The Student Room Group

The Official "Oxford or Cambridge?" Thread

Scroll to see replies

Original post by cambio wechsel
How well can you do on this: http://www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/tsaoxford ?

My understanding is that a strong performance on the test and at interview will at Oxford largely outweigh other considerations.


Agreed. You can fairly safely set aside all the blather about whether Oxford or Cambridge do or do not pay more attention to GCSEs. For Oxford, if it is a subject with a pre-interview test (like PPE) then your test result will be a very significant, probably the deciding, factor in whether you get to interview (assuming your A2 predictions are of at least the minimum requirement), and will be a major factor (with the interview) in whether you get an offer.

:sheep:
Any Ox/Cam Law students that could shed some light on the differences between the courses? Applications, course structure etc
Reply 582
Original post by Endless Blue
Any Ox/Cam Law students that could shed some light on the differences between the courses? Applications, course structure etc


This has actually been answered quite a few times. Here is my take, modified from a previous post.


1) Flexibility and course options: you study 14 courses over 3 years at Cambridge whereas at Oxford you study 12 courses over 3 years. You get 6 options in the Cambridge course versus 2 options in the Oxford course. I'm not convinced that there is a breath vs. depth tradeoff between the degrees although the course structure would suggest that.

2) Examinations: at Cambridge, you are examined yearly in 4 or 5 subjects. At Oxford, you sit 9 exams at the end of the final year. These 9 exams cover subjects you have learned since the spring of your first year till the spring of your third year. You also take three exams in the second term of first year but these don't count towards your degree.

3) Importance of lectures: As you probably know, Cambridge has supervisions and Oxford has tutorials. However, at Cambridge, lectures are also important. They try to cover topics at roughly the same time as supervisions. At Oxford, the tutorial and lectures are not necessarily in sync. This is more true after the third term where colleges teach the final 9 subjects in whatever order they prefer.

4) Emphasis: Professor McBride, who has experience of both, claims that the Cambridge degree is more focused on strong, up-to-date, doctrinal knowledge whilst the Oxford degree is more concerned with an understanding of the base principles and discussions of what the law should be.

This, for him, explains difference in the examination system and exam content. First, Oxford gives you more time to reflect on the law; Cam demands an amount of detail that would be tough to produce without yearly exams. Second, supposedly, Oxford exams have more essays whilst Cambridge exams have more problem questions. Of course, most exams will contain both formats. Some courses, like jurisprudence, lend themselves solely to essays.

Looking at past papers, I am not convinced by the emphasis argument, but, since it has been said, you should be aware that it's a viewpoint.

(NB: problem questions are a hypothetical scenario where you aim to resolve issues with black letter law e.g. "A intentionally ran a red light and hit B. Bus driver C, driving adjacent to A, swerved to avoid the crash, injuring 6 of his passengers and fatally hitting D who crossed the street on a malfunctioning stop signal. Discuss the rights and liabilities of all parties." Essay questions often require more analysis of the state of a law or what the law should be e.g. "The law concerning X is imprecise and thus ineffective as a deterrent. Discuss.")

*I don't think the above contains any bias but you should know that I chose Cambridge. The biggest difference to me was the flexibility. I wasn't too bothered about the exam system or supposed emphasis.
(edited 11 years ago)
Reply 583
What if you only got the opportunity to do 8 GCSE's? (Excluding the BTECS.)
Original post by Konflict
What if you only got the opportunity to do 8 GCSE's? (Excluding the BTECS.)
It's about quality not quantity :smile:
Reply 585
Okay.. where do I start?
I'm currently a Year 12 senior in Germany studying for the Abitur. I will finish in July this year but Abitur grade predictions only came in now, when the deadline for Oxbridge applications had long passed. So here are quick key facts about my background:

I am currently predicted an Abitur score of 1.6; Oxford asks for 1.5 and Cambridge for 1.3

Grades from both semesters of Year 11 count as well and this is where I screwed up due to a lot of issues. Otherwise I would range 1.3-ish :frown:

