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How to apply

Detailed instructions for the applications procedure are contained in the University's Digital Prospectus for Undergraduates . The information given on this webpage is intended to supplement the official information given there. For a general overview of the admissions process at Oxford see the University of Oxford's how to apply video(applicable for any Oxford course).

The following diagram shows the major steps involved in applying for an undergraduate (first) degree course here at the Department of Computer Science. Click on each step to view more information.

Dates below are for the current admissions round, subject to change, with future admissions rounds expected to have similar dates. Any updates to times will be reflected here.

Entry requirements

1. Choose your course


Consider which of our three undergraduate courses you would like to study. There is written and video information about each of the courses below, find out more by clicking the individual links:

Do you meet our entry requirements?

Why study Computer Science at Oxford?

Undergraduate Brochure

More information Why Oxford?

How will i be taught

Student Experience

More information student experience.

2. Choose a college

There are over 20 Oxford colleges that accept undergraduates for Computer Science and/or joint degrees.

Does it matter which college I choose?

You need to choose a college that offers the course you would like to apply to or make an open application.

We work very hard to make sure that the best candidates are offered a place, irrespective of which college they apply for. Different people have many different reasons for choosing the college they eventually settle on.

You might want to think about the size or age of a college, the location, the costs of living there, the accommodation and facilities available. Colleges provide a wide variety of accommodation and meal options.

You can have a look at college pages to help you decide.

Open applications

You don't have to choose a college; you can make an open application, in which case you will be allocated to a college that offers your chosen course. The college that receives your application will not know that you made an open application, and you will not be asked about it at the interview. Your application will then be treated exactly as if you had directly applied to that college. There is no admissions advantage or disadvantage to making an open application, and the tutors considering your application won't even be able to tell that you made an open application.

Campus code for an open application

Open days

A tour of the Department of Computer Science is available.

If you are able to, you might want to come and visit Oxford during our open days to have a look around some of the colleges.

If you are not able to visit us in person, you can view some video panoramas in the Chemistry Department's virtual tour of Oxford.

3. Register for the Maths Admissions Test

MAT registration deadline: Friday 29 September 2023

More general guidance is avialble available on the University of Oxford MAT pages.

Register for the Maths Admissions Test (MAT)

Details of how to register will be available closer to the time, please do check back.

Can I apply for access arrangements?

Your test centre will be able to apply for access arrangements for you if you have a permanent or long-term disability which might affect your performance such as a sight impairment, dyslexia or cerebral palsy. You may also be eligible for access arrangements if you have a short-term difficulty, such as a broken arm.

The access arrangements you are eligible for will depend on the exact nature of your condition and most often will be the same as those you would get while taking a public examination at your school. These could include modified materials (i.e. large print or braille exam papers), extra time, or the use of a laptop.

You should let your school or test centre know of any requirements you may have as early as you can and provide them with medical evidence to support your application. The deadlines for applying for modified papers and requesting access arrangements will be available soon.

Do I have to pay?

We do not charge candidates to take this test. However, please be aware that some independent test centres do charge an administration fee to candidates; you should contact your centre for details.

How can my school/college apply to be a test centre?

From this year, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will manage the delivery of Oxford's own admissions tests. Applicants' schools and colleges will need to follow a new process to apply for authorisation to become TCS test centres (see below for details) even if they have previously been Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing test centres. More details.

Schools and colleges are strongly advised to apply for authorisation as soon as possible so they are ready to begin registering their Oxford applicants as soon as the registration window opens on 1 September.

4. Submit a UCAS application

UCAS application deadline: Monday 16 October 2023

We take applications for all Oxford undergraduate courses through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service) , which deals with all applications to higher education in the UK.

You'll need to make an account on the UCAS website, and fill in details of your academic history.

You need to apply a year before you plan to study at Oxford (unless you are applying for deferred entry). You can start working on your application anytime but you can only submit from early September. Please remember the strict submission deadline for applications through UCAS above.

