Amber – Earth Sciences
What do you like best about your course?
Academically, I love the breadth of study. The course isn’t just about the geology here, it’s about the Earth as a whole which has allowed me to discover interests in topics that I may not have otherwise developed.
The course itself is quite small – my year has only 30 students. Teddy Hall has one of the largest intakes (eight in my year!) meaning that before you even get to the department you’ve met a good proportion of your year group and on the subsequent field trips you quickly get to know everyone. I really like that community.
How is your subject taught at Oxford?
Earth Sciences is taught through a mixture of lectures, practicals and tutorials. In first year you can expect around 16 hours of lectures and practicals a week with about two tutorials. Practicals may take a range of forms including microscope work, map interpretation and working through problem sets. Tutorials usually take place in the department, with one maths-focused tutorial and one other tutorial a week in first year. Each tutorial comes with set work: for maths there’s a problem set every week; for the other tutorial it can vary from questions based around the museum, to an essay or a presentation. In Trinity term (the summer term) the lectures and practicals reduce substantially to allow for revision time! Once into second year, the tutorials are more flexible and tailored to what you need the most support with. A large amount of practical work is also taught on the field trips, starting on the very first weekend of term!
What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?
Do lots of research into the syllabus! I definitely didn’t fully realise the breadth of the course which has since become a highlight. On the other hand, I also didn’t realise how much maths there would be in first year and as this is a slight weakness of mine it would have been helpful to have been more prepared for that! In terms of the application, I think the best advice I was given was that it isn’t all about what you know, it’s much more about how willing you are to learn and how you think about problems.
What is life like as a student here?
There are so many opportunities on offer and so much to do. I find Teddy Hall in particular really homely and welcoming – I found coming to Oxford quite daunting to begin with and wondered how walking into the Front Quad could ever feel like home, but Teddy Hall felt like coming home by the time I returned for my second term!
What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in at Oxford?
I have volunteered with Branch Up, a charity that provides disadvantaged children in Oxford with extra-curricular activities, such as Activity Days, which are a day out doing something fun like ice skating.
Last summer I made use of OUIP (the Oxford University Internship Programme) to go to China as a volunteer, teaching English in a rural school. This was an incredible opportunity and an experience that I wouldn’t have had without OUIP.
I’m also a Student Ambassador, which means I get involved with college tours whenever my timetable allows, and you might see me around at open days!