History Of Art @ Christ Church, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, over 1 day

Interview content

Interview 1: submitted work, personal statement; Interview 2: unseen artworks

Best preparation

Don't worry if you haven't done history of art; go to subject open days if you can

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Be confident; try to arrange a mock interview with teachers; familiarise yourself with personal statement and written work; don't be put off by others.

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

No test taken; written work submitted

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

All interviews on same day

Length of interviews: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Top tip! On the Oxford website you can look up past interview questions that are no longer used to practise (it’s not cheating, they’re university published!) which will give you an idea of questions.

As they will tell you before the interviews (so don’t worry if you forget) there are 2 history of art interviews and they have different question types:
1) you’ll be asked questions relating to your submitted work, including your personal statement - you may get asked about all three pieces, or just the one, it will vary between every candidate!
2) an interview where you’ll be shown various artworks and prompted with questions in response to them. This is the interview that most people get more nervous for in art history but it’s actually kind of fun (like a conversation) when you’re in! Also, they don’t expect you to know what it is - quite the opposite, as they tell you on the day. They want to see how you respond to artworks you’ve never seen before - so don’t panic if you see something unfamiliar! People have got their evaluations of an object wrong by centuries (I know I did) but respond in such an interesting way they are accepted!

The interviews go so fast and regardless of how you do, you won’t be able to tell the result! Treat it like a formal conversation and believe in yourself, they know you’re nervous and they’re looking for your potential, not flaws!

How did you prepare?

Don’t worry if you haven’t done history of art! I submitted an essay from a relevant subject for the school essay and, as the other essay is solely descriptive, it doesn’t require contextual analysis! I’d say going to the subject open days made me feel more comfortable with this part of the application, they’re in June and September with date info online - I highly recommend going if you get the chance.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

The best advice I was given before applying was to not reject myself before I’d actually had the chance to be rejected. If you are interested in the history of art and can get the three As (or equivalent) needed - apply! You may be surprised!

Speak to your teachers, try and arrange a mock interview so you’re familiar with the setting (even if the questions are off!)

To prepare, read through what you’ve submitted and familiarise yourself with this. You don’t need to know your submissions off by heart, but make sure you’re familiar with the things you’ve spoken about - ready for discussion!

The interviewers aren’t looking for a single “Oxford” thing. Everyone doing art history is different, in terms of education, background and experience (but all genuinely enthusiastic about their subject!!) so don’t be put off by others and know that you’re applying/being considered for a reason!