An Oxford degree | University of Oxford
An Oxford degree
A student receiving her degree.
(Image credit: Rob Judges Photography / Oxford University Images).

An Oxford degree

Oxford University is world-famous for academic excellence. We pick the best and brightest students purely on their academic merit and passion for their chosen course. If that sounds like you, and you like to think for yourself, Oxford could be the right university for you.

Whichever college you go to, you will be studying for the same degree.


The choice of course is the most important part, because it is what you will spend most of your time on for the next 3 or more years.


Whichever college you go to, you will be studying the same course: the University organises the lectures and practical classes, and sets the examinations.

Whichever course you choose, an Oxford degree aims to make you think for yourself, logically and laterally.

Each course has a compulsory core (usually in your first year), plus a broad range of options which allows you to tailor your studies to your personal interests. The course pages give examples of options.

You should make sure that your chosen degree and the way it is taught at Oxford are right for you. Usually, you cannot change courses after you start; where this is possible, the course page mentions it.

Combined courses

Joint courses at Oxford allow you to study two or more subjects together. Joint course combinations (sometimes called joint schools) are carefully chosen to provide opportunities to explore different subject areas and examine the connections between them, revealing insights that you might not find by studying the individual subjects alone. There is strong competition for combined courses, and you must show your aptitude for each part of the degree.


All students in a particular subject discipline will come together for lectures. These provide core information that may be useful in tutorials, essays or exams. Lectures also give you an opportunity to meet students from other colleges doing your course.


All students in science-based subjects work together for lab work and/or fieldwork - typically for at least two half days a week. See the course pages for further details.

College tutorials

Tutorials in colleges are central to study at Oxford. They give you the chance to discuss your subject with an expert in the field. Your tutor gives individual support and encourages you to develop to your full potential.

Tutorials usually take place twice a week in your first year though this may vary later depending on the options you choose. It's up to you to research and prepare for these, often by writing an essay or solutions to set problems. You then meet your tutor, normally with one or two other students, to discuss your work in the tutorials. The aim is to review your answers or theories and explore ideas that arise in discussion.

A tutorial relies on the exchange of ideas so you don't need not be experienced in debating - just ready to present and defend your opinions, accept constructive criticism and listen to others. Tutorials develop your ability to think for yourself - an essential skill for academic success and something that the best employers look for in Oxford graduates.


Oxford courses have two stages.  There are exams at the end of the first stage (usually at the end of your first year) that you must pass, but they don't count towards your final degree grade.  Your tutors will need to be happy with your work for you to progress throughout the course. After this, assessment depends on the course you are studying. You might sit your Finals (written exams on which your final grade is based) at the end of your last year, or at the end of each year. Finals are typically several exams, each lasting three hours, within a two-week period. In some subjects like Modern Languages, there is also an oral exam. Some exams may be replaced by projects or dissertations.

Most science courses have a fourth year; this may be entirely research-based, or part research and part exams.

For further details about assessment please see the course outline tab of the individual course pages.

Part-time courses

The Department for Continuing Education also offers a full range of part-time Undergraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in other subjects. Some of these may be studied online, and all earn nationally recognised credits.

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