Two students working on laptops
Computer Science students.
(Credit: Paul Tait)

Computer Science and Philosophy

Course overview

UCAS code: IV15
Entrance requirements: A*AA, including Maths, with the A* in Maths, Further Maths or Computer Science.
Course duration: 3 years (BA); 4 years (MCompSciPhil).

Subject requirements

Required subjects: Maths
Recommended subjects: Further Maths
Helpful subjects: Not applicable

Other course requirements

Admissions tests: MAT
Written Work: None

Admissions statistics*

Interviewed: 32%
Successful: 9%
Intake: 12
*3-year average 2021-23


Tel: +44 (0) 1865 283507 / 273821 
Email: [email protected]

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

About the course

If you enjoy mathematical problem-solving, would like to learn about computing and artificial intelligence (AI), but also have wider interests in life and the universe - for example what AI can teach us about ourselves, how it will impact on the world, or how we should react to these huge changes - then this degree might be for you!

Both computer science and philosophy are intellectually exciting and creative, and they have many mutual connections. The course combines analytical and technical knowledge with discursive, writing and research skills, offering the chance to study with top academics from two internationally acclaimed departments.

This degree will equip you for a wide range of careers and roles, from the highly technical to the managerial and strategic.

Computer science is about understanding computer systems at a deep level. Computers and the programs they run are among the most complex products ever created. Designing and using them effectively presents immense challenges. Facing these challenges is the aim of computer science as a practical discipline.

The study of philosophy develops analytical, critical and logical rigour, applied within a wide range of extremely valuable skills:

  • analysing and organising diverse information
  • understanding different points of view
  • arguing a case
  • imagining novel possibilities and thinking through their consequences.

It stretches the mind by considering a wide range of ideas on questions as fundamental as the limits of knowledge, the nature of reality and our place in it, and the basis of morality.

Theoretical links between computer science and philosophy go right back to Alan Turing’s invention of the digital computer, and practical links have grown hugely in recent years as computer systems increasingly impact on almost every aspect of our lives: social, commercial, educational, even political. Throughout academia and industry, they provide the media of communication and data processing, and increasingly – through artificial intelligence – solve problems that go beyond our human intellectual capabilities.

All this raises many difficult issues, both ethical (e.g. data privacy, algorithmic risk assessment, robot behaviour, legal regulation and responsibility) and social (e.g. impact on employment, healthcare, public discourse and democracy). Navigation through this minefield of problems requires a new generation of thinkers who both understand computing technology, and are able to think critically about its consequences.

Artificial intelligence also raises a host of more theoretical issues, such as:

  • the nature of reason
  • its relation to logic
  • how far rationality can be mechanised
  • and whether such qualities as autonomy, free will and mental activity can be shared by inanimate systems.

These are all deep questions going back to antiquity. But in our world they have become more than theoretical, as powerful automated reasoning – a dream of philosophers from Aristotle to Hobbes, Leibniz, Boole and Turing – has now at last become a reality.

Future philosophers, to engage effectively with such issues, need to take account of – and ideally harness for themselves – the power of artificial intelligence.

Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied for three years (BA) or four years (Master of Computer Science and Philosophy).

Students do not need to choose between the three-year and four-year options when applying. All students apply for the four-year course, and then decide by the end of their third year whether they wish to continue to the fourth year. In order to proceed into the fourth year (part C), students will need to achieve a 2:1 or higher classification at the end of their third year.


Computer Science and Philosophy has a ton of great things going for it. It can cover a wide variety of areas, and is incredibly flexible to allow you to study your particular interests in either subject. Having never done philosophy before starting the course, I've loved every second of it, having found both tutors and fellow students amazing to work with. There is a deep overlap in the subjects, and it is immensely rewarding to be able to work in two great fields at once.



Unistats information

Discover Uni course data provides applicants with Unistats statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford for a particular undergraduate course.

Please select 'see course data' to view the full Unistats data for Computer Science and Philosophy. 

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

Visit the Studying at Oxford section of this page for a more general insight into what studying here is likely to be like. 

Computer Science and Philosophy

A typical week

For the first two years, your work is divided between about eight lectures and two to three college-based tutorials each week, alongside Computer Science practical classes – usually one session per week.

In the second year you will take part in a Computer Science group design practical, which may be sponsored by industry.

In your second, third and fourth years, Philosophy continues to be taught through tutorials, while there are classes in the department for most Computer Science courses.

Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by experts in their field, who have years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postdoctoral researchers or postgraduate students who are studying at doctorate level. 

