Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics | University of Oxford
Psychology, Philosophy and Linguitsics
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Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

There are close connections between these three subjects, so studying a combination of them makes a lot of sense. Psychology includes subjects as diverse as social interaction, learning, child development, schizophrenia and information processing. Philosophy is concerned with a wide range of questions including ethics, knowledge and the nature of mind. Linguistics is the study of language in all its aspects, including the structure of languages, meaning (semantics), how children learn language, pronunciation, and how people understand, mentally represent and generate language.

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. At present, there are particularly strong groups in the fields of human cognitive processes, neuroscience, language, developmental and social psychology.

The Oxford Philosophy Faculty is the largest philosophy department in the UK, and one of the largest in the world. Philosophy at Oxford has active interests in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science, and has very close links with those working in neuroscience and psychology.

The Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics brings together scholars working in theoretical and descriptive linguistics (especially syntax, semantics and phonology), experimental phonetics, psycholinguistics, linguistics of the Romance languages, historical linguistics and comparative philology. Unlike other subjects in the humanities, it includes two scientific research laboratories – the Language and Brain Laboratory and the Phonetics Laboratory.

Work placements/international opportunities

A wide choice of third-year research projects is available, including research projects based in other departments and outside the University.


Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics graduates can enter careers including professional psychology, education, research, medicine, the health services, finance, commerce, industry, the media and information technology. Some careers will require additional study and/or training.

If Psychology constitutes at least 50% of your course, and covers the BPS curriculum, and provided you achieve the minimum standard of second class honours, your degree is accredited as conferring eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society. This is normally the first step towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Human Sciences, Modern Languages and Linguistics or Psychology (Experimental).

A typical week

  • Terms 1 and 2: about six lectures and two–three tutorials
  • Terms 3–9: about six lectures, one–two tutorials and one practical class. You may also do independent research by carrying out your own research project, library dissertation or thesis.

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. Lectures are normally attended by between  30-50 students.

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.

Terms 1 and 2


Three introductory courses are taken from:
  • Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics
  • Neurophysiology
  • Probability theory and statistics*
*Students studying Psychology must sit the examination in Probability theory and statistics either at Prelims (first University examinations) or as a qualifying examination.


First University examinations: Three written papers

Terms 3–9


After the second term, students can continue to follow a bipartite degree (Psychology and Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics, or Philosophy and Linguistics) or, exceptionally and subject to their college’s approval, a tripartite degree (Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics).

Students choosing Psychology will study a choice of core subjects in terms 3–5, plus a course in Experimental design and statistics, followed by one, two or three advanced Psychology options in terms 6–8.

A full list of current options is available on the Psychology website.

Students choosing Philosophy take from three to five courses in Philosophy, from a wide range including Philosophy of mind and Philosophy of cognitive science. For details see

Students choosing Linguistics take from three to five courses in Linguistics. For further details, see the Paper A and Paper B options at

Students opting for a bipartite degree may take a single paper in the third subject. Students who are exceptionally permitted to take the tripartite degree must take at least two courses in each of the three subjects of Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics.


Final University examinations: Eight papers; two practical portfolios (for Psychology); a research project or thesis may also be taken (depending upon the combination of courses)

Students choosing Psychology take the equivalent of two written papers in Psychology in the second year based on the core subject areas (see Experimental Psychology).

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

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

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

For Psychology, 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 any other equivalent. For Linguistics, it is helpful for candidates to have studied English Language, Mathematics, a science or any other language. 

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.

GCSEs: Candidates are expected to have an A/7 or above in GCSE Mathematics (where GCSEs are taken).

All candidates must also take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of their application, and Linguistics candidates will also need to take the Linguistics paper from the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT).

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.)


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

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 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 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


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 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(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


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, Philosophy and Linguistics

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

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.

Written tests

All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). Candidates applying for either Psychology and Linguistics, or Philosophy and Linguistics, must also take the Linguistics section of the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT).

Both tests must be taken in the candidate's own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the tests at this time. Separate registration for each test is required and the final deadline for entries is Monday 15 October 2018. 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 MLAT and TSA pages

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

In addition to a very good track record of academic achievement, tutors are keen to see whether you appreciate the scope of those branches of Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics you are applying for. 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 Psychology website.

Suggested reading

Please follow the pdf link below for the suggested reading list for Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics. This document also includes suggested reading for Psychology (Experimental).

EP PPL Suggested Reading List


Helen Willis

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.


The most unexpected thing about my course:

'I'm a visiting student, so my course wasn't like regular Oxford courses. The most unexpected thing was how much I enjoyed reading literary criticism.'

The best thing that Oxford did for me:

'It taught me how to work under pressure, and also taught me that I never wanted to write a 3000-word essay in five hours again! It helped me organise my time.'

My favourite Oxford memory is...

'There are too many to choose from. Here are a few.

1. Hearing music coming out of the Sheldonian one night and dancing in the courtyard with friends under the moonlight, while listening to the concert going on inside the theatre.

2. The first day of sunlight in Trinity term (the summer term) when people started emerging from the libraries to spread out and study on the grass.

3. The incredible satisfaction of having two good tutorials in a single day.

4. Getting back to Oxford after both vacs and feeling like it was home.'

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

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