The most popular courses at Oxford & Cambridge | Varsity Education

The most popular courses at Oxford & Cambridge

We looked at the application data from the two universities to see which courses are most popular with prospective students.


  1. Natural Sciences (3,036)
  2. Engineering (2,089)
  3. Mathematics (1,308)
  4. Medicine (1,300)
  5. Economics (1,136)
  6. Law (1,015)
  7. Human, Social and Political Sciences (1,012)
  8. English (714)
  9. Computer Science (642)
  10. History (625)


  1. Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1,651)
  2. Medicine (1,433)
  3. Law (Jurisprudence) (1,262)
  4. Economics and Management (1,149)
  5. Physics (1,113)
  6. English (1,100)
  7. Mathematics (1,015)
  8. History (1,001)
  9. Engineering Science (922)
  10. Chemistry (684)

At first glance, it may look as if Cambridge is significantly more popular with science students than Oxford. However, at Oxford Physics, Biology and Chemistry are listed as separate subjects, while at Cambridge they are subsumed under Natural Sciences, so in reality each university receives a similar number of applicants.

Probably the most notable difference between the two universities is in the fact that Oxford offers Philosophy, Politics and Economics as one combined honours, while Cambridge offers each individually. Indeed, Oxford generally offers more combined honours than Cambridge, particularly in the humanities and languages. These include History and English, French and Arabic as well as more specialist combinations, such as Mathematics and Philosophy.

While the two universities offer many of the same courses (though with very different modules and focuses within them), there are a small number of degrees which can only be studied at Oxford or Cambridge. If you’re hoping to study Fine Art, it will have to be at Oxford, whereas if you’re an aspiring architect, Cambridge is for you.

For full lists of courses at Oxford, click here. For Cambridge’s courses, click here.

Please note that this data pertains to the total number of applications made only, not the number of students accepted onto the courses. Data is from 2015 entry.

To find out how a Varsity Education summer programme could help prepare you for your Oxbridge application, click here.