University of Oxford - English and Modern Languages?

I have basically two questions about applying to Oxford. A bit of information first:

I will be a senior this fall at an American public high school. I have a strong interest in literature and have done much relevant reading outside of school. My SAT I superscore is a 2300 (I took it twice). I have only taken one SAT II (World History), on which I received a 700, and have gotten two 5’s on APs (AP US History and English Lang) and a 4 (World History again). (I understand that these tests are not necessarily relevant to my subject…?) Freshman through junior year I took French, my language of choice, and made all A’s, but I haven’t taken an AP or SAT II in the subject, and it’s too late now.

Even though extracurriculars play a smaller role in UK admissions than here, it is probably worth noting that in addition to a somewhat wide (for my age) reading of classic works, I have won a national writing award (Scholastic), have specialized in creative writing at my arts high school, and have interned as an editor and writer for a local magazine’s blog; I also play piano and have had original works performed, and I’ve volunteered many hours for my school’s literacy club and taught music at a special needs school with which I have an unusual connection.

Question #1: So, assuming I write a very strong personal statement conveying said interest/extracurriculars, do you think I have a chance at admission into English and Modern Languages, or should I play it safe and just apply for an English degree?

Question #2: I am also interested in philosophy. There is no official joint programme called English and Philosophy. Can I still take philosophy classes? (Similarly, I understand there is a language centre. Would it be worth it to major in English and simultaneously absorb outside language and philosophy classes?)

Thanks for reading all this!

P.S.: A 3-year degree is preferable to a 4-year one to my family for financial reasons, but it is not absolutely imperative. If you have any financial advice, it would be well-received!

And you can’t get an English and philosophy degree here in the US?

If you want to apply for English and Modern Languages (for French) you will absolutely need AP or equivalent in Eng Lit and French. Can you arrange to take the exam even if you aren’t taking an AP course next year? Or SATII?

I don’t believe the Oxford Language Centre courses are quite what you’re looking for - afaik it’s just language tuition, not high level lit courses. You would not be able to take philosophy courses as part of your English or English and French degree. (You could in theory take the odd class from the Department of Continuing Education but I don’t know if it’s frowned on for current undergrads to do so -

If you mention your ECs in your personal statement you need to tie them into your interest in the subject(s) you’re applying for.

If you do English and French, you would have to do four years, the third being spent in France. This can be either at a French university, or working, but I think there would be visa issues for you as a non-EU citizen if you wanted to work during this year. It might be worth contacting the admissions office to ask about this.

Going backwards:

  1. English & Modern Languages is a 4 year degree, b/c you spend one year in a country that uses the modern language. If finances are an issue, sort that out first: assume that there is no meaningful fin aid besides what you can get through FAFSA.
  2. The system in the UK is very specific, and there aren't classes that you can audit, so no: if you don't take a Philosophy course, you can't really take philosophy classes. If you are in non-language course you can use the language lab - permission is required, but not hard to get.
  3. The English course at Oxford is not geared to either Creative Writing or Journalism, so those ECs will be less relevant than you might expect. Have you read [this page]( and [this page](
  4. For English you have to sit the ELAT, and if you apply for English + Modern languages you sit both the ELAT and the MLAT. These tests are a huge part of shortlisting who gets invited to interview.
  5. A requirement for admission to Modern Languages (French) is French to A level, which for you means a 5 on the French AP or a good 700 on the SATII. A requirement for admissions to English is English Lit to A level. You might get by with Lang, but I know that they know there is Lit, so I would expect they would prefer to see that as well.
  6. History, as a subject that requires a lot of reading and essay writing, is reasonably relevant for applying to English.

Thanks! Yes, I will try to take a French SAT II, and if necessary the AP exam as well. However, my school does not offer AP French, so I may have to study privately with my French teacher.

Studying with your French teacher is a good idea anyway- the A level tests reading, writing, listening and speaking, and if you are invited to interview you can bet that the French part will be (largely) in French (for dual honors courses, both departments interview the applicant, b/c both have to agree on the selection). Also (anecdotally) the French AP is an odd beast- you may better off self-studying/not in a class!