JayWalls
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Hello!

I'm currently studying PPE at Lancaster, and am planning ahead to take a masters (probably in politics) at Oxford.

I have always wanted to study at Oxford, so this question is very important to me.
As a student missing three years of undergraduate study at Oxford, how much of, if any, 'the Oxford experience' will I have missed out on? I'm not referring to the 'university experience' in general, just Oxford, keep in mind that Lancaster is a very modern uni.

Will I be able to have a fulfilling Oxford experience at masters level, which will have a different pace of study, and shorter time period? Will I still be able to experience all the old traditions and events and such? Are there any great experiences meant purely for undergraduates?

Also, will I be perceived to be different/inferior to other Oxford masters holders, who got their undegraduate degree at Oxford?

Thank you!

Jamie
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Kiki09
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Well, you will get to matriculate (get dressed up in 'subfusc' - suit, white bow tie, and gown - and be talked at whilst sitting in uncomfortable seats in the Sheldonian theatre) and graduate (similar but with more walking in and out, bowing, and changing of gowns/hoods) so that is some tradition ticked off straight away! If you do a course with exams, you will also get the pleasure of doing said exams in said subfusc.

Outside of that, it depends how much you want to throw yourself into being stereotypical 'Oxford'. The opportunities are there if you want them - white tie balls, getting invited to dinner at as many colleges as possible etc. On the face of it, it sounds like you might want to apply to one of the older colleges - although be aware the graduate accommodation is often in the modern complexes of even the oldest colleges. You should do some research into the colleges though as, for example, some colleges do regular dining where you are expected to wear gowns (fairly normal dinner but dressed up) whereas others have largely dispensed with it except for an occasional formal dinner (often with fancier food). Some colleges also have more ridiculous traditions than others - tortoise racing (Corpus Christi I think), walking backwards drinking port when the clocks go back to stop a rip in the time space continuum (Merton), choir singing from top of tower on May Day morning (Magdalen - although that is a huge city event that loads of people attend) to name a few. Or you might decide actually you hate all the traditions and want to ignore as much of it as you can which is also perfectly doable (except for the matriculation and exams bit which you have to do - though you can skip graduating in person if you want).

As for not having done undergraduate at Oxford, I don't know the exact figures, but a lot of graduate students come to Oxford from elsewhere (again, look at individual colleges as the size of graduate body varies) and, certainly of my undergraduate cohort, only a few stayed on (and a lot of those were medics doing their part 2 or people on 4 year undergraduate masters courses who get to join the graduate body in their 4th year). The ones who have been to Oxford as undergraduates are more up to speed on the jargon and idiosyncrasies of Oxford and probably come across as more confident in their surroundings for the first week or so but they are not somehow 'superior'.
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the bear
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Hello!

I'm currently studying PPE at Lancaster, and am planning ahead to take a masters (probably in politics) at Oxford.

I have always wanted to study at Oxford, so this question is very important to me.
As a student missing three years of undergraduate study at Oxford, how much of, if any, 'the Oxford experience' will I have missed out on? I'm not referring to the 'university experience' in general, just Oxford, keep in mind that Lancaster is a very modern uni.

Will I be able to have a fulfilling Oxford experience at masters level, which will have a different pace of study, and shorter time period? Will I still be able to experience all the old traditions and events and such? Are there any great experiences meant purely for undergraduates?

Also, will I be perceived to be different/inferior to other Oxford masters holders, who got their undegraduate degree at Oxford?

Thank you!

Jamie
Fullofsurprises


The_Lonely_Goatherd

these ladies can advise you. I am sure you will have a wonderful time at Oxford.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Hello!

I'm currently studying PPE at Lancaster, and am planning ahead to take a masters (probably in politics) at Oxford.

I have always wanted to study at Oxford, so this question is very important to me.
As a student missing three years of undergraduate study at Oxford, how much of, if any, 'the Oxford experience' will I have missed out on? I'm not referring to the 'university experience' in general, just Oxford, keep in mind that Lancaster is a very modern uni.

