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biochemistry in oxford and natrual sciences (biological courses) in Cambridge

What is the main differences between them? I did not choose Bio, but I choose Chem and A Math in my IGCSE. I will choose Bio, Chem and Math(AAHL) HL in IB. I know I may need to take certain tests in order to apply for natural sciences in Cambridge and there will be no such tests for Biochem in Oxford. I want to know what is a suitable or advantgeous choice for me between the two courses.
Original post by ZIYA Grace
What is the main differences between them? I did not choose Bio, but I choose Chem and A Math in my IGCSE. I will choose Bio, Chem and Math(AAHL) HL in IB. I know I may need to take certain tests in order to apply for natural sciences in Cambridge and there will be no such tests for Biochem in Oxford. I want to know what is a suitable or advantgeous choice for me between the two courses.

Cambridge student here! (I haven't been on this site in years πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚).

NatSci - very broad course, you do three science options in first year and maths, then specialise later. For biochem, you'd be looking at biology of cells and chemistry in first year (with another science, could be a biological or one of the physical options), then biochemistry and moleculr biology, one of the chemistries, and something else in second year, and then from third year onwards biochem all the way through.

You're not locked in to anything, and you can always switch. Lots of lab time (up to 12 hours first year, up to 18 hours second year, lots of variability in third depending on options). Downsides: Saturday lectures in both first and second years if you're taking Chemistry options.

Oxford - much less freedom, much less choice, but if you don't want to have to study many subjects, possibly a better option.

The admissions test (NSAA) is fairly straightforward - it was a lot of multiple choice when I did it, not sure if it's changed since! Don't choose based off the admissions test (unless you're avoiding STEP, because that paper is evil).

Feel free to ask any questions - I'm a phys natsci, but I did a bio option in my first year and I have friends who do biological or chemical options.

Spoiler


I can't promise I'll answer (I'm just here to procrastinate before I get back to revision), but if I'm online again, I will.
Reply 2
Original post by cactus11235813
Cambridge student here! (I haven't been on this site in years πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚).

NatSci - very broad course, you do three science options in first year and maths, then specialise later. For biochem, you'd be looking at biology of cells and chemistry in first year (with another science, could be a biological or one of the physical options), then biochemistry and moleculr biology, one of the chemistries, and something else in second year, and then from third year onwards biochem all the way through.

You're not locked in to anything, and you can always switch. Lots of lab time (up to 12 hours first year, up to 18 hours second year, lots of variability in third depending on options). Downsides: Saturday lectures in both first and second years if you're taking Chemistry options.

Oxford - much less freedom, much less choice, but if you don't want to have to study many subjects, possibly a better option.

The admissions test (NSAA) is fairly straightforward - it was a lot of multiple choice when I did it, not sure if it's changed since! Don't choose based off the admissions test (unless you're avoiding STEP, because that paper is evil).

Feel free to ask any questions - I'm a phys natsci, but I did a bio option in my first year and I have friends who do biological or chemical options.

Spoiler


I can't promise I'll answer (I'm just here to procrastinate before I get back to revision), but if I'm online again, I will.

Thank you for your answers! I have several more questions. Why do you choose to apply Cambridge? How do you think of studying many subjects rather than specializing in one science subject? And how is your life like in Cambridge?

Currently, I am preparing for a science research programme and some biology competitions such as BBO to tailor my profile for application. Could you give me some tips about preparing for application for Cambridge?

Thank you so much!:colondollar:
Original post by ZIYA Grace
Thank you for your answers! I have several more questions. Why do you choose to apply Cambridge? How do you think of studying many subjects rather than specializing in one science subject? And how is your life like in Cambridge?

Currently, I am preparing for a science research programme and some biology competitions such as BBO to tailor my profile for application. Could you give me some tips about preparing for application for Cambridge?

Thank you so much!:colondollar:


Cambridge - liked the city, liked the uni, liked the degree. One of the best universities in the world, and I wanted to go into research afterwards and liked that it was research-heavy (definitely a good thing imo).

Many subjects is nice! Also great that you get to specialise eventually though - and fairly soon. It's basically like a single science but with extra bits.

Life is intense - I'm procrastinating going to sleep, but I have to because 9am lectures tomorrow. But very worth it! Lots of societies and extracurriculars, lovely people, great vibes/atmosphere, amazing buildings, very much feels like being in Harry Potter, incredible opportunities (quite a few Nobel laureates have come in to give talks and stuff, students can get involved in research over holidays, amazing departmental facilities, great lecturers (some incredible ones, some not so incredible)). Biology of Cells is very fun and you get to meet lots of departments. For second/third bio options, I did not do any, but my friends who did all very much enjoy them. The plants department is iconic.

Tips - do supercurriculars, read beyond the curriculum, make links between things, do what interests you. Go to talks - Imperial college did lots, some online and those were great! Not just bio - also look at chem, med, etc. Basically, go above and beyond. Read extra stuff around what you do in class. (The Epigenetics Revolution is an amazing biological book, and would recommend).

And do practice questions before the NSAA with time! And revise content.
Reply 4
You have 5 UCAS choices - so look beyond just Oxbridge. For STEM degrees, a work placement is becoming almost essential; it will add context to your degree and boost your graduate job chances. Oxford and Cambridge don't offer this option. Look at Unis like Bath, Leeds, Newcastle, Lancaster etc - especially for Natural Sciences.
Original post by ZIYA Grace
What is the main differences between them? I did not choose Bio, but I choose Chem and A Math in my IGCSE. I will choose Bio, Chem and Math(AAHL) HL in IB. I know I may need to take certain tests in order to apply for natural sciences in Cambridge and there will be no such tests for Biochem in Oxford. I want to know what is a suitable or advantgeous choice for me between the two courses.


Hey!

I’m Oliver and am currently a third year in natural sciences studying synthetic chemistry and
biochemistry at Lancaster. I know it’ll be slightly different than Cambridge but I thought I’d share a bit about my degree just to give a feel for a natural sciences course.

Natural sciences is definitely one of the most flexible degrees out there allowing you to study across two or three different departments.
At Lancaster there are so many different pathways to choose from across all branches of chemistry, physics, maths, biology, geography and psychology, just to
name a few. Each university will do pathways slightly differently and a have a varied range of
possible combinations so definitely check that out on the relevant websites. The full list of pathways and entry requirements for Lancaster can be found here: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/natural-sciences/
I know there is also there is also the option to take a non science subject as your third pathway and throughout your degree 25% of your credits can be in a non science subject.

There is also the option to alter you pathway choices as you progress through your degree. For me this was extremely valuable as I was able to drop my physical chemistry pathway after first year to allow for a greater focus on biochemistry.

One of the best things about natural sciences is the vast range of experiences you get and people you meet. Since you study alongside the single honours students across multiple departments, you get to see so many more faces and there is never a lonely lecture. It’s also great to see how all the different sciences interlink and you can often apply something you learnt in one subject to one of your other pathways which is fascinating!

Hope that is helpful and best of luck with your decision Feel free to ask me any other questions if you have any.

Oliver (Student Ambassador)

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