Applying to Christ Church College, Oxford University

With Oxford’s busy town centre on one side, and the peaceful, green spaces of Christ Church Meadow on the other, Christ Church is a vibrant and diverse academic community where over six hundred undergraduate and graduate students explore a wide range of subjects. Uniquely among Oxford colleges, Christ Church has an important collection of Old Master paintings and drawings, housed in the purpose-built Picture Gallery. It is also home to Oxford’s Cathedral, which has its own world-famous choir.

Christ Church is one of the oldest colleges of Oxford University and sits in the heart of the city. Originally founded in 1525, today it is a key part of a very modern university, offering a home, undergraduate teaching and graduate supervision to over six hundred students. Its academic staff cover almost all subjects taught at Oxford. It stands out for its size, the beauty of its buildings, and its welcoming atmosphere, as well as the distinguished research and teaching that goes on within its walls. It is unique in another way too: it is a cathedral as well as a college.

Why did you apply to Christ Church?

Was able to meet a tutor and just got a wonderful feel for the college. Christ Church is really amazing especially the history of the college. (Profile 858)

I wanted to do to a large college and Christ Church is pretty big. It also has a huge amount of history which I found appealing. There was also the 'comfort' factor of being guaranteed accommodation in reasonably big rooms for all four years. (Profile 469)

I just walked in on the Oxford open day and fell in love with Christ Church! (Profile 791)

Christ Church seemed very beautiful, has a reputation as one of the 'great Oxford colleges' (whatever that means...) and has lots of tutors for my subject, excellent resources + accommodation etc. Central location, as well. (Profile 639)

Having made a bizarrely hasty switch to Oxford, Christ Church was the only college I could remember when visiting the city earlier in the year. The buildings were gorgeous and it has an impressive music reputation. Although after I'd applied, I half-regretted my decision because people reminded me that it was a well-known, rich college and as a result would probably be over-subscribed. Grreeaat. (Profile 491)

What was your general impression of Christ Church and any other colleges you visited?

It was very big and opulently built and steeped in history but not intimidating and was in fact reasonably friendly. I went to an open day there, and there wasn't really anything that put me off. (Profile 469)

I visited Trinity which was very pretty, Christ Church is very grand and Harry Pottery with tom tower, a cathedral and the hall where they filmed for Harry Potter. (Profile 979)

I arrived at Christ Church for interview in the dark on my own, and so the grand buildings which had looked gorgeous before in daylight seemed rather imposing at first. But in the morning the grandeur of the (Harry Potter!) hall was awe-inspiring, and the Nerve Centre (where the interview times are posted) was warm and buzzing with animated applicants. (Profile 491)

Christ Church was great; i really enjoyed the interviews. The people were really nice and the buildings are amazing, i can't wait to start there in October. (Profile 858)

Christ Church was very big and a bit overpowering at first, but the people were all nice and friendly. Queens was also quite big, with a good location. Exeter (had some friends apply there) was a bit on the small side, but seemed okay. (Profile 489)

Describe the day-to-day aspects of living in the college. If you stayed in college, how was the accommodation? How about the food?

- Accommodation: Choosing a rich college definitely had its advantages, the rooms were unbelievably spacious - mine was better than my room at home! All the rooms I visited had a lounge and a bedroom, all old and therefore grand. Be warned though, the rooms are freezing at night (especially if it takes you a couple of nights to discover one of the heaters, ahem).

- Food: Good. A couple of the courses at dinner over the course of my three-night stay were admittedly slightly dodgy, but I for one don't get three-course dinners at home! I thought there was an impressively wide choice of dishes at breakfast and lunch - I can see how easily you can put on a good few pounds eating as I had done while I was there! (Profile 491)

- Accommodation: Rooms were big and some had ensuites. Beds were made by maids. 

- Food: Dinner was a big occasion - grace was said in Latin. This was one of my favourite experiences at the interviews. (Profile 858)

- Accommodation: Rooms were ENORMOUS but really cold, my room was in the attic and the showers were in the basement! and lots and lots of stairs but the place was very pretty. 

- Food: As a vegetarian, [food was] not great. breakfast was nice however. I am quite fussy though! Proper 3 course at dinner, lunch was a variety of things. (Profile 979)

- Accommodation: The room I was put up in for interview was really big. I had a huge sitting room, with sofas, a desk, a table ets. and tea making facilities!! Coming off that I had a small bedroom. Using a bathroom did however, involved coming out into a freezing cold quad, which isn't too much fun in your pyjamas at three in the morning! Most of the rooms at the the college were quite big, though not as big as the room that I had which was second/third year accomodation. (Profile 469)

- Food: Generally okay, and agreed that it was better than many other colleges. The dining hall was a bit oppressive and dark (and yes, it is the Harry Potter hall!) The only downside was that there was no kitchens, so it was food in hall or eating out! (Profile 489)

Any  thoughts on the tutors/students at Christ Church?

