Congratulations on receiving an offer to study NatSci at St John’s, we hope you are excited about your first term in Cambridge!
In the first year of NatSci you will take three experimental subjects and a maths option. Each experimental subject involves three one-hour lectures (some of which are on a Saturday!), between two and four hours of practical work and a one-hour supervision. So including maths this amounts to 12 hours of lectures, four hours of supervisions, and around ten hours of practical work a week. This sounds like a lot of hours and the first term may seem a bit crazy, but you will get used to it, and the terms are only short! In lectures, handouts are given out that are sometimes complete, or the lecturer will leave spaces and fill in the blanks during the lecture, so it is a good idea to go to them. Practicals are sometimes fun, and will either be continually assessed throughout the year or in an exam at the end of the year.
Depending on which options you take, you will be set work for supervisions in the form of either question sheets or essays. The supervisor will then mark the work and you will go over it with them in the supervision. This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and to have a more in-depth discussion to further your understanding of the topic. Supervisors may be fellows or postgraduates in the subject area and you will be in a group of 2 or 3 people. Supervisions are extremely useful, so it is definitely worth spending time preparing the work set to the best of your ability, so you get the most out of them.
This may all sound quite intimidating, but don’t worry, you will hopefully enjoy it and find it interesting. If you have good time management, then there is still enough time to take part in societies and clubs whether you want to play rugby with the Redboys, row with LMBC, join the St John’s Orchestra or the Lady Margaret Players or be part of the May Ball Committee there is lots to do at St John’s and also at university level too. There is also time for fun such as going to our formal hall or a hall swap, going out to Cindies or Life, going punting and there is May Week to look forward to after exams with plenty of garden parties and the May Ball.
Before you come to Cambridge, there is a readng list on the NatSci website which suggests some books that may be useful to read if you are keen, but this is not essential. Also it is best not to buy any textbooks before you come, as there will be a second hand natsci book sale at the start of term. You may find that you never need to buy any textbooks as the library is well stocked and lecture handouts are usually in good detail. In September you will also be sent a booklet containing maths questions based on A level work to brush up your mathematical skills before you arrive, so look forward to that coming in the post!
Have a browse through the pages here and on the JCR website for anything that you might want to know about before coming, if you have any other questions feel free to contact one of us on the committee.
Have a great summer, and see you in October!