You can register for the MAT and submit your UCAS form in any order, as long as they are done by the relevant deadlines.

UCAS form

For advice on filling in your UCAS form, see the UCAS website.

More general guidance is available on the University of Oxford UCAS application page.

UCAS Institution code: 033 (Univeristy of Oxford)
UCAS campus codes: College codes or 9 for an open application
UCAS course code:
  • G400 (Computer Science)
  • GG14 (Mathematics and Computer Science)
  • IV15 (Computer Science and Philosophy)
Everyone applies for the four-year course (so there is only one code for the three and four year options). You decide part way through the programme if you wish to finish at the end of the third year or continue to the fourth.

More about what our tutors are looking for.

Personal statement

See the following for advice on writing your personal statement for Computer Science.

There is also some more general advice from UCAS on writing your personal statement.

We are aware that for those applying in 2024-25 the personal statement will be replaced by a multi-question entry form. Further details on this will follow in due course.

Reference

All applications must include an academic reference. An application will be deemed incomplete without one and may not be considered. A reference will come from a teacher or someone else who is qualified to comment on your academic ability is an essential part of your UCAS application. Whilst one person completes the reference for each students, they are welcome to quote teachers from other subjects within this too. References cannot be from an employer even if you employment is related to your chosen degree subject.

UCAS provides guidance for references.

For those applying in 2023-24 there are some changes this year to the format, the reference is now split into three separate sections. The character limit is 4,000 (incl. spaces, headings and line breaks) or 47 lines of texts, whichever comes first. It is up to the referee how they divide the word count between these three sections but we would advise leaving plenty of space for section three which is where you can comment on the individual academic achievements and potential of your Oxford applicants.

  • SECTION ONE invites references to enter a general statement about their school, college or centre.
    It is strongly recommended that relevant information about school closures and disruption to cohorts is on a specific webpage created on your schools website. This site can be linked to in this section of the academic reference to ensure that most of the word count can be used to talk about the academic achievements and potential of students
  • SECTION TWO (is applicable) asks for any information about individual extenuating circumstances which may have impacted the applicant's education and achievements.
  • SECTION THREE asks references to comment on the individual academic achievements and potential, and how these relate to the course they are applying for.

UCAS have published sample references which may be useful.

Predicated grades should be included in the Education section of a candidates UCAS application, not in the applicants reference.

Predicted grades

A predicted grade is the grade of qualification an applicant’s school or college believes they’re likely to achieve in positive circumstances. Most applications that we see to our undergraduate degrees, are from students in their final year at school, and are therefore unable, at the point of application, to submit all of their final qualification scores. Using predicted grades means you can apply to study at Oxford before you have finished school (or equivalent) and you don't have to wait until all your exams are complete and your results are known.

These predicted grades are used by universities such as Oxford, as part of the admissions process, to help them understand an applicant’s potential. They are a standard part of an application to a UK university. We understand this is a lot less common in other countries. Your teacher won't be in any trouble if their prediction is wrong: but we value their professional opinion on your potential. It is really important that predicted grades are included in your application. An application would be considered incomplete without predicted grades for ongoing qualifications.

It might be that the teacher providing the reference will collate predicted grades from several of your teachers, in the same way as they often quote other teachers when writing or compiling the reference.

It's also important that you detail all of the qualifications that you hold, or are the in process of taking on the UCAS form. Please don't miss out qualifications, even if they are of a lower grade than you would like: failure to declare your qualifications can result in an application being rejected. If you are taking a qualification where you receive one overall grade, it's useful if your referee can give us an idea of individual subject grades, especially those most relevant to the course you're applying for.

If you are made an offer of a place, it will be conditional on your achieving the required grades (based on the entrance requirements for your course) in any outstanding exams. Offers are made in January and you have until the summer to complete your qualifications and meet the terms of the offer.

