Undergraduate Admissions

Applying for an undergraduate course​

The application process for the undergraduate degrees in Oriental Studies is as follows:

1. Choose a course and check its entry requirements

2. Register for the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) by 15th October if applying to study Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish as part of your course

3. Choose a College

4. Apply for your course through UCAS by 15th October

The Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT)

You need to take the OLAT if you are applying to study a Middle Eastern language - Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish - as part of one of these undergraduate courses at the University of Oxford:

  • Oriental Studies
  • European and Middle Eastern Languages
  • Oriental Studies with Classics
  • Theology and Oriental Studies

For further information about OLAT, please refer to this page.

The interview process

Interviews for shortlisted candidates will take place in December. Interviews are not intended to be confrontational although they will undoubtedly be intellectually challenging. The tutors are interested in finding out what your intellectual potential is; they do not wish to catch you out. But remember to think carefully about the questions you have been asked; your interviewers will not mind if you pause to think. Try not to go in with some pre-packaged prepared piece you are determined to deliver at all costs.

Selection criteria

The following criteria are to be applied in the assessment of candidates for Oriental Studies. In the case of candidates for the Joint Schools with Oriental Studies, these criteria are to be applied in assessment for the Oriental Studies side of each school.

  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Conceptual clarity
  • Flexibility - the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and/or new information
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Critical engagement
  • Capacity for hard work
  • Enthusiasm for their chosen subject

At various points of the admissions process candidates will be assessed against these criteria on the basis of information derived from a variety of sources:

  • UCAS forms, including, in particular, personal statements, school reports, qualifications achieved and qualifications predicted
  • Performance at GCSE
  • Performance in the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) for those applying to study Arabic, Persian, Turkish or Hebrew as part of their course
  • Performance in interviews
  • Comparison, in all these areas, with other candidates

Confirmation of places

Applicants will receive confirmation of their places in mid-August, following the receipt of their exam results, providing they have achieved or exceeded the minimum offer they will have received if they were successful at interview.

International students

We welcome applicants from outside the United Kingdom. There are students from all over the world studying Oriental Studies at Oxford. We encourage students from abroad to study the entire course if at all possible, but those doing a second BA may sometimes be allowed to do a shorter version of an undergraduate course. Information about applying from outside the UK is available on the main University of Oxford website. We are used to dealing with applications from a wide range of educational systems and make offers which are appropriate in each case. For further advice on these and other qualifications, please consult the Schools Liaison Officer or the Undergraduate Admissions Office, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JD.

Further information on applying to Oxford for undergraduate study can be found here. Video guides to undergraduate study at Oxford are also available here.

Students have written about their experiences studying some of the languages offered in Oriental Studies for The Oxford Blue here: https://www.theoxfordblue.co.uk/2020/02/12/unconventional-languages-degr....


UCAS applications and admissions test registrations for entry here in 2020 are now closed. Applications for entry in 2021 can be submitted from early September 2020. See Applying to Oxford for comprehensive information and advice on how to put in a competitive application.

The entry requirements for BA Oriental studies are:

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Students are not expected to have studied an Oriental language before. A language to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent can be helpful to students, although this is not required for admission.

The only A-levels we do not accept are General Studies and Critical Thinking.

As long as students meet the subject requirements for their course, if there are any, then students are free to apply with any combination of A-levels for the remaining subjects.

We generally recommend that students take those subjects which they enjoy the most, and where they are most likely to achieve top grades. However, the selection criteria for Oxford University are entirely academic, and studying here involves a great deal of independent study: reading and preparing for essays and other academic work. So it is a good idea for you to choose subjects that will prepare you for the rigours of study at Oxford, and demonstrate to the tutors that you are prepared for academic life here.

Unfortunately not, the Faculty of Oriental Studies only offers courses for full-time study. You might be able to find some part-time opportunities or short courses in your area of interest with the Department of Continuing Education.

An OLAT exam would only need to be taken for Arabic/Hebrew/Jewish Studies/Persian/Turkish options. Further information regarding the OLAT can be found here.

Further information is also available via the main University's website, where past papers may be consulted for practice. These papers may be accessed here.

Information on written work can be found here.

If you are not sure what to send, or if you are concerned that you do not have suitable written work, please contact the college(s) that you are interested in applying to, as colleges may have different advice, or expectations in such situations.

Oxford University does not allow transfers into different years of the course. In the case of applicants that have started studying at another University, the Central Admissions Office has confirmed that the applicant would apply to start the course from the first year of the course, and their previous study at another University would only be considered as an entrance requirement (e.g. alongside A-levels).

The University of Oxford is and intends to remain a thriving, cosmopolitan community of scholars and students united in our commitment to education and research. The UK referendum result will not change this; our students from across the EU are as warmly welcome as ever.

Please check our Oxford and the EU: student Q&As page for the most up-to-date information from the University.