The Student Room Group

I don't know what to do (Uni)

I'm in year 12, and currently take English literature, philosophy and ethics, classical civilisations and government and politics.
All of the subjects I took were meant to facilitate my love for English, which up until now I was dead set on taking for Uni. Equally, I've always had the dream of studying it in Oxford. With enough work, I believe I could have a shot at getting in. However...

I've been thrown into a loop.

Recently, I've found philosophy to be so incredibly interesting, and I find that most of my extracurricular reading involves it. On most occasions I reach for philosophy as opposed to fiction...
Oxford does not offer Philosophy as a stand alone course and requires the attached Theology which I find painfully boring. If I were to choose Philoosphy and Theology, I'd feel as though I were abandoning my dream of becoming an author, poet or anything in the English field. I know this isn't entirely rational, but it's a fear nonetheless. I love English a lot, don't get me wrong, and I can't imagine my uni life without it.

I'm stuck between three options. Trying for philosophy or English at Oxford, or a joint Philosophy and English degree which I've found in Bristol and Durham to be pretty good. Though, I'm scared that I won't have the full knowledge from a joint degree as I would from a single, as the course is equally split between the two meaning I'd naturally miss out on things others might study in both of the subjects I've joined together.
Then, if I were to apply for this at either Bristol or Durham, I feel as though I'm losing out on my longstanding dream of going to Oxford.

I know Oxbridge isn't everything, but it's hard to detach myself from something I've admired for so long.

Let me know what you think! Am I being unnecessarily irrational here? Any advice?
You have until the autumn to make this decision so don't stress.

Go to Open Days in May/June and listen to the 'subject presentations' for each course - this will explain the content of the course and you will be able to ask questions. This means you can find out of its the course for you and if it is actually what you thought it was.

Neither English or Philosophy leads to an obvious job - so doing two subjects like this is not going to disadvantage you, and if anything it will aid your understanding of both subjects / the connections between the two subjects. Again, this is something you might identify as a result of the talks at Open Days etc and be able to discuss with academic staff at each Uni.

Why would applying to Bristol or Durham mean you 'missed out on Oxford'......?
Reply 2
Original post by McGinger
You have until the autumn to make this decision so don't stress.

Go to Open Days in May/June and listen to the 'subject presentations' for each course - this will explain the content of the course and you will be able to ask questions. This means you can find out of its the course for you and if it is actually what you thought it was.

Neither English or Philosophy leads to an obvious job - so doing two subjects like this is not going to disadvantage you, and if anything it will aid your understanding of both subjects / the connections between the two subjects. Again, this is something you might identify as a result of the talks at Open Days etc and be able to discuss with academic staff at each Uni.

Why would applying to Bristol or Durham mean you 'missed out on Oxford'......?

This is reassuring!! Thank you.
I don't think I'll be looking necessarily at job prospects when it comes to a degree, more so if I find it interesting and if I want to pursue it for more than an undergrad degree.

As for 'missing out', it might partially be because of the name or prestige of Oxford (which I can admit is a bs way of deciding on things), but also because of the tutorial system.
Original post by Zwagrowska
As for 'missing out'

You can apply for Oxford AND Bristol and Durham.....
Reply 4
Original post by McGinger
You can apply for Oxford AND Bristol and Durham.....

What I'm saying is Oxford doesn't offer Philosophy and English together. Only English itself and Philosophy and Theology, so I'd have to miss out on one of the two if I were to apply to Oxford as opposed to having them both in a joint degree as offered by Bristol and Durham. Of course I could always apply for the sake of it and see if I get in for either one
Original post by Zwagrowska
What I'm saying is Oxford doesn't offer Philosophy and English together. Only English itself and Philosophy and Theology, so I'd have to miss out on one of the two if I were to apply to Oxford as opposed to having them both in a joint degree as offered by Bristol and Durham. Of course I could always apply for the sake of it and see if I get in for either one

Ask on the Oxford forum about if you can submit a separate PS to Oxford (ie. for one subject only).
Or it may be that if you don't actually state that you are 'applying for English and Philosophy' and just discuss English with your interest in Philosophy, it may still be acceptable. Oxford forum = https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=14
Reply 6
Original post by McGinger
Ask on the Oxford forum about if you can submit a separate PS to Oxford (ie. for one subject only).
Or it may be that if you don't actually state that you are 'applying for English and Philosophy' and just discuss English with your interest in Philosophy, it may still be acceptable. Oxford forum = https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=14

That's a very smart idea. Thank you so much for engaging with this!! You've definitely eased my mind for the time being. I'll do a little snooping around over in there.

Out of curiosity, what do you study or do?
Reply 7
Original post by Zwagrowska
I'm in year 12, and currently take English literature, philosophy and ethics, classical civilisations and government and politics.
All of the subjects I took were meant to facilitate my love for English, which up until now I was dead set on taking for Uni. Equally, I've always had the dream of studying it in Oxford. With enough work, I believe I could have a shot at getting in. However...

I've been thrown into a loop.

