If you’re looking to apply for Oxford Maths and Philosophy, a degree that explores the intersection between two abstract and fascinating disciplines, you might be a little confused. Since Maths and Philosophy is a joint honours degree, the process can seem a little more complicated than for a single honours application. However, in reality, it’s very simple.
Which admissions tests do I need to take?
If you’re applying for the pure Maths degree at Oxford, it is compulsory to sit the MAT (the Mathematics Admissions Test). If you’re applying for Oxford Maths and Philosophy, and you must also answer the full set of questions that pure mathematicians answer. If you’d like more details on the MAT, check out our guide to taking the MAT.
You do not have to do a separate admissions test on top of the MAT.
What should a Maths and Philosophy personal statement look like?
As with all other degrees, you will have to write a personal statement. In a personal statement for a Maths and Philosophy degree, you must touch upon both disciplines. As prior philosophical knowledge is not a prerequisite for this course, I would recommend that the personal statement is weighted towards the mathematical side.
TOP TIP: I recommend two thirds mathematically-based, and one third philosophically-based.
You will also want to find a good way to connect the disciplines in the middle of your personal statement, as the intersection between maths and philosophy is central to the course.
– The concept of infinity
– Set theory
– Famous philosophers who were also mathematicians, such as Descartes, Leibniz, Russel, Frege, Wittgenstein
– Logic, and some of its simpler concepts, such as proof systems and formal languages
– Questions such as ‘what is a number?’, and thinking about where numbers belongs in the general order of the world.
What will Maths and Philosophy interviews be like?
In terms of the interviews, you will most likely have two or three maths interviews, and these will be based solely upon mathematical concepts. Here we have more details about maths interviews, and also a sample maths interview.
You will have one or two philosophy interviews, and these will take a very different form to your maths interviews. They will be more of a conversation, whereas the maths interviews will require you to solve problems set by the interviewer. Why not take a look at a sample philosophy interview?
Sure, it’s a little more work to apply for Maths and Philosophy than for single-honours Maths. You have to show in your application that you’re aware of the two different faculties, and of the cross-over between the two subjects. Ultimately, though, it’s a rewarding degree, and even just preparing for the application process can introduce you to some fascinating subjects.