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Philosophy and Modern Languages at Oxford - Course Outline

A Weekly Timetable

The coursework is divided between tutorials, classes (language classes throughout the course, first-year logic and about two or three hours weekly) and lectures. Around a third of students' week will be spent in private study to practice essays for tutorials.

First Year


Introduction to Philosophy

  • Logic
  • Moral philosophy
  • General philosophy

Modern Languages:

Translation into and from a European language and some practical exercises in the foreign language and two papers in the literature of the relevant language: one of essay or commentary and one of commentary on texts.


First University exams, six written papers: four in Modern and two in Philosophy

Second and Fourth Year

Compulsory core subjects:


  • Either Philosophy or History from Descartes to Kant
  • Or Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
  • Or Plato's Republic

Modern Languages:

  • Three language papers
  • One further paper from a list of options
  • One period of literature paper

Further Options:

  • Either four further papers in Philosophy (many options comprising thesis)
  • Or three further papers in Philosophy and one in Modern Languages (which can be an extended essay)
  • Or two further papers in Modern Languages and two in Philosophy


Final University exams
Nine papers (with at least three in Philosophy and four in Modern Languages). One Philosophy paper can be replaced by a thesis. Some of the Modern Languages papers can be replaced by a portfolio or thesis of essays.
Modern Languages oral

Application Procedure

Candidates should follow the application procedure as mentioned in how to apply page of the university website. The following information provides details for students applying for Philosophy and Modern Languages course.

Written Work

Candidates ought to submit two pieces of written work relating to the language they wish to study by the prescribed date.

Written Tests

For Philosophy, students require to take one-hour test of their ability to reason analytically and to use language proficiently. Candidates need to take the test during the Oxford interview period of December. Subsequently, during the interview period, there will be a thirty-minute test for each of the languages students intend to study, although not in languages students wish to study more or less from scratch. These tests are designed with the intention of assessing students' grammar rather tan vocabulary.

What Tutors Look for?

During the interview period, tutors look for interest in the projected field of study, related linguistic ability, an analytical and critical response to questions and texts and the ability to defend a viewpoint by way of reasoned argument.

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