Recently, I've found philosophy to be so incredibly interesting, and I find that most of my extracurricular reading involves it. On most occasions I reach for philosophy as opposed to fiction...
Oxford does not offer Philosophy as a stand alone course and requires the attached Theology which I find painfully boring. If I were to choose Philoosphy and Theology, I'd feel as though I were abandoning my dream of becoming an author, poet or anything in the English field. I know this isn't entirely rational, but it's a fear nonetheless. I love English a lot, don't get me wrong, and I can't imagine my uni life without it.

I'm stuck between three options. Trying for philosophy or English at Oxford, or a joint Philosophy and English degree which I've found in Bristol and Durham to be pretty good. Though, I'm scared that I won't have the full knowledge from a joint degree as I would from a single, as the course is equally split between the two meaning I'd naturally miss out on things others might study in both of the subjects I've joined together.
Then, if I were to apply for this at either Bristol or Durham, I feel as though I'm losing out on my longstanding dream of going to Oxford.

I know Oxbridge isn't everything, but it's hard to detach myself from something I've admired for so long.

Let me know what you think! Am I being unnecessarily irrational here? Any advice?

I think if you really want to study Philosophy & English at Oxford, the closest you are going to get to doing that is perhaps Classics. It is a degree which encapsulates a lot of different subjects, including philosophy & literature.

If Classics or the other courses aren’t for you & you are in no rush to study at Oxford, you could always opt to do Masters there.
I do PPE at Oxford. From my experience, Philosophy here is very rigid. It’s writing in depth about the specific nuances of different writings. Eg. ‘What did x mean by this one specific word?’ It’s not awful, but the Ethics module so far was the only one where I felt I could interpret anything for myself instead of regurgitating opinions I didn’t quite understand. That said, you clearly enjoy philosophy more than me!

English students after the first year have a decent amount of angles they can take their course but I’m not sure how philosophical it gets.

May I suggest PPL here? It stands for Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics. However, you only actually do two of those from the start - so you’d apply for Philosophy and Linguistics route of the PPL degree straight off the bat. I’m not sure how much your interests in English lie in the linguistics side but it’s a possible way you can simultaneously apply for both of your interests and consider Oxford as an option for you!
Reply 9
Original post by Conniestitution
I do PPE at Oxford. From my experience, Philosophy here is very rigid. It’s writing in depth about the specific nuances of different writings. Eg. ‘What did x mean by this one specific word?’ It’s not awful, but the Ethics module so far was the only one where I felt I could interpret anything for myself instead of regurgitating opinions I didn’t quite understand. That said, you clearly enjoy philosophy more than me!

English students after the first year have a decent amount of angles they can take their course but I’m not sure how philosophical it gets.

May I suggest PPL here? It stands for Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics. However, you only actually do two of those from the start - so you’d apply for Philosophy and Linguistics route of the PPL degree straight off the bat. I’m not sure how much your interests in English lie in the linguistics side but it’s a possible way you can simultaneously apply for both of your interests and consider Oxford as an option for you!

Oh that's great! I've actually done a springpod degree taster program for PPE by Dr Matthew Williams at Jesus College. He was so genuine and a lot of the things mentioned were quite interesting, with the exception of economics, maths is most certainly the bane of my existence!
But I agree, I think with what you're saying, that particular module of philosophy would not interest me that much. I feel like there's only one logical answer of just not going to Oxford but it's hard to set it aside.

I'll definitely research more into PPL, maybe there are some course tasters out there for me to test out...

Do you know if you can do a joint masters degree (not at Oxford but just in general?) Or if I'd be able to do a masters in either English or Philosophy if I were to have an undergraduate in English and Philosophy together?

On a more personal note, how was your interview? How was the exam? How are you enjoying life at Oxford?
Original post by Zwagrowska
I'm in year 12, and currently take English literature, philosophy and ethics, classical civilisations and government and politics.
All of the subjects I took were meant to facilitate my love for English, which up until now I was dead set on taking for Uni. Equally, I've always had the dream of studying it in Oxford. With enough work, I believe I could have a shot at getting in. However...

I've been thrown into a loop.

Recently, I've found philosophy to be so incredibly interesting, and I find that most of my extracurricular reading involves it. On most occasions I reach for philosophy as opposed to fiction...
Oxford does not offer Philosophy as a stand alone course and requires the attached Theology which I find painfully boring. If I were to choose Philoosphy and Theology, I'd feel as though I were abandoning my dream of becoming an author, poet or anything in the English field. I know this isn't entirely rational, but it's a fear nonetheless. I love English a lot, don't get me wrong, and I can't imagine my uni life without it.

I'm stuck between three options. Trying for philosophy or English at Oxford, or a joint Philosophy and English degree which I've found in Bristol and Durham to be pretty good. Though, I'm scared that I won't have the full knowledge from a joint degree as I would from a single, as the course is equally split between the two meaning I'd naturally miss out on things others might study in both of the subjects I've joined together.
Then, if I were to apply for this at either Bristol or Durham, I feel as though I'm losing out on my longstanding dream of going to Oxford.

