On Thursday, we hosted our first virtual open day at the School of Geography and the Environment, with an Instagram Live broadcast featuring current students and a tutor, answering questions from prospective applicants and giving a tour of the department. The event was aimed at those who are unable to attend today’s University-wide Open Days, and particularly to give them the opportunity to ask questions in an informal setting.

The four students who took part in the Instagram Live event

Left to right: Geography students Eleanor, Molly, Rupert and Tony

Four of our students took part – Molly and Rupert who graduated this summer, plus Eleanor (going into her third year of the undergraduate course) and Tony (about to start his second year) – along with one of our tutors, Dr Lorraine Wild. “We all felt that it exceeded our expectations,” said Lorraine after the event. “It’s a little nerve-wracking when you do something like this for the first time, but we were delighted to receive so many questions on a wide range of topics, and our students did a great job of answering them. They were really keen to try and set any worries at rest that people might have about applying to Oxford, and encourage viewers to give it a try. We’re now hoping to do more online engagement with prospective applicants in the future, as it’s great to reach a wider audience, particularly those for whom it just isn’t practical to travel all the way to Oxford.”

Molly acted as presenter for the live video, with the students introducing themselves and then answering questions that had been sent via Instagram. These were focussed broadly around four themes: qualifications, choosing a college, interviews and the new Geography Admissions Test (GAT). Molly then took viewers on a walk around the department for a quick look at some of the teaching rooms while she explained more about how the course is taught at Oxford.

For those who missed it, we have noted down some of the questions and answers below. You can also find out more about the undergraduate course here.


No – offers are set on 3 A-levels only.

No, there are no required subjects for entry to the course at Oxford, and there’s no particular advantage or disadvantage in studying particular subjects at A-level. Our previous Head of the School of Geography studied Art at A-level!

Not at all. In any case, GCSE grades are considered in the context of the general performance of students at the school where you studied your GCSEs.

The Course

In the first year, everyone studies the same topics and these are an equal mixture of physical and human geography. After the first year, students can choose to focus on the areas of the subject that interest them most and make the course more focused on human or physical geography if that’s what they prefer. They can also keep their interests broad across human and physical geography.

There is no such thing as a typical day, but each week students will have one or two tutorials and will spend much of the week reading for those tutorials. Each day there might be one or two lectures and in the first year there will also be some practical sessions on one or two afternoons.

Our students go on to do a wide range of things – this includes further study, working for non-governmental organisations in the development and environmental sectors, financial sector jobs, law, or jobs in the public sector including planning.

Colleges and Interviews

No! There’s a system of reallocation so all colleges will interview 3 candidates per place, and you might end up being interviewed at a different college from the one to which you applied.

No, the course is the same whichever college you go to. For example, for option subjects, you may be taught by a tutor from a different college. All students attend the same lectures and fieldtrips and the Geography society, Geog Soc, brings all Oxford Geography students together, regardless of college affiliation.

You will have a total of two interviews at the college to which you’ve applied or been reallocated. They might both be a mixture of human and physical geography; or one interview may focus on human, and the other on physical. It is very unlikely that you will be asked to interview at a second college.

Geography Admissions Test (GAT)

Everyone has to take the GAT this year and must register for it by 15 October 2019. Note that the registration process is separate from submitting your UCAS form (but the deadline is the same!). Full details (including a sample question paper) can be found on the University website.

It is a pilot this year, so the results of the test will not be taken into consideration. Decisions made will be based on information from your UCAS form and the interview.