Oxford or Cambridge - for History?

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JDCoey
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So I'm set on making a strong application for Oxbridge, and have spent a while debilitating which of the two is best for my application. I understand there are differences in both the courses and application process - e.g. Cambridge interview more, Oxford has the HAT

I intend to study history and am currently taking Geography, History and Maths, anticipating 3 A* predictions (I regret dropping my fourth so please don't bring that one up) - I am studying at a state school. I achieved 11 9s, 1 A* and an A^ (Add Maths) at GCSE, and am also planning on an EPQ. I am currently reading around my subject with a few historical theory books.

Could anyone enlighten me on any more differences between Ox and Cam in the application process? Would any of the info I gave mean one would be better than the other for me? Any info welcome
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Theloniouss
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Oxford typically care more about GCSE results than Cambridge - your GCSE results are very strong, so this might suggest you should apply to Oxford.

Having a pre-interview assessment might be an advantage as a state school student (This was my assumption when I applied but I have no statistical evidence for this), as private school students will be given considerably more assistance with preparing for interview and writing personal statements. This depends on how possible it is to prepare for the admissions assessment.

From my understanding, average humanities students only do 3 A Levels, so that shouldn't be a disadvantage.

I would say the main factor, however, is the courses. Oxford and Cambridge's courses tend to be different for each subject (by design, I think), so you mostly decide based on which university offers your preferred version of your course.
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Plagioclase
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I'd worry more about the differences in the actual courses than the admissions process...
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Sinnoh
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Don't worry at all about dropping your 4th subject. That was the right thing to do, they wouldn't have cared really if you had 4.
I can't really recommend one over the other just based off the admissions process. If they run open days in the autumn then definitely give them a visit.
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JDCoey
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Thank you very much! That's so reassuring to hear.
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JDCoey
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(Original post by Knortfoxx)
Oxford typically care more about GCSE results than Cambridge - your GCSE results are very strong, so this might suggest you should apply to Oxford.

Having a pre-interview assessment might be an advantage as a state school student (This was my assumption when I applied but I have no statistical evidence for this), as private school students will be given considerably more assistance with preparing for interview and writing personal statements. This depends on how possible it is to prepare for the admissions assessment.

From my understanding, average humanities students only do 3 A Levels, so that shouldn't be a disadvantage.

I would say the main factor, however, is the courses. Oxford and Cambridge's courses tend to be different for each subject (by design, I think), so you mostly decide based on which university offers your preferred version of your course.
Cheers for the advice, very helpful and reassuring! I will investigate more into the HAT as this may play to my strengths.
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Federer11
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(Original post by JDCoey)
So I'm set on making a strong application for Oxbridge, and have spent a while debilitating which of the two is best for my application. I understand there are differences in both the courses and application process - e.g. Cambridge interview more, Oxford has the HAT
Agree with all the above, and that the discrepancy within the courses should fundamentally guide your decision.

Also: deliberate*, unless you meant to weaken one of the two choices
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JDCoey
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(Original post by Federer11)
Agree with all the above, and that the discrepancy within the courses should fundamentally guide your decision.

Also: deliberate*, unless you meant to weaken one of the two choices
I agree with the disrepencies between courses notion, but have you overlooked the context of 'debilitating' within the sentence?
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JDCoey
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Edit: Deliberate**, two successive spelling errors, my apologies - wouldn't want that on the HAT would we.
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Federer11
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(Original post by JDCoey)
I agree with the disrepencies between courses notion, but have you overlooked the context of 'debilitating' within the sentence?
I’m not sure I follow - to debilitate means to weaken
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Federer11
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(Original post by JDCoey)
Edit: Deliberate**, two successive spelling errors, my apologies - wouldn't want that on the HAT would we.
Haha no worries
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Estherhm1
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(Original post by JDCoey)
So I'm set on making a strong application for Oxbridge, and have spent a while debilitating which of the two is best for my application. I understand there are differences in both the courses and application process - e.g. Cambridge interview more, Oxford has the HAT

I intend to study history and am currently taking Geography, History and Maths, anticipating 3 A* predictions (I regret dropping my fourth so please don't bring that one up) - I am studying at a state school. I achieved 11 9s, 1 A* and an A^ (Add Maths) at GCSE, and am also planning on an EPQ. I am currently reading around my subject with a few historical theory books.

