Frequently Asked Questions

Which A-level subjects should I choose?

You should check carefully the requirements of your chosen course. Beyond this we would not wish to be prescriptive: you yourself, with your current teachers, are better placed than we are to choose subjects based on your interests and aptitude. The Russell Group of Universities, which includes Oxford, has published some recommendations of subjects that are good preparation for any subject, which you may find useful, but these are not meant to exclude other subjects in which you are interested and can expect to do well: the only A-level that will not be considered part of any conditional offer is General Studies (or General Studies and Critical Thinking for Medicine).

Is there a minimum requirement at AS-level?

No. Where applicants, schools or colleges provide AS module results (grades or marks) within the UCAS application, this information will be considered as part of the overall record of the candidate’s academic attainment to date. This may be used by Admissions Tutors as evidence of an applicant’s suitability to study at Oxford, although this will be not used in a mechanistic way to shortlist for interview, or determine which candidates receive an offer.

It is therefore in the interests of their students for schools and colleges to declare AS module marks or grades if they demonstrate a candidate is performing strongly. Where it is the policy of a school or college not to certificate AS module results (or where the school no longer enters candidates for modules in year 12) this should be stated in the UCAS reference.

Can I apply with qualifications other than British A-levels?

Yes. Balliol has a very long tradition of admitting students for undergraduate courses from a wide range of educational systems.

Read the application procedure for students from outside the UK. These pages and the links from them explain the test and interview arrangements for international candidates. Please make sure you read them carefully, as it is your responsibility to make sure you keep to the deadlines and make arrangements for any written tests there may be in your subject.

We make conditional offers based on university-wide standards. If your qualification is not listed, please email us at

Is there an English language requirement for applicants whose first language is not English?

Yes. This applies across all the colleges at Oxford University. Further details can be found here.

What are the interview arrangements for international students?

You can find out more about interview arrangements for international students here.

What should I do if I have a disability?

We would encourage you to contact us even before you submit your application to discuss your particular requirements and, if you would like to do so, to arrange a visit to explore the facilities in College (see this page) and in your chosen subject department/s.

We would also encourage you to tell us about your disability in your UCAS application form. This is purely so that we can support you appropriately throughout the application process, and establish in advance any arrangements that you might need if invited for interview. Please find out more here.

Do you guarantee accommodation?

All Balliol undergraduates are guaranteed accommodation in their first year at Balliol, and it is usually available by ballot in the remaining years of their course.

Gap years: can I take a year off before coming to Balliol?

Yes, Balliol does consider candidates applying for deferred entry. These candidates are assessed against exactly the same assessment criteria as those applying for direct entry. Generally speaking, however, deferred entry is seen as more competitive because it involves the tutors having to reserve a place against as yet unseen candidates.

Tutors may want to see a proposed plan for your gap year which includes some form of maintaining academic engagement with your chosen subject. Examples could include an internship, work placement or simply a structured reading plan. Suggested reading can be found under the ‘How to Apply’ tab on individual subject course pages, which are located here.  

Candidates should also be aware that tutors might offer them a place for direct entry if they believe that it is appropriate for their application.

Does it matter which school I have attended?

No. Balliol accepts students from a very wide range of state and independent schools, both in Britain and abroad. We do not operate either a quota system or any form of positive or negative discrimination. We seek only to choose the students with the most potential for the courses for which they are applying, irrespective of the kind of school or college they have attended.

Is there a minimum age requirement for entry to the College?

The University does not set any age requirements, apart from in Medicine (see here), but applicants for all undergraduate courses will be expected to demonstrate an approach to study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge, and the ability to manage their own time without the external imposition of a full daily timetable.

Can I apply as a mature student?

Yes. Balliol has a long tradition of accepting mature students, and looks for the best and brightest regardless of age or background. Please bear in mind that the entrance process for mature applicants is identical to that for all other applicants. This includes the requirement to submit written work, sit a test and attend for interview as required. In the case of written work, applicants are advised to submit recent work which may or may not be related to the course for which they are applying. Read more information about how to apply. Mature students are full members of the JCR.

There is also a college, Harris Manchester, which provides an environment exclusively for mature students.

Do you accept Senior Status students?

Yes (for all courses, with the exception of Law). Balliol has a long tradition of accepting students for undergraduate degrees who already have degrees at other universities. Generally such students only do the Part II element of the degree (usually two years) but some choose to do the whole undergraduate degree. The Law tutors require (for reasons of intellectual coherence) that senior-status students do all three years of the undergraduate degree.

Details of how to apply for Senior Status are available on the University’s undergraduate admissions website.

Can I be a Visiting Student at Balliol?

Balliol does not consider applications for Visiting Students outside a small number of specific exchange programmes. You can find details and further information about the colleges that do here.

Can I reapply if my application was unsuccessful?

Yes. We treat each application as a new application and evaluate it as such. Please bear in mind that the strength of the field is unlikely to change year on year, so the outcome is likely to be the same unless your application becomes substantially more competitive.

Do you offer places through Clearing or Adjustment?

No. All of our undergraduate places are filled in the ‘admissions cycle’ in December each year. We include an allowance for some candidates who do not take up their places, so we have no places to fill, and do not take part in the Clearing or Adjustment processes.

Where can I find advice on studying in the UK and the impact of the referendum?

As the implication of the 2016 referendum result becomes clear and as UK and EU negotiations advance, the University will update this page.

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