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 candidate’s performance in the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT), information in their UCAS application and other contextual information published on the University website. The PAT together with the interviews and UCAS information enables a candidate’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, 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. The great majority of successful applicants score A*A*A or better at A-level, or the equivalent for candidates not studying A-levels.

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

The central University of Oxford website outlines the general application procedure for Oxford in detail.

The Department of Physics is working in partnership with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing to administer the admissions test. Candidates need to be entered for the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT), via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. A sample paper, past papers and PAT reports are available.

Dates for your diary - 2020

  • 15 October: Register for the Physics Aptitude Test*
  • 15 October: Submit a UCAS application
  • 5 November: Take Physics Aptitude Test. Dates for admissions tests.
  • December: Visit Oxford for an Interview (short-listed candidates only). For 2020 all short-listed candidates will have virtual interviews (dates to be specified).
    See list for admissions interviews in all subjects.
  • Mid January: Colleges will send letters or emails to inform candidates of their decision

*See Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website for more information on how to register.

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.