Jenna – Physics
What do you like best about your course?
In our first year, most of what we study is core, but we do get to choose a short option in the final term. I like the fact we have choices early in the course and I really enjoyed my option on the Functions of Complex Variables (this builds upon complex numbers covered in Further Maths at A-level). Another plus is that most of our lectures are recorded and put online. This is useful if you are stuck on a particular part of the course and want to hear it explained again. You can even search the audio of the recorded lectures which saves a lot of time. I am looking forward to the research projects in later years as I think they will help us to develop the scientific skills needed in industry or for further study.
How is your subject taught at Oxford?
In first year, we typically had 2-3 lectures in the morning, although occasionally we would have 4. Lectures went alongside a weekly lab session in the first two terms as well as 2-3 tutorials a week, each with 1 or 2 other people. For each tutorial, we were set a problem sheet based on the recent lectures to complete and hand in a few days before; this is the main work you do before the exams. In the final term of the year, we continued to have tutorials and lectures for the first few weeks. These lectures were revision lectures for the core sections of the course and the short option lectures. We chose our short option in the final term and were free to attend the lectures for the other options if we had the time.
The labs in first year were once a week, starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm with an hour for lunch in the middle. You work with a lab partner, another first year from your college who you get to know very well by the end of the year. For two of the labs we had to write lab reports; we had some choice in which ones to write up and the process of doing the report helped us to understand the experiments in more detail.
What advice would you give potential applicants interested in studying your subject?
I would say that if you enjoy Physics it is well worth applying. The interviews sound scary but I enjoyed them quite a lot once I was there. I think the most important quality the tutors are looking for is the ability to work logically. Don’t worry about getting everything right in the interviews; it is how you approach the problems that is important, and of course a clear interest in the subject!
As for advice about studying in Oxford, I think organisation is very important in order to make the most of the time here each term. There is a lot you can get involved in, and so it is important to prioritise to make sure you have the time to do the things you really want to do.
What is life like as a student at St Edmund Hall?
Everyone always remarks that the size of Teddy Hall helps in getting to know everyone, and it is true – there are many students on the main college site and you will always be able to find people with the same interests as you. I am a very talkative person and love that I can always find people to chat to. That being said, the social aspect does not disturb your ability to work. I find there is a friendly and supportive atmosphere here. With all the things to get involved in, life can be quite hectic at times and is great fun, so long as you are organised with your work.
What sort of extra-curricular activities are you involved in at Oxford?
I am involved in the Chapel Choir at Teddy Hall and sing with the Oxford Bach Choir, which is a city-based auditioned choir. I have found joining the Chapel Choir to be a great way to make friends with people from different years and find my place in college. I am also a member of the Oxford Dance Society and attend the ballroom classes when I can.
There’s the opportunity to become a student ambassador for college and I’ve enjoyed giving tours of the college to school groups as part of this. Ultimate Frisbee and the Oxford Walking Club are also groups I would recommend to those looking at a fun way to get involved with sports here.