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As when applying to Computer Science at Oxford, you must complete the MAT. You must complete the same questions as the Computer Science applicants, and details of this and preparation tips can be found in the previous chapter. You will not have to sit a separate philosophy admissions test; you will only be tested on your philosophy at interview.

Interviews for Computer Science and Philosophy

You are likely to have a couple of Computer Science interviews, and a couple of Philosophy interviews. This is where the admissions process diverges from pure Computer Science. Luckily for you, we’ve got a complete guide to Computer Science interviews, and a complete guide to Philosophy interviews, as well as sample Philosophy interview questions and responses, and sample Computer Science interview questions and responses.

You won’t have any ‘joint’ interviews – instead, separate interviews will focus on Computer Science and Philosophy. You’ll need to be admitted by both faculties, so both sets of interviews are equally important.  

What should a Computer Science and Philosophy personal statement look like?

When writing your personal statement you want to show a balanced interest in both computer science and philosophy. Take a look at our tips for a Computer Science statement, and our tips for integrating philosophy into a personal statement (for the Maths and Philosophy course), for more ideas.

Your personal statement needs to show that you are enthusiastic about both disciplines, although usually the emphasis will be more on computer science than philosophy, as this reflects the initial structure of the course.

Bridging Computer Science and Philosophy in your personal statement

It is also important that your personal statement recognises the intersection of the two disciplines. A nice way to introduce this is to have a topic or interest of yours that bridges the gap between computer science and philosophy. Some examples you could investigate are: 

  • Logic: Central to the theory of computer science, with Boolean logic and logic gates forming an integral part of the subject. Logic is also based within philosophy, with its semantics and syntax being a pressure point of philosophical interest. 
  • Ethical questions about technology: AI and many areas of modern technology have caused a ripple of ethical questions. Ethics is a central subject in philosophy, and this may be an easy and interesting way to connect the two disciplines in your personal statement. For example, you could think about how artificial intelligence would shift our concept of the human mind, and follow this route into a discussion about the philosophy of mind. Alternatively, you could consider moral philosophy, and discuss the morals of allowing robots to simulate human behaviour. 
  • You could also investigate Alan Turing and the Turing test, which has caused ripples of investigation across both domains.

Conclusion

Applying to Computer Science and Philosophy may require a little more thought than applying for simply Computer Science: but for such a rewarding degree, it’s ultimately worth it. And if you’re interested in both subjects, you might actually enjoy the process of investigating the links between them!

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