Teachers' e-guide

Supporting your Oxford Candidates

Open books on a table

Written Work

Which subjects require written work?

Archaeology and Anthropology:

  • Two recent marked essays written as part of a school or college subject, preferably in different subjects

  • A statement of up to 300 words setting out the applicant's interest in the joint degree and their understanding of the relations between archaeology and anthropology

Biochemistry: Written work not required.

Biological Sciences: Written work not required.

Biomedical Sciences: Written work not required.

Chemistry: Written work not required.

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History:

  • Two recent marked essays written as part of the school or college course

Classics:

  • Two essays or commentaries. Normally these will be in areas relevant to Classics. Applicants should preferably not submit short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text.

Classics and English:

  • Two pieces of written work, relevant to either Classics or English. Candidates will preferably not submit short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text.

Classics and Modern Languages:

  • Candidates must submit written work for each of the subjects forming this joint course, so please see further details in the classics and modern languages sections of this table

Classics and Oriental Studies:

  • Two pieces of written work. For those students taking one or more classical subjects already, at least one of these should be on a classical topic. Applicants should preferably not submit short, timed essays or exercises answering questions on a short passage of text.

Computer Science: Written work not required.

Computer Science & Philosophy: Written work not required.

Earth Sciences (Geology): Written work not required.

Economics and Management: Written work not required.

Engineering Science: Written work not required.

English and Modern Languages:

You will see that candidates are required to submit:

  • a piece of written work in English for the English part of the course

and also

  • a piece of written work in English for the Modern Languages part of the course (along with work in the chosen Modern Language)

If a student has a piece of written work in English that they think would be suitable for both subjects, please send us two copies of this piece of work; the student do not need to submit two different pieces of work in English. Please check the written work requirements for both English Language and Literature and for Modern Languages before choosing what to send. 

English Language and Literature:

  • One recent example of writing. This should be a marked essay produced in the normal course of school or college work and should not have been rewritten after marking. Preferably it should be an analytical discussion of a topic or topics in the field of English literature though an English language topic is permissible. It should not be a short timed essay, critical commentary on particular passages of text (practical criticism exercises), or piece of creative writing.

European and Middle Eastern Languages:

  • Two pieces of written work. One piece of work in the target language to be studied and one piece in English.

Experimental Psychology: Written work not required.

English Language and Literature:

  • Portfolio of work. There is no prescription for editing a portfolio, but candidates should aim for any range of work which gives a sense of their interests and appetites. Portfolios may contain original works, photographs, slides or digital images of paintings and sculptures, personal notebooks, short videotapes or CDs, drawings, soundworks etc. We value signs of the ability to engage in critical and inventive discussion, but above all we are looking for a strong visual curiosity. Portfolios should be delivered to the Ruskin School of Fine Art & Drawing - more details can be found on the website

Please note that the University may use the work which is submitted to the extent necessary for the conduct of the admission process. The University is not in a position to verify the contents of portfolios, or to make any special arrangements for care, custody or return. The University cannot therefore accept responsibility for any loss or damage.

Geography: Written work not required.

History:

  • An essay on a historical topic of A2 level, or equivalent written as part of the normal school or college work. Note that in selecting work for submission students should choose a piece which has enthused them and on which they are willing to talk. Students needn’t worry if they have changed their mind on the topic since writing it. Tutors are impressed by candidates who remain intellectually engaged with their work.

History (Ancient and Modern):

  • A marked essay of A2 level, or equivalent, written as part of the normal school or college work. The essay may deal with a topic from ancient or modern history

History and Economics:

  • History: A recently marked coursework essay on an historical topic, or equivalent. This should be written as part of the normal school or college work

  • Economics: A recently marked coursework essay in economics. This should be written as part of the normal school or college work

History and English:

  • History: One piece of written work on an historical topic

  • English: Two pieces of written work

History and Modern Languages:

  • Candidates must submit written work for each of the subjects forming this joint course. Please see further details in the sections for the individual courses of History and Modern Languages.

History and Politics:

  • An essay, on an historical topic, of A2 level, or equivalent, written as part of normal school or college work.

History of Art:

  • Applicants are asked to submit two copies of two pieces of written work.
    • The first is a marked essay of up to 2000 words from an A-level or equivalent course. This will demonstrate ability to construct a sustained written argument.

    • The second is a response, written in no more than 750 words, to a piece of art, architecture or design. Applicants should have first hand access to their chosen object, and include a photograph or photocopy of the object if possible. Applicants may focus, as they wish, on the material, and/or the design, and/or the subject of their image. No special preparation or research is required. The 750 word response should demonstrate curiosity, sensitivity and clarity in response to the chosen object and visual culture more generally.

Human Sciences: Written work not required.

Law: Written work not required.

Materials Science: Written work not required.

Mathematics: Written work not required.

Mathematics and Computer Science: Written work not required.

Mathematics and Philosophy: Written work not required.

Mathematics and Statistics: Written work not required.

Medicine: Written work not required.

