Making an application

Information about applying to study Physics courses at Oxford.

The Department of Physics is looking for students of the highest ability in physics. Selection is based on a student’s performance in the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT), in three interviews, and on the information in his or her UCAS application. The PAT together with the interviews and UCAS information enables a student’s physics, maths and problem-solving ability to be judged and allows us to identify top quality students with the potential to succeed on our physics courses.

As a result the Department currently considers that an A level offer of A*AA (including physics and maths with A* for either of the two), or the equivalent, is all that is required to confirm that the candidates with the greatest potential are admitted and that students that have not been so well-prepared are not disadvantaged. Last year the fraction of successful applicants who scored A*A*A or better at A-level was 84%.

The application procedure is the same for all undergraduate courses at Oxford, with the exception that Physics and some subject areas also require applicants to take a written test. Applicants for Physics courses at Oxford are required to sit the Physics Aptitude Test.

***Minor changes to the Physics Aptitude Test***
In 2015, multiple choice questions have been eliminated. Long physics problems worth 20 marks have also been eliminated in favour of shorter questions worth less than 10 marks each. Sample Paper. Candidates are still urged to plan their time and attempt all the questions on the paper. More information about the Physics Aptitude Test can be found here.

The central University of Oxford website outlines the general application procedure for Oxford in detail: How to apply.

Dates for your diary - 2016

  • By 15th October: Register for the Physics Aptitude Test*
  • By 15th October: Submit a UCAS application
  • 2nd November: Take Physics Aptitude Test
  • December: Visit Oxford for an Interview (short-listed candidates only)
    See list for admissions interviews in all subjects.
  • Mid January: Colleges will send letters or emails to inform candidates of their decision

*The Department of Physics is working in partnership with the Admissions Testing Service to administer the admissions test. Candidates need to be entered for the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT), via the Admissions Testing Service. Further information is available on the Admissions Testing Service’s website .

Physics admissions criteria

The Department is looking for students who can demonstrate:

  • Motivation: a real interest and strong desire to learn physics.
  • Ability to express physical ideas using mathematics; mathematical ability.
  • Reasoning ability: ability to analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches.
  • Physical intuition: an ability to see how one part of a physical system connects with another; and to predict what will happen in a given physical situation.
  • Communication: ability to give precise explanations both orally and numerically.

More information can be found in our Admissions procedures which are followed by all Colleges.

Selection criteria for Physics and Philosophy candidates

Candidates for the joint school of Physics and Philosophy are assessed using the Physics Admissions Criteria listed above and the Philosophy Admissions Criteria for joint degree courses listed on the Philosophy website. As of January 2010, candidates for Physics and Philosophy are no longer required to submit written work.