Undergraduate Admissions

Language Background

All undergraduate degrees in Oriental Studies involve the teaching of difficult languages from scratch and only in exceptional cases will students have studied the languages before coming to Oxford. Our experience has been that an A level in an Oriental language does not give significant advantage to a student, since the Oxford courses involve such a broad range of cultural elements in addition to language study. The progress of language learning from the start of the B.A. course is so intensive that the majority of students beginning from scratch find that they quickly catch up with those who may have some knowledge of the languages from school or family background.

 Bridge of SighsSubject Requirements

It is helpful to have studied a foreign language before, but not essential.

Entry Requirements

The normal requirements for admission are grades AAA at A Level or equivalent international qualification.

Written Work

Your school or college should be able to advise you on what to submit.

For further information see:

OLAT: Oriental Languages Aptitude Test

The Admissions Testing Service works in partnership with the University of Oxford to administer the OLAT. The OLAT is a thirty-minute admissions test taken by applicants wishing to read a Middle Eastern language as their main subject, either: Arabic, Hebrew, Jewish Studies, Persian or Turkish. Candidates applying for the European and Middle Eastern Languages course will need to register both for OLAT and MLAT. The test will take place either at a centre or your own school or college on 2 November 2017. Candidates must ensure that they are available to take the test at this time. Separate registration for this test is required. Registration opens on 1 September 2017 and the final deadline for registration is 18:00 BST 15 October 2017.

The test is not a qualifying examination; it is not used in recommending candidates for deselection and the score is not a weighted element in recommendation for admissions. The aim of OLAT is to inform the process of interviewing by being one among a number of sources of information about the candidate.

The test is designed to assess your ability to analyse how languages work, in a way which doesn't depend on your knowledge of any particular language, in order to gauge your aptitude for learning a new language rapidly. When examining the results, it is principally evidence of system and accuracy that is being investigated.

We strongly recommend that all candidates who sit the Oriental Language Aptitude Test work their way through one sample paper. Apart from this, no special preparation is expected for the test, other than diligent participation in your usual work at school or college. We do not recommend that candidates work through more than one sample paper as over-practising for the test can make candidates approach it in a more mechanical and consequently less effective way.

An example test is available here and the answers are here.

For further information, please visit www.olatoxford.org.uk

Sackler Library front doorInterviews

Once we have assessed your application and accompanying written work favourably, you will be called to Oxford for interview in early December. The Faculty acts in liaison with the colleges to organise interviews with subject specialists of the Faculty, in the Oriental Institute or the Institute for Chinese Studies. You will almost certainly be interviewed by one or more of the colleges too. Most candidates have no background in the subject they wish to study. Therefore one of the important functions of the interview is to ensure that you have a full understanding of what the course involves, the skills you will be required to develop, and the way in which the course is taught - we need to make sure that this is the right course for you. As well as your general ability and motivation, we will also be interested in gauging your potential for learning languages. The interview is thus one part of an extensive process which enables the various subject representatives to make informed assessments of students from a wide range of backgrounds.




We judge whether you should be offered a place to study an Oriental subject at Oxford according to the evidence presented to us in your admissions documents: your UCAS form and the written work which you submit, plus our assessment of your potential during your interview. (Some subjects may also set an informal test during the interview.) We would expect successful candidates to demonstrate the following: a) high academic achievement, b) potential for the intended course of study and c) strong motivation. Oriental Studies courses require d) a capacity for hard and well-organised work; e) the capacity for tackling foreign languages and f) skills of analysis, argument and description for essay writing.

Overseas Students

We welcome applications from students from overseas. International students sometimes have previous knowledge of the language they wish to study, either in the home environment or through residence in a relevant region.  The University Admissions Office maintains an up-to-date register of school qualifications in many countries and advice is always available when applications from abroad are assessed. If you are invited for interview and you are living outside Europe at the time of the interview, it may be possible to make alternative arrangements; in a few such cases a decision may be made without an interview.

Mature Students

RacingThere are occasions when the entrance grades may be modified: increasingly we receive applications from students with a wide variety of educational backgrounds; this includes mature students and students who have taken Access courses. Harris Manchester is the only college that caters for mature students alone, but mature candidates are welcome to apply to any college.

Mature Students: Written Work

As a mature applicant, you will need to make a judgement on what written work you feel best represents your academic ability.  The work needs to demonstrate your ability to write on different topics, it is therefore desirable to submit work which will show a range of ability rather than two highly similar pieces. Written work can be extracts from longer pieces of work. There are many things we are looking for in your written work which are not specific to the subject area, such as ability to construct and defend an argument and presentation of material in the appropriate scholarly form.

Deferred Entry

Applications for deferred entry are welcomed by Oriental Studies. However, candidates for deferred entry should consult the admissions information on the website(s) of the college(s) to which they are also applying.

Second Undergraduate Degrees

For more information on second undergraduate degree applications, please see www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/grad/

The following links and downloads will help you with your application.