Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

Catherine Scanlon

How do we think and communicate? I chose Psychology and Linguistics because I am interested in this question, and the course approaches it from many angles. I love the variety of this course. In a typical week in first year, I would have tutorials in psychology, statistics, phonology, and grammar, and after first year, there is a good amount of choice in what to study. The overlap and connections between subjects are great, too, encouraging you to question the assumptions and typical ways of thinking in your disciplines.

Catherine, Univ, student from 2013

Personally, I have chosen to do Psychology and Philosophy, with a slight skew in favour of Psychology. This way, I have studied the human mind – both how it works and what it has produced. The course gives me the perfect background to answer questions about what makes a person and how we should approach identity (topics I find fascinating). Oxford is fantastic for both disciplines, and I benefit from this by being able to have tutorial discussions with leading researchers in the field. It has allowed me to combine the sciences and the arts, perfecting the skills in both.

A favourite moment? Many lectures on perception involved weird and wonderful visual illusions. Whenever we got to pick up some 3D-glasses at the entrance, we got excited. They worked even after we’d been told exactly how they were tricking the brain.

Martine, Pembroke, student from 2012

Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics is structured unlike most other degrees in the University, with exams after the second and fifth terms of your degree as well as finals at the very end. After the first set of exams, most will have to select two of the three disciplines; you also get the freedom to choose the weighting of each through the number of papers you take. This way, depending on your own preferences, you get to share lectures and tutorials with other psychologists, philosophers, or linguists. After each set of exams, you specialise further, but the course also becomes more demanding. It will require the combination of your own insights with scientific rigour and good documentation. Your tutors will be experts in the subjects you have chosen, but you will be the connecting factor between disciplines that share a lot of issues.

What makes Oxford different?

  • You have an incredible freedom in choosing your papers, so you can mix and match to suit your preferences; no one on the course is doing quite the same degree.
  • You’re in lectures with students from different courses, so you meet lots of people throughout the University.
  • With a combination of practicals, written work, and participation in psychological experiments, the course should appeal to every type of learner.

What helped inspire your love of the subject?

Catherine Scanlon

A couple of fun books to read on psychology and linguistics are "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks and "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker.

Catherine, Univ, student from 2013

Find out more

Course length: 3 years
Students per year: 20

Make sure you read the official prospectus entry for the course which contains entry requirements, full course structure, additional interesting resources and full details of the application process.

If you're going to apply, you'll want to check which Oxford colleges offer this course.

You might also find it helpful to hear from students studying Human Sciences, Modern Languages and Linguistics or Psychology (or even consider applying for those courses!).