Hey, I’m David. I’m from Southend in Essex, and I’m coming to the end of my second year of Physics at Corpus. If you have any questions about either Corpus, the Physics course or general Oxford life, feel free to send any of them my way!
I think what drew me the most to the Oxford Physics course is the range of topics that it covers, and the balance between practical and theoretical topics within the subject. In the first year, the content is split 50/50 between maths and physics, covering fundamental topics such as electromagnetism, classical mechanics, linear algebra and vector calculus. By studying this large range of topics, you’re able to find the parts of physics that you are really interested in, which can then be developed further in tutorials, where you discuss the problem sheets and applications of the physics you are learning. Tutorials are one of my favourite parts of the course, as you are being taught by professional researchers who can discuss how the physics is being used in their labs. We have two to three tutorials a week with different tutors in groups of two to three, where we go over problem sheets from the previous week, based on the lectures on the topics.
In terms of practicals, I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed them this year. I started university with bad memories of awful pendulum experiments from A-level that never worked, but soon my opinion on them changed as I got to encounter a wide range of lab set-ups over the year. Some of my favourites include: finding the spectral lines of a mercury lamp, finding the normal modes of a spring-mass system and building a basic computer using simple binary logic. I was also able to expand my knowledge and abilities in coding as part of the practical course, which was also great fun, especially modelling nuclear decay using random numbers and finding the volume of a 10-dimensional hypersphere.
Before applying to Oxford, I attended a summer school at another college, but after seeing Corpus on an open day I very quickly decided to apply here. Corpus is very small and friendly: with only roughly 70 people in the year, you quickly get to know everyone across all the years, meaning you never feel intimidated, as there’s always a friendly face around. The food in hall is excellent and very well priced - the weekend brunches are often needed to get through a particularly difficult problem sheet. The accommodation is really good too, and all first-year accommodation is next to college, with only a 10-minute walk to the physics building and labs.
Outside of my course, I am president of the Oxford Lego Society and co-run the college Minecraft server, in which we aim to build Corpus over time. Oxford is particularly great for its wide range of societies, and within college it is very easy to set up a new society. It has been really easy to settle into Corpus (and Oxford) in the past two years, even during the pandemic. I have always struggled with my mental health, which was definitely a barrier for me to come to Oxford, but since being here I have found the support and understanding from tutors really helpful, especially if I cannot hand work in on time or if I need to miss a tutorial for a health-related reason. Whilst the workload at Oxford is definitely large, it is manageable and there is always time for socialising, relaxing and exploring your other interests.
If you’re unsure whether to apply or not, just go for it - there’s nothing to lose and the application process can be good fun! If you’ve got any questions, please send them to me via the email address!
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.