9dobbo1
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Hello future theologians!

First of all, a big rep to Oxford Mum for encouraging me to write this. As we both noticed, there's very little in the way of information available about this course online, and I wish there had been a resource like this to me when I was first thinking of applying.

***

Why did I want to study Theology?

As many of you may know, I applied four PPE four times before deciding to read Theology and Religion. There are a few reasons why I changed, though I should start by saying that although I'm not particularly religious, my love of talking about all things religion started during my A Level Religious Studies course, where on a twice-weekly basis we would have the most heated and interesting conversations of any of my subjects. Arguments about the nature and existence of God, the morality of abortion and homosexuality, all were fascinating to me. I took from this that I wanted to study Philosophy (the course comprises of Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics), but in fact it was probably Philosophy of Religion itself (a paper you can take in your finals on the course) that I was most interested in. You can also read Ethics and Moral Reasoning on the course. As such I felt no motivation to apply for Philosophy and Theology, as there is much scope for studying Philosophy in the single honours school.

Philosophy and Theology is a more competitive subject, and also there are aspects to the Philosophy component that don't interest me. One of the reasons that I decided I didn't want to study PPE anymore was that I don't find the study of formal logic interesting or enjoyable, and that is a compulsory first year paper for Philosophy. I also decided PPE wasn't for me as my maths skills had declined over my numerous Gap Years, and so I didn't feel I would be so suited to Economics and some of the more analytical aspects of Politics.

If I could make a pitch for Theology and Religion (which I suppose I am), it would be that the world is overwhelmingly religious - whether or not you have religious faith, you have to recognise the impact of religion on the world. To better understand religion is to better understand the world, and indeed humanity. Since religions are all encompassing (in so far as they try to provide an explanation for everything), you may learn new perspectives on certain aspects of life that you hadn't considered before.
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(Original post by 9dobbo1)
Hello future theologians!

First of all, a big rep to Oxford Mum for encouraging me to write this. As we both noticed, there's very little in the way of information available about this course online, and I wish there had been a resource like this to me when I was first thinking of applying.

***

Why did I want to study Theology?

As many of you may know, I applied four PPE four times before deciding to read Theology and Religion. There are a few reasons why I changed, though I should start by saying that although I'm not particularly religious, my love of talking about all things religion started during my A Level Religious Studies course, where on a twice-weekly basis we would have the most heated and interesting conversations of any of my subjects. Arguments about the nature and existence of God, the morality of abortion and homosexuality, all were fascinating to me. I took from this that I wanted to study Philosophy (the course comprises of Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics), but in fact it was probably Philosophy of Religion itself (a paper you can take in your finals on the course) that I was most interested in. You can also read Ethics and Moral Reasoning on the course. As such I felt no motivation to apply for Philosophy and Theology, as there is much scope for studying Philosophy in the single honours school.

Philosophy and Theology is a more competitive subject, and also there are aspects to the Philosophy component that don't interest me. One of the reasons that I decided I didn't want to study PPE anymore was that I don't find the study of formal logic interesting or enjoyable, and that is a compulsory first year paper for Philosophy. I also decided PPE wasn't for me as my maths skills had declined over my numerous Gap Years, and so I didn't feel I would be so suited to Economics and some of the more analytical aspects of Politics.

If I could make a pitch for Theology and Religion (which I suppose I am), it would be that the world is overwhelmingly religious - whether or not you have religious faith, you have to recognise the impact of religion on the world. To better understand religion is to better understand the world, and indeed humanity. Since religions are all encompassing (in so far as they try to provide an explanation for everything), you may learn new perspectives on certain aspects of life that you hadn't considered before.
PRSOM
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9dobbo1
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Why Oxford?

Oh boy, where do I begin on this one. I'll borrow from a blog article I'm soon to be publishing on the John Locke Institute's website:

"Oxford is [...] like an Academic Disneyland. The sights, sounds and smells of the place are intoxicating – bells chiming in so many places it is nearly disorientating, the rich aroma of George Street’s various eateries, and the endless, captivating beauty. Radcliffe Square is the beating heart of it all, with the glorious Radcliffe Camera drawing together a loose collection of arteries that bikes rush through throughout the day – the riders chasing the next lecture, tutorial, or coffee with a friend."

