Oxford Philosophy and Modern Languages Students and Applicants

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cambio wechsel
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#1
Report Thread starter 10 years ago
#1
I'm advising a foreign applicant on university entrance and Oxford is her first choice, to the extent that getting in at Oxford overrides pretty well any other consideration. Yes, I know you should choose the course first and then look at the institutions, thanks. And I've told her that.

Anyway, the question is this: if she applies for Philosophy and Modern Languages, would her chances of admission be affected by her choosing a language that is not obviously complementary? My guess is that they see an awful lot of applicants for Philosophy+French or Philosophy+German, because these are more usually taught to A-level at schools and because the language complements the philosophy course, and comparatively few for "...+Portuguese" or "...+ Czech". Portuguese is what she's thinking of.

Essentially, what's the mileage in "well, we've never had one of those..."?
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hobnob
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#2
Report 10 years ago
#2
(Original post by cambio wechsel)
I'm advising a foreign applicant on university entrance and Oxford is her first choice, to the extent that getting in at Oxford overrides pretty well any other consideration. Yes, I know you should choose the course first and then look at the institutions, thanks. And I've told her that.

Anyway, the question is this: if she applies for Philosophy and Modern Languages, would her chances of admission be affected by her choosing a language that is not obviously complementary? My guess is that they see an awful lot of applicants for Philosophy+French or Philosophy+German, because these are more usually taught to A-level at schools and because the language complements the philosophy course, and comparatively few for "...+Portuguese" or "...+ Czech". Portuguese is what she's thinking of.

Essentially, what's the mileage in "well, we've never had one of those..."?
Obviously you/she should check with the departments for definite advice, but my guess would be that it'll be completely irrelevant. It's a joint-school course split between two different departments, so the philosophy part will be taught independently of the language part, and as far as tutors are concerned, she'd just be a student applying to do Philosophy and Something Else / Modern Languages and Something Else. She'd only have to convince them that she's a viable candidate for each of the two, but she wouldn't actually be forced to convince them that Portuguese and Philosphy is a sensible combination in order to have a chance of getting a place.
So I'd say if she's tending towards Portuguese, that's what she should apply for.:dontknow:
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cambio wechsel
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#3
Report Thread starter 10 years ago
#3
Brill. Thanks very much.
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timmy5
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#4
Report 10 years ago
#4
I'm in year 12 but thinking about an application to Oxford and thought this looked a good course for me since I'm doing Philosophy, French and Economics Higher at IB level.

Is anyone doing this course or thinking about it?
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ConnorM
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#5
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#5
any French and Philosophy students/applicants in here?
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Lacrimatra
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#6
Report 8 years ago
#6
(Original post by ConnorM)
any French and Philosophy students/applicants in here?
I'm a first year French and Philosophy student, yes! There are so few of us around... But we are awesome.
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Bezzler
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#7
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#7
How did I not know this thread existed? Until about an hour ago I was, I believe, the only Oxonian PMLer on here... But I can highly recommend the course! I know they're really old questions now, but just to clarify one point made earlier: it makes no difference what language you study. You'll be interviewed separately by the tutors and they'll have to okay you on the grounds of their subject. There are many ways of linking the course that don't include studying philosophers from that country - although I did study Wittgenstein, the main way I linked the subjects was by focussing a lot on philosophy of language on the one side and on linguistics on the other. Alternatively, you can choose to do things that are completely unrelated to each other and not try to link it at all.
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ConnorM
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Lacrimatra)
I'm a first year French and Philosophy student, yes! There are so few of us around... But we are awesome.
Hey nice to 'meet' you, yeah the course looks so good, I'm applying in October whilst on a gap year in France, what modules are you taking at the moment?
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ConnorM
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Bezzler)
How did I not know this thread existed? Until about an hour ago I was, I believe, the only Oxonian PMLer on here... But I can highly recommend the course! I know they're really old questions now, but just to clarify one point made earlier: it makes no difference what language you study. You'll be interviewed separately by the tutors and they'll have to okay you on the grounds of their subject. There are many ways of linking the course that don't include studying philosophers from that country - although I did study Wittgenstein, the main way I linked the subjects was by focussing a lot on philosophy of language on the one side and on linguistics on the other. Alternatively, you can choose to do things that are completely unrelated to each other and not try to link it at all.
I couldn't help thinking that I was the only one at the open day! it looks like a very well structured course and I can't believe there aren't more people who want to study a language with Philosophy; the good thing about the Oxford course is that the literature focus will go hand in hand with the Philosophy modules (or at least a good amount of them anyway) e.g. moral philosophy and existentialism
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Lacrimatra
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#10
Report 8 years ago
#10
(Original post by ConnorM)
Hey nice to 'meet' you, yeah the course looks so good, I'm applying in October whilst on a gap year in France, what modules are you taking at the moment?
The course is wonderful! In first year you don't get any choice at all in modules, but I think this is a good thing as it means that everyone is brought up to the same level and you get a good introduction to everything before you have to choose.

