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Applying to Study for a BFA

UPDATED: information about applying in October 2020 for entry in 2021. This section provides current details about the admission cycle in light of the Covid-19 public health crisis, including the deadlines for the UCAS application and portfolio submission, and slight changes to the interview process in 2020.

The University of Oxford has one admissions process each year for its undergraduate degree programme. If you would like to study at the Ruskin, you need to apply to the University a year before the start date of your course.  You need to submit both a UCAS application (2020 deadline 15 October) and a portfolio (2020 deadline 5 Novemeber).

The Ruskin welcomes applications from students with diverse backgrounds and experiences, including mature and international students.  


Entrance Requirements

At the University of Oxford, all applicants, for all subjects, are required to reach the same academic criteria in order to apply to the University. Applicants who have not achieved, or are not predicted to meet, the stated grades are unable to be short-listed.

Candidates applying straight from school / sixth-form need to meet the university minimum entry requirement of three grade As at A-level (or equivalent).

As of this year (2020, for entry in 2021), post-A-level Fine Art candidates who are undertaking or have completed an Art Foundation Diploma will be considered with AAB at A-level (or equivalent). They will be expected to submit an outstanding portfolio and to achieve at least a Merit or equivalent on their Foundation course

Clear guidelines on the academic qualifications undergraduate applicants need to attain can be found here: www.ox.ac.uk/enreqs

For candidates who are undertaking vocational qualifications, please follow this link for more information about required subjects and levels: www.ox.ac.uk/vocquals

Information regarding international qualifications can be found here: www.ox.ac.uk/intquals

Information about English language requirements is available here: www.ox.ac.uk/englang

For additional information, including details about funding, students with disabilities and applications from mature students please refer to : www.ox.ac.uk/study

We highly recommend that candidates commence a Foundation Course in Fine Art (or equivalent) before applying, though some candidates are accepted directly from school. 


Collegiate System

In order to study at the University of Oxford, you need to belong to both a college and a department. 

Each college determines their own student cohort.  On the Ruskin’s website, you will find a list of colleges that accept undergraduate Fine Art students: www.rsa.ox.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/bfa-affiliated-colleges

Each college has its own distinctive character, so you may well have a preference.  To understand more about the colleges, please follow this link: www.ox.ac.uk/collegechoice

When applying for the Ruskin School of Art, you can choose a specific college.  If you don’t know which college to choose, you can opt for making an open application, whereby you select the subject that you wish to study (i.e. Fine Art) but do not select a college.   Candidates submitting an open application will be assigned a college.  Please note that in some cases successful candidates may be offered a place at a different college from the one to which they originally applied. 


Deadlines for Applying to Study a BFA

There are two key deadlines in the admissions process, for Fine Art:

1.  Submitting your application form via UCAS by 6pm on Thursday 15 October 2020.

2.  Submitting your portfolio online to the Ruskin School of Art by 6pm on Thursday 5 November 2020.  

An application is made void if either the UCAS form or portfolio is not submitted.  It is therefore very important to meet both the UCAS deadline and the portfolio submission deadline.


UCAS Submission

To apply for the undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Art degree at the Ruskin, each applicant is required to complete and submit a UCAS form by 15 October 2020.

You will need to provide information about yourself, including a personal statement. There is also a place where a teacher or advisor needs to give you a reference. This is all submitted through an online form – no additional references, transcripts, or certificates are required or accepted.

Many people apply to Oxford before they have finished their final year of school or college. If this is the case for you, then your referee will need to provide you with predicted grades – where they say what they expect you to achieve in your A-levels (or equivalent qualifications).

The application form is available online at www.ucas.com

Please note that: 
- the Ruskin does not offer deferred entry;  
- the UCAS deadline applies to all BFA applicants, whether national or international.   


Portfolio Submission

Once their UCAS form has been submitted, applicants then need to submit their portfolios to the Ruskin via the online platform SlideRoom.  

  1. The link to SlideRoom will be published on the Ruskin website on Friday 16 October; candidates will also be sent the link by email.

  2. The deadline for portfolio submission is 18.00 GMT on Thursday 5 November.

  3. Candidates can upload up to 20 files (images, video/audio, documents)

  4. Only portfolios submitted via the SlideRoom platform will be considered; the Ruskin regrets it cannot accept portfolios in any other format, whether digital or physical.

For further information, see the ‘Submitting a Portfolio’ page.


During the process of reviewing portfolios, tutors look for work that goes beyond the mere fulfilment of school curricula.  We search for highly motivated activity, over and above any project-based work, and for a breadth of engagement, a sense of purpose and strength of opinion in the way the portfolio is edited. It is important for us is to be able to discover a sense of the temperament underlying the work, and to sense the deeper interests that inform the portfolio.  We are not interested in finding a particular formula or a specific style, but in signs of energy, ambition, critical reflection and creativity. Applying to the undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Art degree is highly competitive - each year, we receive more than 230 applications for a maximum of 30 places.

Please note that the University uses the work you submit for review and evaluation as necessary for the conduct of the admission process.  The University is not in a position to verify the contents of portfolios.  


Shortlisting & Notifications

Following shortlisting, the college of application (and not the Ruskin) will notify candidates whether they have been selected for interview.    



Interviews are customarily held in the first half of December, but the exact timings have yet to be confirmed.  DUE TO THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS, ALL INTERVIEWS IN 2020 WILL BE CONDUCTED REMOTELY.  

Shortlisted candidates will NOT attend Oxford for their interview, but will be interviewed via an online meeting (eg Microsoft Teams).

As a result, in 2020 candidates for Fine Art will not be required to take a Practical Test during the interview process.

The college will advise shortlisted candidates of the date and time of their interviews.  Shortlisted candidates will be invited to make a second, pre-interview submission to SlideRoom, of some examples of their more recent work – the deadline for this further submission will be confirmed in the invitation to interview, but will probably be a week before the interviews.

All candidates are interviewed by tutors from both the Ruskin and the college of application.  For some candidates, a college tutor may join the Ruskin panel and there will be only one primary interview. Other candidates will also be required to attend a separate interview with a college panel.

The Ruskin may, during the interview process, arrange a second meeting at a different college for some candidates if their original college of application cannot offer places to all of its strongest applicants.  

We consider the interview as an opportunity for candidates to tell us about themselves and the ideas that inform their work. 

The work included in the second, pre-interview submission will form a basis for discussion.   Candidates are be encouraged to talk about their work and interests and to discuss contemporary art, including books they have read and/or exhibitions that they might have recently visited.  


More information about applying to the University of Oxford to study an undergraduate degree can be found at main University of Oxford Admssions pages: www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford

Alternatively, you are welcome to telephone the Undergraduate Admissions enquiry line on: 01865 288000.

last edited: October 15th 2020