- The Team
The veterinary medicine course at Cambridge is extremely varied with a mixture of lectures, practicals and hands on experience with animals from Day 1. Both the pre-clinical and clinical courses are delivered by experts in their fields and experienced clinicians, making the teaching of up-to-date veterinary medicine second-to-none. The veterinary department and teaching hospital offer the best facilities to learn and develop skills, throughout your clinical years, on your journey to becoming a fully qualified veterinary surgeon. The college system is the unique factor when choosing to study at Cambridge. With small group supervisions, plentiful academic, pastoral and financial support, and the opportunity to mix with students from all subjects, college life completes the extremely enjoyable and positive student experience
The third year is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about a subject that fascinates you. At Cambridge, although most people study a science subject such as Pathology or Neuroscience, you can do more essay-based subjects too like History of Medicine or Anthropology. During this year you also get to know lots of new students who do not study medicine which can really enrich your university experience. What’s more, it does not have any impact on what speciality you can choose later, so do feel free to do what you find interesting! Clinical students often talk about what they got up to in this third year and it is a great topic of conversation to compare experiences.
The typical day varies according to what year and what term, so I think it’s best to focus on the first year initially, as later there will be much greater variation given that everyone will be specialising in different subjects and eventually running their own research project.
In first year you’ll have 12 hours of lectures which are always in the mornings (we don’t get off that lightly), 4 hours of supervisions and 4-6 hours of practical work a week. Each supervision will require circa 4 – 6 hours of preparation so the workload adds up to around 40 hours a week. It sounds like a lot, but once you get into the routine and get your head around having an extremely hectic 8 weeks x3 each year, and catching up on that additional reading (and sleep) during the holidays.
A typical day may or may not involve practicals, following lectures from 9am till 11am. I’d typically try to do some work during the day before a supervision and it’s a good idea not to leave the prep to the same day. Following the supervision I usually like to relax/go to the gym/ hang out with some friends before formal hall, which is at 7:20 pm. The evening is then my oyster – spending time going out, chilling out or doing some more work.
The workload in first year is high, but it goes very quickly and everyone finds a groove that suits them – whether you are a Varsity Blue, a chess champ or a leading actor/actress you will definitely manage to fit your extra curricular activities around it all.
I always used to try and break the back of the longer pieces of work such as essays during the day, then leaving maths problems for the evening as I enjjoyed them more. It worked for me, but something else might work for you.
It’s a good time to figure out exactly how you work, with whom and at what time. Enjoy!
Why Should you study Natural Sciences? Well firstly if you want to study sciences at Cambridge then you don’t have much choice. Better head off to Oxford instead. But frankly, I felt drawn to studying this subject because I was fascinated with Science, and the NatSci degree let me develop my knowledge and Scientific approach in the broadest sense.
It is no secret that Cambridge has a strong pedigree of scientists and something of a legacy of Nobel Prize winners, but what is important to know is that increasingly, innovation and advances come from inter-disciplinarity. Someone who studied physics and who hadn’t given much thought to what field they might enter later on, may find that they wind up working in a biomedical lab with Biologists, Chemists and physiologists. Nature doesn’t separate itself into well defined categories so why would I have done any differently with my education!
I feel that I am much better placed to enter into further studies and perhaps a career in Science having been able to explore lots of different areas before specialising. I am not sure yet whether I would like to do a PhD or work for a chemical company, for example, as I think that there are many skills in the lab and in producing original publications that I feel I would benefit from. And the course at Cambridge has allowed me this choice.
Even my friends who are incredibly focused on a particular branch, would recommend the broad based approach in the first year of study. There are things that you learn in your first year which seemed completely unrelated at the time, but which later become highly relevant in the context of the research project and advanced study.
The course is intense, and you will be expected to put in a lot of work (which at times feels tough if it’s not your primary area of interest), but as long as you keep things in context, you will find it extremely rewarding. There is also a lot of contact time, which requires preparation for each supervision, but also means that you will be interacting with an array of scientists, all willing to teach and mentor you, and all at the forefront of their specialisation.
As a final point, the number of lectures that you have as a large group in the first year means that you get to know the rest of year, and I have maintained a number of friendships with other Natsci’s who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It’s a really good way of having friends outside of your own college if you don’t have the luxury of a university-wide sports team or hobby.
It is reported that applications to UK universities for the academic year 2014/15 have fallen 4% while applications to Oxford and Cambridge Universities have risen. The University of Cambridge received more than 16,500 applications for 2014/2015, the highest number since records began and a rise of around 4% compared to applications for the previous year. Moreover, this rise has been proportionately higher in subjects such as Medicine and Law.
This may be explained by the rise in tuition fees, now of course fully implemented, and the fact that students are dissuaded from studying non-vocational subjects for purely academic reasons. Alternatively, a spike in Oxbridge applicants could be explained by the rising number of top applicants and ever increasing difficulty of distinguishing them.
The reduction in applications across the UK might also be attributed to controversial immigration reforms, which have reduced the number of international students who come to the UK. True to the age of populist politics feeding populist journalism, the Government have been able to tackle absolute numbers of immigrants in ‘quick-fix’ fashion, targeting so-called fake university applicants rather than addressing the underlying problem, but in doing so may have scared away thousands of bona fide candidates and much needed foreign spending.
One thing remains a fact, that the UK’s higher education system remains one of its strongest exports. Seeing students dressed in uniform around the world playing our very British sports may be a legacy of colonialism, but there is also an appreciation internationally for the standard of British educational institutions, or at least its form. Hence the appeal for ‘franchise’ schools abroad including Tonbridge and North London collegiate. Universities and MBA courses have also followed suit, with Nottingham having dedicated campuses in Malaysia and Insead, a business school creating a campus in Singapore as a twin to its French campus in Fontainebleau.
A set of interesting articles from both the New Statesman and the Guardian in the annual news pieces which give their thoughts on the admisisons process. Populated by a plethora of Oxbridge-educated journalists, the various publications try to dissect or undermine the admissions process each year.
Below is an interesting article on the 2013 film – Admissions. It gives a perspective of the lack of diversity and affirmative actions taken at British universities as compared with its US counterparts. The author makes some compelling arguments, but notably omits the role of class within British society and the impact of the public v private schooling systems.
Attacks on the lack of diversity at Oxford and Cambridge Universities are not uncommon and certainly well publicised. However, it is surprising to find that this does not apply only to gender, race and religion, but also to the Welsh.
A recent report by the Former Welsh secretary Paul Murphy, tasked with getting more students into Oxford and Cambridge, found that Welsh students may be put off from applying to Oxbridge because of a lack of support and academic self-confidence.
The universities claim that they have been working hard with schools and teachers in Wales to address this problem.