St John's College Oxford
Tamsin is a 3rd year student

  • Home              Carlisle, England
  • Degree            Biomedical Sciences
  • A levels           Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths

Tamsin BrownWhat made you choose to study here?
When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do at university, I decided to look into the top universities as I figured that I would regret not trying for them! The idea of a collegiate university appealed to me. When I looked into the relevant courses, Oxford had the perfect degree for me, which covered everything I wanted to learn and also allowed me to specialise my learning before I graduated. I did not actually choose St John’s myself as I was pooled from another college, but all the reasons that led me to choose my first choice college (e.g. location and access to kitchens so that you don’t always have to eat in hall) were also true of St John’s, as well as many other great things that have made me so glad that I ended up here.

Is life here different from how you expected it to be?
When I came to Oxford I tried not to have too many expectations. I knew life here would be very different from at home. However, the workload is more manageable than I imagined and everyone is a lot more down to earth than I had expected. College life is more wonderful than I could have imagined; it’s like living in a tiny village and you really do get to know people quite well. I also never imagined myself doing sport voluntarily (!), but I have enjoyed my two years of netball and it continues to fill me with pride for my College. Oxford is also a lot less pressured in a social sense than I imagined. While there are vibrant theatre and sport scenes, there’s always so much going on that there’s never really a pressure to do anything at all if you don’t want to, but it is also a very welcoming environment if you decide it is what you want to do.

What do you like about studying at St John’s?
Right from the very start of my degree, my tutors at John’s have ensured that I’ve had all the tools I need to succeed to the best of my ability. They’ve been supportive and nurturing, but also firm as and when necessary to keep me motivated! St John’s also provides academic grants which can help fund necessary textbooks or work equipment, which helps reduce the financial stress of work life.

I have always found St John’s to be a very friendly place to live. You can always find someone to go and eat in hall with you or order takeaway pizza, and the plethora of social events run in College (most of which include free food) mean that there’s always an excuse for a get together if you ever need one.

Are there aspects of  your degree you particularly like?
My degree is nice and small; there are only around 35 people a year. This means that you get to know people in your year very well, which opens up social opportunities outside College. It also means that the society for my subject is a lot more intimate and every event feels like a get together with close friends. The biomedical science degree also cherry picks the interesting parts of medicine, biochemistry and psychology (in my opinion) and allows us to choose which of these we want to study more of from our second year, and continue to specialise in our third year. This gives me a great deal of control over my learning. My degree also includes an 8-week lab project, which gives you a real insight into experimental work. This helps students to decide if they want to pursue an academic career and continue to do a PhD, or that lab work isn’t necessarily for them.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I spend my spare time much like I would at home: I play music, play video games and spend the odd evening with friends. Specifically in Oxford, I play netball for the College with training every week and a match if I’m free at that time. I am also secretary for the Biomedical Sciences society and have attended many great events as part of that society, such as speaker events and movie nights.

What advice would you give someone looking to study at Oxford?
You need enthusiasm! A love of what you’re going to study is what will help you through the application process, and it will spur you on through the years of your degree. Your background really doesn’t matter as long as you’re willing to work hard and are passionate about your subject.