I've lived and worked in Oxford on and off over my Gap Years, starting with the John Locke Institute Gap Year course in 2016's Michaelmas term, and I've never been anywhere that has felt more like 'home'. On the Gap Year course I not only got to know Oxford and it's many delights and eccentricities, but also the method of teaching at the University: the Oxford Tutorial. Each week I had to prepare an essay for a tutorial where I would have to defend my ideas in front of a world class academic and likely a peer of mine. It was intoxicating. I adored being challenged in this way, and knew I wanted more. Only Cambridge other than Oxford can offer this unique experience, and they don't even call them tutorials!

I can't express my love for Oxford enough, though when it is published I shall link my 'love letter to Oxford' blog post here.
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9dobbo1
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Did any teachers inspire you?

My Philosophy of Religion tutor at Truro School was an immense help in bringing about my love of religious enquiry and theological understanding. Also the Reverend at my school who introduced me properly to the idea of a Christian God, in a non-pushy way, after my years at a secular school.

My biggest inspiration though, it must be said, comes from tutors at the John Locke Institute. They introduced me to the tutorial format of teaching, and pushed me - not content with meeting the standards of some A Level syllabus, they were able to make me think in new ways about things I hadn't considered before. I have been particularly inspired by their Director, Martin Cox, who's insights into to the admissions process and honest feedback on my performance and plans were invaluable.

What resources did you use? What did they teach you?

I mostly went over the content of my Religious Studies A Level notes, and picked up a few books including introductory texts like Alister McGrath's 'Theology: The Basics'. I also used some previous Theology interview questions from this site and recorded my answers to them on my phone and listened back to them, and tried again if I wasn't satisfied with the answer. I also picked up, as it was relevant at the time, a couple of short books that had been written about religion and Coronavirus, as I felt it was important to have a grounding in how the topics I was reading were relevant to current real world issues. These books were 'Where is God in a Coronavirus World' by John Lennox and 'God and the Pandemic' by Tom Wright.

Mostly though, I'd say I wasn't reading too heavily. I instead spent time thinking about the big questions and what my response might be if I were asked about them.
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9dobbo1
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Did you attend any lectures or enter competitions?

No, though I did watch quite a lot of content on YouTube. The Oxford Theology Faculty's Youtube Channel has a smattering of interesting lectures and some good resources for making an application.

Did you have any work experience?

After attending their Gap Year courses in Princeton and Oxford, I went on to work on and off for the John Locke Institute over the years. This work was very rewarding as it often involved helping talented young people craft their futures. I've also done work experience in Parliament though I didn't mention this on my application as I didn't think it especially relevant (more 'extra-curricular' than 'super-curricular').

What did you mention on your Personal Statement?

My personal statement was quite 'personal' in that I spoke about the mental and physical challenges I suffered since my skiing accident in 2017 in the context of what I had been reading. I spoke quite a bit about the topic of Religious Language, including the work of A.J. Ayer and Wittgenstein. I'll also add here that my written work was on the Falsification Principle, as told by Anthony Flew and rebutted by R.M. Hare. I read through my written work a lot, and read the resources used to write it, just to be prepared incase I was asked about it at interview.

How did you choose your college?

Christ Church, or 'The House', as it's known, is in my view the quintessential Oxford College. In my years living in Oxford I have spent much time on it's meadows and with in its quadrangles, and I've loved every minute of it. I knew I would want to call it home one day, and so I chose it. It was also surprisingly not a very competitive college for Theology (the most competitive being Worcester), so I didn't feel too intimidated by applying there.

How did you find the interview process?

Well, they weren't as 'fun' as my previous interviews for PPE as no one came up to Oxford for them as everything was over Microsoft Teams due to COVID-19. However, I found the content of the interviews to be far more relaxed, giving me greater opportunity to think and reflect and give well formed answers. The tutors were all lovely and did their best to put me at ease - I knew I'd enjoy being taught by them if I got an offer.

Where were you when you got your offer?

I was in Ile de Re, France, on an internship for the John Locke Institute. I was outside and got the UCAS Track notification and nearly dropped my phone I was shaking so much. I ran in to the Director's house and screamed "I GOT IN!" and celebrations began very quickly after that. A reasonable amount of Champagne was consumed.

