Getting into Oxford University for a chemistry degree is tough as students compete for a few slots worldwide. Let’s dive into the application process, focusing on the challenges faced by candidates who need a science background. Navigating through the demands of academics, the value of pursuits, and the strategic role of crafting a statement, we present a thorough handbook for aspiring individuals.

Is having a third science A Level crucial for those applying to study Chemistry at Oxford University?

Oxford University has reputedly advised Chemistry applicants for many years to take at least two and the merits of this traditional advice. Is a third science A-Level an absolute requirement for sound application, or could Chemistry, Mathematics, and a non-science subject such as Politics suffice?

A report found that around 56 out of the 590 candidates shortlisted needed a third science subject, suggesting a change in the University’s admission criteria. The acceptance rate has become increasingly competitive, decreasing from 24% to 18%. This indicates that though not having a third science subject isn’t a deal breaker, it does mean that the other parts of the application need to shine.

Engaging in reading and chemistry-related activities can significantly boost the quality of an application. Demonstrating an interest and taking the initiative to explore beyond the curriculum highlights a genuine enthusiasm for learning, qualities that the admissions committee dramatically appreciates. Websites such as the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) ( offer many resources to deepen your understanding and appreciation of chemistry.

How important is the personal statement in making up for not having a third science A Level?


The personal statement, which forms part of the Oxford application, is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they have a passion for chemistry, have succeeded in it at school, and have explored the subject in their own time. For hopeful chemists who don’t have the benefit of the third science A-Level requirement, a strong personal statement is even more essential.

You might try writing about how your combination of subjects – Chemistry, Maths and Politics – has given you a broader skillset to develop an understanding of chemistry best. For example, speaking about having the ability to think critically to analyze complex problems from various perspectives to get to grips with the ethical considerations involved in scientific research … all these things and more could demonstrate why you would be a good candidate for the course.

Also, highlighting credentials, like holding an AS Level in Physics, even if it’s not an A Level, could be beneficial. Committing to expanding your understanding of science showcases a trait that Oxford seeks in its applicants. The University of Oxford’s official Chemistry Department website ( provides insights into what they seek in successful applicants, which can be invaluable in tailoring your statement.

Enhancing Your Application to Oxford Chemistry Program Through Supercurricular Activities


Supercurricular activities represent the depth of your enthusiasm for chemistry. They are pursuits in the general field beyond the school curriculum relevant to your area of study. These might involve supercurricular reading, participation in chemistry Olympiads, or small research projects.

It’s essential to show how these experiences have deepened your grasp of chemistry and equipped you for the challenges of the Oxford program. Websites like Coursera ( and Khan Academy ( offer courses that can deepen your knowledge and demonstrate your initiative to learn beyond the A-Level syllabus.

In conclusion, not having a third science A-level worries prospects applying to Oxford’s chemistry course. However, it is not something that cannot be overcome. Students with supercurricular activities, such as a solid personal statement and portfolio, demonstrating their passion for chemistry, can withstand the casting image of needing the right a-level. Oxford’s application is holistic; one pool does not offer students the best opportunity to display exceptional merit in their unique fashion. Applicants should rely on the merit of their application to communicate their readiness for academic study at Oxford and commit to contributing to a vibrant university community.


Is having a third science A Level crucial when applying for Oxford’s Chemistry program?

Even though having a third science A Level is advisable, candidates who excel in two sciences and show an interest in chemistry through activities can still stand out competitively.

Where can prospective candidates discover materials for reading to enhance their Oxford Chemistry application?

You can discover a range of materials on platforms such as the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Coursera and Khan Academy, which provide a plethora of knowledge and classes in the field of chemistry.

What aspect should Oxford Chemistry applicants who do not have a third science A Level emphasize in their statement?

Show your enthusiasm for chemistry, highlight how your choice of subjects offers a viewpoint, and mention any qualifications or extracurricular activities connected to chemistry.

When should individuals interested in applying to the Chemistry program at Oxford University begin getting ready for their application?

Candidates should get a head start on their applications before the deadline. It’s best to kick off with some reading and chemistry-related activities a year ahead.


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