Students in a tutorial, 2018 - Photo: © John Cairns -

Admissions policies

Gap Years
  • Applications for deferred entry are welcomed for all subjects taken by the College - except Physics* and the beginners' Russian course**.
  • Candidates should be aware that in many subjects, applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the strongest of the cohort for their subject.
  • A number of deferred entry applicants may be offered a non-deferred place instead.
  • Candidates should be aware that applicants for deferred entry are unlikely to be given interviews by colleges other than Merton.

For more detail on individual subjects' deferred entry policies, please check departmental websites.

If you are taking a gap year, you must still make arrangements for completing an admissions test (if your subject requires it) in November and interviews in December.

It is recommended for all applicants planning a gap year to explain briefly what their plans entail on their UCAS application form, and how these plans relate to the course being applied for.

* Merton's Tutors in Physics do not encourage deferred entry, largely because lack of practice can affect the mathematical competence achieved at A-Level or equivalent. They will, however, consider applications in certain special circumstances, e.g. where a candidate sponsored by industry is spending a year in a laboratory.

** It is a policy of the Modern Languages Faculty that applicants for beginners' Russian cannot apply for deferred entry. Read more about beginners' Russian on the Faculty page.


The University of Oxford's policy on age, which applies to all the colleges including Merton, states:

"Oxford University welcomes applications from students regardless of their age. However, potential candidates for all courses will be expected to demonstrate a mature approach to the study of their subject, including skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage their own time effectively. If, for welfare reasons, relating to age or other grounds, a College considers that it is not in the best interests of an individual student to live in College, they will discuss alternative options, if an offer of a place is made."

However, this does not apply to applicants for the A100 Pre-clinical Medicine course, where a necessary lower age limit for admission to the A100 Pre-clinical Medicine course applies. This means that applicants for the A100 Pre-clinical Medicine course only must be at least 18 years old at the start of the first term they intend to start the course. This requirement brings the Medical School into line with many other top-ranking Medical Schools in the UK and is further explained in the FAQs on the Medical Sciences website.

Mature Students

A mature student is one who will be over the age of 21 when starting at Oxford.

  • Merton welcomes applicants of all backgrounds, including mature candidates.
  • The primary criterion for selection in all cases is academic merit and potential.
  • There is no special quota of places for mature students (or any other category of applicant) - mature applicants must compete with all other candidates for places via the normal admissions procedure.
  • There is rarely more than one mature undergraduate student in residence at Merton, and typically there might only be 1 to 3 such applicants in any one year.

As we have very small numbers of mature students, the College does not generally offer facilities which are distinct from those offered to other undergraduates, although they may be offered graduate accommodation and would be eligible to apply for partner accommodation in appropriate circumstances.

Second Undergraduate Degrees
  • Merton will consider applicants who already have a first degree in all of the subjects which it offers except for Medicine.
  • In any one year, up to two second undergraduate degree offers will be made.
  • In some subjects, Tutors prefer to consider only those second degree applicants who are prepared to take the full three or four year course.
  • In others, depending on the candidate's background, Senior Status may be granted, avoiding the need to take the University's First Public Examination and abbreviating the length of the degree.
  • For graduate students interested in applying for Medicine we recommend the accelerated graduate entry Medical course, available at other Oxford colleges but not offered by Merton.
  • At Merton, second undergraduate degree students are members of the Middle Common Room and are regarded as graduates for accommodation purposes. The application process and timetable is the same as for first degree applicants.

Read more about second undergraduate degrees at Oxford.

Student-College Contract

The Merton College contract outlines the relationship between the College and its junior members, and should be read in conjunction with the comparable contract provided by the University of Oxford at Junior members will be asked to confirm their acceptance of both contracts by signature when they are admitted to the College and the University. The College contract is updated ahead of each academic year, and affected individuals are alerted by email of any updates. You may find a copy of the latest College contract, and the wider college rules and regulations relating to junior members, at