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Computer Science and Philosophy

Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, virtual reality: fascinating areas where Computer Science and Philosophy meet. But there are also many others, since the two disciplines share a broad focus on the representation of information and rational inference, embracing common interests in algorithms, cognition, intelligence, language, models, proof, and verification. Computer Scientists need to be able to reflect critically and philosophically about these, as they push forward into novel domains. Philosophers need to understand them within a world increasingly shaped by computer technology, in which a whole new range of enquiry has opened up, from the philosophy of AI, artificial life and computation, to the ethics of privacy and intellectual property, to the epistemology of computer models (e.g. of global warming). For many more examples, see

The study of Philosophy develops analytical, critical and logical rigour, and the ability to think through the consequences of novel ideas and speculations. It opens and stretches the mind by considering a wide range of thought and thinkers, on subjects as fundamental as the limits of knowledge, the nature of reality and our place in it, and the basis of morality.

Computer Science is about understanding computer systems at a deep level. Computers and the programs they run are among the most complex products ever created by humans; designing and using them effectively presents immense challenges. Facing these challenges is the aim of Computer Science as a practical discipline.

Both disciplines are intellectually exciting and creative; the degree combines analytical and technical knowledge with rhetorical and literary skills. This course offers you the chance to study within two academic departments, both recognised to be international leaders in their respective fields.

Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied for three years (a BA), or four years (Master of Computer Science and Philosophy). You choose at the beginning of your third year whether to stay on for the additional fourth year.

The first year of the degree covers core material in both subjects, including a bridging course studying Alan Turing’s pioneering work on computability and artificial intelligence. Later years include a wide range of options, with an emphasis on courses near the interface between the two subjects. The fourth year provides you with the opportunity to study advanced topics and to undertake a more in-depth research project.

Graduates of this degree will have highly marketable skills. Computer Science teaches you how to program computers, and how to design processes that are effective and efficient. Philosophy teaches you how to analyse complex concepts and the interconnections between them and – crucially – how to express this analysis, elegantly and precisely, in written form. You will be able to program, to reason logically and formally, to analyse complex issues both technical and discursive, and to write clear and coherent prose. You will have the intellectual equipment needed for technical leadership and high-level positions in today’s highly complex world.

Admission Criteria

Candidates sit a written Mathematics test in schools before being shortlisted for interview. Conditional offers: usually A*AA at A-level (or equivalent), including Mathematics and Further Mathematics if taken, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computing/Computer Science.


Department of Computer Science

Philosophy Faculty

Teaching Staff

Organising Tutor
Dr Luca Castagnoli

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Clarendon Fellow in Ancient Greek Philosophy | Tutor in Philosophy & Classics

Organising Tutor
Dr Michael Spivey

Misys & Andersen Fellow | Tutor in Computer Science | Vice Provost

Organising Tutor
Dr Oliver Pooley

Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy

Organising Tutor
Professor Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra

Colin Prestige Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy | Senior Tutor

Fabian Falck

Graduate Teaching & Research Scholar in Computer Science

Professor Ian Horrocks

Fellow & Professor of Computer Science

Dr Emily Qureshi-Hurst

College Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Irina Voiculescu

College Lecturer in Computer Science


Computer Science

Number of places 4 Admission Criteria Candidates sit a written Mathematics test in schools before being shortlisted for interview. Conditional offers: usually A*AA at A-level (or equivalent), including Mathematics and Further Mathematics if taken, with the A* in Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Computing/Computer Science.

Mathematics and Philosophy

Number of places 1 or 2 Admission Criteria A-levels or equivalent: A*A*A with the A*s in Mathematics and Further Mathematics (if taken).

Philosophy (Joint Honours)

Admission Criteria The admissions criteria for each course involving philosophy can be found on the dedicated course page. For all courses, applicants invited to interview will be given a philosophy interview, or an interview with a philosophy component. At interview, we will not test whether you are already familiar with philosophical texts or arguments. Instead we are interested in your aptitude and potential for precise analytical thought, and in whether you enjoy abstract reasoning.

Philosophy and Modern Languages

Number of places 1 or 2, taken from the Modern Languages quota of 9 Admission Criteria All candidates must take the Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT), normally at their own school or college, in November, in addition to the written work specified on the university's website. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. Candidates will need to take two sections of the MLAT: one for their chosen language, and one for Philosophy. Conditional offers: AAA at A-level (or equivalent), with A grades required for any language to be studied (except ab initio languages).

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Number of places 9 Admission Criteria Conditional offers: normally AAA at A-level (or equivalent). Applicants are not required to submit written work. All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) in early November, normally at their own schools or colleges. Separate registration for this test is required and prospective applicants should refer to the test website for further information.

Physics and Philosophy

Number of places 2 Admission Criteria Typical offers: A*AA at A-Level (or equivalent) including A*, A in Physics and Maths. Applying for Physics and Philosophy, rather than for Physics, will not reduce your chance of admission. Applicants for both degrees are considered as a gathered field and applicants to Oriel for Physics and Philosophy are automatically considered for a place to read straight Physics. All applicants must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) in school or at a test centre in early November.  

What next?

Applying to Oriel

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