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    I've heard that the chemistry course at Oxford is more theoretical and less practical. Is this true?

    I want to study a course that involves a lot of lab work.
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    (Original post by ntada99)
    I've heard that the chemistry course at Oxford is more theoretical and less practical. Is this true?

    I want to study a course that involves a lot of lab work.
    There are a few students/graduates of the Chemistry department on TSR so hopefully somebody will be able to give you a better answer than this, but generally speaking the science courses at Oxford are pretty theory and maths heavy in comparison to other universities. Although that doesn't necessarily mean that you won't have a lot of labwork because I believe that they still have plenty (although as I say, hopefully someone who knows better will be able to confirm).
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    (Original post by ntada99)
    I've heard that the chemistry course at Oxford is more theoretical and less practical. Is this true?

    I want to study a course that involves a lot of lab work.
    In first and second year, you have about a day and a half of labs a week on average. In third year, you have twelve days of labs to complete but you can reduce this down to six days by passing a supplementary paper (a paper going beyond/outside the core course material – most people take at least one, I think). In first year, this means two days a week most weeks and no labs at the very start and end of the year. In second and third year, you have to book your own lab sessions, which means you can spread them out however you want. I ended up carrying a few days of my second year requirement into third year, for instance.

    I don't know how this compares to other universities. It's certainly true that third year can end up very practical-light if you do a lot in second year and pass a supplementary subject. I'm sure some people must get it all done before third year. Your practical work (including write-ups) counts for 10% of your final degree score. I don't know quite how this score is calculated: it might be that you can do extra labs and score the top however many; or it might end up as a weighted average of all you do; or you might not be able to do more than you're required to. I suspect most people find they have enough theoretical work to be getting on with and that the labs are a bit of a distraction! Third year exams are very tough, as you might expect, so giving yourself as much time as possible to prepare for them is a really good idea.

    If the earlier years are a little light on the practical side, this is made up for in fourth year (Part II). Your final year is spent entirely in a research group doing proper research work. This is really one of the stand-out aspects of the Oxford course and if you're interested in doing serious research work, it's just about unbeatable (in the UK, at least; I have no idea about studying undergrad chemistry abroad).
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    Thanks for your detailed response!
    I think the fourth year research is the best part of the course.

    What's it like at Oxford and do you enjoy it there?
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    Based on my friends who did chemistry:

    You will learn to a substantially higher level than virtually any other uni, and your 4th year project is literally new research - could be synthesising compounds never before made, developing new processes etc. Not lab heavy? Perhaps they put in less hours than other unis, I have no idea, but given the result and 4th year opportunities I'm tempted to say: unless you're literally going to uni in order to play with test tubes because you find it fun, it should not matter.
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    (Original post by ntada99)
    Thanks for your detailed response!
    I think the fourth year research is the best part of the course.

    What's it like at Oxford and do you enjoy it there?
    Just to add to what's already been said, the structure has changed slightly now so that, rather than booking into labs in second year, it is significantly more timetabled.

    Oxford is certainly high on theory, but that isn't at the expense of time in the lab, I certainly wouldn't want to spend any more time than I do doing pre-lab/lab/post-lab work!

    Also worth mentioning, Oxford Chemistry is just beginning to build brand new teaching lab facilities, ready to open at the start of the 2017-18 academic year!
    http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/tinbergen/index.html
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    (Original post by MexicanKeith)
    Also worth mentioning, Oxford Chemistry is just beginning to build brand new teaching lab facilities, ready to open at the start of the 2017-18 academic year!
    http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk/tinbergen/index.html
    At last! Thanks for the information on what's changed.
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    (Original post by ntada99)
    Thanks for your detailed response!
    I think the fourth year research is the best part of the course.

    What's it like at Oxford and do you enjoy it there?
    I'm glad to hear your positivity about fourth year! I had my doubts about it but in the end it really was an excellent opportunity and made for a very different (and interesting!) year.

    The chemistry course is quite intense. It's a big step up and a lot of it is very different from what you'll have studied at school. It's still recognisable but I found that A level was just a case of learning a bunch of facts (mostly colour tests...) and regurgitating them in the exams: this won't get you very far at degree level!

    I think Oxford's a lovely city to live in and it's such an easy city to be a student in. Everything is quite close together and there's a good chance you'll be living within walking distance of anywhere you regularly visit. It has easy access to London, too, if you need that bustle for this or that. Given how expensive housing is in the city, students are very lucky to be able to live relatively affordably in college accommodation (even if rents are among the highest in the country outside of London...). It gets very busy with tourists in the summer but is *really* quiet at the moment, as the tourist season is over and students haven't arrived yet. Lots of people will be able to answer more specific questions if you have any.
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    I agree, the fourth year will be your first genuine taste of what research is all about.

    However, the best people go to Oxford and most of them learn to be (relative to their peers) quite mediocre there.

    As a result of that would they be more or less likely to choose a career in chemistry?

    And if a career in chemistry is actually what you really want would it be a better strategy to go somewhere else?

    Just asking.
 
 
 
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