In Philosophy, I have the same course as the PPEists with it being split equally between Logic, General Philosophy (Knowledge, Mind and Body, Personal Identity, Free Will, God and Evil and Induction) and Moral Philosophy (which, at least this year, means basically just studying Mill's Utilitarianism). The Philosophy course is very rigorous and Logic is a really love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing but overall I think it provides a really good balance of everything.

In French, I have lots of translation classes and with regards to texts, there are two papers: short texts (on which you make commentaries on passages) and long texts (on which you write proper essays). I can't guarantee that these texts will be the same next year but I'd assume most of them will be.
Short texts are: Baudelaire (Fleurs du Mal), Césaire (Cahier d'un retour au pays natal), Montaigne (Essais), Graffigny (Lettres d'une Péruvienne), Racine (Phèdre) and Beckett (En attendant Godot)
Long texts are: Laclos (Les Liaisons dangereuses), Balzac (La Peau de chagrin), Proust (Combray) and the mediaeval, anonymous 'La Chatelaine de Vergy'.

I can say that you'll definitely be at an advantage after taking a gap year in France - there are admittedly not many opportunities to practise actually speaking French (one hour conversation practice a fortnight) but I suppose that's what the year abroad's for! It is a very traditional and literature-oriented course which is what I, personally, really wanted to do. The literature we study this year spans from the twelfth century to the twentieth and really does give you a taste of pretty much everything.

The literature does go very well with Philosophy, although the paths of the two subjects don't actually cross unless you specifically make them. I've found that Philosophy has definitely provided me with some interesting things to say in French tutorials and the techniques of textual analysis are actually surprisingly useful in Philosophy so the two subjects do definitely complement each other.

I hope that gives you the information you wanted. Please feel free to ask me anything else!
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ConnorM
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#11
Report 8 years ago
#11
(Original post by Lacrimatra)
The course is wonderful! In first year you don't get any choice at all in modules, but I think this is a good thing as it means that everyone is brought up to the same level and you get a good introduction to everything before you have to choose.

In Philosophy, I have the same course as the PPEists with it being split equally between Logic, General Philosophy (Knowledge, Mind and Body, Personal Identity, Free Will, God and Evil and Induction) and Moral Philosophy (which, at least this year, means basically just studying Mill's Utilitarianism). The Philosophy course is very rigorous and Logic is a really love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing but overall I think it provides a really good balance of everything.

In French, I have lots of translation classes and with regards to texts, there are two papers: short texts (on which you make commentaries on passages) and long texts (on which you write proper essays). I can't guarantee that these texts will be the same next year but I'd assume most of them will be.
Short texts are: Baudelaire (Fleurs du Mal), Césaire (Cahier d'un retour au pays natal), Montaigne (Essais), Graffigny (Lettres d'une Péruvienne), Racine (Phèdre) and Beckett (En attendant Godot)
Long texts are: Laclos (Les Liaisons dangereuses), Balzac (La Peau de chagrin), Proust (Combray) and the mediaeval, anonymous 'La Chatelaine de Vergy'.

I can say that you'll definitely be at an advantage after taking a gap year in France - there are admittedly not many opportunities to practise actually speaking French (one hour conversation practice a fortnight) but I suppose that's what the year abroad's for! It is a very traditional and literature-oriented course which is what I, personally, really wanted to do. The literature we study this year spans from the twelfth century to the twentieth and really does give you a taste of pretty much everything.

