Human Sciences @ Wadham, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

2x 30 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Questions on materials (e.g. graph, language tree); motivations; general discussion

Best preparation

Dive into the subject you love

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

If you care about your subject, this will help you throughout the process

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

Test taken: TSA

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: about 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My two interviews were very different to each other. The first one was much more formal and they didn't indicate whether I was answering questions correctly or how I was doing at all, while the second was much more laid back. At the time the tone of my first interview made me extremely stressed, but I've since found out this is only because it's the policy to not let students know how they're doing, and the tutor who seemed strict at the time is actually extremely warm and lovely.

My personal statement was only mentioned once, and it was to say that they hope I have a nice time when I travel. Some of the questions related to materials they presented me with at the time. I was asked to imagine what the results graph might look like for a behavioral experiment, and draw it. I also saw a language tree and had to explain why I thought certain languages were so much more prevalent globally than others. There's no point trying to predict which materials you'll get presented with - if you really love your course (which you should do if you're applying!) and you're reading around the subject for fun I think this insight will come across and be useful in the interview stage. It's not something you can get coached for, so don't worry about not knowing enough, as that's not what they're looking for! They also asked about why I wanted to study human sciences and an example of a question I thought could be addressed well by its interdisciplinary approach. I found it really hard to narrow down but they asked me to get more and more specific until I ended up describing the experimental design I would use to test my hypothesis.

How did you prepare?

I did some practice papers but I actually don't think I prepared much at all for this test.

I spoke to some teachers at my school for advice, but I was actually very unsure about whether I even wanted to go, so most of the advice I asked for was about whether it's worth applying! I think the most useful way to prepare is to read around the subject in a way that you find interesting, and find people who you can discuss this with. I was also advised that you don't need to give an answer immediately and I think that was very useful because if I get nervous I tend to ramble a lot!

I think the best thing that I did in terms of preparation was just really dive into the subject with full force. I really love human sciences and so I loved reading about it, and I think that's the best thing you can do.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I genuinely believe that if you're coming with the wrong intentions (e.g. you don't love the course but you want the prestige of Oxford) it will come across. If you care about the subject I think this is the best thing to help you throughout the interview process!

It's a very broad course, and they're not looking for knowledge - they really just want to see how you think about particular issues. Of course the more you think about the subjects involved the better you'll be at doing this, so my advice would be to read broadly, and to read for fun, because I really believe enthusiasm is so important, not just for applying but for actually enjoying your degree if you get in.