Frequently Asked Questions

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Prospective Undergraduate Students

If you are thinking about applying to St Catherine’s College or are in the process of applying, here are some of our FAQs.

1. How to apply?

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Applications to the University of Oxford are made via UCAS but please note that the deadline for Oxford applications is earlier than for other universities. On your UCAS form you can enter a campus code in order to specify a college preference. The campus code for St Catherine’s College is ‘L’.

Please note that our systems do not have a live link to UCAS, so after submitting your application it is essential that, as well as updating the UCAS system, you notify us of any changes to your postal or email address. Otherwise all correspondence will be sent to the postal or email address supplied on your original UCAS application.

To make sure we consider all applicants thoroughly and fairly, there are several stages to our admissions process. It is important you understand your role in each of these stages and are aware of the deadlines. Each stage is listed below:

  • UCAS application
  • (Admissions tests)
  • (Written work)
  • Interviews
  • Decisions
  • Results

The admissions timeline provides an overview of the process. To see this and for more information about each of the stages please visit http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford

2. What advice would you give to applicants?

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It is important to understand the application process, your role at each stage and ensure you meet all necessary deadlines. Information is provided on the university website, including useful videos and diagrams that provide an overview of the process. Check the webpage for the subject you wish to apply for in order to find the specific details of what is required, for example, the entry requirements and details about any subject specific admissions test and/or required written work submissions.

3. What are you looking for in an application?

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We are looking for academic ability and potential in students who will benefit from the learning and assessment style of an Oxford degree. Our degrees are mostly assessed via examination rather than coursework and students benefit from individual feedback as part of our tutorial system. Most importantly, we seek students who have a genuine subject interest and are able to demonstrate this.

4. Why should I choose St Catherine’s College?

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St Catherine’s College is the largest undergraduate college with around 500 undergraduate students in addition to 500 graduate students. We are also well known for our large, spacious social spaces which consist of an interconnected games room, bar and JCR (bit like a living room for all our students complete with TV and coffee machine!) We are situated about a 15 minute walk away from the city centre. Behind us lies greenery and path to beautiful river walks. We have the best of both worlds, the city and the countryside, all on one site. Speaking of two worlds, we also like to mix the old and the new. We are the most modern college in the University that admits undergraduates, established officially in the 1960s although our origins date back over 150 years. We have a forward-looking ethic and were one of the first colleges to admit women. Our college has modern architecture and unlike other colleges we are open.

5. How can I make my application stand out?

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We are often asked how a candidate can secure a place and make a strong application to the university. There is no way to guarantee a place at the university but here are our top tips! For the UCAS application, it is best if you can express your genuine interest for your subject. You will need to demonstrate this with evidence. Highlight what you have done in and out of school to pursue your love of that subject. This could be listening to a podcast, work experience, reading a book or starting a club. Don’t just simply list the things you have done but explain your motivation and what you learnt from these activities. To prepare for admissions tests, check which test if any you need to complete and try some past papers. This is a good idea so that you know what the paper will look like. Ensure you do the past paper in the correct timed conditions so that you know how much time to allocate to each section. Lastly, to prepare for your interview, try discussing why you enjoy your subject with a friend, family member or teacher. Practise verbalising the interest in your subject, engaging with new ideas, and thinking critically and independently.

For inspiring academic content visit: https://oxplore.org/

For sample interview questions you can use in a mock interview visit: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/guide/interviews

To find past papers for admission tests, find the appropriate webpage for the subject you are interested in: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/course-listing

6. Would you recommend that I take 3 or 4 A Levels?

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All courses at Oxford are very competitive, and offers are usually between A*A*A and AAA at A-level, or a comparable level in equivalent qualifications, depending on the subject. Please see ox.ac.uk/courses for detailed entrance requirements for your course. Three A-levels is absolutely sufficient to make a competitive application, and offers will only be made for three A-levels regardless of how many you are taking; though the offer may specify in which three subjects you are required to obtain the necessary grades.

We also advise candidates not to spread themselves too thinly across too many subjects, where they may risk dropping a grade or two in their results. Our offers are made on the basis of exam grades rather than UCAS Tariff points, so three A*/A grades would be sufficient to meet most conditional offers, but two As and two Bs, for example, would not.