I know Oxbridge isn't everything, but it's hard to detach myself from something I've admired for so long.

Let me know what you think! Am I being unnecessarily irrational here? Any advice?

Your problem is that you are going to have mild regrets no matter what you end up doing because you can't have everything, but I think it's more important to do the subject that interests you the most than fixate on one particular uni which you may not get into anyway however good your grades.

So I would apply for Philosophy & English courses at Durham (another collegiate uni like Oxford), Bristol etc. I understand that Oxford is a bit of a dream for you but if they don't do the right course? Maybe keep it as an option for postgrad study by which time you will have worked out what area of academia really appeals to you the most.
Original post by Zwagrowska
I'm in year 12, and currently take English literature, philosophy and ethics, classical civilisations and government and politics.
All of the subjects I took were meant to facilitate my love for English, which up until now I was dead set on taking for Uni. Equally, I've always had the dream of studying it in Oxford. With enough work, I believe I could have a shot at getting in. However...

I've been thrown into a loop.

Recently, I've found philosophy to be so incredibly interesting, and I find that most of my extracurricular reading involves it. On most occasions I reach for philosophy as opposed to fiction...
Oxford does not offer Philosophy as a stand alone course and requires the attached Theology which I find painfully boring. If I were to choose Philoosphy and Theology, I'd feel as though I were abandoning my dream of becoming an author, poet or anything in the English field. I know this isn't entirely rational, but it's a fear nonetheless. I love English a lot, don't get me wrong, and I can't imagine my uni life without it.

I'm stuck between three options. Trying for philosophy or English at Oxford, or a joint Philosophy and English degree which I've found in Bristol and Durham to be pretty good. Though, I'm scared that I won't have the full knowledge from a joint degree as I would from a single, as the course is equally split between the two meaning I'd naturally miss out on things others might study in both of the subjects I've joined together.
Then, if I were to apply for this at either Bristol or Durham, I feel as though I'm losing out on my longstanding dream of going to Oxford.

I know Oxbridge isn't everything, but it's hard to detach myself from something I've admired for so long.

Let me know what you think! Am I being unnecessarily irrational here? Any advice?

As a Year 12 student, you’ve got sometime before you need to make a final decision. My first piece of advice would be not to narrow down your options solely to Oxford - the Philosophy degrees there are all joint honours (PPE, PPL, Modern Languages + Philosophy, Philosophy + Theology). Branch out and look at Cambridge - they do a single Philosophy degree.

If you find you’re more passionate about straight Philosophy, and also have the grades and ability - definitely apply. If you find you prefer English, go for that at either Oxford or Cambridge depending which course you prefer. I’d recommend some personal reflection time and reading around both subjects to try and make a decision. If you can’t decide by the time of applying, looking at combined honours of Philosophy and English or Liberal Arts degrees at other universities would not do you any harm. But if you are really aiming for Oxbridge try to choose one - sounds like English has been a long term dream, but Philosophy sounds more exciting.

In regards to the PPL degree at Oxford, I’d be wary of a few themes. It sounds to me as though you’re much more into English Literature rather than English Language. In Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics course (I assume you would apply for Philosophy and Linguistics) - it is very different to English Literature, and even English as a discipline. Largely, linguistics is the heavily scientific study of language rather than study of literature, poetry and prose - so make sure that is what you’re interested in if applying for PPL.

Good Luck
Original post by Zwagrowska
Oh that's great! I've actually done a springpod degree taster program for PPE by Dr Matthew Williams at Jesus College. He was so genuine and a lot of the things mentioned were quite interesting, with the exception of economics, maths is most certainly the bane of my existence!
But I agree, I think with what you're saying, that particular module of philosophy would not interest me that much. I feel like there's only one logical answer of just not going to Oxford but it's hard to set it aside.

I'll definitely research more into PPL, maybe there are some course tasters out there for me to test out...

Do you know if you can do a joint masters degree (not at Oxford but just in general?) Or if I'd be able to do a masters in either English or Philosophy if I were to have an undergraduate in English and Philosophy together?

On a more personal note, how was your interview? How was the exam? How are you enjoying life at Oxford?


I hope looking into PPL has been fruitful!

In terms of Masters degrees, to my knowledge they’re specific. It’s probably possible to find one specific subject that combines both interests though - eg. it’s very easy to combine Geography and Politics into something like International Development. Sorry I don’t know more!

My interviews were fine! I’m a second year now, so it all feels so long ago, but the test was also okay. Just takes some prep but it’s all doable and not too overwhelming. Interviews are a test of application of skills, not a specific knowledge quiz, so just read up on your subject a little and have things you like talking about.

Oxford is interesting! I would say the academic demand is ridiculously high. Sure, we sign up for it, but it’s excessive. Most people struggle and you have to be prepared to struggle and not let that ruin your mental health. Not to scare you off, but it is worth mentioning. That said, I enjoyed my modules a lot more this term than I did in first year, which was nice. The people, the city and the student community in general are all wonderful though. I’m glad I’m here if only for that. I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

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