At school I thought going into a science degree would allow me to give either right or wrong answers. However, since starting at Hertford College my biological perspective has changed. Science is an ever developing subject where the answer is often not known; this is what excites me most about the course. The tutorials with Martin Maiden pushed me hard but gave me a depth to the subject which I never thought possible at school. After just two terms I have a much greater insight into my subject developing both detail as well as a wide breath of knowledge. We had tutorials within Hertford during our first term allowing us to settle in and establish a good foundation of what was expected of us and what we could push ourselves to. During Hilary term, tutorials in other colleges were organised which allowed us to have a great variety of essay topics and introduce us to these subjects with the experts in the field. The location of Hertford makes it seem so very ‘Oxford’ where you walk out of the door and see the Sheldonian, The Bodleian and the Radcliffe Camera; from Martin’s room you can see the Rad Cam which must be one of the most stunning views in College. However, the approach to work is relatively relaxed which means that no matter how ‘Oxford’ a situation may seem, it is not too stressful allowing us to perform our work to the best of our abilities. Hertford is the place to read Biology in my opinion.
Gabi, 2009 - 2012
I am just finishing my three years of Biology at Hertford, and have really enjoyed the course. Hertford is able to offer tutors who specialise in some of the most important core parts of the course, and I have therefore been able to have many of my tutorials at my own college. This has helped to cement my basic knowledge, especially in Disease and Ecology, which I have then expanded through tutorials with tutors from other colleges, with different specialities, exploring mostly Evolution based options. That the Hertford tutors are able to help in arranging these has allowed me to study everything that I am most interested in. Hertford is also excellently placed for easy access to the Zoology and Plant Sciences departments, as well as all the main libraries and the town centre. Our own library has also been invaluable, as you can request new books for free and often receive them by the end of the day. We also have good bursary schemes, and Hertford has been able to give me help in finding a job for when I leave Oxford. I have also appreciated the small size of the college, which means you can get to know everyone in your year, and especially the other Biologists, who are some of my closest friends. Overall, I think that Hertford has been the best place for me to take my degree, and has offered me many opportunities that I would not have had at other colleges.
I completed my degree in 2010 but I remained at the college to study for a DPhil in genetics. I feel the biochemistry degree in Oxford has provided a fantastic opportunity to develop the writing and lab based skills that are invaluable for continuing with research. While the timetable of lectures, practicals and tutorials can be intense at times, particularly in the first year, it doesn’t take long to settle in and find time to enjoy all the activities the college, University and city have to offer too. During the degree you will attend tutorials at other colleges with experts in many different fields giving the course incredible depth and breadth. The majority of the fourth year is spent carrying out a research project which provides hands on experience of lab work. I enjoyed mine so much that I stayed to carry out my DPhil. Hertford college has provided a welcoming, friendly and supportive environment in which to study and live. You quickly get to know the other biochemists in your year and the years above as well as people studying a variety of other subjects. I had a fantastic time during my undergrad degree getting involved in college life and meeting lifelong friends and continue to do so as a postgrad student.
I studied Biochemistry at Hertford between 2007 and 2011. I enjoyed the challenge of each year more than the previous one. The first year presented a broad spread of topics from biophysics to organic chemistry. Whilst I enjoyed the task of assimilating this large amount of information, it wasn't until I reached my third year that I realised that this was just laying the foundations for a greater understanding to emerge. During my third year, all the knowledge I had acquired up to that point seemed to click into place, and I began to develop a more intuitive understanding of biochemical processes. This understanding allowed me to form my own interpretations and opinions when faced with new biochemical situations. I found this process very rewarding, especially during my fourth year research project. It was not the data collection that I enjoyed about this project, but the drawing of all my knowledge and understanding together, and combining it with a creative thought process to speculate about the possible meaning of the data that I had collected.
I have now worked in the financial sector for a year, however, I have come to realise how much I miss Biochemistry, and as such I am now returning to a pursuit of this interest, as a Biotechnology Patent Attorney. I feel extremely lucky to have studied Biochemistry at Oxford. It is testament to how highly regarded the course is in the world of work that it gave me the freedom to first pursue a financial career, and then to switch back to a more vocational biochemical pursuit.
One of the fantastic things about the course is that over time, the 'puzzle pieces' of individual subjects and disciplines start to come together to form a complete picture of ways to study humans and explain our world today. Human Sciences offers one of the most wholesome and diverse educational experiences in Oxford, and offers great grounding to go on into a rage of future job opportunities, as well as being ideal to pursue further academic training. I cannot recommend this course enough, and would strongly encourage anyone who has an open mind and a wide range of academic interests to apply!
Human Sciences is almost totally individual in the scope and balance of subject fields that it enables you to explore, encompassing the social, biological and natural sciences. It is this variation and diversity that makes the course so desirable; a typical day could see you spending the morning in labs cloning DNA, discussing the anthropological phenomenon of witchcraft with one of the world's leading experts on the subject, then sitting in the Radcliffe Science Library with a pile of textbooks learning about the effects of migration on development or the physiological intricacies of the inner ear. Student life as a Human Scientist is engaging, challenging and immensely eye-opening and I couldn't recommend it highly enough.