Course: BA Biological Sciences - First Year (undergraduate three-year course)
From: York - Fulford School
Living in: Main College
We have three labs a week; Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, each three hours long from 10am (straight after the morning lecture) to 1pm. The time you spend in labs varies depending on the topic you are covering - a complex dissection may take the full three hours, whereas drawing microscope slides can take far less time. When you start the Organisms course, two of your labs a week will be dissection, the third being either Cells or Genes. There are write ups to complete in the lab, and occasionally you have to finish these in your own time, but that rarely happens. On Fridays, we also have an hour in the computer suite, where we work on statistics and learn code for data analysis.
On an average week, I have two lectures every day, at 9am and 2pm, plus an extra 10am on Wednesdays (the 2pm is also moved to 12pm on Wednesday so you have most of the afternoon off!) These are an hour long, and in first year are always in the same lecture theatre, so there’s never any running round trying to find where you’re meant to be. Usually we have Cells and Genes in the morning and Organisms in the afternoon.
Every week, I am set an essay by my tutor. Which tutor I have varies approximately every fortnight, as we go to tutors from other colleges to see experts in particular fields. The essay is preparation for the tutorial we have once a week, and is the only set work we are set outside of labs, so the work I do during the week is always essay reading followed by a couple of days of essay writing.
Outside of contact-time and essay-writing, I have plenty of time to spend doing my own thing. I volunteer with an environmentally minded education group who teach in primary schools, which has one meeting a week, I row at least three days a week, and I also do an awful lot of socialising, especially in the evenings! Film nights are a regular fixture, and I usually leave my door open during the day so my friends can wander in for a chat whenever. This term has been really busy socially; I’ve seen two student plays at the Oxford Playhouse and one professional play. I have been to two Bops (College fancy dress parties), and at least four formal meals, including the annual Biology dinner with the tutors, postgrads and Fellows, a couple of meals out at restaurants, a musical performance at the Principal’s Lodgings and so many more things. Despite the course being pretty full on with the contact time and the weekly essay, I think biologists get a pretty good deal considering how much free time we can have once you’ve got the week’s work done.
Overall work hours in a typical week:
Lectures – 11
Labs – 10
Tutorials – 1
Private work/essay reading and writing – 15-20+
(depending on the question)