You may like to refer to the suggested reading on the ‘How to Apply’ section of each course page.

7. I am already studying at another university. Can I still apply?

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St Catherine’s College does accept applications from students who are currently studying at another university. Your full academic record would be taken in to account in your application, including your A-levels (or other equivalent qualifications) and study at university level, so we would need evidence of your performance on your university course. We would expect you to be performing at a high 2.1 or first class level (a US GPA of 3.5-4.0). Please note that for our Medicine course, applications will also not be considered from people already studying Medicine elsewhere who wish to apply to study the course from Year 1.

Please note that you will need to complete the full application process, including sitting any admissions test(s) and submitting any written work, required for your chosen course. For full details of how to apply, please see ox.ac.uk/apply.

 

Please be aware that you would need to inform the other institution of this application and they would have to agree to “release” you. If possible, your reference should come from one of the academic staff at your current university.

We suggest that you also look into the financial implications of this option as it would involve an extra year of undergraduate study.

Another option might be to complete your current undergraduate degree and then consider applying to Oxford for a graduate course, or for a second undergraduate degree.

8. Who do I need to contact if there are extenuating circumstances with my application to the College?

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You should email the Deputy Academic Registrar at admissions@stcatz.ox.ac.uk. Please outline the circumstance to the best of your ability. Any disclosure will be treated with appropriate confidentiality and only shared with relevant parties.

9. How can I request feedback on my application?

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Unsuccessful applicants are welcome to ask for feedback on their applications. Please see the College’s feedback policy here:

https://www.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate-admissions/

10. I was unsuccessful in my application. Can I reapply next year?

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Every application to Oxford is treated on its own merits, without regard to any previous applications, so there is no inherent disadvantage in having applied before.

Please note that you will need to complete the full application process again, including sitting any admissions test(s) and submitting any written work, required for your chosen course. For full details of how to apply, please see ox.ac.uk/apply.

 

Offer Holders

If you already hold an offer from St Catherine’s College, here are some of our FAQs.

1. When is the start of term?

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Oxford’s year is divided into three terms and three vacations. Within each term, a “Full Term” of eight weeks is the main teaching period. Students are required to be in Oxford on the Thursday before each term starts and remain in Oxford until the last Saturday of each term. Students can arrive on the Sunday, a week before term starts, but must vacate their rooms by 10:00 on the Thursday of the week after term finishes, unless a previous agreement has been made with the college. Please find the dates of term using the link below:

https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/facts-and-figures/dates-of-term

2. What accommodation is available?

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One of the great benefits of being a student at St Catherine’s is the availability of on-site accommodation and the fact that all rooms are charged at a standard rate. There is no need to apply for accommodation in your first year, you will be automatically allocated a room. With over 470 study bedrooms, the vast majority of undergraduates live in college for three years and enjoy the advantage of living in close proximity to facilities such as the library, dining hall, Junior Common Room (JCR) and gym. We have several specially adapted rooms for students with disabilities. Use the link below to explore accommodation on site:

https://www.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/prospective-students/explore-catz/

3. Where is the reading list for my subject?

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Tutors in some subjects compile reading lists for offer-holders in order to prepare students before their first academic year commences. If your tutor provides a reading list this will be sent to you in due course.

4. When is Freshers’ Week and what is it like?

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Undergraduates in the first year of their course are referred to as ‘Freshers’.  Freshers’ Week is the week prior to the first week of full term at the beginning of the academic year where Freshers arrive early and attend inductions and social events. This is to ease the transition of students into university life before academic commitments kick-off. Examples of previous events include:

  • Movie night
  • Welcome party
  • Tour of the city
  • Introduction to the college family system
  • Meeting College staff and the welfare team
  • Charity quiz
  • Welfare talk

5. What should I bring?

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If you live in College, the College will supply a mattress and all bedding. Accommodation includes shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities. A toaster and kettle are provided for you in the kitchens. Suggestions of what to bring include:

