Advantages of Natural Sciences over Chemistry Watch

Achilles99
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Hi all- just looking for some opinions here to help me decide between applying for Natural Sciences at Cambridge or Chemistry at Oxford.

Basically- what are the advantages of Natural Science over pure Chemistry at Oxford?

I already know that Chemistry is the specific branch that I would follow if I did natural sciences.

From chatting to students and tutors, they seemed to say that the only advantage of Natural Sciences over Chemistry was the opportunity to make up your mind over your choice of subject.

I see Cambridge as a more beautiful town, and have always wanted to go there, but recently visisted Oxford, where I visited Hertford college and loved it. The students and tutors also seemed kinder at Oxford than Cambridge, as well as on their web sites.

So - just wondering of there is any point in applying to a far more competitive course simply to allow myself to see if enjoy university Physics, and to go to the more beautiful town.

Also- is Hertford a nice college to study at? Good reputation for Chemistry?

Many thanks for any replies
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ixivxivi
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50% of the applicants for chem at oxford get in :p:


But more seriously, I don't really know. If you didn't take many sciences to A2, then this would probably restrict your natsci choice (ALTHOUGH don't trust me! I know v. little about Cam's courses). I suppose you might get annoyed at doing an extra subject in natsci if you're only really set on chem, but again, I'm pretty ignorant of the natsci course choices.
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Derek_the_Sheep
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The only real advantage of the Nat Sci course is that it allows you to try out one or two "non-traditional" subjects like (for a chemist) geology, crystallography, bio-chemistry. In fact I think the 1A course is structured so you pretty well have to take at least one. You'd do exactly the same lectures, supervisions and practicals as mainstream geologists, etc, so if you found that one of these subjects at University level was more appealing than chemistry, you could easily move out of chemistry in the second year and beyond. Quite often proto-physicists/chemists end up as as geologists or materials scientists.

But if you really want to do chemistry and only chemistry, you might find the Oxford course more the thing. For one thing, you don't spend time in Year 1 and (less so ) in year two, doing non-chemistry stuff, as you would at Cambridge. For another, the 4th year in Oxford is just the 9-month full-time research project; in Cambridge it occupies "most of the Michaelmas and Lent Terms", with lots of (research-oriented) lectures as well as lab research. So you have a more relaxed (!) 4th year in Oxford, with the time to really get into your research project in depth.

But they are both excellent courses... swings and roundabouts.

DtS
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oliverkeers13
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I believe that the Oxford Chemistry department is the largest in the Western world, so if you're certain that Chemistry is the area you're interested in, it may be worth going for Oxford over Cambridge.
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cpchem
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Hertford is good for Chem - I like their tutors.
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gruffyddd
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The first year of the Oxford chem course is actually quite broad and maybe not too different to the 1st year of NatSci. You learn a lot of maths (with a seperate exam at the end) plus quite a lot of standard physics like classical mechanics, and also a lecture course on biochemistry.

It's still much easier to get into, although in the latest prospectus it was more like 38% than the 50% when I applied. However the lack of flexibility is a problem if you haven't made your mind up, as NatSci allows you to progress into any of the major sciences, and there is even the option of taking chemical engineering from the 2nd year if that attracts you.
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I go by many names
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The main advantage of the Cambridge Natsci course is, as most students here have said, the flexibility for change. Of course, whilst it is perfectly possible to arrive on the course determined to do Chemistry and to graduate in Chemistry, there are many students for whom this is not the case. I myself was convinced I wanted to study Chemistry and nothing else, but after one year of the Natsci course I realised that not only did I not enjoy Chemistry, but I wasn't actually as good at it as Biology. If I had gone to Oxford, I would not have had the opportunity to rectify this mistake. However, you can also say had I gone to Oxford I wouldn't necessarily have realised so again, swings and roundabouts. One further thing to bear in mind though, is that the Natsci course gives you a broader base as a scientist which arguably (according to Cambridge) makes you a better scientist over all as you studied other subjects before focussing on Chemistry. Hope that helps!
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Achilles99
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Ok- thanks guys
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