Psychology (Experimental) | University of Oxford
Psychology
Psychology test.
(Credit: Psychology Department)

Psychology (Experimental)

UCAS codeC830Duration3 years (BA)
Entrance requirementsA*AASubject requirements  One or more science subjects (including Psychology) or Maths
Admissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/tsaWritten workNone
Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 46%
Successful: 16%
Intake: 50
*3-year average 2016-18

Contact

+44 (0) 1865 271353
Email Psychology

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Psychology has been defined as the science of mental life and its scope includes a wide variety of issues. It addresses such questions as: how do we perceive colours? How do children acquire language? What predisposes two people to get on with each other? What causes schizophrenia?

Psychology at Oxford is a scientific discipline, involving the rigorous formulation and testing of ideas. It works through experiments and systematic observation rather than introspection.

The Oxford Experimental Psychology Department is widely regarded as one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. The department’s size and its commitment to excellence in teaching and research means there are typically four or five research seminars each week, in addition to undergraduate lectures and classes. At present, there are particularly strong research groups in the fields of human cognitive processes, neuroscience, language, developmental psychology, social psychology and psychological disorders.

Fieldwork/international opportunities

A wide choice of research projects is available to students in their final year, including projects based in other departments and outside the University. Experimental Psychology has excellent facilities and very close links with neuroscience, including neurophysiology and neurology, as well as the Philosophy and Linguistics Departments. Students benefit from the department being one of Britain’s most active centres for psychological research, with an outstanding international reputation.

students at a lecture students socializing
“I chose the course here because it is strongly rooted in experimental methods and you’re given the chance to talk to the people who are at the top of their field and are involved in current research which is changing the face of psychology. I still find it amazing that you’ll learn about a fascinating experiment in lectures and then realise that the person giving your tutorials or lectures headed that research team!

I am also able to take part in a range of really interesting experiments which widen my knowledge of the field as a whole and of how research is carried out. Every so often, some of the departmental researchers are on the lookout for a research assistant which is an amazing experience if you’re interested in staying in psychology after the degree. I’m quite keen on doing this as I would love to work in clinical psychology or research, so being able to work alongside some of the leading people in the field is absolutely ideal preparation.”
KATRINA
 “I had a tutorial in second year on deciphering the neural basis of semantic knowledge. After an hour, the tutor paused and asked us if we wished to continue, since the discussion was so invigorating and we were all passionately debating the subject. My tutorial partner and I gladly agreed to continue the tutorial for longer. A few hours later I cycled back to college with my head full of curiosity and inspiration, and spent the evening in the library researching more! It was wonderful, and exemplary of how the tutorial system can inspire and prompt many new ideas between professors and students.

During my undergraduate degree, we designed and completed our own research project, working with scientists at the forefront of the field. I knew then that I was hooked on the pursuit of knowledge through scientific enquiry and experimentation. I am now studying for a DPhil, here at Oxford, working to understand the neural basis of human parenting.”
ELOISE

A typical week

  • Terms 1 and 2: about six lectures and two-three tutorials
  • Terms 3–8: usually six lectures, one-two tutorials and one practical class. You will also carry out your own research project and be given the opportunity to write a dissertation and undertake independent research.
  • Term 9: typically two revision lectures or tutorials and final examinations

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes for laboratory classes may vary depending on the options you choose. Core lab classes which are attended by most students will be in groups of 35-40 students. Multiple demonstrators will attend to assist the staff who are leading these classes. There would usually be no more than around 20 students for final-year specialist options.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. The majority of staff are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level, and are specialist in those topics.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

TERMS 1 AND 2

COURSES

Three introductory courses are taken out of:
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics
  • Neurophysiology
  • Probability theory and statistics*

*Students must sit the examination in Probability theory and statistics either at Prelims (first University examinations) or as a qualifying examination.

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: three written papers

TERMS 3–5

COURSES

Students will study core subjects in Psychology covering:
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Biological psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Individual differences
  • Experimental design and statistics

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations, Part I: four written papers, covering all core subjects; practical portfolio
TERMS 6–9

COURSES

Students will choose:
  • Either three advanced options 
  • Or two advanced options and a library dissertation

Students carry out practical work in Psychology:

  • Lab-based ‘block’ practicals
  • Research project

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations, Part II: research project; practical portfolio; three written papers (or two written papers and a library dissertation)
Available options will reflect the department’s current research which means they may change each year. The options available will cover the core subjects listed above.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:A*AA
Advanced Highers:                    AA/AAB
IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL                                                                          
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 
 Recommended: 
It is highly recommended for candidates to have studied one or more science subjects (which can include Psychology) or Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent.
GCSEs: Candidates are recommended to have an A/7 or above in GCSE Mathematics (where GCSEs are taken).

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions tests

Test: TSA
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the TSA page

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work as part of an application for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

In addition to a very good academic record, tutors are keen to see whether you appreciate the scope of scientific psychology. They will also want to check whether you can evaluate evidence, are able to consider issues from different perspectives, have a capacity for logical and creative thinking, appreciate the importance of empirical evidence in supporting arguments, and could cope with the quantitative demands of the course. 

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Experimental Psychology website.

Careers

Experimental Psychology graduates enter a wide range of careers including professional psychology, education, research, medicine, the health services, finance, commerce, industry, the media and information technology. This degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership provided you achieve the minimum standard of second class honours.

During her time as a client consultant at Nunwood, Rachel said: ‘Since graduating I have worked for two large market research companies specialising in brands and advertising research. My degree helped me to develop my analytical skills as well as gaining project management experience which have been invaluable in my chosen career path.’

Whilst working as a Graduate Research Assistant at Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology, Lauren said: ‘Studying EP gave me the opportunity to conduct my own research project from its inception, from recruiting participants, to collecting and analysing data, and writing it up in a report. These skills have been invaluable to me in my job as a research assistant, as it involves co-ordinating a large number of participants taking part in a randomised control trial, and handling large amounts of data.’

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£28,330

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Psychology (Experimental)

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose