The Best Oxford Colleges for Computer Science

The Best Oxford Colleges for Computer Science

Computer science is quickly becoming among the most popular and in-demand degrees worldwide. Computer science is the most popular and competitive course to study at the prestigious University of Oxford with around 20 applicants per place. But what are the best Oxford colleges for Computer science?

With so many great Oxford colleges to choose from, it can be tough to decide which one is the best fit for a computer science student.

We’ll explore some of the best Oxford colleges for computer science and look at factors like acceptance rates, facilities, and overall student experience. So, let’s start. 

Before reading this guide, make sure to read the guide: Choosing Oxbridge College

What Are The Best Oxford Colleges for Computer Science?

With Oxford University’s collegiate structure, students apply to and live in one of the constituent colleges. While all Oxford colleges provide an exceptional education, some colleges stand out when studying computer science.

When evaluating the best Oxford colleges for computer science, important factors to consider include:

  • Acceptance rates for admissions into computer science
  • Quality of teaching and academic support
  • Facilities like labs and libraries
  • Scholarships and bursaries availability
  • Student satisfaction and post-graduation outcomes

Based on these criteria, here are some of the top choices for studying computer science at Oxford.


Balliol College

Founded in 1263, Balliol College is Oxford’s third oldest college. Balliol is the first on our list because is one of the best Oxford colleges for Computer Science for years. And achieves the highest admissions rates for the subject.

Balliol College provides excellent support for undergraduate study in Computer Science. It was one of the first three Oxford colleges to have a Tutorial Fellow in Computer Science, ensuring strong tutoring for students. 

All first-year and second-year core Computer Science courses are taught within the College. The College Library has a wealth of resources for Computing subjects. 

Besides to the Tutorial Fellow in Computation, the Fellowship includes Professor Nick Trefethen, an expert in Numerical Analysis. Balliol also houses the Oxford Internet Institute. 

The College integrates Computing students into its strong Mathematics community, which includes the Balliol Undergraduate Maths Society which helps new students acclimate and hosts speakers. 

The college’s math and computing students are also well-integrated with each other. Coming from a joint interest in logic and problem-solving, students often collaborate on coursework and share knowledge between our disciplines. Tutorials frequently draw connections across subjects to provide a comprehensive education.

With its rigorous, mathematical approach to Computer Science and robust math preparation, Balliol develops great minds in computing scholars.

University College

University College has a long history of excellence in Computer Science education. It was the first Oxford College to appoint a Tutorial Fellow specifically for Computer Science, demonstrating its commitment to supporting top-quality teaching and research in this rapidly advancing field. 

It is considered a top-choice college for Computer Science. If you are applying to Univ, your choice is good. 

As a Computer Science student at Univ, you would benefit from engaged tutors dedicated to the subject as well as studying alongside a dynamic group of peers. 

While the degree maintains a strong theoretical core, Univ encourages students to explore the many practical applications of computer science and its connections to other disciplines and the wider world. 

The college also enables students to pursue joint degrees in Computer Science and Maths or Philosophy, with tutors in those subjects eager to work with joint school students. 

With its tradition of leadership in Computer Science and commitment to supporting students, Univ is an excellent choice for those looking to study this exciting and versatile subject.

The college also houses the Jenkins Centre for experimental sciences including computing labs.

Trinity College

Founded in 1555, Trinity College boasts stunning architecture and manicured gardens that make it one of Oxford’s most beautiful colleges. 

Trinity provides an excellent environment for all Computer Science students. The teaching structure includes lectures, practical labs, and small group tutorials, allowing for both broad instruction and personalized attention. 

The college system also fosters community, with formal hall dinners 5 nights a week and guest dinners on Fridays. Trinity’s central location in Oxford makes access to shops, libraries, and campus facilities convenient. 

The reasonable cost of meals and rooming combined with Trinity’s academic reputation and resources make it an ideal college for Computer Science students looking for a rigorous and well-rounded education experience. 

The college’s long history and beautiful architecture provide an inspiring backdrop for intellectual pursuit and personal growth. 

Trinity accepts around 12 Computer Science students per year. 

St Catherine College

St Catherine’s, known as Catz, is one of the best Oxford colleges for students interested in studying Computer Science. With around 35-40 students pursuing Computer Science degrees each year, Catz has the largest concentration of Computer Science students among Oxford colleges. 

College is a member of an informal group known as the Consortium, which is the best tutor for Computer Science. 

This vibrant community allows students to collaborate and support one another throughout their studies. Catz students consistently achieve above-average results on exams, with approximately 60% earning first-class marks in recent years. The college provides robust academic support through small group tutorials in the first three years and individualized advice. 

With a modern campus and tailored teaching, Catz offers an ideal environment for mastering computer science. 

The college admits 8 students per year for Computer Science.

Magdalen College

With its iconic tower and beautiful grounds, Magdalen College is arguably the most recognizable of Oxford’s colleges, and only 4 students will have a chance to learn Computer Science per year here. 

Founded in 1458, Magdalen has a rich history and many famous alumni. It’s considered one of the best colleges for Computer Science at Oxford among students and fellows.

Magdalen maintains excellent computer facilities including the Waynflete Building set aside for scientists. Students enjoy Magdalen’s peaceful atmosphere next to the River Cherwell while still being walking distance to central Oxford.

Magdalen accepts a steady number of well-qualified computer science applicants each year. Students praise Magdalen for its vibrant social community and the many opportunities to interact with leading academics.

Oriel College

Oriel is not ranked high on the Norrington table for example, but it is one of the best Oxford colleges for Computer Science. Any student applying to Oxford can be confident in their choice if choose Oriel. 

With only 4 places available each year, admission for Computer Science is highly selective – candidates must achieve top grades in their A-levels, including Mathematics and Further Mathematics, to be shortlisted. 

The small cohort means students benefit from personalised teaching and support in the first two years of study, with tailored tutorials and classes based on individual needs. Later on, the breadth of specialist options allows students to delve deeply into nearly every Computer Science subfield, guided by experts running advanced classes in each area. 

The rigorous admission criteria and individualised teaching produce an ambitious peer group, while the range of high-level options ensures graduates leave Oriel well-prepared for any computing career or further study.

How Hard Is It To Get Into Oxford For Computer Science?

In 2022, Oxford received 1584 applications via UCAS for the undergraduate Computer Science course, according to the official report. Only 348 applicants were shortlisted for Oxford interviews, and the place is offered to 135 students.

Computer Science in the last decade became the most competitive course at Oxford and at the rest of Russell Group Universities

One more thing goes in favour of that, high Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) as an entry requirement. In 2022, the average MAT score for all applicants was 37.8 based on official admission data. It looks like many applicants failed to achieve good MAT scores. However, you need at least a 60 or higher MAT score to get invited for an interview at Oxford

Many other factors influence whether you will be shortlisted, and one of the most important is the MAT score. Just to have a better picture of competitiveness – all accepted applicants had a 67 or higher MAT score

Read more: How to Get into Oxford University: Top 12 Tips for 100% Success

Entry Requirements for Computer Science at Oxford

Gaining entry into Oxford is highly competitive, and Computer Science is one of the most selective courses. To study computer science at Oxford, applicants typically require:

To study Computer Science at Oxford Colleges, you will need to achieve at least an A*AA  at A-level, with an A in Maths, Further Maths or Computer Science

Maths is essential and Further Maths is highly recommended. You do not need to submit any written work as part of your application. 

Competition for places is quite high – only around 17% of applicants are interviewed and just 6% receive offers (based on a 3-year average from 2020-2022). The typical annual intake is around 40 students

Strong mathematical ability and an aptitude for programming are must-haves for prospective Oxford Computer Scientists. The admissions process looks beyond grades to assess your academic potential and passion for the subject. You will need to sit the MAT test as well.

Also, you will need to submit strong a personal statement related to Computer Science and a letter of reference via UCAS.

Meeting basic requirements does not guarantee acceptance to Oxford Computer Science, given the intense competition.

Oxford Computer Science Acceptance Rate

Unsurprisingly, the university receives over 20,000 applications yearly for around 3,200 undergraduate places. This enormous applicant pool makes Oxford extremely selective in admissions.

For computer science in particular, Oxford accepts around 130-140 students per year from approximately 1600 applications. This translates to an exceptionally low acceptance rate for Computer science.

CourseApplicationsOffersAcceptance rate
Computer Science861546%
Computer Science and Philosophy1291512%
Mathematics and Computer Science5946611%

Such starkly low acceptance rates underscore just how competitive computer science admissions are at Oxford. Applicants from around the world vie for a few coveted spots. Top grades, test scores, references and interview performance are a must for securing a place.

How many students study Computer Science at Oxford?

There are currently 346 students enrolled in Computer Science related degree courses. Specifically, 137 students are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Another 50 students are enrolled in the Computer Science and Philosophy programme. Additionally, 159 students are studying Mathematics and Computer Science. 

In total, across these three majors, Oxford has nearly 350 students focusing their studies on Computer Science and related fields. 

The strong interest in Computer Science among Oxford students reflects the growing demand for professionals with computing skills and knowledge globally.

Is Oxford Good for Computer Science?

Oxford is ranked number 1 for Computer science in the UK, according to QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, demonstrating its strength over Cambridge and Imperial College London

The university provides great facilities, generous financial support, strong industry links, and a reputation that makes graduates highly employable. The college system facilitates social interactions and debates on diverse topics, however, if you get accepted you meet many bright minds and “nerdy” people. Tutorials allow for one-on-one teaching by Fellows.

The lecture-based curriculum could be improved with more engaging delivery, but Oxford is d good university to study Computer Science in the UK.

The fees are around £30k for three years, but student financial help is available. 

Teaching quality in later years varies, with some large classes. However, the degree fosters independence and creativity through practical projects. While the formal curriculum has limitations, the overall Oxford experience is good. 

Graduates are highly respected, thanks to the university’s admissions selectivity and reputation, more so than just the programme itself. 

Oxford provides a rich, rounded education and strong preparation for impactful careers.

Does Oxford Have an Entrance Exam for Computer Science?

Yes, to apply for undergraduate Computer science at Oxford, you are required to sit an admissions exam – MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test). This exam helps assess your aptitude and suitability for the Computer Science programme.

The MAT may suit those with especially strong mathematics backgrounds.

The MAT admissions test is challenging and you should prepare extensively through practice papers and sample questions. Keep in mind you will need to score at least 67 to secure to be shortlisted if your other entry requirements are good. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right college is important when applying to study Computer science at Oxford. Balliol, University, Trinity, St Catherine’s, Magdalen, and Oriel appear to be the best Oxford Colleges for Computer Science based on factors like admissions rates, facilities, academic support, and student satisfaction.

These colleges offer excellent teaching, resources, communities, and opportunities tailored specifically for computing students.

Always keep in mind gaining admission into computer science at Oxford is very competitive with around 6% of students accepted yearly

You’ll need nearly perfect grades A*AA in A-levels or equal, a 67+ MAT score, strong references and interview performance. However, the rewards of an Oxford degree make the effort worthwhile.

Outstanding colleges for computer science provide great environments for ambitious students. By selecting the college that best matches your needs, you can spend 3 amazing years in Oxford.