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Physics and Philosophy at Oxford - Course Outline

Weekly Timetable

The course work is divided between classes, tutorials, lectures and private study. The private study takes up the majority of students' working time.

First Year

Courses

Physics:

Mechanics and Special Relativity
Calculus and waves
Differential equations and linear algebra

Philosophy:

  • Introduction to philosophy
  • Elements of deductive logic

Assessment

First university exams

  • Two written papers in Philosophy
  • Three written papers in Physics

Second Year

Courses

  • Electromagnetism
  • Thermal physics
  • Mathematical methods
  • Quantum physics
  • Three physics practical exercises

Philosophy:

  • Philosophy of Special Relativity
  • History of philosophy from Descartes to Kant, or reality and knowledge

Assessment

Final University exams, Part A

  • Three papers in Physics; satisfactory lab work

Third Year

Courses

One elective paper in either Philosophy or Physics

  • Physics

A choice of three or five if the elective paper in Physics of the following subjects:

  • Flows, fluctuations and complexity
  • Classical Mechanics
  • Quantum, atomic and molecular physics
  • Symmetry and Relativity
  • General relativity and cosmology
  • Sub-atomic physics
  • Condensed-matter physics

Philosophy

  • Philosophy of quantum mechanics
  • Philosophy of science option
  • Choice of Philosophy option (in case, the elective paper is in philosophy)

Assessment

Final university exams, Part B

One or two written papers and one short paper in Physics
Three or four written papers in Philosophy

Fourth Year

Project

Students need to choose three units in any combination from the lists for Philosophy and Physics. There is Advanced philosophy of physics is an option. Exchange scheme students shall follow an approved collection of course options at the host institution.

Assessment

  • Final university exams, Part C
  • A mix of written papers and thesis or essays (in Philosophy) or project in physics

Entrance Requirements

  • A-levels: AAA
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
  • IB: 38 - 40 comprising core points
  • Or any academic equivalent

Candidates are expected to have Mathematics and Physics to A-level, Higher Level or Advanced Higher in the IB or any academic equivalent. The inclusion of a Maths Mechanics module is highly recommended. Further Mathematics and an arts subject can be useful to candidates in completing this course; however, they are not required for admission.

Application Procedure

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

If the application for Physics and Philosophy is unsuccessful, then students will be considered for Physics. If students do not wish to be considered for Physics, then they are advised to make it clear at the interview.

Written Test

Candidates do not need to submit any written work while applying for this course. Nonetheless, they ought to take the Physics Aptitude Test generally at their own college or school on the prescribed date by Oxford. Candidates should ensure that they are available to take the test at the time.

What Tutors Look for?

During the interview period, tutors look for evidence of good potential in the projected fields of study, an analytical and critical approach to abstract questions, problem-solving and mathematics skills and the ability to defend a viewpoint by way of reasoned argument. Students are advised to visit the university website for further information.


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