What GCE A level subjects should I take?
The most important thing is to choose subjects that excite your interest and enthusiasm. However, GCE A level Chemistry or it's equivalent is virtually essential. All students in their first year have to take a course in Mathematics: Mathematical Biology is designed for students who have taken A Level Maths or its equivalent; Elementary Maths for Biologists is designed for students who do not have A Level Maths.
What about Further Mathematics? My school cannot provide the teaching for it.
Further Mathematics at A2 or AS Level is useful but not essential for study in the Biological Sciences. It is feasible for biologists with A2 Further Maths to take 1A Mathematics in their first year. This is fine if you have a flair for the subject but 1A Mathematics is not particularly relevant to biological courses. Most biologists with A level Mathematics, or Mathematics and Further Mathematics, take 1A Mathematical Biology.
What grades do you ask for?
The offer is typically two A* and one A grades at GCE A level or equivalent in Sciences and/or Mathematics. Please do not be put off by the offer - if we make you an offer it means we want to take you.
What can I expect at the admissions interview?
We interview almost all applicants who apply and the interviews are usually held in the first or second week of December. You will have two 30 minute interviews, in which you can expect to work through problems appropriate to your academic experience. In addition we ask you to write an essay on a biological topic.
What form do the interviews take?
Each interview will be conducted by two of our Fellows. The normal format is to assess how you use your knowledge and skills to work through problems.
Do you recommend a "year out" between school and university?
We are fairly neutral about this one. If you have a clear plan for your "year out" then it can help you broaden your outlook on life and for many people it proves to be very valuable. It does carry the risk of losing touch with the academic way of life, and many people find when they finally get to university that they have lost the habit of studying and forgotten some of their scientific knowledge. However, it rarely takes more than a term to get over this.
How much time does the course take up?
In the first year, there are twelve lectures a week and about eight or nine hours of practical work a week. In addition there are College supervisions - three hours a week on average - and the preparation for them, which should occupy another twelve hours a week or so. In addition you will need to work through your lecture notes, read the textbooks and so on. You can see that this adds up to at least 40 hour a week. But much of it can be done at times which suit you, so that you can keep appropriate afternoons free for sport, or evenings free for music or drama or other social activities.
You do need to be well organised to fit everything into eight week terms!
Updated October 2015