How to Get Into Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) at Oxford

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) is a competitive course at Oxford University. Just 12% of applicants are successful in receiving an offer to study PPL and the application process is designed to be challenging.

If you’re thinking of applying for PPL or just curious about what it takes to get into one of the most flexible and varied courses at Oxford, this guide contains everything you need to know – from entry requirements to tips on how to prepare from our expert PPL tutors.

The Profs’ PPL tutors have first-hand experience of the admissions process and what is required to succeed at each stage. Thanks to our expert support, students who work with The Profs are more than three times more likely to receive an offer from Oxford University. Reach out to our team today to maximise your chances of success.

What is Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL)?

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) is an interdisciplinary degree course offered by Oxford University. It covers all three closely related disciplines across a range of modules, resulting in a varied and dynamic degree course.

PPL allows students to explore psychological, philosophical and linguistic questions. Psychology is concerned with questions relating to the workings of the mind, such as how children acquire language and what predisposes two people to get on with each other. Philosophy is concerned with questions relating to ethics, knowledge, and the nature of mind, such as what makes us human. Linguistics, the final discipline covered by PPL, is the study of language in all its aspects and is concerned with questions such as how people understand, mentally represent and generate language.

PPL can be studied as a 3-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) or as a 4-year Master of Sciences (MSci). The additional year of study on the MSci course consists of a research-intensive, clinically-focused or translation-focused extended project in Experimental Psychology and related disciplines.

What are the entry requirements for PPL?

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL), like all courses at Oxford, is extremely competitive. The course requires applicants to achieve excellent grades, ideally in a wide range of subjects, and show great academic potential. The table below shows the entry requirements for PPL:

QualificationGrades
A LevelsA*AA
Advanced HighersAA/AAB
International Baccalaureate (IB)39 (including core points) with 766 at Higher Level.

Worried that you won’t achieve the necessary grades to study PPL at Oxford? The Profs’ A level and IB tutors can help. We have extensive experience helping students excel in their coursework and final exams and achieve the entry grades for this competitive course. Reach out to our team for support.

Which subjects are recommended?

Although there are no compulsory subjects in order to qualify for PPL, Oxford does suggest some subjects that are particularly beneficial and may help your application:

  • It is highly recommended to have studied one or more Science subjects (Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Psychology) or Mathematics to A-level or equivalent.
  • It is helpful to have studied English Language, Mathematics, a Science or another language.

Which admissions test do you need for PPL?

Applicants to Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) at Oxford are required to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). The TSA is designed to assess your problem-solving, numerical reasoning and critical thinking skills, all of which are important skills to have in order to be able to succeed on the PPL course.

What score do you need to get in the TSA for PPL?

There is no ‘cut-off’ score set by Oxford that you need to achieve in the TSA to secure an offer for PPL. Instead, the average score among successful applicants changes slightly each year. See the table below for the average TSA score of successful applicants to all courses at Oxford.

Average score among successful applicants (2020)
Oxford (all courses)75.14

The TSA is a key factor in deciding whether or not you are offered an interview and subsequently a place to study PPL at Oxford. It’s therefore important that you prepare thoroughly and aim for the highest score possible to maximise your chances. Read our helpful guide for more information about the TSA and tips from our admissions test experts on how to prepare:

How to prepare for the TSA

How hard is it to get into PPL at Oxford?

Getting into Oxford to study Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) is no mean feat. Not only do you need to achieve the grade requirements and score highly in the TSA, but you also need to perform well in the interview. The table below shows the average percentage of applicants that were interviewed and successful getting into PPL at Oxford.

Average percentage (2019-2021)
Interviewed36%
Successful12%

The Profs’ Oxbridge admissions tutors can help you triple your chances of getting into Oxford to study PPL. Thanks to our network of experienced tutors, many of whom are Oxbridge graduates and ex-admissions officers themselves, we have the very latest and best knowledge on what Oxford is looking for in top PPL applicants. Get in touch with us today to chat with a member of our team about how we can help you.

What are the fees for PPL at Oxford?

The table below shows the fees for Oxford’s PPL course for both home (UK) and overseas students:

Student statusCourse fees (per year)Home£9,250Overseas£31,030

You can find out more information about what fees you will pay on Oxford’s fee status page. You can also use Oxford’s fees, funding and scholarship search to see the funding options available to you.

4 tips on how to get into PPL at Oxford

1. Prepare thoroughly for each stage of the admissions process

When applying to study PPL at Oxford, there are many stages of the admissions process to consider, and you should prepare for each one thoroughly.

  • Your grades – preparation for your PPL application really starts from the moment you start studying for your A-levels (or equivalent). Excellent grades are essential in order to be considered for a place at Oxford, so you should be aiming for A*AA in your A-levels (or equivalent) as a minimum.
  • Your UCAS application – the first official stage of your PPL application is completing your UCAS application online. As well as your grades, this includes your personal statement. This is the first chance you’ll get to showcase your suitability for PPL and prove to Oxford that you are interested and committed to the subject areas.
  • The TSA admissions test – you are also required to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) when applying for PPL at Oxford. This admissions test is designed to be challenging, so it’s really important that you prepare for it just as you would for any other exam.
  • The interview – if your UCAS application and TSA score are impressive enough, you may be invited for an interview at Oxford. This is your last chance to impress the university and prove that you are an excellent candidate for the course. Oxbridge interviews are like oral admissions tests and there is often even a mark scheme your interviewers will be scoring you against, so it’s important to seek professional help to prepare effectively.

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

2. Do some introductory reading

Although having studied Psychology, Philosophy or Linguistics is not necessary to apply for PPL, it is a good idea to have an interest and understanding of the three subjects. Oxford recommends the following introductory readings to help prepare for applying:

Psychology

  • Psychology and life (Pearson Higher Education AU)
  • Gerrig, R. J., Zimbardo, P. G., Campbell, A. J., Cunning, S. R., & Wilkes, F. J. (2015)

Philosophy

  • What Does It All Mean? by Thomas Nagel
  • The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
  • Invitation to Philosophy by M Hollis
  • Philosophy: The Basics by Nigel Warburton
  • Ethics: the Fundamentals by Julia Driver
  • Think by Simon Blackburn
  • An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy by Roger Scruton

Linguistics

3. Find which areas you’re particularly interested in

PPL is one of the most flexible courses offered by Oxford. Although you are able to study all three subjects (Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics), many students opt to study just two of these subjects. It’s a good idea to think about which areas of a PPL degree would interest you most and consider the pathway you might like to take if you are successful in securing a place on the course.

Finding which areas you are particularly interested in will also allow you to go into more depth when preparing for your interview. Your interviewers will be looking for a clear passion and commitment to the course, so if you’re able to cite specific topics and examples that spark your interest, this will give you an advantage in the admissions process.

4. Seek help from a PPL expert

Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL) is a competitive course at Oxford and requires you to perform well in multiple stages to be in with a chance of securing an offer. Unfortunately, schools and colleges are oftentimes not equipped to provide specialist PPL preparation due to a lack of experience, expertise or resources. As a result, we advise seeking a professional PPL tutor to help you through the process.

The Profs’ PPL tutors have many years of experience helping students develop their academic profiles, prepare for the TSA exam, and excel in the admissions interview. If you work with one of The Profs’ tutors, you are more than three times more likely to get into Oxford.

You’ll also gain invaluable independent study skills that will prepare you for study at an elite UK university, as well as a deeper and broader understanding of a range of psychological, philosophical and linguistic concepts and critical thinking approaches. Reach out to our experienced team today to get started.