Are you looking forward to going up to Oxford?

It's been my dream for more than five years. I tear up just thinking about getting off at the train station and heading to college. You bet I'm looking forward to it.
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Further resources:

The questions Dobbo used:

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...tions/theology

https://www.oxfordinterviewquestions...ate%20Jesus%3F

(plus some reading suggestions)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/e...-a8590681.html

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxjyiEt62fQ

https://www.theology.ox.ac.uk/undergraduate-study
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One thing that shines through, in every single Oxford Demystified chapter, is enthusiasm about the subject. You have this in abundance.

Far from switching courses for convenience's sake, your passion began at school, when you loved the religious debates. Your true subject was lurking in the background all these years, waiting and waiting for you to notice it. This is why I believe it was your destiny all along.

I love the variety of this course. It's not just like a grown up version of Sunday school. in fact, I'm almost tempted to sign up (but who would watch reruns of Columbo with elder son of an evening???)

I believe that even though we seem a secular country, religion still shapes the world around us.
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(Original post by 9dobbo1)
Why Oxford?

Oh boy, where do I begin on this one. I'll borrow from a blog article I'm soon to be publishing on the John Locke Institute's website:

"Oxford is [...] like an Academic Disneyland. The sights, sounds and smells of the place are intoxicating – bells chiming in so many places it is nearly disorientating, the rich aroma of George Street’s various eateries, and the endless, captivating beauty. Radcliffe Square is the beating heart of it all, with the glorious Radcliffe Camera drawing together a loose collection of arteries that bikes rush through throughout the day – the riders chasing the next lecture, tutorial, or coffee with a friend."

I've lived and worked in Oxford on and off over my Gap Years, starting with the John Locke Institute Gap Year course in 2016's Michaelmas term, and I've never been anywhere that has felt more like 'home'. On the Gap Year course I not only got to know Oxford and it's many delights and eccentricities, but also the method of teaching at the University: the Oxford Tutorial. Each week I had to prepare an essay for a tutorial where I would have to defend my ideas in front of a world class academic and likely a peer of mine. It was intoxicating. I adored being challenged in this way, and knew I wanted more. Only Cambridge other than Oxford can offer this unique experience, and they don't even call them tutorials!

I can't express my love for Oxford enough, though when it is published I shall link my 'love letter to Oxford' blog post here.
Believe me, Dobbo has read out his blog to me, and I can confirm he is a one man advert for Oxford.

Look forward to it, folks!

Having said that, people have said I should get married to the Radcliffe Camera I love it so much, so I can talk.
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(Original post by 9dobbo1)
Did any teachers inspire you?

My Philosophy of Religion tutor at Truro School was an immense help in bringing about my love of religious enquiry and theological understanding. Also the Reverend at my school who introduced me properly to the idea of a Christian God, in a non-pushy way, after my years at a secular school.

My biggest inspiration though, it must be said, comes from tutors at the John Locke Institute. They introduced me to the tutorial format of teaching, and pushed me - not content with meeting the standards of some A Level syllabus, they were able to make me think in new ways about things I hadn't considered before. I have been particularly inspired by their Director, Martin Cox, who's insights into to the admissions process and honest feedback on my performance and plans were invaluable.

What resources did you use? What did they teach you?

I mostly went over the content of my Religious Studies A Level notes, and picked up a few books including introductory texts like Alister McGrath's 'Theology: The Basics'. I also used some previous Theology interview questions from this site and recorded my answers to them on my phone and listened back to them, and tried again if I wasn't satisfied with the answer. I also picked up, as it was relevant at the time, a couple of short books that had been written about religion and Coronavirus, as I felt it was important to have a grounding in how the topics I was reading were relevant to current real world issues. These books were 'Where is God in a Coronavirus World' by John Lennox and 'God and the Pandemic' by Tom Wright.

Mostly though, I'd say I wasn't reading too heavily. I instead spent time thinking about the big questions and what my response might be if I were asked about them.
I am very pleased that your Reverend introduced you to a Christian God without shoving it down your throat. That never ends well.

My faith comes from my own Nana, who died when I was 10. She was not intellectual but she was pure love, and her faith was straightforward and simple. In fact, Pink Woshette is based on her.

