Both physics and philosophy seek to characterize the fundamental nature of reality. If you want to know what the implications of quantum entanglement are, or what the claim that gravity is the manifestation of spacetime curvature really means, then Physics and Philosophy might well be for you.
The course is both a physics and a philosophy degree, not just a degree in the philosophy of physics (although philosophy of physics is a central component). You study core and optional papers in each subject, and in the fourth year you can choose to specialize in either physics or philosophy (or to continue to combine the two). In recent years Physics and Philosophy students have gone on to graduate study in both philosophy and physics. The degree also leaves you very well equipped for a career outside of academia. Employers in many fields, including IT, finance, the law, the civil service, and the media, are keen to recruit people who combine the numeracy and puzzle-solving skills one learns from physics with the analytical skills and literacy one gains from philosophy.
Oriel offers excellent resources to those studying Physics and Philosophy. Unusually we have three tutorial fellows in each subject. The College is also one of the few undergraduate colleges with a Philosophy fellow (Oliver Pooley) who specializes in the philosophy of physics.
(See also the entry for Physics.) The Physics and Philosophy degree is demanding. On the Physics side, the emphasis is on the more theoretical aspects of the subject. To be admitted you will need to convince physics admissions tutors that you have at least as much potential and ability as those admitted to read for single honours Physics.
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. No written work required.
Typical offers: A*AA at A-Level (or equivalent) including A*, A in Physics and Maths.