Student Experience

Meet St Peter’s Students

St Peter’s College is known for being a friendly, welcoming and inclusive community…but we don’t expect you to take our word for it! Here, some of our undergraduates share their experiences of choosing a subject, applying to Oxford, and what it's like to live and learn at St Peter’s.

We hope this gives you a feel for what the journey to get here could be like, and a bit about what to expect when you do.

There are some top tips in there too, all drawn from first-hand experience. We hope you enjoy their stories – please get in touch (schools@spc.ox.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

Videos

The students here have made short films to capture what they love about their Oxford course and studying here at the College – see what inspires you! There's two videos up front and more in the drop-down sections below!

Subject Q&As

We asked these students to unpick what makes their subject so fascinating, and why the Oxford course was the right choice for them.

Why do you love your course? Holly Robinson

I’m a second year student, and I love the freedom of my degree the most. The tutors really encourage us to indulge our passions and interests by allowing us to choose the events, places, people and themes that we want to explore throughout the term, for each particular module.

What has been the most fascinating topic or module so far?

When I was in my first year, I was able to pick an Ancient History module, despite not being an Ancient History student. I loved how this module really encouraged us to engage with contemporary sources. We spent the term looking at how Augustus constructed an imperial dynasty in Rome during a period when the Roman people were wary of a single individual exerting absolute power. We explored how Augustus manipulated the physical landscape of Rome, and the Roman religion, while also inserting himself into the narrative of Roman history and tradition in order to legitimise his ascendency.

My favourite source was Ovid's Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love, available online!), which informs his audience on how to pick up lovers. This work is believed to have contributed to Ovid's enforced exile and is, more generally, very entertaining to read - I would highly recommend! 

What is it like studying at St Peter's?

The SPC library is really well stocked for History students. If you're looking for a book, chances are it’s in our college library! The college is also so central, it only takes a few minutes to walk to the Radcliffe Camera (which contains the amazing History Faculty library).

The SPC tutors are all really lovely and helpful. We don’t get to have tutorials with them every term, as we are matched with professors who are experts in the module we have chosen. This means all History students inevitably have to go to other colleges for tutorials once or twice a week, which makes the central location of SPC really invaluable! 

What advice would you give Year 12s thinking of applying here?

Pursue your passions. Whether you're worried about the application process (especially the personal statement) or interview, just focus on expressing your passions and interests. The tutors are ultimately interested in you and your opinions. Trust yourself!

Why did you want to study your subject at university? Sophie Shorthose

I often hear the phrase that studying Geography is like being a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. However, if the phrase is finished, it ends: ‘but often better than being a master of one’. The breadth of Geography is its biggest strength.

Not only can I share lecture notes with my friends doing Physics and Geology when we study atmospheric circulation or geomorphology, but I can also compare essays with Historians and Economics students when asked about globalisation or issues of gender and nationality. It’s hard to get bored when the area of study is literally the world and everything within it! 

Why do you enjoy studying your subject now?

One good thing about studying ‘the world’ is that you often get to physically go and study it on field trips. Granted, Dorset in your first year is not the most exciting destination, but having the opportunity to go to Tenerife or Berlin (for free!) in year two is very cool. 

Also, no one person studying Geography will have exactly the same interests. Interested in the effect of carbon dioxide on patterns of rainfall? Study Geography. Interested in how warfare is changing with technology? Study Geography. Interested in how you can conserve coral reefs? Study Geography. You get the point! 

What have you found particularly interesting? 

At A Level, I didn’t feel it was possible for us to do Geography complete justice as a subject, as it is such a broad and abstract field of study. However, at university, once the foundations have really been established, the subject can take you in so many directions. 

For example, we study how different spaces are experienced differently based on underlying power dynamics, and how things such as ‘borders’ are not only physical, but can be imagined societal norms which make it harder for migrants to fully integrate in to a new society. Geography makes you think in new, challenging ways – it really is endlessly fascinating.

Why did you want to study your subject at university? Abbie McBain

I have always been interested in the Earth and its processes. Everything that we can observe is connected, from the vast expanse of space to the microscopic grains of crystals.