More guidance for providing predicted grades from UCAS

Disability/access requirements

Do tell us if you have a disability or access needs. Adjustments can be made and support requirements taken into consideration during the interview process if necessary. If you tell us what difficulties you anticipate, then we can discuss appropriate solutions. Any disability disclosure will be dealt with confidentially and sensitively. Your application will be assessed solely on academic merit. Giving us this information will not adversely affect your chances of being offered a place, but if you do come to Oxford, it will help us to ensure that everything is in place to enable you to take a full part in university life. Specific learning difficulties in particular seem disproportionately common among Computer Science students, so tutors are likely to be familiar with them.

More information about disability support is available via the Disability Advisory Service.

Special circumstances

Usually special circumstances are something that you as an individual have experienced, something that is unique to you. We take care to treat each application individually and would always take such mitigating circumstances into account, if they are brought to our attention before admissions decisions have been made.

We ask that you include any details of special circumstances in your personal statement or ask your teacher to include these in your reference.

More guidance is available on the UCAS special circumstances page (click the special circumstances tab).

If something changes

Please contact the Admissions Office at your chosen college directly (or wait until you have been informed which one you have been assigned, if you made an open application) to let them know of any changes to your academic profile that occur after your UCAS application is submitted. Examples of such changes include additional exam grades, changes to exam grades following re-marks and changes of exam boards. The only other information that colleges would take into account at this stage would be any changes to your personal circumstances since your UCAS application was submitted. Please do not ask your chosen college to consider additional references or other supporting material outside of the UCAS application.

5. Maths Admissions Test (MAT)

Registration deadline date: 29 September 2023
Date of test: 19 October 2023

The MAT at Oxford is used by the Mathematical Institute and Department of Computer Science and is compulsary for anyone applying to one of our courses. It is the main indicator we use when shortlisting applications.

The test is 2.5 hours, you should attempt five questions. Question 1 is multiple choice, and contains 10 parts each worth 4 marks. Marks are given solely for the correct answers, though applicants are encouraged to show any working in the space provided. Questions 2-6 are longer questions, each worth 15 marks, and candidates will need to show their working. Part marks are available for the longer questions.

The five questions students attempt will depend on the degree you apply for:

  • Computer Science (**New for applicants in 2023-24**), Computer Science & Philosophy (**New for applicants in 2023-24**), Mathematics & Computer Science applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6
  • Mathematics, Mathematics & Statistics, Mathematics & Philosophy applicants should attempt questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

The MAT syllabus contains the information we expect you to know at the time of the test

MAT Syllabus

MAT past papers

The table below contains past papers and solutions. You can see below admissions statistics, to get an idea of how successful applicants scored in the MAT.

Admissions statistics summary


How to prepare

We strongly recommend students practice for this exam under timed conditions and have a go at some of the above past papers.

You might also like to look at some of the following online resources for problem-solving practice

The AMSP organises Problem Solving Matters , hosted at universities around the UK. This problem-solving course aims to help students prepare for university mathematics.

More information

More detail about the MAT, links to other resourcses such as the Oxford Online Maths Club and other problem solving practice are available on the Mathematical Institute website. (please open in separate tab and navigate back to this page for step 6.)

6. The Interviews

2023 Interview dates: TBC (usually mid-December)*

*We are anticipating that the majority of students will be interviewed in week commencing 11 December but it may be that some students will be interviewed towards the end of week commencing 4 December (the above link will be updated in due course)

The interviews for 2023 for 2024-entry will be held online. You will be notified by your college - the one you applied to, or if you made an open application, the one. you were assigned to - whether you have been invited to interviews, or not.

We usually interview between 2 to 3 candidiates per place. Candidates will usually have at least three interviews, two in their chosen college (or allocated college) and another in a second college. Interviewers at different colleges exchange information about candidates, to ensure that each applicant has an equal chance of a place at Oxford, no matter which college they have applied to. As a result, you might be invited for an interview at a third, or even a fourth college. If you are applying for a joint degree, you might have single-subject interviews for each part of the degree, or there may be an interview with tutors from both disciplines. Some candidates may be asked to undertake a pre-interview exercise. The interviewer may then discuss some of the questions from the exercise, with you, during your interview.