The literature does go very well with Philosophy, although the paths of the two subjects don't actually cross unless you specifically make them. I've found that Philosophy has definitely provided me with some interesting things to say in French tutorials and the techniques of textual analysis are actually surprisingly useful in Philosophy so the two subjects do definitely complement each other.

I hope that gives you the information you wanted. Please feel free to ask me anything else!
Sounds very interesting, the literature definitely appeals to me as an aspect of the course. Thanks for all the info - out of interest, what written work did you send in? I'm trying to decide between a timed essay in class or one I did as homework (for French that is). Also, what sort of topics did they ask you about in your interviews? Cheers
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Bezzler
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#12
Report 8 years ago
#12
(Original post by ConnorM)
Sounds very interesting, the literature definitely appeals to me as an aspect of the course. Thanks for all the info - out of interest, what written work did you send in? I'm trying to decide between a timed essay in class or one I did as homework (for French that is). Also, what sort of topics did they ask you about in your interviews? Cheers
I can tell you a limited amount about my interviews (which were, granted, quite a long time ago), but things vary from interviewer to interviewer so you definitely can't expect that yours will resemble them all that much!

Generally for language interviews they'll give you a passage of text (usually in English) about half an hour before you start and ask you to comment on it and then go into more detail about it, then maybe talk about your personal statement/experience you've had of the country or other topics, and then there's a couple of minutes in the language at the end.

For philosophy, I got asked on the stuff I'd written in the test I had the day before, which in hindsight is kind of like a tutorial. Then they looked at what I'd written in my personal statement and asked about the interests I'd written about there (so primarily epistemology, specifically Gettier, as I recall). But I've heard of people being set logic puzzles or being tricked into sceptical scenarios or all sorts of other things.

(Original post by Lacrimatra)
In Philosophy, I have the same course as the PPEists with it being split equally between Logic, General Philosophy (Knowledge, Mind and Body, Personal Identity, Free Will, God and Evil and Induction) and Moral Philosophy (which, at least this year, means basically just studying Mill's Utilitarianism). The Philosophy course is very rigorous and Logic is a really love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing but overall I think it provides a really good balance of everything.
First-year moral philosophy has always been specifically Mill's Utilitarianism. At least, it was when I did it and I think had been for some time before then. I loved Logic, and it's really useful for later stuff. I don't know how I'd cope with a lot of the reading I've had to do if I hadn't done some of the basic stuff about propositional logic and quantifiers and so on.
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Lacrimatra
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#13
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#13
(Original post by ConnorM)
Sounds very interesting, the literature definitely appeals to me as an aspect of the course. Thanks for all the info - out of interest, what written work did you send in? I'm trying to decide between a timed essay in class or one I did as homework (for French that is). Also, what sort of topics did they ask you about in your interviews? Cheers
I ended up sending three different pieces but all the ones I gave in were homework essays. French wanted one essay in English and one in French and Philosophy also wanted one essay (I had to email the college to clarify because the details aren't really clear online) so I decided to give a History one to Philosophy, as I hadn't studied Philosophy at A level, and then chose an English literature essay for French along with the French essay. My timed French essays had slightly lower marks than my homework essays at the time, which was the only real deciding factor.

Bear in mind that interviews very A LOT depending on the tutor. I was pleasantly surprised in my Philosophy interview when I was not faced with any of those typical unpredictable Oxbridge questions you always hear about. My tutor split the interview into moral and Logic. Moral consisted of some discussions about those typical utilitarian problems (e.g. the runaway trolley that can either kill one or five; the man who walks into the waiting room of a hospital who could save five people if killed etc). Logic consisted of a series of pairs of statements and I had to say which were contradictions and why. This was also unusual as it was a right/wrong affair - I have no idea what other colleges may do.

French was half based upon a discussion in English about a piece of English prose (again, can't guarantee that the extract will be in English in another college) that I had twenty minutes before the interview to analyse. Then I had a discussion about what parts of my A level I was enjoying and then we moved onto (in French) my Personal Statement. Possibly unusually, I actually ended up talking about Philosophyin French and I had a few weird questions such as 'est-ce que Voltaire est philosophe?' but again, that was specifically because my Personal Statement specifically mentioned 'Candide'. Again, I can't guarantee that a tutor will even acknowledge your Personal Statement in an interview, but mine did!

