Computer Science and Philosophy
3 years (BA)
A*AA, including Maths, with the A* in Maths, Further Maths or Computer Science
|Subject requirements|| Maths|
|Admissions test(s)||ox.ac.uk/mat||Written work||None|
Subject requirements: Essential Recommended Helpful – may be useful on course
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, but also have wider interests in life and the universe then this degree might be for you!
Computer systems now have huge 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 huge philosophical 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 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.
Both subjects are intellectually exciting and creative, and they have many mutual connections. The degree combines analytical and technical knowledge with discursive, writing and research skills, offering the chance to study with top academics from two internationally acclaimed departments.
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. Instead, all students apply for the four-year course, and then decide at the start of the third year whether they wish to continue to the fourth year (which is subject to achieving a 2:1 at the end of the 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.
Discover Uni provides applicants with Unistats statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford.
Please select 'see course data' on the following course option 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.
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 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. Many are world-leading experts with 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.
Three Computer Science examinations
Two Philosophy examinations
Between four and six Computer Science examinations (according to student's choice)
Between five and nine examinations, including at least three in Philosophy
The courses listed above are illustrative and may change. A full list of current options is available on the Computer Science website.
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 content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.
|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.|
|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.
|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 2020-23, 96% 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.
|19 October 2023|
|29 September 2023|
All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application.
Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered.
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 MAT page.
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 defend a viewpoint by reasoned argument, 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.
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.
Note: These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2023. Course fee information for courses starting in 2024 will be updated in September.
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 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 2023 are estimated to be between £1,290 and £1,840 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.
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 2023 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to Home 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. 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.
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:
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
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.
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
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- 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.
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- 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
- 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.