My academic interest in Earth Science stemmed from two things: one was making trips to volcanoes such as Mt Teide and Mt Etna, and the other was the increasing media coverage on climate change – this is something I want to do further research in to. 

In Year 12, I attended an Earth Science study day, an Earth Science talk at the Aintree Student Conference, and the Earth Science UNIQ Summer programme, all of which fuelled my desire to apply for the best subject in Oxford - in my opinion ;) !

Why do you enjoy your subject now? 

First, the content! They weren’t lying when they said you’re learning about the Earth – you literally learn every aspect! This includes the atmosphere and the oceans, crystals, solar system formation, volcanism, cell biology, fossils and so many more fascinating topics. Further to this, unlike most other degrees, the content varies so much that you very rarely become uninterested. This means a high level of motivation and positivity is always maintained.

Second, the people are amazing! The year groups only have around 35 undergraduates in each. Therefore, you become really close friends with everyone in your year. In addition to this, you make amazing friends with students from other years. I’m currently in my first year at St Peter’s and I know all of St Peter’s Earth Scientists very well. We regularly go to the bar and have drinks together!

What have you found particularly fascinating recently?

It’s hard to pinpoint one thing when nearly everything interests me. However, if I’m going to pick, it would probably be our tutorials. This year (2019-2020), the department held standardised tutorials rather than just sticking with our college allocated tutor. This meant that we were able to have subject-specific tutorials with the experts in that subject. I was often fascinated by the discussions we had and how much you could learn in a 45 minute/one-hour session.

Earth Sciences is amazing with both its theoretical and practical aspects. You definitely won’t regret your choice!

How did you decide what subject to apply for? Lucien Mulberg

I did Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Philosophy at A-Level and I knew that I wanted to do a degree with a lot of logic/problem solving in. For a while, I thought I wanted to do Maths but I disliked the number of proofs involved. I also realised I wanted to apply the maths rather than just do it in abstraction from reality. This pointed me towards Physics, Engineering or Computer Science.

I thought about Computer Science for a while but found that I preferred doing problem solving that could be applied to the world around me, not just to software programming and similar things.
 
This left me with Physics or Engineering! I chose Physics as I wanted a more general overview of how the world works. I decided against Physics and Philosophy (as a joint course), as I didn’t enjoy writing Philosophy essays in timed conditions at A Level and so wanted to avoid this at uni!

Any top tips for Year 12s?

Big tip: Talk to your teachers about what they think you would enjoy the most – they know you quite well. Also ask them about their degrees and what they enjoyed/didn’t enjoy.

Why did you want to study your subject at university? Hattie Dent

I wasn’t born into a medical background but my sister’s journey towards a diagnosis of autism triggered my interest in medicine. I was initially driven by the concept of a career that would lead to life-long learning and as I began to explore the profession through work experience placements, I soon realised medicine was the path for me.

Volunteering in a respite centre for disabled adults really confirmed this, as I was inspired by the idea of being part of a patient’s journey. You are in the privileged position to be able to make a difference in people’s lives and share some of their most vulnerable moments with them.
 
Although a career in medicine will inevitably be challenging and require dedication and sacrifice, the opportunity to work in a team, supporting patients and one another through these challenges, is something truly special. 

What are you enjoying about studying your subject?

I am really enjoying my first year studying here at St Peter’s and the best bit about the course is how varied it is. No two weeks are the same as each week has a jam-packed timetable, filled with a mixture of practicals, directed reading time, and lectures.

Tutorials are also a highlight. Whilst getting used to scientific essay writing was initially daunting, it can be extremely satisfying when the topic you’re studying ‘clicks’ and you are able to really explore it in a tutorial setting. 

What do you like about being at Oxford?

It is a great privilege to be taught by leading clinicians and researchers who make the course engaging, giving an insight into what the future holds and opening your eyes to the exciting new research that is constantly going on here in Oxford. However, for me, the best bit about studying medicine here is the close friendships formed between medics across different colleges and year groups – it really is unique.