I'm an experienced university philosophy tutor and examiner,
helping students apply to study philosophy at university.
Having taught philosophy at several universities, including the University of Oxford, I'm intimately familiar with the university philosophy application process; and specialise in coaching Oxford and Cambridge philosophy applications.
I advise on each stage of the application: helping with personal statements, reviewing writing samples, coaching for entrance exams and conducting mock interviews. I also tutor college students striving to meet their university offers, and provide introductory philosophy courses.
Whatever academic challenge you've set yourself in applying to study philosophy at university, I hope the site contains the guidance you're looking for.
At any time, you can access free philosophy podcasts, videos, and articles on my social media pages:
(Buttons to these pages are always available in the left-hand column of the website).
What makes a successful philosophy personal statement?
One central point to remember is that philosophers prize the intellectual virtues of
clarity and rigour; so if your personal statement is unfocused and riddled with non sequiturs,
it will likely attract the wrong sort of attention.
The main thing is that your personal statement demonstrates that you understand both the nature of philosophy as an academic discipline, and the demands of the particular philosophy course for which you are applying. The admissions tutors will need to be assured that you know exactly what kind of degree course you're applying for.
By no means all universities set philosophy admissions tests, in fact the overwhelming majority don't;
and for those that do, the tests differ significantly between universities.
In general, admissions tests are designed to examine critical thinking skills. This may take the form of multiple choice questions testing your understanding of short paragraphs; a brief essay; or some questions concerning a lecture you will have been invited to attend.
Preparation for your university interview begins with your personal statement.
Interviewers will use this to frame preliminary ice-breaking questions
and as a guide to probe your understanding of the philosophy course you have applied for.
Accordingly, the simplest service I offer university philosophy applicants, preparing for their interview, is to analyse their personal statements to derive 25 possible interview questions. I then use these as the basis of interview simulations.
You can reasonably expect to be asked questions on your personal statement in your university philosophy interview.
I provide a personal statement analysis service in which I examine your statement and return 25 questions which it prompts. The point is not simply to memorise 'canned' answers to these questions, but to begin to develop the kind of philosophical mindset that interviewers are looking for.
This provides a cost-effective way of preparing for your philosophy interview in advance of your invitation to attend.
Having been a student myself at both Oxford and Cambridge, and also a part-time philosophy tutor at Oxford,
I understand well the special demands of applying to study philosophy at Oxbridge.
When deciding where to apply, your first question should be whether to study philosophy as a pure, single honours subject, or as part of a joint honours degree. Oxford offers six joint honours philosophy degrees, but no single honours; Cambridge offers a single honours BA degree, but no joint honours.
Few universities require applicants to have studied philosophy before; and none that I know of in the UK.
So it is not essential that you be taking a college philosophy course.
However, if you feel you would like know some basic philosophy, as part of your application preparations, then I would be happy to give you a crash course in some core philosophical concepts and problems.
Also, if you are offering philosophy as part of your university application, and would benefit from extra tuition, then I'd be delighted to help. More details of my philosophy tuition services can be found from my companion websites:
Finally, if you require critical thinking tuition, either for your A-level studies, or for the Oxbridge TSA, here are details of my services:
Being able, convincingly, to say why you've chosen to apply to study philosophy at university
is a challenge you'll face, both in your personal statement, and in any subsequent interview.
So before you apply, you need to make sure you understand what philosophy is, and how it is studied at universities. Then you can correctly identify the benefits philosophy offers you.
Only if you show a proper grasp of its nature, can you say, with confidence, why you've chosen to apply to study philosophy.
You could boost your university philosophy application by receiving a commendation from, or even winning,
one of the various philosophy essay prizes that are available for pre-university students to enter.
If the university you're applying to requires a sample of writing, as some Cambridge colleges do for example, then your prize entry could also supplement your university philosophy application.