Admissions and Outreach Blog

This project has completed its first full term of operation, and stories about it have appeared in press local to several ambassador schools (the Bournemouth Echo, Lynn News, Eastern Daily Press, and the Hertfordshire Mercury), as well as nationally in Schools Week and in the Oxford Mail.

The project was mentioned in the Vice-Chancellor’s Oration in October 2017:

“St Peter’s is launching a new initiative linking the college with nine secondary schools focused on providing professional development to teachers and educating them about the University admissions process.”

Dr Marina MacKay conducts a mock interview with a current St Peter's student

Several stories have been posted on the St Peter’s website and on the university website. The ambassador schools have also published stories on their own websites.

We wanted to share a few key facts:

  • Seventeen members of staff from the nine ambassador schools attended the launch event on 22 September.
  • Thirteen members of staff stayed overnight in college, to get a better feel for the undergraduate experience, including breakfast.
  • Eight academic mentors attended the launch event, and the ninth has since visited the ambassador school to meet with the ambassador teacher and a group of students.
  • Numerous academic mentoring sessions have taken place, face-to-face and via Skype.
  • Baseline data has been collected from telephone interviews with all nine ambassador teachers, and launch event feedback from all 17 school-based participants.

It has been great getting to know our ambassador schools a little better, hear what they already know about the college, and find out what they want to know more about. For example, with a couple of exceptions, they initially had very limited knowledge of St Peter’s College specifically – something that is no longer the case. They had varying levels of confidence about their students’ ability to fit in socially at Oxford and cope academically as an undergraduate here, although one summarised thus:  St Peter’s is a “small and friendly college – less daunting”. 

The ambassador teachers worry about their students having the initial confidence to apply and/or performing well in interviews – other potential barriers we are working hard to remove.

But what has perhaps been most interesting has been hearing about the wide variety of ways the ambassador teachers work so hard to inspire their students to academic excellence. A few examples are:

  • holding debates
  • exposing their students to academic heavyweights
  • encouraging questions
  • never take anything for granted
  • telling extracurricular stories…

The feedback from the launch event was very positive, with all sessions being well-received, especially the mock interview carried out by a St Peter’s teaching fellow with a current undergraduate. Participants also found attending the evening dinner and having the opportunity to meet college staff especially useful.

We are hoping to be able to expand the number of schools involved from September 2018. For more information, or to join the waiting list to apply to join the project, please email Daniel Pugh-Bevan at or Marianne Talbot at

Admissions Period FAQs

by Dan Pugh-Bevan on Nov 27, 2017

St Peter’s is very much looking forward to welcoming candidates to the college in the next few weeks.

Detailed below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions that have been sent to the college. Please check back for regular updates.

Ensure that you have completed the Interview Reply Form before reading any further! 

Is there a dress code for the interviews at St Peter’s College?

No. You should wear comfortable clothes and shoes for interviews at Oxford. There may be times when you have to walk to other colleges for interviews, so it is also best to ensure you are dressed accordingly for rain or shine!

What activities will the college provide for candidates during their free time?

There is no formalised timetable of activities during free time. You should take advantage of the opportunity to explore Oxford while you are here. During the evenings, the Student Helpers may host activities in the Junior Common Room (the JCR), such as quizzes, table-tennis tournaments, film nights, and other opportunities to socialise with other candidates. You may also like to bring some coursework to complete, or a book to read. Any evening activities will be on an informal, drop-in basis, although it is recommended that you spend time in the Junior Common Room as much as possible.

How can I best prepare for my interviews?

This video, produced by Oxford Pathways, has lots of useful information about Oxford interviews. 

I am an international student. My flight is the day after my last interview. What accommodation provisions are in place in this scenario?

Complete the Interview Reply Form detailing your travel arrangements. We do what we can to accommodate people’s travel requirements should you be travelling a large distance to the college for interview. 

Schools Ambassador Project Launch Event

by Marianne Talbot on Oct 27, 2017

Teachers and senior leaders from all nine ambassador schools participating in this year's St Peter's College Foundation Schools Ambassador Project were welcomed to a conference held at St Peter’s towards the end of September, for an afternoon and evening of getting to know their academic mentors, the college, the University and the admissions process.
Speaking at the launch, Mark Damazer CBE, Master of St Peter’s, said: ‘We have academics here full of excitement about the thought of teaching motivated school teachers who want to refresh or add to their knowledge. I hope the scheme leads to a richer understanding in the schools as a whole about what an Oxford college is really like and helps boost the confidence of teachers to get their best students to apply here.’
Conference sessions included:
  • a brief history of the University and the college by Mark Damazer 
  • an introduction to access and admissions by Dr Robert Pitkethly, Tutor for Admissions
  • a mock interview between Dr Marina MacKay, Fellow and Tutor in English, and one of the college’s current undergraduates, Eimer McAuley
  • an introduction to Oxplore by Rebecca Costello, Widening Access and Participation Assistant (see for more information)
  • a tour of the college with student ambassadors
Teachers then had their initial academic mentoring sessions with their mentors, agreeing the scope of the topic to cover during the sessions, and objectives for the year. Senior leaders from the schools walked across Oxford for a Q&A session with Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions & Outreach, and Charlotte Hamilton, Student Recruitment Officer.
Everyone came together in the evening for a drinks reception and dinner, followed by an overnight stay in college, to get that authentic student experience!
Comments from teachers included:
  • ‘Fascinating and inspiring in equal measure’
  • ‘It was exciting to be there, and seriously impressive’
  • ‘A well-organised and informative day’
  • ‘I came away from our meeting with lots of ideas’
  • ‘The mock interview was excellent, although I would like to see a contrasting interview from a different tutor (from a different subject)’
Teachers and mentors will be meeting virtually during early November for their next mentoring session, and visits to all ambassador schools are being arranged for spring 2018.
For more information, or to join the waiting list to join the project, please email Daniel Pugh-Bevan at or Marianne Talbot at