Hey! I’m Adam and I am in my second year of studying Biochemistry at Corpus Christi. I am the Biochemistry ambassador for this year, so I’m here to answer any questions you might have about studying Biochemistry here at Corpus. If you’d like a better idea of what your life here would be like, don’t hesitate to drop me an email: I’ll be more than happy to chat!
Life at Corpus
When choosing a college, I was unsure of how to go about it: there were so many factors to consider and all the colleges felt very similar but also very different at the same time. The best way to get a feel for the colleges is to go and visit them on Open Days (I will be around on the Open Days so I would love to say hi!). I would suggest talking to as many current students as possible, and, if you get a chance, to the tutors of the college! If you can't make it, no worries: another great way to get to know the colleges is to check out the alternative prospectus written by the students. After chatting with the Biochemistry tutors at Corpus (who are so wonderful!!) and noting that Corpus offers accommodation for all years of your degree, I applied to Corpus. Looking back on it, it was a great choice! Corpus has a fantastic atmosphere: I very quickly got to know and became friends with people from a range of different subjects and years.
The JCR (Junior Common Room, which is both an actual common room and also what we call the Corpus undergraduate body as a whole) is friendly and if you need to you can always find someone to talk to. Going to university, where you're moving away from home and living on your own, can be a daunting experience, but having a great group of friendly people and a strong support structure around you makes that process a lot easier and Corpus has definitely provided that for me. We have a reputation for being the 'small and friendly' college and I can promise you that it is absolutely true! At Corpus, our welfare reps run a weekly JCR tea, where there is free food and the opportunity to chat with people from across the year groups! Given the stereotypes that are sometimes associated with Oxford, it can be easy to think you may not 'fit in', however having been here I have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people from many different backgrounds, and let me say that no matter your background there is a place for you here!
Studying Biochemistry at Oxford is an intense yet rewarding experience. You study a very wide range of different topics, which are interesting and enjoyable. The department is updating the course for the 2020 intake and I would strongly encourage you to check out the Department page on the course content and also this really detailed document that outlines exactly what you can expect to be studying. In particular, check out how, in each week of the second and third years, you take a deep dive into one question to really understand it! The planned course content for the first year is relatively similar to what we have been studying so I am still more than happy to answer any questions you may have about it! There is also a practical element to the course, where most Fridays are spent in the lab carrying out an experiment. There are about two to three lectures a day, and classes and workshops provide additional support for understanding the content. Furthermore, Oxford has a college-based tutorial system where, once or twice a week, an essay or a problem sheet is set to be completed. Tutorials (academic discussion sessions usually with one or two other students and a tutor) have been the highlights of my week! The opportunity to ask questions, solve problems, and delve deep into biochemistry is always really fun and the tutors at Corpus (have I mentioned how awesome they are yet?!) are always so encouraging! At the end of the year, Prelims ('Preliminary Examinations') are taken in each module.
Coming to Oxford to be interviewed by Oxford tutors over a few days can seem like a terrifying prospect, but they do provide a great opportunity to experience the Oxford lifestyle and spend time discussing a topic you are passionate about. That’s the best way to look at the interview: a chance to spend time discussing a topic you are passionate about with people who can answer your questions about that topic! This is similar to a tutorial, so it allows you to experience how teaching works in Oxford. The Biochemistry tutors at Corpus - JL and Struan - are so lovely and so encouraging, and honestly want to help you have as much fun as possible (Yes, FUN!! They are that good!). Remember that everyone is in the same boat and before the actual interview the tutors meet with all the interviewees and explain what will happen, meaning everyone knows what to expect.
Life at Oxford
The stereotype of a large workload at Oxford is true to an extent, but it is absolutely manageable, and you will definitely have time to do things outside of academics. In my first year, I was able to get involved in many societies, try out multiple new sports and volunteer, all alongside the course. There are a huge range of activities, both inside and outside of college. You will be able to find practically any activity you can think of at whatever difficulty level you want, which is a great way to make friends outside your college and subject friends. Check out the list of societies on the Oxford website as well as the list of sports clubs on the Oxford Sports website.
I hope I have made life at Oxford sound exciting, fun and perhaps a bit less intimidating for you, but if you’d like to hear more, please be sure to contact me. Good luck with your application process and I hope to see you here in the future!