Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Emily Simpson


Hi, I'm Emily and I've just finished my first year at Corpus studying Chemistry. I've really loved my first year here, Corpus Christi College is a wonderful community and I'm so proud to call it home. The Chemistry tutors here are fantastic and supportive and being a small college it's easy to interact with the other chemists to discuss work or ask for help.

The Oxford chemistry course itself consists of two consecutive days of labs per week (roughly 6 hours each), 2 lectures each weekday morning (9am-11am), 1 tutorial per week and 1 maths class per week along with some physics classes in Michaelmas and Hilary, which is Oxford jargon for the 1st and 2nd terms. One thing I'd like to say about labs is it's a great opportunity to really mix and mingle with chemists from other colleges as you can all bond over that one time you made a brown sludge rather than that photochromic powder the demonstrator said you'd make! Despite this you learn a lot from labs, and at the end of the year it's cool when you can see how different subjects link to the practicals as your knowledge improves.

The tutorial work each week is similar to a small research project where you are required to read around a topic then demonstrate your understanding by answering questions. This structure of learning is very rewarding because it ensures you have a broad understanding of the topic and you have the opportunity to do extra reading on topics you find interesting or challenging and discuss them with your tutors. Along with tutorial classes the tutors also offer revision sessions in preparation for exams, in first year you will take prelims which are 4 exams in physical, organic and inorganic chemistry as well as a maths paper.

To do chemistry at Oxford for those doing A levels, further maths or physics are probably the most useful as your third subject (along with chemistry and maths as your main two), but biology is very helpful for the biochemistry section of the organic paper. Any combination of science subjects will stand you in good stead but that doesn’t mean a third non-science/maths subject isn’t accepted and viewed for it’s own merits.

The workload may sound a little daunting but there's still time to get involved with other activities across the university, the Oxford community and not to mention fitting in nights out if that's your thing. Oxford is a busy place and Corpus is situated right at the heart of the city so you'll have good access to the science department, sport grounds, food, theatre and more. The terms are short but if you are organised there is a lot you can get stuck into during your time at Oxford. If you have any questions about chemistry or Corpus just send me an email.

In addition to any questions about chemistry or Corpus I'm also the socio-economic rep for Corpus so if you having any questions or fears regarding financial or social issues feel free to get in touch. Coming from a state school in South Yorkshire, I'm very aware Oxford can seem like an unapproachable place of study for some. I'd like to assure you there is a place for people from all walks of life at Oxford and especially at Corpus, after all we aren’t called ‘small and friendly’ by chance.

If you do have any concerns I'll be happy to answer any questions any of the topics stated above.

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