Open Days 2020 - FAQ

We'll be updating this page with answers to your questions throughout the open days: please send your questions to

  • How can I prepare for the PAT?

Information on Preparing for the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) can be found here.

  • How much are my GCSE grades taken into consideration?

The principal indicators are the PAT and interview scores but all information supplied on the UCAS form is taken into consideration.

  • How much astronomy can I do?

You can choose to take a short option in Astrophysics in Prelims (1st year). Astrophysics is an integral part of the Part B course, and forms half of one of the Part B exam papers. Astrophysics is also available as a major option in Part C of the four-year MPhys course.

  • Which College should I choose?

The choice of College is probably seen as a much more important problem outside Oxford than it is inside. It is important to remember that the quality of teaching is the same across all Colleges: the physics lectures, practicals and projects take place in the Department of Physics, and are the same for all students, regardless of college.

The University website has some advice on choosing a College and the prospectus contains an overview of each. If you are undecided which College to choose, you can make an "open application" and let the Admissions Office computer choose for you.

The admissions process is explicitly designed to ensure that College choice has as little effect as possible on the chance of being accepted. One aspect of this is that candidates are occasionally reallocated from the College they chose to a different College. All short-listed candidates who come to Oxford for interview are interviewed by two Colleges. Another consequence is that candidates may receive offers from a College different from the one handling their application, or an Open Offer with no College specified.

Please note that Harris Manchester College does not currently admit students to read Physics, and special considerations apply for Physics and Philosophy.

  • I am from Singapore - will you take my national service requirement into consideration when I apply?

Oxford University is used to considering applications from Singaporean students for whom national service is mandatory. The application procedure is the same as for all other students, and is summarised in our application guide.

Singaporean candidates on national service must apply via UCAS by 15 October two years before they intend to start the course. However, the UCAS system only allows you to select a deferral of one year. Once you've submitted your application, therefore, you should contact the college to which you have applied (or which has been allocated to you, if you have made an open application), to let them know that you would like a two-year deferral.

Candidates may instead apply for a one-year deferral after having left school, but may find that the application procedure, including admissions tests and interviews if shortlisted, clashes with their military service commitments.

Please note that the same rules apply to candidates from other countries with mandatory two year national service.

  • Can I take a year out/gap year?

This depends on your plans. Sponsorship schemes offering a year’s work experience in a physics-related field may be excellent, but some activities are less useful. An athlete who does not train for a year will be pretty rusty. Likewise a physics (or maths) student who does not use his or her brain for a year will also be pretty rusty and this is the danger of a gap year!

Some of the activities we hear suggested for the gap year could be done during the long vacation between the first and second years. Or you may like to consider taking a gap year after your degree.