Hi! My name is Anisa and I am currently finishing up my third year of biochemistry at Corpus Christi.
Applying to Oxford was a decision I made not expecting to actually get an interview, let alone an offer, so I would really encourage you to come to open days1 to see what the university is like and apply3 – the process isn’t as scary as it seems.
I decided to study biochemistry after greatly enjoying biology and chemistry at A-Level but not wanting to specialise specifically in either of those subjects, nor was I particularly passionate about potentially studying medicine at university. Biochemistry encapsulates a range of topics – for example, the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins (which you’d likely be accustomed to from A-levels) to structural and functional studies on a smaller scale (how do we observe interactions between proteins? what amino acids take part in the chemical reactions?) and systems on a larger scale (what pathways are involved in the cell cycle or the immune system? how do we develop from a fertilised egg to an entire organism?).
Studying biochemistry at Oxford is an intense yet rewarding experience. In first year, five modules are covered: Cellular biochemistry, Molecular biochemistry, Mechanistic biochemistry, Physical biochemistry, and Quantitative biochemistry. There are about 2-3 lectures a day, regular practicals in the lab, and classes and workshops provide additional support for understanding the content. Furthermore, Oxford has its college-based tutorial system, where, once or twice a week, an essay or a problem sheet is set to be completed. In the tutorials, any issues with the work are explained and there is a general discussion to help you gain an appreciation for the topic and for biochemistry. At the end of the year, prelims (“preliminary examinations”) are taken in each module, which are marked as a pass or fail.
Life at Oxford came as a surprise to me; I come from a state school from which no one has been admitted into Oxford before, and so I thought that I wouldn’t fit in here. However, I was wrong – there are so many different people to meet and societies to join, and it’s a case of being able to make new friends every term! Furthermore, the independence that comes along with moving away from home is also something I’ve come to appreciate. There’s a wide range of support available for any struggles and problems you may come across, such as your college tutors, the welfare team, and the university’s counselling service.
Corpus Christi is a small and friendly college that is located near the town centre and other colleges, with no more than a 15 minute walk to get to the science area where lectures and classes are usually held. Despite making an open application, I’m glad that I was allocated to this college.
If you have any questions, please email me!
1Please note that the Open Days on 29 June, 30 June and 16 September 2022.
2 Tutorials are regular academic discussion sessions usually with one or two other students and a tutor.
3 Please note that interviews will be held online in 2022.
Resources categorised by subject and by Key Stage, as well as materials for applying to Oxford and finding out more about Corpus, can be found here.