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.