Interviewing in: Philosophy

Background on subject

Philosophy explores human thought, the basis of knowledge and the nature of reason, consciousness and cognition. It involves rigorous logic and puzzle solving, combined with critical thinking.

Cambridge offers Philosophy as a stand-alone degree, but at Oxford, Philosophy can only be studied as part of a joint course such as Mathematics and Philosophy; Philosophy, Politics and Economics; or Philosophy and Theology.

There are no essential subject requirements for students to study Philosophy. 

Applicants to certain Cambridge colleges have to submit written work, and all applicants have to take a written assessment at interview.


Can I interview in this subject?

You do not have to have studied Philosophy at university to give a robust and rigorous practice interview in this subject. 

Volunteers from the following subjects, or similar, will also be able to deliver Philosophy interviews:

Interview types

There are two different types of practice interviews in Philosophy, which you may be asked to deliver. 

  1. Interview on 'application material' - asking the students' questions about their personal statement, or an essay they will submit as part of their application

  2. Interview on 'unseen material' - asking the students' questions on an article, study, or research paper they have not seen before, testing how they handle new material

SAMPLE Resources

Below you can access a folder of resources for conducting Philosophy interviews:

  1. Interview on application material - you can see a sample personal statement, highlighted with examples of questions which could be asked

  2. Interview on unseen material - you can see examples of articles which have previously been given to students, along with questions

These resources are intended for inspiration - to give you an idea of the level, length and themes of the material we use in our practice interviews. However, should you wish to use this material in the practice interviews you deliver, just let us know so we can make sure returning students haven't seen it before!


James has a degree in HSPS from Cambridge University, where he founded his College’s Social Sciences Society. 

He now works as an Associate Political Consultant at the Whitehouse Consultancy, providing clients in the healthcare, education and third sector with political insight and policy guidance, as well as wider PR advice.

"The students who stand out in HSPS interviews are those which are most original, who find creative and exciting examples to explain their ideas, and can balance understanding of theory with how it can be applied. Those that shine have a critical eye, and can compare different ideas with one another. Most of all, future HSPS students have a real flare for debate, to challenge norms, and a want to understand how and why society is structured the way it is."