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Oxford: If my main interest is Neuroscience, is biology BA my best shot?

My main interest is neuroscience, so I'm gonna go for Neuroscience BA/BSc for other schools.

However, Oxford only has MSc and DPhil for Neuroscience. For BA, the closest ones seem like Biology or Biomedical Sciences or Psychology(Experimental).

Biomedical Sciences doesn't seem like a good option for me as I'm not too interested in medical implications.

I'm hesitant to go for Psychology(Experimental) because of the TSA and I'm unsure if it would touch enough biological knowledge.

I'm leaning towards biology as it would give me a solid biological foundation knowledge. On the other hand, it's unclear if I would have enough opportunity to study the brain specifically if I read biology.

If I eventually want to go for Neuroscience MSc or DPhil after my BA, what would be the right choice?
Reply 1
Biomedical Science allows you to graduate with BA Neuroscience but obviously you’d have to study a lot of general human biology first. Psychology at Oxford has a lot of neuroscience content particularly in first year (Neurophysiology module) and the choice of modules in third year and research project options could be entirely neuroscience focused if you like. Second year is quite psychology heavy though. Either degree would set you up fine for postgrad neuroscience, I guess it’s a case of whether you’d rather study human/medical biology or psychology alongside it. There’s actually lots of crossover in the option modules for biomed and psychology, there were medical students and biomed students in a few of my third year classes. From the looks of things you wouldn’t be able to do much neuroscience in the biology degree so it depends how interested you are in what the course does offer.
Reply 2
Original post by eeeli
Biomedical Science allows you to graduate with BA Neuroscience but obviously you’d have to study a lot of general human biology first. Psychology at Oxford has a lot of neuroscience content particularly in first year (Neurophysiology module) and the choice of modules in third year and research project options could be entirely neuroscience focused if you like. Second year is quite psychology heavy though. Either degree would set you up fine for postgrad neuroscience, I guess it’s a case of whether you’d rather study human/medical biology or psychology alongside it. There’s actually lots of crossover in the option modules for biomed and psychology, there were medical students and biomed students in a few of my third year classes. From the looks of things you wouldn’t be able to do much neuroscience in the biology degree so it depends how interested you are in what the course does offer.

Thanks a lot! I didn't know that Oxford BA Neuroscience was possible. In fact, I see that you choose among three, on the website.

So it sounds like definitely, Biomed is a better fit for me than biology. Maybe psychology could also serve my interest. But I'm a bit intimidated and stressed out by the BMAT and TSA. Especially the writing part as I'm not a Native speaker. Isn't it extremely difficult?

Also, isn't Biomed the one people who want to become a medical doctor in the future? I have zero intention of going down that path as a postgraduate. And yet this course becomes more competitive because of people who have this path in mind, no?
Reply 3
Original post by Anonymous
Thanks a lot! I didn't know that Oxford BA Neuroscience was possible. In fact, I see that you choose among three, on the website.

So it sounds like definitely, Biomed is a better fit for me than biology. Maybe psychology could also serve my interest. But I'm a bit intimidated and stressed out by the BMAT and TSA. Especially the writing part as I'm not a Native speaker. Isn't it extremely difficult?

Also, isn't Biomed the one people who want to become a medical doctor in the future? I have zero intention of going down that path as a postgraduate. And yet this course becomes more competitive because of people who have this path in mind, no?

Most people who plan to be doctors in the future will study medicine as their first degree - biomed is also a subject chosen by people who maybe didn’t make it onto medical degrees the first time round, especially at other unis, but probably less so at Oxford given biomed might be a backup option for a medicine applicant and I’d imagine it’s unlikely someone would make their backup option be an Oxford degree! Biomed grads might be more likely to go on to graduate entry medicine than other subjects but generally people don’t choose biomed (especially at Oxford) if they already know they want to become doctors, they apply to Medicine instead. Biomed has more specific entry requirements than Psychology and more applications per place but you should apply to the course you’d be more interested in studying - applying to a course that interests you less because it seems less competitive is probably not going to help your chances because Oxford look for people who are very enthusiastic about the subject they’re applying for. A lack of enthusiasm might show on your application.

With regards to the TSA and BMAT - these are difficult tests for sure but they are meant to be as they have to select between Oxford applicants, which is a group of very high achievers anyway so a difficult test is required. With practice it is possible to do well. BMAT and TSA are actually quite similar - Section 1 of the BMAT is like a shorter TSA Section 1 and both have an argumentative essay component. BMAT just has an additional scientific knowledge test as well whereas TSA is entirely general knowledge/thinking skills rather than requiring any specific content to be learnt. If you’re thinking of applying this year you have plenty of time to prepare still and you will probably find once you’ve had some practice and got used to it that it’s not as bad as you feared (though you will need to think about registering for the tests soon!). Have a look at them and see what you think. I am a native English speaker so I can’t give much advice regarding your worries about the writing questions on those tests. However Oxford does admit many students who have native languages other than English - they do expect you to be able to use English accurately but they know not everyone will be native-level fluent. I know they have separate English qualification requirements for students that haven’t been educated in English for the most recent two years of their education so those may be helpful in reassuring yourself about the standard of English they expect.
Reply 4
Original post by eeeli
Most people who plan to be doctors in the future will study medicine as their first degree - biomed is also a subject chosen by people who maybe didn’t make it onto medical degrees the first time round, especially at other unis, but probably less so at Oxford given biomed might be a backup option for a medicine applicant and I’d imagine it’s unlikely someone would make their backup option be an Oxford degree! Biomed grads might be more likely to go on to graduate entry medicine than other subjects but generally people don’t choose biomed (especially at Oxford) if they already know they want to become doctors, they apply to Medicine instead. Biomed has more specific entry requirements than Psychology and more applications per place but you should apply to the course you’d be more interested in studying - applying to a course that interests you less because it seems less competitive is probably not going to help your chances because Oxford look for people who are very enthusiastic about the subject they’re applying for. A lack of enthusiasm might show on your application.