Will I be able to have a fulfilling Oxford experience at masters level, which will have a different pace of study, and shorter time period? Will I still be able to experience all the old traditions and events and such? Are there any great experiences meant purely for undergraduates?

Also, will I be perceived to be different/inferior to other Oxford masters holders, who got their undegraduate degree at Oxford?

Thank you!

Jamie
Hi,

As has been mentioned, how much of the Oxford experience you have is down to you. Most of the undergrad Oxford experience will be accessible to you, as mentioned above. You can go to balls and bops, use the various Oxford lingo words, swan about in a gown for formal hall, etc. You get to matriculate and graduate in a Latin ceremony, etc. You get the student discount, access to the libraries, and all the other great things about Oxford! Obviously if you apply or end up at a postgrad-only college, that makes for a different feel to your collegiate experience (but tbh that's not necessarily a bad thing!).

The only thing you would miss out on is the intensity of the undergrad experience. I don't think it's replicated at Masters or PhD level, simply because postgrad is a different world from undergrad. I did not continue to Masters level at Oxford (they got fed up with me and rejected me without even an interview for the MSt course :rofl: ) but I had know people who did the MSt in Music at Oxford, and it was a completely different kettle of fish for them than undergrad had been. Whilst I'm not saying any Masters at Oxford is a walk in the park, it's not that same experience. There are pros and cons to missing out on this intense pressure-cooker Oxbridge undergrad experience, obviously!

This is not to say that Oxbridge undergrads would or should look down on anyone coming from a non-Oxbridge undergrad degree, though. I doubt anyone would look upon you as inferior to them! So don't worry about that. Again, I can't speak for politics, but the MSt in Music is very different for people who have studied undergrad at Oxbridge, than it is for those who come from elsewhere. So in some courses, there is a natural difference between the two groups. But that's not to say that anyone should feel superior or inferior to anyone else, or that the two groups don't mix socially etc! :nah:
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JayWalls
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Thank you so much for the information everyone! I have another more specific question.

This may seem a frivolous question, but in your opinion, is two years (or maybe even a one year accelerated course) long enough to fully experience and enjoy Oxford university. I just worry that there is a great cost in potential great experiences by not going as an undergrad.


Additionally, If I went on to do a PHD (if I conveniently thought it was right for me, not just to stay in Oxford), would I still have time to enjoy the university if I believe I hadn't had enough, or would it be drastically different?

I may be simply be over thinking and getting overexcited about this .

Thank you all so much,

Jamie
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Thank you so much for the information everyone! I have another more specific question.

This may seem a frivolous question, but in your opinion, is two years (or maybe even a one year accelerated course) long enough to fully experience and enjoy Oxford university. I just worry that there is a great cost in potential great experiences by not going as an undergrad.


Additionally, If I went on to do a PHD (if I conveniently thought it was right for me, not just to stay in Oxford), would I still have time to enjoy the university if I believe I hadn't had enough, or would it be drastically different?

I may be simply be over thinking and getting overexcited about this .

Thank you all so much,

Jamie
I think it's long enough as a Masters student. Many PhD students teach undergraduates so obviously if you continued to PhD level and were hoping to go into academia, that (alongside with conference papers, etc.) would eat into your time a fair bit. I guess it depends what you really want/expect to get out of it?

It's worth saying that it's easier to appreciate Oxford after you've left, than when you're there. The degrees are intense and sometimes the beauty of the place can be lost on people as we have a tendency to be always on the move to the next library/lecture/tutorial, etc. I think the graduate experience affords more time to be a bit more still and enjoy the place for what it is :yes:
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JayWalls
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Thank you .

One final question.
I am confident I can get a first for entry, do you have any advice for what other qualifications and experiences will help my application not only to the uni, but to my preferred college?
Do different colleges want different things?
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Thank you .

One final question.
I am confident I can get a first for entry, do you have any advice for what other qualifications and experiences will help my application not only to the uni, but to my preferred college?
Do different colleges want different things?
I don't think different colleges want different things. I think if at all possible, having a tangible idea of what you'd like to do any dissertation on (and who you may want to be supervised with. Though that may be more difficult for politics than music, coz it's a bigger dept!) and showing evidence of wider reading around that topic, is good for the statement of purpose or whatever they call it :yes:
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JayWalls
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Thank you again!

