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The Official "Oxford or Cambridge?" Thread

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Original post by qwerties
Hey, I'm applying for 2023 and am struggling to choose between Oxford or Cambridge. I'll be applying for music, and so far comparing the courses hasn't helped much as I don't see much difference, or enough to make me prefer one over the other. Is there anything somebody with quite niche knowledge could let me know so I might have a better idea of where to apply? Thanks!

PS. I know there would be advice telling me to go with the place I prefer best location wise, but what makes it hard is that I really don't mind if my uni has a more town or city feel!


@The_Lonely_Goatherd did music at Oxford (I think), maybe they can help?
Original post by qwerties
Hey, I'm applying for 2023 and am struggling to choose between Oxford or Cambridge. I'll be applying for music, and so far comparing the courses hasn't helped much as I don't see much difference, or enough to make me prefer one over the other. Is there anything somebody with quite niche knowledge could let me know so I might have a better idea of where to apply? Thanks!

PS. I know there would be advice telling me to go with the place I prefer best location wise, but what makes it hard is that I really don't mind if my uni has a more town or city feel!


Hiya! As mentioned, I read music at Oxford. I'm currently abroad - could you quote me on Tues to remind me to reply this?
Original post by qwerties
Hey, I'm applying for 2023 and am struggling to choose between Oxford or Cambridge. I'll be applying for music, and so far comparing the courses hasn't helped much as I don't see much difference, or enough to make me prefer one over the other. Is there anything somebody with quite niche knowledge could let me know so I might have a better idea of where to apply? Thanks!

PS. I know there would be advice telling me to go with the place I prefer best location wise, but what makes it hard is that I really don't mind if my uni has a more town or city feel!

Hiya,

I'm back in the UK and am more able to reply now. There are actually some significant differences between the two music courses, particularly when it comes to course structure. At Cambridge you'd have formal exams every year that (I believe) would all count towards your final degree classification, whereas at Oxford you'd only have exams at the end of first and third year - and your final degree classification would rest entirely on your third year modules/papers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, so it's about figuring out what might suit you best/work to your advantage better.

Cambridge has a much greater/deeper focus on harmony, counterpoint and analysis. If that suits you/is your interest that's great, but if (like me) these are weaker/less interesting areas, the Oxford course might prove more appealing. Cambridge also has greater opportunities in their undergrad course for studying music and science/music psychology - so if that's a particular interest of yours, you may prefer the Cambridge course.

Both courses are under review processes to try and broaden/decolonise their comparatively rigid/archaic course structures. Oxford has already done their course review and their new course structures/modules can be found in the attached PDF, which was kindly sent to me by fellow TSR Oxford muso @OxMus . I think Cambridge has done their process and whilst their course is certainly better than it used to be, it's my personal opinion that Oxford have made greater strides in this than Cambridge.

The two courses ask for different predicted grades, so that's worth bearing in mind too.

Let me know if you have any further questions about what I've written :smile:
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
Hiya,

I'm back in the UK and am more able to reply now. There are actually some significant differences between the two music courses, particularly when it comes to course structure. At Cambridge you'd have formal exams every year that (I believe) would all count towards your final degree classification, whereas at Oxford you'd only have exams at the end of first and third year - and your final degree classification would rest entirely on your third year modules/papers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, so it's about figuring out what might suit you best/work to your advantage better.

Cambridge has a much greater/deeper focus on harmony, counterpoint and analysis. If that suits you/is your interest that's great, but if (like me) these are weaker/less interesting areas, the Oxford course might prove more appealing. Cambridge also has greater opportunities in their undergrad course for studying music and science/music psychology - so if that's a particular interest of yours, you may prefer the Cambridge course.

Both courses are under review processes to try and broaden/decolonise their comparatively rigid/archaic course structures. Oxford has already done their course review and their new course structures/modules can be found in the attached PDF, which was kindly sent to me by fellow TSR Oxford muso @OxMus . I think Cambridge has done their process and whilst their course is certainly better than it used to be, it's my personal opinion that Oxford have made greater strides in this than Cambridge.

