Oxford University Science Summer School 2015

Hannah Sinclair describes how she is improving her chances of a successful Oxbridge application:

I applied for the Oxford Science Summer School after receiving an email from Mr Douglas and knew it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn, see the university and gain valuable experience for applying to university. The application process involved completing a project on a subject of research at the university: the Nanomaterial Tungsten Disulphide (I didn’t know what that was either). The prospect of writing something which would be read and judged by Oxford University professors scared me somewhat, as did knowing that ambitious and high achieving students from top schools and colleges would also be applying. But, of course I would have to prove myself as able to stand my ground among them and so I threw myself into researching and understanding the newly invented substance.

On the first morning I arrived along with 24 other students to meet together before we got the coach to Oxford. I think all of us ranged on a scale from apprehensive to regretting applying in the first place, however I found the courage to speak to a few people and even sat next to a girl from a local school for the journey. Within several hours my fears had all dissipated.

Once we arrived we had a very substantial lunch (a forerunner of all meals to come), were shown our rooms (huge, modern and en suite) and went off to our first tutorial. This was basically a group discussion between two or three students and a member of staff who asked thought-provoking questions and was keen to know our suggestions about topics such as ‘Why is flu much more common in winter’. While there was no specific answer the emphasis was to find out what ideas we could give and how we arrived at them not, I was very relieved to discover, whether we were right or wrong. In fact the session was completely the opposite of how I imagined it would be.

The week was altogether an amazing experience; the learning experiences I found thrilling—we received lectures from world leading experts in quantum physics, chemical engineering and a researcher who had made huge progress towards curing HIV. In addition to this we had evening activities: quizzes, tours of the city and a formal dinner as well as lots of free time. Brendan the co-ordinator of our activities and the undergraduate students who were employed to spend the week with us were really friendly, answering all our questions and helping us to get a real sense of Oxford life (which of course involved playing croquet on the lawn). We also had the chance to go punting on the River Thames—and while we were there saw some very smartly robed students jumping into the river to celebrate the end of exams.


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