German Abitur requires you to take for exam subjects for the Abitur exam; I chose English, German (both advanced level), Biology and Philosophy. I hope to score between 13 and 14 (A- and A respectively) in those except Biology

But I screwed up very much. I had a lot of issues that are affecting me even now:

I have a severe case of Aspergers syndrome (diagnosed by a neurologist and psychologist at the age of 4) - my left brain is underdeveloped and my right brain is overdeveloped. I am a humanist with a high aptitude for languages, history, politics, philosophy, psychology... I can easily score extremely high grades with little to no studying in humanities, yet when it comes to science and maths, I struggle. If one were to look at my grades, they would notice a bipolarity in my achievements: exceptionally good and horribly bad.

My health was weak, especially in Year 11. This was the time where my grandfather and uncle died and my mother became depressed, affecting my emotional state severely. I only live with her, we don't know my father's whereabouts. I had to take care of her numerous times since her back is wrecked and she often needed to go to the hospital. Also my grandmother died recently which affects me still.. My nan and gramps are the people I grew up with until i was 7 years old.

Since all grades from Y11/12 count and I had (and still have) severe issues going on, I can't hope to achieve 1.5 or 1.3. The German system is extremely rigorous and 1.6 (with my problems) is INSANE.

I'm hoping to read Oriental Studies at Oxford or AMES (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) at Cambridge, the language of choice being Japanese. I have no particular preference for either of the courses, but I do want the following:

Lots of discussion and debates. Some people think that autistic folks are extremely introverted which is not true. I am extroverted provided I'm in a supportive environment that tolerates controversial opinions. When in class, I am always, ALWAYS the one who eagerly raises her hand and engages in debates. I live the material in front of me and that makes me extremely happy :smile:

Essay writing. If my teachers were to point out one extreme strength of mine, it would be this. I love writing essays on topics that interest me (Human rights, globalisation, commenting on communist theories - I often write essays in Italian concerning politics in Italy). Here in Germany, you are required to write full extremely concise essays in classtests. No multiple choice tests or anything like that.

Teamwork. I love talking with people about my subjects and working with others that have equally as much zeal as I do. I want to have the opportunity to form study groups with people and learn from them also - one of the key principles of Confucianism btw :P In Y11/12 I was Vice-President and President of the student council, as VP I was involved in a fundraising marathon for the Fukushima victims :smile: My biggest achievement by far when it comes to teamwork :smile:

I always love something that keeps me on my toes. I am very allergic to something that doesn't unleash my full potential and pushes me further and further..

Now that you know my strengths and needs, I have a few questions which hopefully you can answer.

Which of the two - Oxford or Cambridge - takes these circumstances into account with more depth? Cam has that Extenuating Circumstances form but their Abitur grade requirements are high (1.6 is an equivalent of AAB), whereas with Oxford I'm not far off with typical grade requirements, but they require you to have between 13 and 15 in individual subjects. Since most of my subjects are humanities, that is manageable.

I have no particular preference when it comes to course options, but based on the needs that I listed above, in which of the two would I flourish more?

I know the odds of getting in are slim (as for all applicants), but based on my circumstances, which of the two would more likely give me an interview? (This is important to me - my biggest fear is being written off on the basis of my paper grades :frown:)

In terms of colleges, there's so much to choose .____.

These are all my enquiries for now, Big kudos to anyone who takes their time reading through my drivel and helping me out :smile:
Reply 586
Original post by Yachiru
Okay.. where do I start?
I'm currently a Year 12 senior in Germany studying for the Abitur. I will finish in July this year but Abitur grade predictions only came in now, when the deadline for Oxbridge applications had long passed. So here are quick key facts about my background:

I am currently predicted an Abitur score of 1.6; Oxford asks for 1.5 and Cambridge for 1.3

Grades from both semesters of Year 11 count as well and this is where I screwed up due to a lot of issues. Otherwise I would range 1.3-ish :frown:

German Abitur requires you to take for exam subjects for the Abitur exam; I chose English, German (both advanced level), Biology and Philosophy. I hope to score between 13 and 14 (A- and A respectively) in those except Biology

But I screwed up very much. I had a lot of issues that are affecting me even now:

I have a severe case of Aspergers syndrome (diagnosed by a neurologist and psychologist at the age of 4) - my left brain is underdeveloped and my right brain is overdeveloped. I am a humanist with a high aptitude for languages, history, politics, philosophy, psychology... I can easily score extremely high grades with little to no studying in humanities, yet when it comes to science and maths, I struggle. If one were to look at my grades, they would notice a bipolarity in my achievements: exceptionally good and horribly bad.

