Undergraduate applications

This page is about undergraduate admissions. For graduate admissions, click here.

St Hugh’s College Admissions | Exeter College Admissions | Faculty of Music Admissions | University of Oxford Admissions

You will be interviewed by me (except 2015-17) and one other person

NB: This only applies to St Hugh’s and Exeter Colleges. Oxford is a collegiate university; admission is to a College in the first instance. Interviews and decision-making processes vary between colleges.

During the period 2015-2017 (admissions for 2016-2018), I will not be running admissions because I am on leave, so the description below does not apply strictly. I would expect tat my replacement to run a similar process, but I will not be involved, so details may differ. Please be aware of this as you read the text below.

Getting selected for interview

Your initial application consists of the UCAS form, and, a bit later, your submitted work (see Faculty of Music Admissions). If you are not predicted at least AAA, we will almost certainly not select you for interview. This means that each one of three A Levels (excluding General Studies) must be at least an A. UCAS points-score equivalents do not count: we don’t count more than three A levels and an A* does not compensate for a B (even predictions of A*A*B will normally lead to deselection).

If you are invited to Oxford, your on-site testing will involve a short performance on your chosen instrument and an interview at your chosen college. (You will also have at least one other college interview at a college your did not choose).

The interview

If you apply to St Hugh’s or Exeter Colleges to read for a BA in Music and are selected for interview, you will be interviewed by me (Professor Leach) (or my replacement), and one other person, usually the College Lecturer. We will give you two tasks.

  1. Prose summary and commentary
  2. Music analysis

1. We will ask you to spend the first part of your interview time slot preparing a prose text–usually a short article by a musicologist. In the interview we will ask you to summarize the text and will then ask you one question about the way in which it presents its argument (your ‘commentary’). This question will be given to you in advance, when you are given the text.

2. We will give you a short piece of music from the canon of Western tonal music (usually a piece by a composer such as Bach, Mozart, or Mendelssohn) and ask you about how the tonal aspect of the piece (i.e. its harmonies and the key areas that they articulate) structures the piece. The piece and the exact question might or might not be given to you to prepare before the interview itself, but either way you will have as much time as you like to look through the piece before you give your answer.

What we don’t ask

At St Hugh’s and Exeter we will not ask you to do a keyboard test in the interview. We will not ask you about your submitted essays, compositions, or harmony and counterpoint exercises. We will not usually ask you about things on your UCAS form unless we require clarification of something (in which case, this will not form part of the decision-making process–see below).

We will not ask you any trick questions!

How we decide

If you are called to interview you can take it as read that your UCAS form and submitted essays have passed the test. The UCAS form and submitted work allow us to perform an initial round of evaluation: if we ask you anything further about them, it will not be part of the interview but just us making conversation!

We will decide whether to make you an offer purely on our judgement of your academic potential as shown in the two tasks outlined above. Because we give all the applicants the same test, we will be able to compare all the candidates and rank them. For us at St Hugh’s and Exeter, the excellence of your intellectual ability comes first. If you’re also a fantastic performer, we’d view that as an added bonus, but if you’re not, we won’t hold it against you if you show promise as a thinker and writer about music.