Hope that helps.
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ConnorM
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#14
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#14
(Original post by Bezzler)
I can tell you a limited amount about my interviews (which were, granted, quite a long time ago), but things vary from interviewer to interviewer so you definitely can't expect that yours will resemble them all that much!

Generally for language interviews they'll give you a passage of text (usually in English) about half an hour before you start and ask you to comment on it and then go into more detail about it, then maybe talk about your personal statement/experience you've had of the country or other topics, and then there's a couple of minutes in the language at the end.

For philosophy, I got asked on the stuff I'd written in the test I had the day before, which in hindsight is kind of like a tutorial. Then they looked at what I'd written in my personal statement and asked about the interests I'd written about there (so primarily epistemology, specifically Gettier, as I recall). But I've heard of people being set logic puzzles or being tricked into sceptical scenarios or all sorts of other things.



First-year moral philosophy has always been specifically Mill's Utilitarianism. At least, it was when I did it and I think had been for some time before then. I loved Logic, and it's really useful for later stuff. I don't know how I'd cope with a lot of the reading I've had to do if I hadn't done some of the basic stuff about propositional logic and quantifiers and so on.
Sounds good, thanks! How was your year abroad?
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ConnorM
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#15
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#15
(Original post by Lacrimatra)
I ended up sending three different pieces but all the ones I gave in were homework essays. French wanted one essay in English and one in French and Philosophy also wanted one essay (I had to email the college to clarify because the details aren't really clear online) so I decided to give a History one to Philosophy, as I hadn't studied Philosophy at A level, and then chose an English literature essay for French along with the French essay. My timed French essays had slightly lower marks than my homework essays at the time, which was the only real deciding factor.

Bear in mind that interviews very A LOT depending on the tutor. I was pleasantly surprised in my Philosophy interview when I was not faced with any of those typical unpredictable Oxbridge questions you always hear about. My tutor split the interview into moral and Logic. Moral consisted of some discussions about those typical utilitarian problems (e.g. the runaway trolley that can either kill one or five; the man who walks into the waiting room of a hospital who could save five people if killed etc). Logic consisted of a series of pairs of statements and I had to say which were contradictions and why. This was also unusual as it was a right/wrong affair - I have no idea what other colleges may do.

French was half based upon a discussion in English about a piece of English prose (again, can't guarantee that the extract will be in English in another college) that I had twenty minutes before the interview to analyse. Then I had a discussion about what parts of my A level I was enjoying and then we moved onto (in French) my Personal Statement. Possibly unusually, I actually ended up talking about Philosophyin French and I had a few weird questions such as 'est-ce que Voltaire est philosophe?' but again, that was specifically because my Personal Statement specifically mentioned 'Candide'. Again, I can't guarantee that a tutor will even acknowledge your Personal Statement in an interview, but mine did!

Hope that helps.
Ah okay, I think I'll end up sending a couple from English Language on historical linguistics, one from French on the film Amelie and to what extent the representation of Paris is far removed from reality. The Philosophy interviews sound quite good, thanks for the information
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Bezzler
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#16
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#16
(Original post by ConnorM)
Sounds good, thanks! How was your year abroad?
My year abroad was amazing. I didn't really want to come back! I was in Berlin, so Oxford now feels really small in comparison. But I quickly readjusted back to academic life, and now finals are just around the corner...
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Starrstruck
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#17
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#17
(Original post by ConnorM)
any French and Philosophy students/applicants in here?
Yep, where are you thinking of applying to?
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ConnorM
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#18
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#18
(Original post by Starrstruck)
Yep, where are you thinking of applying to?
Not sure possibly Brasenose or maybe just an open application, where are you?
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Starrstruck
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#19
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#19
(Original post by ConnorM)
Not sure possibly Brasenose or maybe just an open application, where are you?
Probably Worcester, although I did see a lot of others I liked when to the summer school. Which other unis are you thinking of applying to?
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ConnorM
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#20
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#20
(Original post by Starrstruck)
Probably Worcester, although I did see a lot of others I liked when to the summer school. Which other unis are you thinking of applying to?
Ah okay, probably Durham, UCL, Edinburgh, Bristol and The Sorbonne in Paris (I'm doing a gap year in France whilst applying to Unis) - what about you?
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