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!