We want our students to flourish and we look for students who can demonstrate:

  • motivation: a real interest and strong desire to learn physics;
  • ability to express physical ideas using mathematics: mathematical ability;
  • reasoning ability: ability to analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches;
  • physical intuition: an ability to see how one part of a physical system connects with another; and to predict what will happen in a given physical situation;
  • communication: ability to give precise explanations both orally and numerically.

Alongside the standard application process for undergraduate courses at Oxford, applicants to study physics at the Department of Physics are also required to take a two-hour written test, the Physics Aptitude Test, or PAT (see below).

Selection is based on a candidate’s performance in the PAT, information in their UCAS application and other contextual information published on the University of Oxford website. The PAT, together with the interviews and UCAS information enables a candidate’s physics, maths and problem-solving ability to be judged and allows us to identify those exceptional students with the potential to succeed.

Entrance requirements

Entrance requirements for our BA Physics/MPhys/MPhysPhil courses are as follows:
A-levels: A*AA (with the A* in Physics, Mathematics or Further Mathematics)
Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 should be in either Physics or Mathematics)
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications and international qualifications)

Candidates are expected to have Physics and Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or equivalent. The inclusion of a Maths Mechanics module would also be highly recommended. Further Mathematics can be helpful to candidates in completing this course, although this is not required for admission. You are expected to have taken and passed any practical component in your chosen science subjects.

There are no formal requirements for performance at GCSE.

What is the PAT?

The PAT is a two-hour paper, sat under timed conditions, that aims to evaluate a student’s aptitude for the undergraduate courses at the Department of Physics. All prospective students applying to study physics, physics and philosophy, engineering and materials science are required to sit the test. The Department of Physics works in partnership with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing to administer the PAT and candidates need to enter for the PAT via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website. A sample paper, past papers and PAT reports are available.

Dates for your diary for 2021:


More information can be found in the Department of Physics admissions procedures which are followed by all colleges.

Selection criteria for physics and philosophy candidates

Candidates for the joint school of physics and philosophy are assessed using the physics admissions criteria listed above and the philosophy admissions criteria for joint degree courses listed on the Faculty of Philosophy website. Candidates for physics and philosophy are not required to submit written work.