Professor Steve Simon teaching an outdoor tutorial in the quadrangle on a sunny day. He writes equations on a blackboard, watched by 4 students.

Your time at Somerville should be spent exploring your intellectual passions and pushing the boundaries of your understanding of the world. We offer many courses that you might be familiar with - but there are enough new subjects, new combinations and new ways of doing things that you should explore the options carefully before making a choice. Bear in mind that even if you are familiar with a subject, studying at degree level will be very different from school.

Choosing an undergraduate course at Oxford
Picking your favourite

If you already have a favourite subject, you might be feeling like there's not much reason for you to open the prospectus. But studying a subject here can look very different to studying it at school, with courses focused on equipping you with the skills to be a brilliant researcher and thinker. Even in a familiar subject students are given increasing levels of choice about the specific topics they will be examined on so you'll want to do your homework. Don't forget that you can always combine your favourite subject with something new through one of our joint honours degrees, which you can read more about below.

You can read in detail about all of our courses through the A-Z below or on the University site.

Trying a new subject

Our course list contains a few subjects that you may not have seen on your school timetable. Trying these disciplines gives you a chance to take the skills you have developed so far in brand new directions.

Some of these courses have familiar components, such as the science or maths based Biochemistry, Computer Science and Engineering. Some subjects are well-known despite not necessarily being available at A level, like Law and Medicine. Others are entirely new - Classical Archaeology and Ancient History for example, which gives you the chance to discover and interpret the ancient world through both practical archaeology and scholarship.

Joint courses

Your favourite subject is out there, but there may well be more than one way of approaching it if it is offered as part of a joint course. This isn't a compromise between two subjects, but a bold decision to learn something new and discover the way your subject relates to something else. Modern scholars are increasingly finding themselves working over disciplinary boundaries, and joint courses are one way in which we keep up with this trend.

Philosophy, Politics and Economics, for example, is one of Oxford's most famous courses, teaching students how to understand the creation and development of societies in three different ways.

Maths and Philosophy is founded on the belief that the parallel study of the two related disciplines can significantly enhance your understanding of each, finding common ground in logic and analytical thinking.

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics takes this approach even further, taking subjects which on first glance are not immediately related and giving a chance to find their surprising intersections.

Your subject and your career

One thing you probably shouldn't worry about is getting a job after your course. Unless you're set on becoming a doctor or engineer and need to gain important qualifications, a degree in any subject from Oxford looks amazing on your CV. The facts don't lie - 91% of Oxford University leavers are in employment or study within 6 months of leaving. Somervillians also have access to mentoring from our worldwide community of alumni through an easy online platform. Find out more about next steps here.

Professor Kay Davies
Professor Kay Davies, Alumnus, geneticist (Chemistry 1969)
I was reading chemistry as an undergraduate but had a greater interest in biology and genetics. The environment, which focused on developing the individual, and the support of my tutors gave me the confidence to change fields and follow the subject I was passionate about.