Could anyone enlighten me on any more differences between Ox and Cam in the application process? Would any of the info I gave mean one would be better than the other for me? Any info welcome
Cambridge have the AHAA too - their own version of the HAT. It's really not that bad!
Their application processes are pretty much the same, apart from the aforementioned fact that Cambridge interview around 80% of applicants as opposed to Oxford's 60% as they like to give an interview to 'everyone with a credible chance of getting in'. At Cambridge - and I suppose Oxford too - you're highly likely to get 2 interviews, 1 specifically on your subject with some material to challenge your history skills (for me it was a 10 page essay to read!) and 1 from the History faculty about history in general. At Oxford it's pretty much the same but they tend to make more of a residential out of it; you have your scheduled interviews, and may be granted another which usually indicates you've been pooled to another college, or they're unsure about the strength of your application for some reason and want to examine your abilities again... forgive me if I'm wrong!! (I only know this from several friends who were interviewed this year). For Cambridge, you only usually find out if you've been pooled in January or on the day offers are sent out...

sorry, that's kind of long... but Oxbridge are looking for the same thing, and so their process is basically the same, apart from the exam you take before, and the course... I've heard that if you get an interview at Ox you're more likely to get in because they interview less? But obviously you don't know either way!

Anyway good luck! You look like you've got a really strong application anyway so I'm sure you'll do swimmingly
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by Estherhm1)
Cambridge have the AHAA too - their own version of the HAT. It's really not that bad!
Their application processes are pretty much the same, apart from the aforementioned fact that Cambridge interview around 80% of applicants as opposed to Oxford's 60% as they like to give an interview to 'everyone with a credible chance of getting in'. At Cambridge - and I suppose Oxford too - you're highly likely to get 2 interviews, 1 specifically on your subject with some material to challenge your history skills (for me it was a 10 page essay to read!) and 1 from the History faculty about history in general. At Oxford it's pretty much the same but they tend to make more of a residential out of it; you have your scheduled interviews, and may be granted another which usually indicates you've been pooled to another college, or they're unsure about the strength of your application for some reason and want to examine your abilities again... forgive me if I'm wrong!! (I only know this from several friends who were interviewed this year). For Cambridge, you only usually find out if you've been pooled in January or on the day offers are sent out...

sorry, that's kind of long... but Oxbridge are looking for the same thing, and so their process is basically the same, apart from the exam you take before, and the course... I've heard that if you get an interview at Ox you're more likely to get in because they interview less? But obviously you don't know either way!

Anyway good luck! You look like you've got a really strong application anyway so I'm sure you'll do swimmingly
The difference between the HAT and AHAA is that you sit the AHAA at interview, so it isn't taken into account when deciding whether or not to interview you.

I'm fairly certain you always get interviewed by two colleges at Oxford (nearly applied this year so I learned a bit about admissions), and different colleges interview differently. Sometimes you get two different styles of interviews but sometimes your interviews will be the same style (although that might be different for humanities).
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artful_lounger
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As above, you are a strong applicant for either course - you should worry less about admissions and more about the courses themselves. The two courses are quite differently structured, and so you should explore what this might mean for you.

Cambridge allows you to take both ancient and modern history as you like, and has a range of history of political thought options. Oxford on the other hand you would need to do the Ancient & Modern History joint school to also take ancient history options (although some colleges don't require applicants to specify which they wish to do in first year until they go up to Oxford). They do have some options in the history of political thought, but the structure of the course means at most you end up taking two (one in first year and one for the Final Honour School/FHS). You can take some options that are shared with History of Art at Oxford for the Further/Special Subject for the FHS, perhaps unusually for history courses. Both require you to study both European/world history and British history, incidentally.

One notable thing is that at Oxford, your entire degree classification will be based on your results in the FHS, where you take exams at the end of third year covering content taught over both second and third year (I believe for history it's 5 exams plus an extended essay and a dissertation). Cambridge on the other hand has Part I examined after (nearly) the first two years, while Part II is examined at the end of the final year; each part is classed separately. You might find only having to take 3 exams, an extended essay, and a dissertation a little more manageable for final year at Cambridge, and having only prelims with 2 exams in first year may give you a bit more mental space to settle in.
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JDCoey
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(Original post by Estherhm1)
Cambridge have the AHAA too - their own version of the HAT. It's really not that bad!
Their application processes are pretty much the same, apart from the aforementioned fact that Cambridge interview around 80% of applicants as opposed to Oxford's 60% as they like to give an interview to 'everyone with a credible chance of getting in'. At Cambridge - and I suppose Oxford too - you're highly likely to get 2 interviews, 1 specifically on your subject with some material to challenge your history skills (for me it was a 10 page essay to read!) and 1 from the History faculty about history in general. At Oxford it's pretty much the same but they tend to make more of a residential out of it; you have your scheduled interviews, and may be granted another which usually indicates you've been pooled to another college, or they're unsure about the strength of your application for some reason and want to examine your abilities again... forgive me if I'm wrong!! (I only know this from several friends who were interviewed this year). For Cambridge, you only usually find out if you've been pooled in January or on the day offers are sent out...

sorry, that's kind of long... but Oxbridge are looking for the same thing, and so their process is basically the same, apart from the exam you take before, and the course... I've heard that if you get an interview at Ox you're more likely to get in because they interview less? But obviously you don't know either way!