  • Clothes and clothes hangers
  • Towels and toiletries
  • Laptop and stationery
  • A small amount of food, crockery and cooking equipment
  • Laundry tablets/detergent and laundry bag
  • Bike (if you wish to use one), lights, lock and helmet

6. What welfare and medical support is available?

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St Catherine’s prides itself on being a close-knit community with a strong atmosphere of openness and friendliness. Once students are accepted for study at St. Catherine’s, there is an enormous commitment from the tutors to support them through to the end of their studies, and many graduates keep in touch with their tutors long after leaving College. There are many sources of pastoral support within College, including the Dean, Junior Deans (postgraduate students who are qualified advisors), harassment advisors, the College Doctor, and the College Nurse who holds a daily surgery on site. The student body appoints both male, female and LGBTQ+ Welfare Reps alongside a team of trained peer supporters.

7. What is my CAS number? When will I get my CAS number?

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You will need a CAS number if you are a non-EEA/Swiss offer holder who may require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK. The UK government requires you to be formally sponsored by a licensed UK higher education institution – the University of Oxford in our case. Once your offer to study is unconditional (you have met all academic and financial conditions) the College will contact you by email about the preparation of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is a unique number that will enable government officers to access information which the College and the University have provided.

If you have an unconditional offer and have not received your CAS three months before the start of your course, contact us at admissions@stcatz.ox.ac.uk. Check your CAS and follow the instructions to report any errors or changes. Your CAS is valid to use for a visa application for six months but you cannot apply for your visa until three months before your course start date as given on the CAS.

Your CAS number, which you need for your visa application, will be emailed to you in a ‘CAS statement’ which lists the information that the University has sent to the UK Government Home Office and the University’s Tier 4 Licensed Sponsor number, name and address.

For your visa application you will need original certificates or transcripts for the qualifications listed on your CAS statement (though some nationals will be exempt from submitting them). The statement lists your course fees for one year and whether you have paid any money for University accommodation. You must follow Home Office instructions about sending or having available documents showing you have funding for your fees and living expenses.

8. What clubs and societies are available?

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Drama: Each year a major theatrical figure is appointed as the Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre and gives a series of lectures and workshops at the College. Past holders of the Professorship have included Diana Rigg, Tim Rice, Patrick Stewart and Meera Syal. Thanks to this, the College has exceptional links with contemporary theatre; many of our students take an active part in acting, writing and directing in Oxford and beyond.

Music:  The College has a flourishing Music Society, which provides opportunities for students to get involved no matter what their taste or interest. All students have access to the College’s music house: a small purpose-built recital room with two grand pianos and a harpsichord, which doubles as a practice-room. The College offers a Repetiteur Scholarship in conjunction with New Chamber Opera, designed for pianists interested in accompanying and conducting. Leask Scholarships, offering financial assistance in music tuition, are open to students in any subject and are awarded each year.

Sport: The large size of the College is a major advantage when it comes to sport, with teams suitable for everyone from novice to expert. Current teams range from Football to Ultimate Frisbee and everything in between! The College has excellent sports facilities including an on-site gym and squash courts with no membership fee, rugby and football pitches, tennis courts, and a rowing boathouse.

Other societies: In addition to lots of drama, music and sport, St Catherine’s College has a huge range of other societies and clubs that you can join! With over 50 clubs and societies that you can be involved in, from the Pottery club to the Stargazing society, there is something for everyone. See the full list here: https://jcr.stcatz.ox.ac.uk/clubs-socs/

9. I have an offer but I want to defer my place. What do I do?

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Changes to year of entry once you have received an offer are not normally possible. If there exceptional personal circumstances which mean you wish to change which year you start at the College, please email admissions@stcatz.ox.ac.uk and provide a detailed explanation of your reasons for making this request. The College cannot guarantee that deferral will be possible in all cases but we will take any requests seriously and consider each case independently.

10. I have an offer but I want to change course. What do I do?

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Changes to course choice once you have received an offer are not normally possible. If there is a significant reason why you wish to change course, please email admissions@stcatz.ox.ac.uk and provide a detailed explanation of your reasons for making this request.

 

Any other questions that aren’t answered above? Drop us a line at admissions@stcatz.ox.ac.uk