The two courses ask for different predicted grades, so that's worth bearing in mind too.

Let me know if you have any further questions about what I've written :smile:


Thank you so much, that has been such a comprehensive comparison. I ended up choosing Oxford, but am struggling to choose a college. I think I'm getting too caught up with the admissions data from each college, instead of focusing on things that matter to me, tutors' interests and colleges with an instrumental and orchestral focus. I'm looking at St Hildas, Lincoln, Oriel and Christ Church, and wondered if you had any insight as to which would be nice to apply for? Just two cents from someone who's been there would be lovely!
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
Hiya,

I'm back in the UK and am more able to reply now. There are actually some significant differences between the two music courses, particularly when it comes to course structure. At Cambridge you'd have formal exams every year that (I believe) would all count towards your final degree classification, whereas at Oxford you'd only have exams at the end of first and third year - and your final degree classification would rest entirely on your third year modules/papers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems, so it's about figuring out what might suit you best/work to your advantage better.

Cambridge has a much greater/deeper focus on harmony, counterpoint and analysis. If that suits you/is your interest that's great, but if (like me) these are weaker/less interesting areas, the Oxford course might prove more appealing. Cambridge also has greater opportunities in their undergrad course for studying music and science/music psychology - so if that's a particular interest of yours, you may prefer the Cambridge course.

Both courses are under review processes to try and broaden/decolonise their comparatively rigid/archaic course structures. Oxford has already done their course review and their new course structures/modules can be found in the attached PDF, which was kindly sent to me by fellow TSR Oxford muso @OxMus . I think Cambridge has done their process and whilst their course is certainly better than it used to be, it's my personal opinion that Oxford have made greater strides in this than Cambridge.

The two courses ask for different predicted grades, so that's worth bearing in mind too.

Let me know if you have any further questions about what I've written :smile:


The way it works at Cambridge (for all courses, to the best of my knowledge - possibly not if they're accredited) is that your degree isn't classified, and you receive a classification every year for that year's exams. Most people will only give their final year classification, or if you get a first multiple years you would call it a double/triple (erase as appropriate) first.

@qwerties for reference
Original post by qwerties
Thank you so much, that has been such a comprehensive comparison. I ended up choosing Oxford, but am struggling to choose a college. I think I'm getting too caught up with the admissions data from each college, instead of focusing on things that matter to me, tutors' interests and colleges with an instrumental and orchestral focus. I'm looking at St Hildas, Lincoln, Oriel and Christ Church, and wondered if you had any insight as to which would be nice to apply for? Just two cents from someone who's been there would be lovely!

Hmmm I don't know any of those colleges hugely well tbh. The one I'm able to comment on most is St Hilda's: it has the Jacqueline du Pre building on-site, which is quite cool! I would have applied there had my older sister not gone there before me (I didn't wanna look like a copycat, haha!). They have their own punts and it's got nice grounds :smile: The two tutors there (AB and MH) are very lovely and I'd thoroughly recommend them as nice people to have as college tutors :yep: The tutor at Lincoln (SA) can come across a bit scary but her bark is much worse than her bite, if that makes sense? :smile: Christ Church takes the most musos (about 5-6 per year each year) but it is very popular with applicants, due to being next to the Faculty building and also a choral foundation college :eek: It does have the Harry Potter dining hall though :awesome:
Original post by Theloniouss
The way it works at Cambridge (for all courses, to the best of my knowledge - possibly not if they're accredited) is that your degree isn't classified, and you receive a classification every year for that year's exams. Most people will only give their final year classification, or if you get a first multiple years you would call it a double/triple (erase as appropriate) first.