With regards to the TSA and BMAT - these are difficult tests for sure but they are meant to be as they have to select between Oxford applicants, which is a group of very high achievers anyway so a difficult test is required. With practice it is possible to do well. BMAT and TSA are actually quite similar - Section 1 of the BMAT is like a shorter TSA Section 1 and both have an argumentative essay component. BMAT just has an additional scientific knowledge test as well whereas TSA is entirely general knowledge/thinking skills rather than requiring any specific content to be learnt. If you’re thinking of applying this year you have plenty of time to prepare still and you will probably find once you’ve had some practice and got used to it that it’s not as bad as you feared (though you will need to think about registering for the tests soon!). Have a look at them and see what you think. I am a native English speaker so I can’t give much advice regarding your worries about the writing questions on those tests. However Oxford does admit many students who have native languages other than English - they do expect you to be able to use English accurately but they know not everyone will be native-level fluent. I know they have separate English qualification requirements for students that haven’t been educated in English for the most recent two years of their education so those may be helpful in reassuring yourself about the standard of English they expect.

Thank you so much for such a detailed answer. I don't know how to pay this back. I think I'll just have to go for Biomed in this case. BMAT seems to be held in October for Oxford, so 10 weeks to go? A bit stressful, but I'll try! I wish you have a lovely weekend!
Reply 5
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you so much for such a detailed answer. I don't know how to pay this back. I think I'll just have to go for Biomed in this case. BMAT seems to be held in October for Oxford, so 10 weeks to go? A bit stressful, but I'll try! I wish you have a lovely weekend!


Good luck with it all! There’s lots of free BMAT prep materials that should all be linked on the Oxford website to get started on. And make sure you’ve had a good read of course structure etc. on the Oxford website before you decide for certain on Biomedical Sciences - I’m glad my advice has been helpful but make sure you do your own research too before making a final decision.
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you so much for such a detailed answer. I don't know how to pay this back. I think I'll just have to go for Biomed in this case. BMAT seems to be held in October for Oxford, so 10 weeks to go? A bit stressful, but I'll try! I wish you have a lovely weekend!


Hi. My daughter wants to study neuroscience and is applying for Biomedical Sciences at Oxford. We went to an open day in July and were impressed with the way the course is set up. All biomedical students take the same first year course, which has four units. One unit is entirely about the brain (and includes some psychology, I think), two units cover the other biomedical science basics (immunology, cells etc) and the fourth was a general science module intended to make sure all students were up to speed in all the biology, chemistry and maths they would be likely to need. After the first year there is a wide choice of modules, and it is possible to stick almost entirely to neuroscience and psychology courses. Good luck with the BMAT if you decide to go for it!
Reply 7
Original post by Darkarchivist
Hi. My daughter wants to study neuroscience and is applying for Biomedical Sciences at Oxford. We went to an open day in July and were impressed with the way the course is set up. All biomedical students take the same first year course, which has four units. One unit is entirely about the brain (and includes some psychology, I think), two units cover the other biomedical science basics (immunology, cells etc) and the fourth was a general science module intended to make sure all students were up to speed in all the biology, chemistry and maths they would be likely to need. After the first year there is a wide choice of modules, and it is possible to stick almost entirely to neuroscience and psychology courses. Good luck with the BMAT if you decide to go for it!

Thank you so much for sharing such detailed information!! I couldn't really attend open days so this is really helpful!!
Reply 8
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you so much for sharing such detailed information!! I couldn't really attend open days so this is really helpful!!


There is another open day in september by the way!
Hi,

Just to add to all of the very detailed answers I have just graduated with a BA in neuroscience from Oxford and although you do human biology and other topics in your first year it is possible to only study neuroscience options from your second year onwards!
Original post by Anonymous
My main interest is neuroscience, so I'm gonna go for Neuroscience BA/BSc for other schools.

However, Oxford only has MSc and DPhil for Neuroscience. For BA, the closest ones seem like Biology or Biomedical Sciences or Psychology(Experimental).

Biomedical Sciences doesn't seem like a good option for me as I'm not too interested in medical implications.

I'm hesitant to go for Psychology(Experimental) because of the TSA and I'm unsure if it would touch enough biological knowledge.

I'm leaning towards biology as it would give me a solid biological foundation knowledge. On the other hand, it's unclear if I would have enough opportunity to study the brain specifically if I read biology.

If I eventually want to go for Neuroscience MSc or DPhil after my BA, what would be the right choice?


As above the BMS course has a specific neuroscience track.

In any event the name of the degree is irrelevant. What is important is the content. If your aim is for graduate work In neurobiology, then the BMS course (which FYI was originally called physiological sciences before being renamed to align with the growing popularity of BMS courses that were structurally similar) or the biochemistry course are probably the best preparation. The biology or human science courses are probably the next best options, followed by Experimental psychology (which has a pretty hefty neuroscience slant at Oxford).
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 11
Original post by artful_lounger
As above the BMS course has a specific neuroscience track.

In any event the name of the degree is irrelevant. What is important is the content. If your aim is for graduate work In neurobiology, then the BMS course (which FYI was originally called physiological sciences before being renamed to align with the growing popularity of BMS courses that were structurally similar) or the biochemistry course are probably the best preparation. The biology or human science courses are probably the next best options, followed by Experimental psychology (which has a pretty hefty neuroscience slant at Oxford).


Thank you so much!

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