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

Course structure

Year 1



  • Computer Science:           
    • Design and analysis of algorithms
    • Discrete mathematics
    • Functional programming
    • Introduction to proof systems
    • Imperative programming
    • Probability
  • Philosophy: Core courses may include:
    • Alan Turing on computability and intelligence
    • General philosophy
    • Philosophical topics in logic and probability

Three Computer Science examinations

Two Philosophy examinations

Year 2 



  • Computer Science core courses (25%):
    • Algorithms and data structures
    • Group design practical
    • Models of computation
  • Computer Science options (25%):
    Current options include:
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Computer architecture
    • Compilers
    • Databases
    • Logic and proof
  • Philosophy (50%):
    Current options include:
    • Early modern Philosophy
    • Ethics
    • Knowledge and reality
    • Philosophy of science
    • Philosophy of mind

Between four and six Computer Science examinations (according to student's choice)

Year 3 



  • Computer Science (25–75%):         
    Current options include:
    • Computer-aided formal verification
    • Computational complexity
    • Knowledge representation and reasoning
    • Machine learning
    • Principals of programming language
  • Philosophy (25–75%):
    Current options include:
    • Ethics of artificial intelligence
    • Philosophical logic
    • Philosophy of cognitive science
    • Philosophy of mathematics
    • Philosophy of logic and language
    • Philosophy thesis

Between five and nine examinations, including at least three in Philosophy

Year 4



  • Computer Science:
    Current advanced options include:
    • Advanced security
    • Computational game theory
    • Computational learning theory
    • Concurrent algorithms and data structures
    • Ethical computing in practice
    • Graph representation learning
    • Optional computer science project
  • Philosophy:
    • Advanced options in philosophy
    • Optional philosophy thesis

Computer Science: one examination (or take-home exercise) per course

Philosophy: for each course a three-hour written examination and 5,000-word essay

The courses listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Computer Science website.

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 including at least an A in Mathematics, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computer Science. Those taking Further Mathematics A level or AS-level are required to achieve at least Grade A.

Advanced Highers:

AA/AAB with an A in Mathematics

International Baccalaureate (IB):

39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 must be in HL Mathematics)


Please visit the Computer Science website for the latest information on our standard offers for students taking BTECs.

Any other equivalent qualification:

View information on other UK qualifications, and international qualifications.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.

View further information on how we use contextual data.

Subject requirements


Candidates are expected to have Mathematics to A level (A* or A grade), Advanced Higher (A grade), Higher Level in the IB (score 7) or another equivalent. 


Further Mathematics A level is highly recommended.* Those taking Further Mathematics A level or AS-level are required to achieve at least Grade A.

*If your school offers Further Maths A level we expect you to have taken it. However, we understand that not all schools offer Further Maths, and so we do consider applications from people with a single Maths A level.

If you are based in England, and your school doesn't offer Further Maths visit the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme website as they can provide extra maths support. If you are based in Wales, visit the Further Mathematics Support Programme Wales.  

Please note from 2021-24, 95% of A level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A level.

If a practical component forms part of any of your science A‐levels used to meet your offer, we expect you to pass it.

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


All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown on our Applying to Oxford pages.

The following information gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Visit the Computer Science department website for more information on how to apply, including advice on interviews, specimen MAT papers, and sample questions.

Admissions test



Test date:

31 October 2024

Registration window:

15 August to 4 October 2024 

All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. 

Guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the MAT page

We are putting in place new arrangements for our admissions tests for 2024 onwards. We will provide more information on these arrangements at the earliest opportunity. 

Written work

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

What are tutors looking for?

For Computer Science: strong mathematical aptitude, the ability to think and work independently, the capacity to absorb and use new ideas, and enthusiasm.

For Philosophy: a critical and analytical approach to abstract questions, the ability to think logically and express thoughts clearly, and a desire to delve deeper into the way we think about things.

You do not need to have previously studied either subject.

Visit the Computer Science and Philosophy websites for more detail on the selection criteria for this course.


Graduates will have highly marketable skills.

Computer Science teaches you how to program, to design processes that are effective and efficient, to reason logically and formally.

Philosophy teaches you how to analyse complex concepts and the interconnections between them and – crucially – how to express such analysis, elegantly and precisely, in written form.

This ability to analyse complex issues, both technically and discursively, provides the intellectual equipment needed for technical leadership and high-level positions in today’s world.

Note: These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2024. Course fee information for courses starting in 2025 will be updated in September.

We don't want anyone who has the academic ability to get a place to study here to be held back by their financial circumstances. To meet that aim, Oxford offers one of the most generous financial support packages available for UK students and this may be supplemented by support from your college.


Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

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.

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 2024 are estimated to be between £1,345 and £1,955 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, Irish nationals and other eligible students with UK citizens' rights - see below*) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree**, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2024 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home students with a family income of around £50,000 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £32,500 or less. The UK government also provides living costs support to Home students from the UK and those with settled status who meet the residence requirements.

*For courses starting on or after 1 August 2021, the UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA, and Swiss Nationals will be eligible for student finance from the UK government if they have UK citizens’ rights (i.e. if they have pre-settled or settled status, or if they are an Irish citizen covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement). The support you can access from the government will depend on your residency status.

 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 Computer Science and Philosophy

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

Contextual information

Unistats course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about a particular undergraduate course at Oxford. For a more holistic insight into what studying your chosen course here is likely to be like, we would encourage you to view the information below as well as to explore our website more widely.

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 tutorials will be doing the same course as you. 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.

Read more about Oxford colleges and how you choose