@qwerties for reference

Ahhh I see :beard: Thanks for mentioning this :h:
Thanks again for the reply, I went quite rouge and ended up choosing Queen’s instead as I really wanted a chapel, and St Hilda’s didn’t, even if it had a lovely site. I’m slightly worried about Queens being oversubscribed though - but I’ve been told it shouldn’t really affect me all that much, as I’d just be pooled if the department wants me?
Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd
Hmmm I don't know any of those colleges hugely well tbh. The one I'm able to comment on most is St Hilda's: it has the Jacqueline du Pre building on-site, which is quite cool! I would have applied there had my older sister not gone there before me (I didn't wanna look like a copycat, haha!). They have their own punts and it's got nice grounds :smile: The two tutors there (AB and MH) are very lovely and I'd thoroughly recommend them as nice people to have as college tutors :yep: The tutor at Lincoln (SA) can come across a bit scary but her bark is much worse than her bite, if that makes sense? :smile: Christ Church takes the most musos (about 5-6 per year each year) but it is very popular with applicants, due to being next to the Faculty building and also a choral foundation college :eek: It does have the Harry Potter dining hall though :awesome:

Ahhh I see :beard: Thanks for mentioning this :h:
Original post by qwerties
Thanks again for the reply, I went quite rouge and ended up choosing Queen’s instead as I really wanted a chapel, and St Hilda’s didn’t, even if it had a lovely site. I’m slightly worried about Queens being oversubscribed though - but I’ve been told it shouldn’t really affect me all that much, as I’d just be pooled if the department wants me?

Yes it doesn't matter if it's an oversubscribed college in terms of getting into *an* Oxford college somewhere. If they think you're good enough for a place at Oxford they will do their best to find you one - it may just not be at Queen's :smile: The year I applied, my college tutor interviewed 10 people who he thought deserved places and they all got an offer from a college - just obviously not all the same one/the original one applied to :biggrin:

Try not to let the competition throw you either way :hugs:
Oxford or Cambridge for Undergraduate Law? I'm very interested in both courses and can't decide. :confused:
Original post by Theloniouss
The way it works at Cambridge (for all courses, to the best of my knowledge - possibly not if they're accredited) is that your degree isn't classified, and you receive a classification every year for that year's exams. Most people will only give their final year classification, or if you get a first multiple years you would call it a double/triple (erase as appropriate) first.

@qwerties for reference

it's changed ....On the Cam Uni Website it says ...Students entering from October 2020

All undergraduate Tripos students beginning their study in October 2020 and onward will receive an overall degree classification at the end of their final year. The algorithm for obtaining the final classification will vary by Tripos. In addition, each part of the Tripos will receive an individually classed result, but your final overall classification will be considered your degree outcome.
Hey! I’m applying 2023 (2024) entry and am struggling to pick between Oxford and Cambridge for History or History and Modern Languages. I’ve been comparing the course content between the two but both have such a vast amount of choice (which is wonderful) that I can’t find anything distinct that separates the two apart. If anyone with more knowledge in this area could shed some more light or offer some lesser known information it would be greatly appreciated.

edit: I’m an Australian student so the usual advice of which is closer to home, or which one puts more value on A-levels or GSCEs unfortunately doesn’t apply to me
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by closetarchivist
Hey! I’m applying 2023 (2024) entry and am struggling to pick between Oxford and Cambridge for History or History and Modern Languages. I’ve been comparing the course content between the two but both have such a vast amount of choice (which is wonderful) that I can’t find anything distinct that separates the two apart. If anyone with more knowledge in this area could shed some more light or offer some lesser known information it would be greatly appreciated.

edit: I’m an Australian student so the usual advice of which is closer to home, or which one puts more value on A-levels or GSCEs unfortunately doesn’t apply to me

Then let your decision be based on whether the environment in Oxford or Cambridge is preferable.

Oxford is a busier city, whereas Cambridge is smaller and quieter.

If this doesn’t help you decide, then look at some individual colleges at each uni and see whether any really appeal to you in any ways.
Original post by closetarchivist
Hey! I’m applying 2023 (2024) entry and am struggling to pick between Oxford and Cambridge for History or History and Modern Languages. I’ve been comparing the course content between the two but both have such a vast amount of choice (which is wonderful) that I can’t find anything distinct that separates the two apart. If anyone with more knowledge in this area could shed some more light or offer some lesser known information it would be greatly appreciated.

edit: I’m an Australian student so the usual advice of which is closer to home, or which one puts more value on A-levels or GSCEs unfortunately doesn’t apply to me

As a city, Cambridge is smaller, prettier (in my opinion) and quieter. Oxford is busier with more nightlife. In Cambridge, it feels like the uni is built around the City, whereas Oxford feels like a uni built in a City. If you don’t have any preference between the uni courses, then choose based on the type of city you want to live in.
Original post by lalexm
As a city, Cambridge is smaller, prettier (in my opinion) and quieter. Oxford is busier with more nightlife. In Cambridge, it feels like the uni is built around the City, whereas Oxford feels like a uni built in a City. If you don’t have any preference between the uni courses, then choose based on the type of city you want to live in.

