1. Application resources
  2. >
  3. Subjects
  4. >
  5. Chemistry

Chemistry

Chemistry is a 4-year course at Oxford, with the fourth year consisting entirely of a project in which you have the opportunity to work with a research group - a unique part of the Oxford degree.
โŒ›๏ธLast updated: July 13, 2020, 10:34 a.m.

Course Resources

Here are some general resources related to Chemistry.

Overview

Please note that this information is only currently correct for 2021 entry and how the course has been taught in 2019-2020, and could very possibly change thereafter!

Overview ๐Ÿ”— The Oxford course page contains a wealth of resources about the course structure as well as admission requirements. Also importantly, as of 2021 entry there is no admission test!

Faculty website ๐Ÿ”— This is the official Faculty webpage for prospective undergraduates, which links to various resources. The most important of them is the course handbook ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ, which provides a more detailed and technical description of the course requirements; the courses taught; and how examinations work.

Course Prospectus ๐Ÿ”— The prospectus also gives a good idea of course structure and testimonies from past students.

Alternative Prospectus ๐Ÿ”— This is an unofficial prospectus put together by the Oxford Student Union; itโ€™s written based on studentsโ€™ perspectives and gives a better sense of what the day-to-day experience as a Chemistry student is like, compared to official materials.

More

Tutorial style and number varies between colleges, however you will be tutored in all three sub-disciplines of Chemistry (Physical, Organic, Inorganic), as well as Maths in your first year. A typical day will include two morning lectures and a tutorial or labs (2 days per week). As you progress through the degree, there is scope to specialise by taking option modules in third year.

Why Chemistry at Oxford? ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ The department has a fairly good page about the advantages of the Oxford Chemistry course. Whilst the pages emphasises the non-modularity of the course, that doesnโ€™t mean thereโ€™s not any choice! Starting from second year youโ€™ll have the opportunity to sit supplementary subjects (i.e. an additional module that accounts for up to 1% of your degree and currently, a significant amount of lab hours). This can be in anything from the history & philosophy of science, to languages, and further in depth courses in all three branches of chemistry. The third year also offers a compulsory โ€˜optionsโ€™ paper of courses you choose to study for a term after main course teaching has finished!

Information on Practicals ๐Ÿ”— If youโ€™re interested about the practical side of the course, the department has a video giving both a tour of our new labs, as well as information about how practicals are run.

Day in the Life of a Chemistry Student video ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ A day in the life of a chemistry student by Lady Margaret Hall. Talks both about life at LMH and the day-to-day life of studying chemistry.

Application Resources

Reading Lists ๐Ÿ”— These are the reading lists for the papers that first-years take. Donโ€™t be intimidated by how long they are; theyโ€™re intended to be worked through over the course of a full academic year, and honestly no one reads everything anyway.

Example Chemistry personal statements ๐Ÿ”— Exemplar personal statements are available online, but it is important to stress there is no winning formula, and you should try to explain to the tutors why you are interested in Chemistry. It is a useful opportunity to demonstrate your ability to read around your subject. A rough guide for Oxbridge personal statements is to keep the non-subject related content to around 5%. As tempting as it is to write about sporting and music achievement, the tutors are looking for a genuine chemical passion and so will skim over any unrelated music awards! More exemplar personal statements are available here ๐Ÿ”—.

It is important to note the way interviews are run and their structure will vary by college. It is reasonable to expect that youโ€™ll be asked questions about all three disciplines plus maths over at least two interviews. Probably the most important thing you can do to prepare is to know and understand the entirety of your A-Level chemistry course before the interview (even if you havenโ€™t covered it in class). Further resources to aid your understanding of A-Level Chemistry can be found on the subject page.

Mock Interview ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ Check out this mock interview for chemistry by Jesus College. To emphasise what is said in this interview, the questions asked will be rooted initially in your A-Level course before exploring beyond that - itโ€™s not about what you know, but rather your understanding of Chemistry and how you think through problems you havenโ€™t seen before! Donโ€™t be intimidated, as the tutors are there to guide you if you get stuck! (the authors of this guide would like to add that the tutor featured in this video is one of our favourite lecturers, absolutely top guy)

Cambridge Chemistry Challenge ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ The past papers and online puzzles are a great way of preparing for interviews. These little brain teasers are a good taster for the sort of problem solving and sorts of questions found in Oxford interviews, so would strongly recommend.

InsideUni Chemistry interview experiences ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ Current students talk about their interview experience, as well as sharing some tips. Weโ€™re biased, but we think theyโ€™re useful!

Image credit: Gonville and Caius by Akil Hashmi