Computer Science and Philosophy is excellent educationally for those whose interests lie in this direction, and who are prepared to work hard to take advantage of the opportunities available.
The Computer Science Department is one of the largest in the UK and contains within it many world-class research groups. The Philosophy Faculty is the largest philosophy department in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, with more than 70 full-time members, admitting more than 500 undergraduates annually to read the various degrees involving philosophy. Many Faculty members have a worldwide reputation, and the library and other facilities are acknowledged as among the best in the country. The large number of undergraduates and graduates reading philosophy with a variety of other disciplines affords the opportunity to participate in a diverse and lively philosophical community.
Computer Science is about understanding computer systems at a deep level. Computers and the programs they run are among the most complex products ever created by humans; designing and using them effectively presents immense challenges. Facing these challenges is the aim of Computer Science as a practical discipline.
The study of Philosophy develops analytical, critical and logical rigour, and the ability to think through the consequences of novel ideas and speculations. It opens and stretches the mind by considering a wide range of thought and thinkers, on subjects as fundamental as the limits of knowledge, the nature of reality and our place in it, and the basis of morality.
Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied for three years (BA) or four years (Master of Computer Science and Philosophy). Students do not need to choose between the three-year and four-year options when applying. Instead, all students apply for the four-year course, and then decide at the start of the third year whether they wish to continue to the fourth year (which is subject to achieving a 2:1 at the end of the third year).
Teaching in Computer Science and Philosophy, as in most other subjects, has two main components: University lectures and classes, and college tutorials. The lectures and classes are provided and held in the Department of Computer Science and in the Faculty of Philosophy. The tutorials are held in college and cover all first-year courses and roughly half of the second-year courses. Details on the structure of the degree can be found on the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Philosophy websites.
The teaching provision at Jesus College is generous in relation to the number of Computer Science and Philosophy students. While many Oxford colleges have only on tutor in Computer Science, Jesus College has several tutors who are committed to research in computer science as well as to teaching, and who together will cover a wide range of subjects.
Professor Seth Flaxman is a Fellow and an Associate Professor of Artificial Intelligence. His research is in machine learning, public health, and public policy. He teaches programming computer science courses.
Professor Standa Živný is a Fellow and a Professor of Theoretical Computer Science. His research is in algorithms and complexity theory. He teaches theoretical computer science courses.
Professor Jean Baccelli is a Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy. He teaches Introduction to Logic, General Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science and Social Science.
Dr Oiwi Parker Jones is a Hugh Prize Fellow and a Postdoctoral Researcher. He teaches machine learning, neuroscience, linguistics and phonetics.
Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Principal of Jesus College and a Professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science.
Professor Sam Staton is a Hugh Prize Fellow and a Professor of Computer Science. He teaches Principles of Programming Languages.
Dr Atılım Güneş Baydin is a Departmental Lecturer in machine learning at the Department of Computer Science and a Senior Researcher in machine learning at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. His research interests are Machine learning, probabilistic and differentiable programming, simulation-based inference, applications in physical sciences and space.
Dr Matthias Lanzinger is a senior research associate in the Department of Computer Science. His research interests are in Theoretical Computer Science, Discrete Mathematics and Logic.
The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 16 October (please note that this date is usually 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.
Places available at Jesus College
In a total College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 2 places are offered in a typical year to read Computer Science, 2 places are offered to read Computer Science and Philosophy, and 2 places are offered to read Mathematics and Computer Science.
Academic requirements for this course can be found here.
All candidates must take the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 29 September 2023. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including how to register and guidance on how to prepare, can be found can be found here.
No submitted written work is required for this course.
Interviews are held in mid-December. If you are interviewed at Jesus you can typically expect at least two separate interviews with different tutors (one for Computer Science and one for Philosophy). The interviews for Computer Science will involve some general questions, but most of the time will be spent discussing logical and mathematical topics.
Please refer to the Departmental website for subject-specific advice.
The Tutors have no objection in principle to offering a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.
You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest of the cohort for their subject, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.
Computer Science can studied as a single discipline and is also available as a joint course as follows:
Philosophy cannot be studied as a single discipline for a degree, but it is available as a joint course as follows:
The Department of Computer Science at Oxford enjoys a high reputation, both nationally and internationally, for the excellence of its teaching and research, and is among the largest in the country. Research at Oxford covers a very wide range in both theoretical and applied Computer Science. It attracts generous research funding and draws students and visiting faculty from all parts of the world. The following degrees are available at postgraduate level:
- DPhil in Computer Science
- MSc in Computer Science
- EPSRC CDT Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems
- EPSRC CDT Health Data Science
- MSc Software and Systems Security
- MSc Software Engineering
- MSc in Mathematics and Foundations of Computer Science
Philosophy Graduate students will find themselves members of a large graduate community, together with others with shared interests who are at an equivalent stage in their intellectual development. The following degrees are offered at postgraduate level:
- BPhil in Philosophy
- DPhil in Philosophy
- MSt in Ancient Philosophy
- MSt in Philosophy of Physics
- MSt in Practical Ethics
Common roles for graduates include computer programmer, software designer and engineer, financial analyst and scientific researcher.
Please use the links below for further information:
- The University of Oxford undergraduate admissions
- Department of Computer Science
- Faculty of Philosophy
- Suggested subject resources
If you are contemplating a course involving Philosophy, or wondering whether such a course would suit you, you might wish to read some of the following:
- Thomas Nagel What Does It All Mean? (Oxford)
- Bertrand Russell The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford)
- M Hollis Invitation to Philosophy (Blackwell)
- Nigel Warburton Philosophy: The Basics (Routledge)
- Julia Driver Ethics: the Fundamentals (Blackwell)
- Simon Blackburn Think (Oxford)
- Roger Scruton An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy (Duckworth)