St John’s

 Philosophy and Theology


 offer made






 Comprehensive School

 yes (8 A*,2 A)


(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted B; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(NA at AS; predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer




First choice – Oxford Insurance – either Nottingham or Heythrop, open day pending


 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Primarily for the obvious reasons – big buildings and job prospects. Then for the course content, people i met and collegiate system.

Oxford offered philosophy and theology as a joint course, Cambridge didn’t.

Enjoyed open day
Wide mix of people



Not exactly, but they were very encouraging. My re teacher helped me choose my two essays, spent a few hours chatting about general philosophical name-dropping etc (he applied to oxford) and my head of year did all my telephoning, and helped me not get too nervous.

Read as much as you can. Show interest in the subject (sounds obvious but i found it was really important to the tutors) If you do re at a level read though your notes and something a bit beyond them to show you don’t just learn the syllabus. I found Don Cupitt’s ‘After God’ quite a good thing for something which crosses philosophy AND theology.




Two essays for theology. 1) ‘Discuss the views of Plato and Aristotle regarding body and soul distinction’ short essay done at the beginning of my course. I felt I knew the material well and could discuss it at interview. I was also doing a module similar at college around the time of my interview to could bring in some modern scholars. 2)’Does the ontological argument work?’ half term essay, done later in the term. Showed progression in my writing style. Again I felt confident discussing it and it was easy to go ‘beyond the A level syllabus’ with some of the ideas.


philosophy – 1 hour paper
I downloaded a copy of a sample paper from the philosophy department website and took it to my philosophy teacher to chat about possible variations on it. I read a few general introductions to philosophy to get a few key thinkers to drop in.

St. John’s – the theology tutor, liz carmichael gathered all the applicants for a kind of chat and then we went and did the philosophy test. For theology I had two interviews, one longer one, and a shorter one based on a gospel story and two commentaries we had to prepare comments on overnight. I had one 25min interview for philosophy.
Keble/Regent’s Park/St.Hilda’s – half hour interviews philosophy and theology together

Among many……. Philosophy – ‘how could we go about proving or disproving life after death’ ‘if you could meet a great philosopher from the past what would you ask them?’ ‘what do you think of descartes i think therefore i am reasoning’ ‘can we prove we exist?’ (led to the above question) ‘is it reasonable to say we may not have a soul, but are just our bodies……what makes us different from a very intelligent robot’ ‘what philosophy have you read?’ theology – ‘how would you go about proving the existence of god’ ‘how can you overcome contradictions in scripture’ ‘to what extent does scripture have to be interpreted’ ‘how do you see theology within the context of society’ keble-discussion of Anselm’s views on salvation general – why oxford? why this course? do you read newspapers? what interested you in the media recently? what was the last book you read? do you like travelling? personal – what did you do at lourdes? (from my personal statement) do you think miracles happen there? why do you enjoying performing arts? what do you enjoy about your a levels?

grey speckly trousers, dark jumper and white shirt. black trousers and pink jumpers. mulberry skirt and black jumper


St. John’s – very friendly, not overly stuffy
St. Hilda’s – nice setting, friendly undergrads showing us round, but i didn’t want a womens college
Keble – I went for my interview after dark so it was quite scary really. looked nice, students were friendly
Regent’s Park – very friendly students and tutors

I stayed at St. Johns in the beehive. Very good room. I also stayed in the tommy white building when i went for interview and that was great too


lots of chicken but lovely

very welcoming. I thought it was a nice touch to invite all the candidates together for a drink beforehand.

Very friendly and helpful – both for providing drinks and entertainment and for advice on their interviews.

Final stage

I had heard by text from a few people who had heard either way and i was worried that i hadn’t heard because i wasn’t in. I went wailing to my head of year who told me to get the number. But as I had an xmas concert that night i told her i didn’t want her to find out as i was convinced i hadn’t got in and then i would be upset for the concert. two hours later she came running into the school hall, which was full of younger kids in the choir saying ‘two As and a B’ and gave me a huge hug. I got the letter from st’johns four days later. But it was postmarked much earlier to i think it had got lost in the xmas post

Looking back

Of course. The interviews were scary but it was worth it just hearing that i was accepted.

Be yourself. I was planning on disguising my northern accent and acting seriously. Instead my grammar in the interviews was atrocious and I walked into the door as i left and erupted into giggles. If you’re right for the place then you’ll be accepted, if not then don’t worry. I know people who are much better than me who weren’t accepted.