Written work gives us an idea of how you think and write, so it is important that you submit a piece which shows that, and best meets the criteria below. You do not have to meet all these criteria in the piece you select, but please make sure that you read them carefully.
If you are a pre-qualification applicant, we understand the impact COVID-19 may have had on your schoolwork, and that this may have restricted the range of written work you’ve completed. We would normally expect that you would submit a marked essay produced in the normal course of your school or college work, and that it should not have been rewritten after marking. We understand that may not be possible this year, so please describe the circumstances under which your work was produced on the form provided. You and your teacher will both fill in this form, so tell us under what conditions you wrote the essay, with what help, and in what timeframe. Tutors will take that information into account.
If you are a post-qualification, or mature applicant, you can decide (but it is not necessary) to produce a new piece of work, as you may want to give a clearer reflection of your current abilities. Again, we understand that this means it may not be possible to have it marked. Please use the space on the form to describe the circumstances in which the work was produced.
Normally we’d prefer to read an analytical discussion of a topic or topics in the field of English literature, although an English language topic might be suitable. You can send us an excerpt from your course work or EPQ (if you have drafted any), or any piece of written work you’ve done on any literary texts. This could include a short timed essay or a brief critical commentary, although we understand that those give you less scope to show what you can do. Please don’t submit a piece of creative writing. The piece you choose should not exceed 2,000 words, but you’re welcome to submit an excerpt from a longer piece if you think it represents your best work (you may add a note to explain the context of the excerpt).
There are few fixed parameters here: please send us the work which shows you at your best.
Tutors will assess written work using the following criteria:
- Attention to the literary aspects of texts
- Sensitivity to the creative use of language
- Evidence of careful and critical reading
- An analytical approach
- Coherence of argument and articulacy of expression
- Precision, in the handling of concepts and in the evidence presented to support points
- Relevance to the question
- Independence of thought
More information on how to submit written work and specific requirements can be found on the University of Oxford website.
Joint Schools applicants can find additional information on written work and selection criteria on the Joint School pages. History and English applicants are required to submit two pieces of written work.