Modern Languages:

  • One piece of marked classwork written in each language which the applicant plans to study and in which they will have A2 (or an equivalent standard) before university. This will demonstrate to interviewers how they are developing in their use of the target language(s) in work they have completed in the normal course of their A2 (or equivalent) study.

If the applicant is applying for a language in which they will not have reached this standard before university, they do not need to submit anything in that language.

  • All candidates must also submit one piece only of marked writing in English (perhaps on literature, or history, or some other subject they are studying at school or college). This piece will show how they construct an argument and express their ideas in English.

Please see examples below for further clarification.

  • If the applicant is applying to study French and German, they will need to submit three pieces of written work: one in French, one in German and one in English.

  • If they applicant is applying to study Spanish and Beginners' Russian they will need to submit two pieces of work: one in Spanish and one in English.

Modern Languages and Linguistics:

  • One piece of marked classwork written in each language which the applicant plans to study and in which they will have A2 (or an equivalent standard) before university. This will demonstrate to interviewers how they are developing in their use of the target language(s) in work they have completed in the normal course of their A2 (or equivalent) study.

If the applicant is applying for a language in which they will not have reached this standard before university, they do not need to submit anything in that language.

  • All candidates must also submit one piece only of marked writing in English (perhaps on literature, or history, or some other subject they are studying at school or college). This piece will show how they construct an argument and express their ideas in English.

  • Linguistics: If the student is studying an A-level or other qualification involving linguistic analysis (e.g. English Language) they will also be required to submit a piece of written work from that.

Music:

  • Two pieces of teacher-marked written work, at least one of which should normally be on music. The emphasis in on quality of thought, not on quantity: c. 1500 words per essay is entirely sufficient.

  • Some examples of teacher-marked harmony and counterpoint (e.g. Baroque chorale, 16th century counterpoint, 2-part invention, string quartet, Romantic songs); and/or some examples of original composition, which should be in some form of notated score.

Oriental Studies:

  • All candidates must submit two pieces of marked writing in English.The particular topic of your essay and the A-level (or equivalent) subject from which it is drawn are not important; it is intended to show how you construct an argument and express your ideas in English. If you do not have any recent marked work written in English (for example, because of the combination of subjects you are currently studying), you may submit a separate piece of work, such as an essay in English on one of the topics you have been studying for your A-level (or equivalent).

Philosophy and Modern Languages:

  • One piece of marked classwork written in each language which the applicant plans to study and in which they will have A2 (or an equivalent standard) before university. This will demonstrate to interviewers how they are developing in their use of the target language(s) in work they have completed in the normal course of their A2 (or equivalent) study.

If the applicant is applying for a language in which they will not have reached this standard before university, they do not need to submit anything in that language.

  • All candidates must also submit one piece only of marked writing in English (perhaps on literature, or history, or some other subject they are studying at school or college). This piece will show how they construct an argument and express their ideas in English. The piece of written work submitted in English may also be seen by philosophy tutors, so it should show your capacity for reasoned argument and clear writing; a good length would be between 1000 and 2000 words.  Most candidates will not be studying philosophy, so there is no expectation that it will be on a philosophical topic.

Philosophy and Theology:

  • Theology candidates are required to submit two pieces of written work, which have been marked in the normal process of school or college work. In place of one essay, students may send an examination or test answer to an unseen question, which has been supervised and marked by your school or college. All written work must be in English.
  • Please send work in Religious Studies if you are studying this subject to A-level (or equivalent).  If you cannot submit samples of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area.  If you do not have such written work available, please contact the Tutor for Admissions at your first choice or allocated college, and they will suggest essay topics or alternative work.
  • Please ensure that work is not overly long but conforms as far as possible to the published guidelines on the submission of written work, as tutors want to evaluate the succinctness and pertinence of your work.

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE): Written work not required.

Physics: Written work not required.

Physics and Philosophy: Written work not required.

Psychology, Philosophy & Linguistics: Written work not required.

Theology & Religion:

  • Theology candidates are required to submit two pieces of written work, which have been marked in the normal process of school or college work. In place of one essay, students may send an examination or test answer to an unseen question, which has been supervised and marked by your school or college. All written work must be in English.
  • Please send work in Religious Studies if you are studying this subject to A-level (or equivalent).  If you cannot submit samples of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area.  If you do not have such written work available, please contact the Tutor for Admissions at your first choice or allocated college, and they will suggest essay topics or alternative work.
  • Please ensure that work is not overly long but conforms as far as possible to the published guidelines on the submission of written work, as tutors want to evaluate the succinctness and pertinence of your work.

Theology and Oriental Studies:

  • Theology: One piece of written work which should be marked in the normal process of school or college work. The written work for Theology should be in Religious Studies. If the applicant cannot submit samples of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area. If they do not have any such written work available, please contact the Tutor for Admissions at the first choice or allotted college.

  • Oriental Studies: One piece of written work which should be marked in the normal process of school or college work. The written work for Oriental Studies may be on any subject.

 

All written work must be in English.