Undergraduate Admissions & Qualifications
Will I have to sit an admissions test?
The University website gives full details of the subjects which require admissions tests. See link below for further details.
Please note that some subjects, such as Law and History, require students to sit admissions tests locally prior to the interview period. Other admissions tests will be administered by the College as part of the interview process.
Please be sure to check the University and departmental admissions information carefully and register for the admissions test as required there.
When will I know if I am shortlisted for interview?
In late November or early December you will be sent an email telling you if you are shortlisted for interview. If so, you will be required to attend for interview on the dates specified for your subject in the Interview Timetable.
You are advised not to make other plans for the dates of your subject interviews. If you are selected for interview we are not able to be flexible about these dates.
What happens in the interview?
Interviews are held in December. Candidates may be interviewed at several colleges, and are generally expected to be in Oxford for two to four days. All candidates from the United Kingdom and the European Union are expected to attend interviews. Candidates from overseas may also be called for an interview in Oxford, but if it is not possible for the candidate to travel to Oxford, we may be able to arrange an interview by alternative means such as via Skype.
Interviews are intended to show how a candidate would do in the Oxford system – candidates are interviewed by one or two subject tutors, who ask a range of questions designed to get the candidate to think analytically about the subject. Some interviews may include a prescribed reading section to be discussed in the interview, while others may include written work or problem sets that the candidate will go through with the interviewers.
Candidates should feel free to bring their own questions or concerns into the interview, to discuss the nature of the course and to get a broader feel for how studying their subject works at Somerville. The interview period also offers the candidates a chance to experience life in Oxford - candidates will stay in College, be provided with meals in hall, and have the chance to explore the city.
Somerville works hard to make the interview process as stress-free as possible. Current students are on-hand throughout the interview period advice and support, tours of College, and entertainment for the candidates.
How do I check if Somerville accepts applications for my subject?
A complete list of subjects offered by Somerville is available at 'Undergraduate Courses' (see 'Studying here' in the main menu above)
What do the subject tutors think about deferred entry?
Somerville does accept requests for deferred entry, and considers them on a case-by-case basis. However, our tutors like to see that the applicant has made the best possible use of any time away from studying, so you should have a good reason for wanting to defer entry.
If an applicant chooses to withdraw his or her application before offers have been made, in early January, the applicant will have to reapply in the next year and go through the application process again. A place at Somerville can only be deferred when or after an offer has been made.
I am not studying for A-levels. Will Somerville accept other types of qualification, and at what level?
Further information on other types of qualifications are available on the University's website.
If I change which A-levels I sit, will this affect my offer?
If you are considering changing your A-level exams and you hold a conditional offer, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Admissions Office.
What English Language Qualifications do I need?
The University of Oxford has an English language requirement which applies to all students, undergraduate and graduate, at all colleges. Further information about the English Language requirement can be found on the University website
Can you tell me if I am likely to get a place from my CV/A-levels?
We regret that we cannot offer individual counseling for applicants. The information provided on our website and prospectus is intended as general guidance only.
Does Somerville have a minimum or maximum age requirement?
For Medicine, students must be 18 years of age at the time they start this degree course. The clinical contact in our programme starts in the first term and means that younger students would not be able to take part in required elements of the course. Your application will not be shortlisted unless you will be at least 18 years old on the start of your first term.
For all other subjects, Somerville nor the University of Oxford sets any minimum or maximum age requirements for students. For all applicants, we expect a level of maturity and capability that will allow the student to succeed in their subject, including the ability to manage their own time without a strictly enforced external timetable. For under-18s, it is also important that they be able to live and study independently and away from home.
What support do you offer for disabled students during the admissions process?
The College and University can provide guidance and support in many areas to enable applicants with a disability or health condition to get the most out of the admissions process.
If you are shortlisted for interview and have particular requirements for accommodation, interview and test arrangements, meals, or other facilities, please let us know as soon as possible. Please rest assured that we will treat any information with sensitivity, and that it will be used only to assist in providing you with a positive experience. Somerville's Disability contact for applicants and students is the Academic registrar.
What is a College and how does the 'College system' work?
The college is a semi-autonomous organisation, with its own Governing Body and Principal. The colligate system is designed to provide a close, central community for students, while still offering them access to a wide range of academic research and scholarly resources.