Most commonly our interviews are 30 minutes in length, sometimes our tutors start with a general question discussion, perhaps taken from your personal statement, to get to know you better, and to understand what motivates you. However most of the interview time will be taken by our tutors asking you to solve a problem, either one that you have been asked to think about in advance or one that is asked at the start of the interview. The interview will act like a mini-tutorial, with you actively discussing and exploring a problem (and your thought processes) out loud.

Interviews will normally be with two interviewers. Sometimes one interviewer will ask all the questions, whilst the other takes notes, or sometimes they might share the questioning and note-taking between them. All the interviews happen over a period of a couple of days.

We give candidates multiple interviews so that each person gets a chance to demonstrate to our tutors what they are capable of, especially if nerves are getting the better of you for one or two interviews. Tutors can discount these interviews if they don’t think that they are a fair reflection of your ability. Being invited to these extra interviews is a good sign: it shows that you have done well enough in the process so far to be seriously considered for a place. On the other hand, having interviews at just two colleges is also not a bad sign: if the tutor at your first choice college (the college you applied to or were allocated to) has indicated that you will certainly be offered a place there, then tutors at other colleges will not want to see you.

For more information, see the University of Oxford's webpage on Interviews at Oxford.

How to prepare

Our tutors are not mind readers, so if you don’t say anything our tutors can’t tell what you are thinking! The best practice you can do is getting used to talking about problems out loud. You may also want to try explaining concepts from your Maths qualification to friends and family. This not only gets you used to explaining your thoughts out loud, but also helps to consolidate your knowledge of the subject.

We very much don't want applicants to feel they need special training for our admissions. The main thing is that you do mathematics, lots of it, and that you find it interesting. We advise you to do lots of problems, on and near your syllabus, so that you really understand the mathematics you are learning.

Sample interview dialogue

Sample interview questions from one of our tutors

More sample interview questions

In advance of your interview you may wish to reread your UCAS application. Our tutors may choose to start with a question about something on the personal statement section of your UCAS form to put you at ease before asking you to tackle a Maths question.

7. Offer

Shortlisted candidates for 2024 entry (or deferred)  will be told whether or not their application has been successful on 9 January 2024. Decisions will be released via UCAS Track early in the morning. This will be followed by direct communication from the college considering your application.

Colleges, rather than the Department, will inform candidates of their decision by sending a letter or email, or sometimes both. It differs from college to college. This usually arrives in mid-January at the end of the admissions period

The correspondance you receive will explain one of two things:

  • You are made an offer of a place to study your subject. The offer will either be at a particular college, or it may be an "open offer". An open offer means that you have an offer from Oxford and are guaranteed a place if you meet the terms of any conditional offer. However, the college you will go to has not yet been specified, and will be decided after your final examination results have been published.

    If you have already completed your examinations, this offer will probably be unconditional. If you have not yet finished your final examinations, the offer will probably be conditional upon your achieving certain grades. The offer is likely to specify that you need to achieve certain grades in particular subjects and may include a requirement for evidence of proficiency in the English language.

  • Your application has, unfortunately, not been successful. For many applicants who have, until now, been the most academically successful in their school or college, it can be very dispiriting to not get an offer. Our courses are very competitive and students have done very well to get this far in the application process. It is probable that, assuming you have selected your other courses wisely, that you will go on to study at another excellent university. In a few years' time you may wish to consider applying to Oxford for further study after you have completed your first degree elsewhere.

Feeback on your application

If you wish to request feedback, you must contact the college you applied to or were allocated to. There are more details on requesting feedback.

8. Start course

By the end of August you will have completed your qualifications and got your results. Assuming you have met the conditions of your offer, you will join us in Oxford for the start of your course in October - almost a year after you first applied (or later if you applied for and received a deferred entry offer).

Congratulations!

Over the summer you are welcome to look at recommended reading for candidates with offers.

Admissions: frequently asked questions