Why do humans have two eyes?

Why do many animals have stripes? And should poetry be difficult to understand?

These are the types of questions students hoping to study at Oxford University can expect to face at interview.

The institution has published a sample of the brain-teasers posed by tutors in an attempt to give an insight into its selection process.

It comes just days before the deadline for would-be students to submit applications to the university.

Oxford's director of undergraduate admissions, Mike Nicholson, said the interview questions were a chance for potential students to show their abilities, and to think for themselves rather than recite facts.

Youngsters hoping to study biological sciences could be faced with the question "Why do many animals have stripes?"

St Anne's College interviewer Martin Speight said the question aims to get applicants to think about biological topics, and then to consider them in the context of successful adaptations to life on earth.

English students could be asked to discuss Harry Potter author JK Rowling's move to writing for adults, while those hoping to study history could be asked how much of the past could be discovered if the only records that existed related to sport.

History interviewer Stephen Tick of Pembroke College said: "I would say this to a candidate who had mentioned an interest in sport on their personal statement, though it could equally be applied to an interest in something else – like film, drama or music.

"What I would be looking for is to see how the candidate might use their imagination."

The deadline for applying to Oxford for admission next year is October 15.