My health was weak, especially in Year 11. This was the time where my grandfather and uncle died and my mother became depressed, affecting my emotional state severely. I only live with her, we don't know my father's whereabouts. I had to take care of her numerous times since her back is wrecked and she often needed to go to the hospital. Also my grandmother died recently which affects me still.. My nan and gramps are the people I grew up with until i was 7 years old.

Since all grades from Y11/12 count and I had (and still have) severe issues going on, I can't hope to achieve 1.5 or 1.3. The German system is extremely rigorous and 1.6 (with my problems) is INSANE.

I'm hoping to read Oriental Studies at Oxford or AMES (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) at Cambridge, the language of choice being Japanese. I have no particular preference for either of the courses, but I do want the following:

Lots of discussion and debates. Some people think that autistic folks are extremely introverted which is not true. I am extroverted provided I'm in a supportive environment that tolerates controversial opinions. When in class, I am always, ALWAYS the one who eagerly raises her hand and engages in debates. I live the material in front of me and that makes me extremely happy :smile:

Essay writing. If my teachers were to point out one extreme strength of mine, it would be this. I love writing essays on topics that interest me (Human rights, globalisation, commenting on communist theories - I often write essays in Italian concerning politics in Italy). Here in Germany, you are required to write full extremely concise essays in classtests. No multiple choice tests or anything like that.

Teamwork. I love talking with people about my subjects and working with others that have equally as much zeal as I do. I want to have the opportunity to form study groups with people and learn from them also - one of the key principles of Confucianism btw :P In Y11/12 I was Vice-President and President of the student council, as VP I was involved in a fundraising marathon for the Fukushima victims :smile: My biggest achievement by far when it comes to teamwork :smile:

I always love something that keeps me on my toes. I am very allergic to something that doesn't unleash my full potential and pushes me further and further..

Now that you know my strengths and needs, I have a few questions which hopefully you can answer.

Which of the two - Oxford or Cambridge - takes these circumstances into account with more depth? Cam has that Extenuating Circumstances form but their Abitur grade requirements are high (1.6 is an equivalent of AAB), whereas with Oxford I'm not far off with typical grade requirements, but they require you to have between 13 and 15 in individual subjects. Since most of my subjects are humanities, that is manageable.

I have no particular preference when it comes to course options, but based on the needs that I listed above, in which of the two would I flourish more?

I know the odds of getting in are slim (as for all applicants), but based on my circumstances, which of the two would more likely give me an interview? (This is important to me - my biggest fear is being written off on the basis of my paper grades :frown:)

In terms of colleges, there's so much to choose .____.

These are all my enquiries for now, Big kudos to anyone who takes their time reading through my drivel and helping me out :smile:


Hey,

I am in year 13 at a German school, implying that I will do my Abitur examinations in March and May respectively. Furthermore, I am holding an offer for Economics at Cambridge with the condition to achieve 1.0 overall with 14/15 in relevant subjects. This is a tough offer! Notice, though, that I know another person with just 1.3 required by his offer. Try to do as well as possible (1.6 or higher), apply via EC form (for Cambridge) and they will give you a fair chance to proove yourself at the interviews! BTW, Oxford and Cambridge are very similar, take whichever course or place you prefer.
Reply 587
Okay, so I'm in lower sixth at the moment and I am doing four AS levels and one A2 (that hopefully I'll finish this year- unless I have to retake, god forbid) and I am aiming to apply for Oxbridge in the pending university season. I was just wondering if there are any people who can give advice on choosing out of the two- both do courses that I like (English or English & French). It would be really interesting to hear from people who have actually been or actually go to either!

