been among them. Performance is not a part of the degree course, although many of our students find their appreciation and understanding of dramatic works is developed through their involvement in student theatre in Oxford. There are also many opportunities for involvement in drama in the University as a whole. There are numerous student-run dramatic productions, as well as the chance to start up new enterprises!
The Faculty has key strengths in the study of drama, with academics such as Dr Sos Eltis and Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr. There are opportunities to specialise in drama in our final papers and the flexibility of the course and the teaching allows bias to certain genres throughout the course.
The Faculty holds the Cameron Mackintosh archive, which has numerous scripts from drama companies across the country.
There are numerous possibilities for getting involved in student drama and amateur dramatics with a huge range of productions every year.
Oxford is a great place to pursue an interest in student journalism, with two well-regarded student newspapers – Cherwell and Oxford Student. Many leading journalists began their careers at Oxford. The Faculty encourages the widest possible range of writing experience.
The Faculty has appointed a permanent lecturer in Film Studies (Dr Andrew Klevan) and there are opportunities to take a paper related to film in the final year. There are a range of film-related lectures throughout the year which link to other papers that you might be studying. There are excellent resources for film enthusiasts, including access to various film databases and collections. The University also has a thriving Film Society.