Religion and Coronavirus is a fascinating subject. Yes, people's faith has been tested by this terrible virus and the economic fallout. On the other hand surveys are showing that during lockdown parents and children have come closer together.

I know the John Locke Institute has been instrumental to your success and I am grateful for that. If not, you may have been applying 77 times eventually!

I am pleased the John Locke tutors (from Oxford) helped you open your mind and showed you a world you probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. It's relatively easy to submit a good personal statement and get a reasonable score, but it's the interview where most fall down. I am pleased you accepted criticism with good grace as well, and adapted yourself. This is the kind of student Oxford looks for. Look out for future John Locke content directly from me.

As for practising those questions on the phone, listening to the answers and altering them. Who's idea was this? It's genius, and I have never heard of this technique.
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In this chapter, you modestly mention that you helped talented young people craft their futures. In reality, you spent a lot of time tirelessly helping the John Locke students pass the TSA. Many got interviews as a result and some received offers too. You are undoubtedly a hero to them.

Christchurch has always been a bit scary to me, I mean all that fame, and Brideshead, and the tourists. It's lovely to know that it isn't all that tough to get in for some subjects. It really is the ultimate in colleges, isn't it? I am a great fan of wood panelling, so would probably appreciate it. I also long to visit the cathedral (yes, it has it's own), the amazing hall (inspiration for Harry Potter), the Alice in Wonderland stained glass windows, the immortal staircase from Harry Potter - it even has its own fancy new gift shop!

I am pleased that you had a nice relaxed set of interviews, and that Oxford finally saw the light and offered you a place.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall when you first enter the hallowed grounds of Christchurch, to finally come home.

Good luck, 9dobbo1, from all of us.
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9dobbo1
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
I am very pleased that your Reverend introduced you to a Christian God without shoving it down your throat. That never ends well.

My faith comes from my own Nana, who died when I was 10. She was not intellectual but she was pure love, and her faith was straightforward and simple. In fact, Pink Woshette is based on her.

Religion and Coronavirus is a fascinating subject. Yes, people's faith has been tested by this terrible virus and the economic fallout. On the other hand surveys are showing that during lockdown parents and children have come closer together.

I know the John Locke Institute has been instrumental to your success and I am grateful for that. If not, you may have been applying 77 times eventually!

I am pleased the John Locke tutors (from Oxford) helped you open your mind and showed you a world you probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. It's relatively easy to submit a good personal statement and get a reasonable score, but it's the interview where most fall down. I am pleased you accepted criticism with good grace as well, and adapted yourself. This is the kind of student Oxford looks for. Look out for future John Locke content directly from me.

As for practising those questions on the phone, listening to the answers and altering them. Who's idea was this? It's genius, and I have never heard of this technique.
Thanks for your kind words about the John Locke Institute. It truly changed my life.

As for the recording technique, I just came up with that by myself.
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9dobbo1
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
In this chapter, you modestly mention that you helped talented young people craft their futures. In reality, you spent a lot of time tirelessly helping the John Locke students pass the TSA. Many got interviews as a result and some received offers too. You are undoubtedly a hero to them.

Christchurch has always been a bit scary to me, I mean all that fame, and Brideshead, and the tourists. It's lovely to know that it isn't all that tough to get in for some subjects. It really is the ultimate in colleges, isn't it? I am a great fan of wood panelling, so would probably appreciate it. I also long to visit the cathedral (yes, it has it's own), the amazing hall (inspiration for Harry Potter), the Alice in Wonderland stained glass windows, the immortal staircase from Harry Potter - it even has its own fancy new gift shop!

I am pleased that you had a nice relaxed set of interviews, and that Oxford finally saw the light and offered you a place.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall when you first enter the hallowed grounds of Christchurch, to finally come home.

Good luck, 9dobbo1, from all of us.
Wait, have you never been in to Christ Church?
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Wait, have you never been in to Christ Church?
Yes, but not only in the public areas. I take friends and family round Christchurch when the other colleges are shut.

That doesn't mean to say I don't like it, though! In fact, it's one of the colleges I miss since Covid. I hear their Christmas carol service is exquisite.
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9dobbo1

You have 60 views of this chapter already!

That's a whole lot of theologians you are helping!!!
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