Anyway good luck! You look like you've got a really strong application anyway so I'm sure you'll do swimmingly
Wow thanks! I'll definitely take that on board. On the topic, would you happen to recommend any good history reads while we're on lockdown?
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JDCoey
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(Original post by Knortfoxx)
The difference between the HAT and AHAA is that you sit the AHAA at interview, so it isn't taken into account when deciding whether or not to interview you.

I'm fairly certain you always get interviewed by two colleges at Oxford (nearly applied this year so I learned a bit about admissions), and different colleges interview differently. Sometimes you get two different styles of interviews but sometimes your interviews will be the same style (although that might be different for humanities).
Interesting - do you know why it is that you always get interviewed by two colleges at Oxford?
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Theloniouss
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(Original post by JDCoey)
Interesting - do you know why it is that you always get interviewed by two colleges at Oxford?
No idea. I believe you're interviewed by your first choice and then a second college you're assigned to. Presumably it makes the pool fairer.
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JDCoey
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
As above, you are a strong applicant for either course - you should worry less about admissions and more about the courses themselves. The two courses are quite differently structured, and so you should explore what this might mean for you.

Cambridge allows you to take both ancient and modern history as you like, and has a range of history of political thought options. Oxford on the other hand you would need to do the Ancient & Modern History joint school to also take ancient history options (although some colleges don't require applicants to specify which they wish to do in first year until they go up to Oxford). They do have some options in the history of political thought, but the structure of the course means at most you end up taking two (one in first year and one for the Final Honour School/FHS). You can take some options that are shared with History of Art at Oxford for the Further/Special Subject for the FHS, perhaps unusually for history courses. Both require you to study both European/world history and British history, incidentally.

One notable thing is that at Oxford, your entire degree classification will be based on your results in the FHS, where you take exams at the end of third year covering content taught over both second and third year (I believe for history it's 5 exams plus an extended essay and a dissertation). Cambridge on the other hand has Part I examined after (nearly) the first two years, while Part II is examined at the end of the final year; each part is classed separately. You might find only having to take 3 exams, an extended essay, and a dissertation a little more manageable for final year at Cambridge, and having only prelims with 2 exams in first year may give you a bit more mental space to settle in.
Yes those are good points - thank you. I suppose I have always maintained an interest in Global History. Having entered an essay Competition regarding 19th century Latin America, and started reading a few books surrounding economic history in China, it does seem like the Cambridge course comes across as more appealing for delving into history of greater international soil. Similarly the prospect of studying ancient civilizations has always seemed particularly enticing. In those respects the Cambridge course seems more suitable, yet I think more scrupulous anatlysis of course content is required from my end. If I were to apply for Oxford, would discussing reading I had undertaken around ancient and international history (not covered in their course) still be valuable towards a personal statement/interview?
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Sophhhowa
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I’d base it if the courses given I believe they are quite different. Cam also has ASNC if ur interested in that time period.

Ox you have to pass the HAT and if you don’t I think ur out, I think they look at GCSES more and you stay in ox for a few days for interviews. Cam are much more ‘look at the whole application together’ but they give higher offers and generally more interested in academic performance although both care a lot about academics.

Honestly I’d look at the course. Which gets you more excited? Pick that one
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by JDCoey)
Yes those are good points - thank you. I suppose I have always maintained an interest in Global History. Having entered an essay Competition regarding 19th century Latin America, and started reading a few books surrounding economic history in China, it does seem like the Cambridge course comes across as more appealing for delving into history of greater international soil. Similarly the prospect of studying ancient civilizations has always seemed particularly enticing. In those respects the Cambridge course seems more suitable, yet I think more scrupulous anatlysis of course content is required from my end. If I were to apply for Oxford, would discussing reading I had undertaken around ancient and international history (not covered in their course) still be valuable towards a personal statement/interview?
Neither Oxford nor Cambridge put much, if any, weight on the personal statement (admissions tutors from various colleges at both universities have stated this is because they have no real way to know it's the student's work and not their tutor/parent/admissions coach writing it). However anything you write on the PS may be brought up in interview so you should only write about things you're confident discussing in an academic context.

I would note world history is a required part of the Oxford course as well (you have to take one world history option in finals I believe) so it is included in that course - this is for the periods of history section of the course; the further/special subjects have a wide range of options including various "international/world" history options (such as on China, Russia, India/South Asia, Japan, South/Latin America etc). Additionally "ancient history" as far as Oxford are concerned specifically refers to the period before 370 - anything after that is potentially an option in the Oxford course. So there is a lot of history which may not be as commonly covered in a course focusing on more "modern" history, but that is included at Oxford. Anything before that is an option in the Ancient & Modern History course (along with everything after) as an alternative.

You may be interested in LSE for history as they specialise in modern international history specifically, which may be an appealing option as a result of your interests. However they do not teach ancient history, and LSE does put a lot of emphasis on the personal statement - so if you were going to apply to LSE, you should tailor your PS to their course specifically (and so may be best off not discussing ancient history in your PS if you were applying there).
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