Emily – Geography
What do you like best about your course?
I chose Geography at Oxford because it is one of the few universities that gives you the flexibility to study both human and physical geography simultaneously. I think this is a great feature of the course as it allows a wide range of exciting subjects to be explored and you can really tailor your degree to your own interests.
How is your subject taught at Oxford?
In a typical day, you might expect to attend one or two lectures mid-morning, and spend time reading, researching and preparing tutorial work. You submit an essay a few days in advance which means that when you attend your tutorial, you have already done the relevant reading and are ready discuss your essay and wider reading. This is really helpful as it means you turn up well equipped for some interesting discussion with the one or two other students also in your tutorial.
Especially in first year, you may also be expected to attend afternoon classes once or twice a week in the Geography department, which cover more practical skills such as using computer programmes or equipment in the lab.
In 2nd and 3rd year your timetable may vary more, and there is more independent work, such as your submitted coursework (extended essays) and your dissertation. These are self-directed projects and you choose the topics you’d like to study for them, which again allows you to spend time on the areas of Geography that really take your interest. For example, in my first two years I’ve been able to look at the modelling of complex systems, coral reef restoration methods, and learnt some really useful GIS skills.
What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?
The Geography tutors at Teddy Hall are very well organised and keep the workload regular, which means that you can manage your time well and get stuck in to College life and activities as well as taking advantage of your tutorials to really make the most of them. The tutors we have here are incredibly supportive people who help you in any way they can. Working steadily throughout the year also helps to avoid a last minute panic when it comes to exams!
When it comes to the application process, just be yourself and don’t be afraid to show how passionate you are about Geography to the tutors who interview you – this is what they’re looking for, as well as your academic potential!
Why did you choose St Edmund Hall?
I applied to Teddy Hall because whilst I knew very little about the collegiate system at Oxford, I visited a few colleges on an open day and Teddy Hall instantly felt very homely. It’s an incredibly welcoming College, with a large student body but a small enough area footprint that you really get to know everyone and become part of a community.
What is life like as a student here?
Life at Oxford is undeniably busy and can at times be stressful, but that’s the nature of studying at a top university. However, I find the friendly community of Teddy Hall really helps to bring out the fun side of university and encourages you to get involved in many extra-curricular activities. We’re a very sporty College, but every team welcomes participation by people of any ability, and we also excel in other areas, for example our recent success on University Challenge. There really is something for everyone here, which results in a diverse student community that welcomes everybody. We also have a great chef, so the food here is always incredible, and it’s a bonus that we all eat together in the dining hall so mealtimes become opportunities to socialise and take a break from studying.
What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in at Oxford?
I get stuck in at any college level sport because it’s very fun and sociable, but I also ride in the university equestrian team. This has given me so many incredible opportunities, such as a tour to the USA to compete with universities such as Dartmouth and Cornell, as well as a chance to ride competitively despite not having my own horse.
Within College, I have been the JCR President for 2019 and have therefore been very involved in organising events, and communicating between the undergraduate student body and the senior members of College. This has given me an insight into how much work goes in behind the scenes to provide students here the best possible Oxford experience, and the students and staff work well together to continually improve all aspects of Teddy Hall, including recent efforts to become a more environmentally friendly College.