student studying
A student studying.
(Credit: Oxford University Images / Rob Judges Photography)

Choosing what to study

Choosing the right course is crucial to enjoying your time at university so make sure you really explore your options, even if you think you know what you want to study.

Your degree course will run for three or more years and your workload will feel much lighter if you genuinely love your course.


A favourite subject

Having a clear favourite might make this decision seem easy but do still check out the structure and content of the course and consider how these might differ from other universities you are applying to. Subjects at degree level can be quite different from studying them at school.

Two or even three combined

Oxford offers a wide range of joint courses which give students the chance to explore different subjects and examine the connections between them. This will often reveal insights not necessarily found by studying them individually.

There tend to be fewer places on our joint courses but this is not always the case. A few subjects are only available as part of a joint course, for example Philosophy or Economics.

Something new

Don't forget to check out our courses not normally available at school, for example Archaeology and Anthropology, Biochemistry, Human Sciences and Materials Science. For some they are the perfect opportunity to explore aspects of favourite subjects in an exciting and new way. For others they are the chance to study something else which fascinates them.

A-level (or equivalent) subjects

Some of our courses require applicants to achieve certain grades in specific subjects in order to meet the admission requirements. This is because tutors want to ensure you are sufficiently prepared for the academic demands of a course. The subjects you choose at A-level (or equivalent) can therefore have an impact on whether you can apply for a specific course.

While we generally recommend that students take those school subjects which they enjoy the most, and where they are most likely to achieve top grades, if there is a particular course you want to apply for you should check our subject requirements to make sure you are eligible.

Research projects

Some courses, particularly those lasting four years, offer the chance to produce your own research and to work alongside other researchers at the University. These projects can lead to exciting career or further study opportunities.

Read your course page for more on this.

Course assessment

Most of our degrees are assessed primarily by written examination and dissertation (an extended essay or thesis). These exams are typically divided between First (known as 'Prelims' or 'Mods') and Final University exams (Finals).

At Oxford your results in your Finals determine your class of degree.

Find out more on our course pages.

Career opportunities

Whatever degree course you choose here, you will have a very wide choice of careers and internships.

'The vast majority of jobs do not specify the subject studied at university; all degree courses equip you with a wide range of valuable employability skills.' Jonathan Black, Oxford Careers Service

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