Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford Skip to main content

Frequently asked questions

 The Courses

What programming languages do you teach?

In your first year, you will learn Haskell, a 'purely functional' language that makes it simpler to reason mathematically about programs, and Scala, a modern object-oriented language. We believe that by sticking to a small number of languages at first, students are better able to master the underlying principles.

In later years of the course, you will continue to use these languages, but you also might learn other languages including Java, Prolog, C, C++, and Objective CAML, as part of studying a particular area of Computer Science. You will also have opportunities to study the princples behind programming languages and compilers. In your project, you have an almost free choice of language in which to program or to implement.

However, as explained in the open days talks on this site, a particular programming language provides no more than a vehicle for expressing deeper Computer Science ideas. By the time you leave Oxford, you will be able to pick up a new language in half a day and (with a good manual) begin to use it productively straight away.

Can I undertake an undergraduate Oxford Computer Science degree via distance learning?

Oxford University requires all of its undergraduate students to live in or near Oxford, and so does not offer any undergraduate degrees by distance learning. However, you may be interested to know that the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education offers a wide range of courses, including part-time study, online learning and foundation certificates. For further details please see its website at

Why do you award a BA degree rather than a BSc?

That's just the way it is in Oxford: all three-year first degree courses lead to a BA, even in science, and there are no BSc degrees awarded in Oxford. Employers of our graduates all know this, so it never causes any practical difficulty.

I'd like to find out a bit more about Computer Science. Can you suggest anything?

We encourage you to read any relevant materials that you find interesting. Some suggestions are provided to get you started.

 Pre-Application Questions: School Qualifications and Subject Choice

Do you use EPQs when making offers?

Extended Projects (EPQs) don't form part of our standard offers, but we'll certainly notice that you've chosen to explore your interests in an area that's relevant to the degree you're applying for.

Do I need to have taken Computer Science or Information Technology at A-level? Is Physics useful?

Please see the guidance on subject choice.

I haven't previously studied Philosophy or Computer Science. Do I stand a chance of getting onto the joint degree?

Computer Science & Philosophy can be studied at Oxford without requiring any previous qualifications in either subject. Students who like the idea of doing Philosophy with a broadly scientific focus can apply, even if they have never previously studied either discipline. Candidates do need to have a proven flair for Mathematics. Further Mathematics and/or a science would also be highly recommended. Recent experience of writing essays, though by no means essential, would be helpful. See further information on conditional offers, and the Faculty of Philosophy's admissions information.

Where can I find out about the cost of doing a degree, any scholarships available, etc?

Despite what you may have heard, it's no more expensive to study at Oxford than at any other university. In fact, our world-class resources and college provision actually keep living costs down. Oxford is committed to ensuring that UK students with the academic ability to achieve a place here are not held back by their financial circumstances.

Oxford offers some of the most generous no-strings-attached financial support package of any UK university. The University's main website provides information and advice to prospective students from both the UK and overseas about fees payable for University tuition and to the college, living costs, and sources of funding at the University of Oxford.

If you have any questions about funding that aren't answered in these pages please contact You can also find details of student funding arrangements on the government website.

Do you have any resources for international students thinking about applying?

The University's main website contains lots of useful information specifically for international students covering everything from visas to finance.

I'm a mature student (I'll be over 21 when I start the course) thinking of applying. Do you have any advice?

The University's main website has information specifically for mature students.

I have a disability/SpLD. Do you have any resources to help me?

The University welcomes applications from disabled students and makes reasonable adjustments to facilitate their access to courses. Please look at this link for further information and support Disabled students.

I'm at an FE college: can I apply?

Yes! We don't mind what kind of school or college you are attending when you apply. Oxford tutors tend to talk about 'schools' when they should say 'schools or colleges' – that's just because the majority of our applications do (as it happens) come from people attending schools rather than colleges, so it's easy for us to slip into that way of talking. Also, the word 'college' means something different to us, because we so often talk about the colleges that make up the university here. Please don't be offended, or think that we're trying to exclude you.

All that matters to us in assessing an application is whether the candidate would do well if they came to Oxford. That means we're looking for highly motivated, able people with a lot of potential. Ability has to be developed by having studied in a way that is a suitable preparation for university-level academic work, but it encompasses the ability to work in an organised and independent way just as much as narrow ability in specific subjects.

What is your deferred entry policy for Computer Science? Is it ok if I take a gap year?

We talk about this in the Deferred entry section.

Can I apply via 'clearing' or 'adjustment'?

Oxford University does not have any places available through UCAS Extra, UCAS Clearing or UCAS Adjustment. We make all our admissions decisions in January, and make slightly more offers than we have available places, in the anticipation that some candidates will not meet the conditions of their offers. This means that after the application deadline, it will no longer be possible to apply for a place for entrance the following year. If applications are now closed, and you wish to apply for a place for the next admissions round, please follow the five-step guide here. Further information about places at other institutions, which commonly have a January application deadline found on the UCAS website at

Can I transfer to Oxford from another university? Can I do a second undergraduate degree at Oxford?

Our undergraduate courses last three or four years, and we normally only admit new students into the first year. Direct entry into the second year is possible only in exceptional circumstances, for example, when the candidate has already completed a degree from another university. This is referred to as senior status. Application procedures and deadlines for second undergraduate degree applicants are the same as for candidates for their first degree. Information on second undergraduate degrees is available on the main university website.

I missed the application deadline. Is it really too late to apply?

Unfortunately our application deadlines are not flexible. Our deadline for application, and for registering for the Mathematics Admissions Test, is 18:00 BST on October 15, the year prior to starting the course. Please look at the UCAS website for details of courses at other UK universities, who may still have places available, including via UCAS Clearing, UCAS Extra, or UCAS Adjustment. You may also like to consider applying for admission to Oxford next year. A guide about how to apply can be found at

What is the application deadline this year?

Our deadline for application is 18:00 BST on October 15th, the year prior to starting the course. You must submit your UCAS form and register separately for the Mathematics Admissions Test by this deadline.

 The Application Process

Is there anything my headteacher should mention in his or her reference?

Yes! Please see the guidance given in the section on filling out the UCAS form.

Are extra-curricular activities important?

Please see the section on what admissions tutors look for.

Is the Maths Admissions Test (MAT) important?

Yes. We talk about how the MAT is used on this page.

I've been offered a place. Is there any preparatory work I can do over the summer?

Yes, we've got some recommended reading that you could do during the summer break, before starting an Oxford Computer Science course. You do not necessarily need to purchase these — your local library can probably help, and there will be copies available in your College library once you get to Oxford.

Still have Questions?

Please don't be shy. Send your questions regarding applying to our undergraduate Computer Science courses to