- Tutors: Friendly, bit crazy. Helpful in the interview and they aren't scary or trying to trip you up. 

- Students: Really friendly and nice especially the Chemistry ones. Very normal. (Profile 979)

- Tutors: The two tutors who interviewed me , both male, were perfectly friendly, both slightly eccentric! The younger one was quite pushy with his argument but that only prompted me to answer back with more gusto - with retrospect that must have been exactly why he had been like that! 

- Students: I didn't really get to know them, but they seemed very friendly and approachable. (Profile 491)

- Tutors: They were very accommodating and tried to make the interviews as painless as possible!

- Students: They were mostly friendly, helpful, approachable and confident. (Profile 469)

- Tutors: Great, some of them are quite eccentric which makes the interviews more fun. They were all nice and most of them weren't intimidating at all.

- Students: Seemed nice and were there to support you. (Profile 858)

Do you have any advice for future applicants in terms of preparation?

[Mathematics] Review curve sketching and basic calculus. Make sure you know a little about the area of mathematics that you are going to say that you are interested in. Wear what you are most comfortable in to your interviews. (Profile 469)

[English and Modern Languages] Know your written work well and don't pretend to like a poem/novel/play which you hate. Being honest about your opinions is the best way to go. Also don't focus on extra-curriculars... these seem to hold little or no importance. (Profile 639)

[Law] There isn't really much you can do...just make sure to read newspapers/watch the news and be ready to answer questions on current affairs.

[English Language and Literature] The form: Sell yourself with genuine enthusiasm, and be sure to like and have opinions on any books/texts that you mention in your personal statement. In my second interview, the interviewer literally went through the authors I'd mentioned one by one, linking questions. Very nerve-racking!

The interview: Have a genuine interest and enthusiasm for the texts you write about, and talk to anyone who will listen (or even those who won't!) about your opinions so you get used to actually vocalising them. Rather than trying to manicly lengthen your reading list, it will be a lot more beneficial to find a few types of poetry/novel/drama that you enjoy and have a couple of examples up your sleeve - I personally was relieved to find that everything that came up in the second interview I could at least comment on because I had mentioned them in my personal statement (although it was no less interrogating!) They may ask you about your A Level texts so make sure you can talk about them intelligently!

Apart from that, enjoy the interviews, because they are the only occasions when you can 'be a boffin' as it were and talk 'literature' to people who love it even more! Don't be intimidated, of course they'll know more than you, they've devoted their lives to literature, but because of this no amount of enthusiasm will be too much! Wave your arms around, nod/shake your head, smile/frown, laugh. After all, they'll be teaching whoever they choose for the next three years, and they won't want to be slogging away with someone who hardly reacts! (Profile 491)

What questions were you asked during your interview(s)?

[Mathematics] Apart from reviewing the test I was asked questions on curve sketching, which appears to be a very common area of questioning. Its probably worth going over that before your interview. I was asked about an area of mathematics that I was particularly interested in, so it important to have an area of specialism before you get there. (Profile 469)

[Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)] politics- something from personal statement i was asked to expand on a concept.

economics- discussion followed by an AS/top GCSE level maths question. 

philosophy- discussion on moral dilemma/laws. (Profile 791)

[Economics and Management] Were some fairly basic questions about Macro in my Econ interview. In my management interview was asked to give management based advice on several case studies. (Profile 1065)

[English and Modern Languages] I was asked about my written work a lot, and some wider reading. Was not given a poem to look at or anything like that, which I was expecting. (Profile 639)

[English Language and Literature] The first one with the tutors was purely on the Corelli and Browning. Basically they gave me a different point of view to what I had expressed in my essays - a couple of times I asked them what they thought after I had given my own opnions so it took the form of a lively discussion. I was rather bemused when I realised they were actually doing most of the talking - at times I even had to interrupt them! If I made a link to another novel/poem/author we made brief diversions. In the second one, they asked me what I found interesting about the argument and the structure of the argument of a Virginia Woolf literary criticism passage. Then, that line of argument was discussed (as I've mentioned earlier) in reference to all the texts and authors I had mentioned in my personal statement - and Shakespeare. (Profile 491)