Since Physics and Philosophy is a joint honours degree, you might think that there is a complicated admissions process. However, the application process follows a very similar trajectory to that for pure Physics. Remember: the course itself is a 50 / 50 split, but since A-Level Philosophy is not a compulsory pre-requisite, or even recommended, you will not have a philosophy admissions test.
What goes on your personal statement?
As you are more likely to have studied physics in-depth than philosophy, I would not recommend splitting your Physics and Philosophy Personal Statement 50 / 50 for each subject. The focus should be on physics, since you are more likely to be able to provide tangible and strong examples that show your ability, understanding, and engagement. For some ideas of what to include, take a look at our guide to your Physics personal statement.
However, you must include some philosophy, to show that you care about engaging with both disciplines. You must show you have done things to explore the subject, even if just on a foundational level. I would recommend finding an area or topic that lies in the intersection of physics and philosophy and introducing yourself to philosophy this way.
From here, you can move on to exploring philosophy as a standalone subject, to show your budding interest. A nice way to connect both Physics and Philosophy may be to consider the history of the two, where lots of connections can be found: there is lots of interweaving between the two disciplines.
For example, consider the two biggest revolutions of 20th century physics: quantum theory and relativity. Philosophy played a large part in both of these, and researching these could be a really productive way of discovering the links between the two subjects.
Is the PAT different for joint honours?
The PAT is exactly the same for Physics and Philosophy as for Physics. It is an equally important part of the picture. The PAT is the only opportunity admissions tutors have to see you working out physics problems in a similar style to the problem sheets and exams set at university. Luckily for you, we’ve got a complete guide to the PAT, ideas for how to prepare for the PAT, and tips for sitting the exam itself.
What will Physics and Philosophy interviews be like?
You will most likely have a couple of Physics interviews, and a standalone Philosophy interview. They may lightly touch on the intersection between the two subjects, but the philosophy interview will be entirely focused on philosophical debate. Take a look at our example Philosophy interview to get an idea of what to expect. We’ve also got plenty of tips on preparing for a Philosophy interview, as well as our guide to preparing for stand-alone Physics interviews.
What’s the offer for Oxford Physics and Philosophy?
The offer is exactly the same as Physics: A*AA with the A* in Maths or Physics, both being compulsory prerequisite subjects. Philosophy A-level is not required, and is not even particularly recommended.
Applying for Physics and Philosophy is a little less straight-forward than applying for straight Physics, but it’s not too complicated. The most important thing is that you show in your personal statement an awareness of the connection between the two subjects. There’s a reason Oxford offers it as a joint degree! If show you understand the links between Physics and Philosophy, you’ll be off to a flying start.