One final-final thing!

What are the greatest experiences (short-term or long-term) you have had as Oxford students? What are the vital experiences that I must look out for?
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Fullofsurprises
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Thank you again!

One final-final thing!

What are the greatest experiences (short-term or long-term) you have had as Oxford students? What are the vital experiences that I must look out for?
Tbh, being a postgrad at Oxford isn't the same at all as an undergraduate experience. For one thing, you are (mostly) much younger and there's all the intensity, social whirl, relationship building, fun times, sturm and drang, wild excitements and deep troughs that go with that. :love: You will probably miss out on 80-90% of that. On the other hand, there are some nice aspects - you will get to be a part to some extent of college life, you will be older and therefore wiser, more stable and therefore more up for really powerful academic study in the ways only Oxford can facilitate, which some/many undergrads rather bounce or gloss over. You can experience at least some of the fun and loveliness of being there without some of the downsides we poor undergrads face(d). :teehee:

For me, the best experiences at college were friendships - I was lucky to be part of a circle that was pretty close and we still are in many ways - and just having a lot of laughs and really good fun together.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Thank you again!

One final-final thing!

What are the greatest experiences (short-term or long-term) you have had as Oxford students? What are the vital experiences that I must look out for?
The greatest experiences I had at Oxford were taking up new hobbies and being able to practice them at a high-functioning level. In my case, this was orchestral conducting (I conducted my college orchestra for a whole academic year with little previous experience and no formal training) and stage managing an Oxford don's production of a medieval mystery place cycle (which formed part of said don's research.) The collegiate system is great at facilitating these kinda experiences, which I would assume it's harder to do at non-collegiate unis due to the stiff competition from people more trained in these areas...

I personally don't think there are any vital experiences - I think it's easy to romanticise the notion of "the Oxford experience". That said, formal halls are quite fun if you like that kinda thing and you may as well do the whole May Day dawn Magdalen choirboys on the roof thing if you're not adverse to rising early
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Kiki09
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As TLG says, it can be useful to know what you would want to focus on for a dissertation - some departments ask as part of the application. Otherwise, Oxford is usually most interested in academic excellence (to date) and evidence of research skills and potential. Some people may have published something or given a conference paper but as that isn't an option open to many undergraduates so it is not expected and academics are usually proved via results. College allocation is fairly centralised these days so they are unlikely to be looking for different things - you don't even have to express a preference and, if you do, you may not be allocated to your preference anyway.

There should be loads more details on the graduate pages of the university website and on the Politics department page.

For me the best experiences were getting to try out sports that I wouldn't have ever had access to elsewhere, going to balls (although I am not a massive party person so it was a case of a couple is enough for me) and getting to do an Oxford graduation (personally I liked swanning around in gowns and hoods but it is not for everyone)
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JayWalls
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(Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)

The only thing you would miss out on is the intensity of the undergrad experience. I don't think it's replicated at Masters or PhD level, simply because postgrad is a different world from undergrad. I did not continue to Masters level at Oxford (they got fed up with me and rejected me without even an interview for the MSt course :rofl: ) but I had know people who did the MSt in Music at Oxford, and it was a completely different kettle of fish for them than undergrad had been. Whilst I'm not saying any Masters at Oxford is a walk in the park, it's not that same experience. There are pros and cons to missing out on this intense pressure-cooker Oxbridge undergrad experience, obviously!
Although you say a masters isn't a walk in the park, are you saying that a masters is easier than undergrad?!
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by JayWalls)
Although you say a masters isn't a walk in the park, are you saying that a masters is easier than undergrad?!
I can only speak about what I know about (which is the MSt in Music, so a completely different discipline to yours). For those who have studied at Oxford and Cambridge, the MSt in Music is a more easier/comfortable undertaking than their undergrad. Especially now that they've got rid of the exams. Whereas for people coming elsewhere, I gather they find it a step up from their undergrad :yes:
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