Thank you so much in advance xxx
they're both amazing...why compare?
Reply 589
haha I know but unfortunately can only apply to one!
Original post by pepsi7
Okay, so I'm in lower sixth at the moment and I am doing four AS levels and one A2 (that hopefully I'll finish this year- unless I have to retake, god forbid) and I am aiming to apply for Oxbridge in the pending university season. I was just wondering if there are any people who can give advice on choosing out of the two- both do courses that I like (English or English & French). It would be really interesting to hear from people who have actually been or actually go to either!

Thank you so much in advance xxx


Here's how I chose between the two universities for English in particular, mainly on the differences in their English courses. (I posted this a while ago but I thought it was relevant here too). It might be too early into sixth form for you to really tell where your interests lie, but more info never hurts! I'm not a current student (got an offer from Cambridge) -so I hope some of them will be able to let you know more, especially the general stuff.

-Cambridge's focus on Practical Criticism attracted me, whereas Oxford traditionally has associations with a historical approach (though obviously there'll be both at both).

-The basic structure of the Oxford course is one year and then two; the Cambridge one, two years and then one. So Oxford gives you a separate introductory year, but at Cambridge you're only examined on the last year's work for the finals (i.e. degree class).

-Cambridge offer genre papers (Tragedy, Lyric option) whereas Oxford don't - I thought these sounded cool. Oxford seem to offer more author-specific special options though.

-Oxford offers Old English, Cambridge doesn't - this is the main thing that I prefer about Oxford's course over Cambridge and really gave me difficulty choosing.

-Cambridge gives you the option to study foreign literature. While this isn't compulsory anymore, Cambridge is supposedly more comparative whereas Oxford is more focused on England and English. Not sure which I'd rather..

-Oxford has a paper in English language. While Cambridge have this as an option, it is supposedly a little looked down upon.

-ELAT for Oxford, whereas for Cambridge you take the admissions test at interview if at all. ELAT gives you another chance to shine, but also more pressure!

-Supposedly Oxford care more about GCSEs and Cambridge care more about UMS, but I didn't factor this in (for what it's worth, my GCSEs are better than my UMS)

-I like the smaller size and prettiness of Cambridge - just felt I suited the town more
Reply 592
Oh my god guys thank you so much this is so helpful!
A lot to mull over :smile:
Original post by pepsi7
Oh my god guys thank you so much this is so helpful!
A lot to mull over :smile:


I believe that at Cambridge you would have to choose between English or MML, you can't study English and French as a degree, while at Oxford you can. This might be another thing to consider.
(edited 11 years ago)
I have read Oriental studies at Oxford and Cambridge and they are both beyond terrible at dealing with special cases.
Original post by sohoscribbler
I have read Oriental studies at Oxford and Cambridge and they are both beyond terrible at dealing with special cases.


You mean people that get into trouble in foreign countries when openly flouting the law there on their year abroad?
Another underappreciated consideration is that at Oxford you have to take exams in full gown and suit, which would be a nightmare for hot-bodied people like myself - imagine sitting in a stuffy exam hall when it's 25 degrees outside in that many layers!
Original post by Theflyingbarney
Another underappreciated consideration is that at Oxford you have to take exams in full gown and suit, which would be a nightmare for hot-bodied people like myself - imagine sitting in a stuffy exam hall when it's 25 degrees outside in that many layers!
You can take the layers off :smile: (well all but one...)
Reply 598
I had been planning to apply for Economics at Cambridge as I slightly preferred the course there (I wanted to study it on its own, not with management or history, but it was still close). But in my January modules I got 96%, 93% and 87% (C1, M1 and FP1 respectively) whereas I got twelve A*s at GCSE. As GCSEs are more valued by Oxford and ASs more valued at Cambridge should I reconsider my choice?
Dunno about GCSEs, but AS UMS are more valued by Cambridge (Oxford don't see them). Maybe wait and see what you get in your summer AS exams.

Quick Reply