Interviews are not intended to be confrontational although they will undoubtedly be intellectually challenging. The tutors are interested in finding out what your intellectual potential is; they do not wish to catch you out. But remember to think carefully about the questions you have been asked; your interviewers will not mind if you pause to think. Try not to go in with some prepared speech you are determined to deliver at all costs.


The college that wants to interview you will contact you (usually by email) as soon as possible with details of your interview. You should get at least one week’s notice of a first interview(s). This is usually to college to which you applied, or to which you were assigned if you made an open application, but not necessarily. Some candidates will be reallocated to a different college after all candidates are selected for interview, to even out applications between colleges.

Some candidates will be called for a second interview, which will be at a different college to your first interview. The college will contact you as soon as possible, but you may only get a few days' notice.

If you applied to a Joint School and are called for interview, you will get two interviews (at the college which calls you) – one for each ‘side’ of the course. These interviews may be on different days.

If you applied for any Joint School degree, you may be called for the (single) History degree. If you applied for History and Modern Languages, you could be called for a Modern Languages interview.


Following a university-wide vote, all interviews will be on-line.


First interviews for History and the Joint Schools will be during the week of December 9th

Second interviews will be during the week of December 16th

Interview format is decided by the interviewing college, with the standard being each candidate having one 30 minute interview with two tutors. Some colleges may give two 15 minute interviews, with a different pair of interviewers.

Your written work can be used to form the starting point for discussions and you will probably be asked about the definition of terms you have used, to compare your submitted work with another historical example you have studied, or how new information could affect your arguments. It’s OK to have changed your mind since you wrote the work, we’ll be interested to hear why!

Some colleges may require you to read a short passage of historical writing just before your interview, which they will ask you to discuss as part of the interview process.

You may be asked questions about your personal statement – material you have read, listened to, or watched, places you have visited (please be sure you have read, listen to, watched, or visited everything you include in your application!).  

You might be asked wider questions about history in a wider context, such as how thinking about the past shapes your interpretation of your local area? Which historical figure (or type of figure) would you like to meet and why? What can historians not find out about the past?


Interviewers are not trying to catch you out, but do expect your interview to be intellectually challenging - we use interviews to assess your motivation, enthusiasm, and academic potential in history. The interview not a test of knowledge, but your ability to think, be flexible, understand concepts, and express yourself. It’s fine to pause and think before answering questions.


Arrange for the interview to take place somewhere you are comfortable and has the technology needed – you will need a reliable internet connection and a computer with a video camera and microphone.

Your school may be able to provide somewhere, but if using school equipment you’ll need to check that the camera and microphone can be enabled.

Make sure you can access any reading material sent to you before your interview (you might not have any) and a copy of your personal statement.

Think about why you want to study history at Oxford and practice explaining why out loud, to other people if possible.

Read these sample questions and explanation from tutors of what they’re looking for.

Demonstration Interview 2020

This demonstration undergraduate history admissions interview was filmed in June 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. The conversation takes place between a current first-year undergraduate student at Oxford University and two history tutors, each from different colleges.

The tutors gave the student this primary source to read for 20 minutes before the interview began. You might like to read the text carefully before watching the video.

It was filmed without any script or editing.

This video was created for the Oxford Virtual Open Day in July 2020.

Demonstration Interview 2021

This demonstration undergraduate history admissions interview was recorded online in Autumn 2021.

The first section includes a tutor introduction which addresses what to expect from a History interview, including what we are looking for in prospective candidates, followed by the demonstration interview itself. The film concludes with a commentary on the interview and some tips on preparation from the tutors and interview candidate.

It was filmed without a script.