This is probably going to sound quite silly of me, but what exactly does that metaphor mean? I’ve heard it so many times and yet I don’t understand it. Does it refer to if the university of the city came first?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by closetarchivist
This is probably going to sound quite silly of me, but what exactly does that metaphor mean? I’ve heard it so many times and yet I don’t understand it. Does it refer to if the university of the city came first?


In both cases the City pre-dated the university. In Cambridge it feels like all the main attractions and all the prettiest building are the universities. For example, the centre of Cambridge and the most photographed spot is Kings parade, which is where Kings Cambridge college is. Oxford is a bigger City with a lot more attractions outside the Uni. Some of the uni building are still stunning, but you need to go look for them rather them dominating the city centre.
Original post by lalexm
In both cases the City pre-dated the university. In Cambridge it feels like all the main attractions and all the prettiest building are the universities. For example, the centre of Cambridge and the most photographed spot is Kings parade, which is where Kings Cambridge college is. Oxford is a bigger City with a lot more attractions outside the Uni. Some of the uni building are still stunning, but you need to go look for them rather them dominating the city centre.

I understand this, thank you. I don’t believe i’m overly concerned either way, as I would like to pick mainly on course, I’m just struggling to weigh up the two and pick one.

Unfortunately for me I think that’s going to be something that i’m largely going to have to sort myself unless I can find people with insight about history/languages from both universities.

Nonetheless i appreciate your help.
Hello! I am applying for Classics for a 2024 entry with predicted grades of A*A*A and I’m struggling to chose between the two… (I’ve never studied Greek or Latin)
I like how you can choose a language at Oxford, but I don’t like how there is a larger emphasis on philosophy, which I don’t really enjoy.

Cambridge’s course seems much more free, and seeing as I’m born in July I don’t care about being a year older as there wouldn’t be much of a gap anyway. However, you have to do both languages which I think might be a bit of a struggle??

As for the towns, I really don’t care about how it’s set up. I’m from the North so Cambridge is further from home but other than that it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Original post by waffelton
Hello! I am applying for Classics for a 2024 entry with predicted grades of A*A*A and I’m struggling to chose between the two… (I’ve never studied Greek or Latin)
I like how you can choose a language at Oxford, but I don’t like how there is a larger emphasis on philosophy, which I don’t really enjoy.

Cambridge’s course seems much more free, and seeing as I’m born in July I don’t care about being a year older as there wouldn’t be much of a gap anyway. However, you have to do both languages which I think might be a bit of a struggle??

As for the towns, I really don’t care about how it’s set up. I’m from the North so Cambridge is further from home but other than that it doesn’t really make much of a difference.

why is it you don't like the larger emphasis on philosophy? from my understanding, it's nice to be able to choose which language you study :smile:
if you need help choosing which college I found this quite helpful: https://www.avaloneducation.co.uk/post/choosing-a-college.
Hi everyone! I am a y12 student from HK and take IAL. My predicted grades for AS is AAA but I withdraw from the economics exam at the last sec because I feel like i am not ready for it and my mental status was not stable at that time, which I am afraid I will get a terrible grade and Oxbridge only counts the result of the first sit of exams (although its kinda tmi just incase that might affect my application). I wanted to apply to psychology but I am struggling which uni i shall apply. Cambridge allows me to take optional papers since y1 but I can gain a research master if I choose Oxford. I dont really like biology that much and I have heard EP in Oxford has a large bit of biology. May I know is it the same for Cambridge? Also, may I know if there are any more differences between two unis apart from optional papers and research master? Thank you so much!

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