The college provides many of the basic facilities for the students, including accommodation, dining hall facilities, IT facilities, gym, chapel, library and individual or small-group tutorials with the college fellows. The university sets and maintains the regulations for degree programmes, and provides a wide range of subject and research libraries, lectures, classes, and laboratories.
In general, undergraduates at Oxford spend most of their time in college, with their course schedules overseen by an organising tutor, one of the college fellows in their subject. They may also have classes and tutorials outside of college, either with specialists at other colleges or in their department or faculty.
Graduate programmes are generally more individualised and are overseen by the student’s supervisor or course director at their department or faculty. Graduate students also have a college affiliation, including a college adviser, who is a college fellow in their subject.
The graduate student life in College is overseen by the Middle Common Room (MCR), which organises social events throughout the year. Somerville also offers a graduate-only dorm, Margery Fry House, although accommodation is not guaranteed for graduate students and is provided on a first-come, first-served basis during the application process (for further details, see ‘Accommodation’, above).
Further information is available on the University website.
I cannot attend the College Open Days but would still like to visit. Is it possible to arrange a tour?
We encourage prospective students to visit Somerville and Oxford if possible. Please contact the Admissions office with your availability and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Please note, however, that outside of the planned Open Days, it may not be possible to visit student accommodation buildings.
When will I know if my application is successful?
You will be informed about whether you are shortlisted for interview by email at least one week before the interviews for your subject are scheduled. If you are offered a place you will receive a letter or email from Somerville College confirming the conditions of your offer on approximately 11th January 2017.
Your offer will be confirmed via UCAS by the end of January. Do not be alarmed if your UCAS page does not show an offer immediately. However, please contact the Academic Office if your UCAS page does not show an offer by the end of January.
Can I get feedback if my application is unsuccessful?
Shortlisting decisions are made based on all the information available to selectors at the time of application, including the UCAS form, predicted or actual academic grades, aptitude tests (if your subject has one) and submitted written work (where applicable). This decision involves consideration of a complex range of information.
Please bear in mind that the interview is just one part of the selection process. All of the sources of information listed above are considered. It is also important to remember that there is very strong competition for places.
During the last admissions exercise the University received 5.5 applications for each place. For some subjects the ratio is much higher. Almost all applicants have past and predicted qualifications at a remarkably high level and our tutors often have to make very hard decisions between very able applicants.
Tutors should not be contacted directly. We regret that we are not able to provide personal feedback on your application.
Can I appeal against the decision not to invite me for interview or not to make me an offer?
There is no appeal process for challenging admissions decisions since these are matters of academic judgement made by the people best qualified to make those judgements. However, if you have a complaint about any aspect of your experience of the admissions process, please contact us.
If I decide to reapply for the following year, is there a realistic chance of my being considered?
There are occasional instances of candidates who were rejected the first time they applied being offered a place the next time round. In those cases, they have usually undertaken further study or a special project that helps them to demonstrate significant intellectual development during the intervening year.
It is not possible for Somerville to provide advice on such decisions, because each case is so individual. We can only say that each separate application is considered strictly on its own merits. There is no inherent disadvantage in applying a second time.
What happens if I am ill on a day when I have an interview?
In the event of illness or other unavoidable circumstances affecting a candidate during the interview period, the response of the College must balance the need for fairness to all and for compassion to the individual. Thus, we will try to reschedule interviews missed due to illness to later in the interview period for the relevant discipline but that the requirement to compare all candidates equally regardless of their College requires decisions to be made from a gathered field. This makes it inappropriate to interview individuals after the Department or Faculty has met to consider candidates in December.
If a candidate has missed one or more interviews through verified circumstances beyond their control when the Department or Faculty meets, then they will be considered at that time on the basis of all the information available to the admissions tutors.
If a candidate attends an interview while subject to verified circumstances which are known to adversely affect interview performance, the tutors will consider this and ensure that the outcome is no worse than it would have been had no interview been possible.
While candidates who have not been interviewed are at a disadvantage when compared with candidates for whom interview information is available, it is worth noting that the interview is only part of the information that is used to form an admissions judgement and that it is possible for such candidates to be offered places. Reasonable adjustments will be made to avoid unfair disadvantage to candidates where interview performance or attendance is compromised by disability.