It’s a challenging and diverse course with such varied content
What do you enjoy the most about your course?
It’s a challenging and diverse course with such varied content. This degree is genuinely such an amazing way to work out what you want to do in Engineering rather than choosing a specialty aged 17 and just sticking with that forever which I really appreciate. Just this year I’ve had the chance to explore many different areas of engineering; including thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, material properties, electrics (including a first look at digital circuits!), structures and many others (topped off with plenty pure maths).
The course also integrates well, so that once you’ve learned something in the mathematics module you will use it in another module soon after. This means every task you do feels like it will be genuinely useful to you later and helps stave off the tedium of maths for the sake of maths.
“once you’ve learned something in the mathematics module you will use it in another module soon after. This means every task you do feels like it will be genuinely useful.”
How is your subject taught?
Engineering is taught through department-based lectures and labs supported by college tutorials. Generally, there would be roughly 10 lectures a week plus 1 lab and 2 tutorials. The workload can be quite intense but it’s interesting stuff and the tutors are also really understanding about if you’ve struggled to get a sheet done for any reason, as long as you are open and honest about this. The tutorials are generally 2 students to a tutor which makes asking any questions you have and getting the explanations you want really easy and not at all intimidating. Also, not to brag, but I think Oriel absolutely has some of the best Engineering tutors in terms of being nice guys you can have a genuine chat with.
What made you decide to apply for Oxford/Oriel and do you have any top tips on the application process?
“tutorials are generally 2 students to a tutor which makes asking any questions you have and getting the explanations you want really easy.”
I applied to Oxford because I liked the look of the Engineering course and thought, if I wasn’t going to get Scotland’s free tuition, I’d better go somewhere good. The fact that the course didn’t force you into a specialty too early or take you an extra year like it would in Scotland was also really appealing. For me the application process wasn’t too tricky, I put a lot of time into my personal statement initially (not sure how necessary this was for engineering but better safe than sorry) and then should probably have put more work into my entrance test but, nonetheless, I got on alright. I actually applied to and interviewed at St. Hugh’s as I thought, being a woman in STEM, St. Hugh’s history as a women’s only college would mean they’d have a better ratio of male to female engineers. Oriel being so different to St. Hugh’s meant that getting my offer of a place through in August was a bit terrifying as I had no idea what to expect, however, I am very glad to say that despite my worries I have had a wonderful time at Oriel so far and made the most amazing friends.
How did you prepare for your interview?
To prepare for my interview my school arranged a mock interview for me, this was alright in calming my nerves, but I will say, for Engineering the actual interview is almost entirely problem-solving questions which I did none of in my mock so watch out for that. Besides this I simply kept at my schoolwork and made sure I was feeling good on the interview day. Honestly, having done the entrance exam I wasn’t too worried about the interview but you probably should prep more than I did.
“the friendship and bonds you form with the other women around you are incredible.”
What advice do you have for prospective students interested in studying your subject?
If you want to study Engineering, especially if you’re a woman, go for it! It is such a genuinely fascinating field and I promise you will learn so much on this course. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re not cut out for Engineering, every Engineer I’ve ever met claims to be terrible at it, yet here we all are, certainly not alone in feeling frequently out of our depths.
Specifically, to any women thinking of studying Engineering, I would like to add that, whilst it can seem like a terrifying, male-dominated field, the friendship and bonds you form with the other women around you are incredible. Our year has a cross college group chat of every girl we can find doing Engineering and we’ve gone out for drinks a few times, helped each other with confusing bits of work and just formed a lovely community. And you know what, we did that despite most of us having never met in person before the group was formed, we simply added any and every female engineer we could find. So, don’t be deterred by the male dominance of the field, female engineers are magnificent people and you will have a blast regardless.
What do you like the most about being an Orielensis?
The college has a great sense of community and comradery which I find nice. I have made so many friends across different years and subjects which I didn’t expect but am so glad about. I promise the students are lovely and you’d be hard pressed to go wrong in finding friends. Also, we are literally on the high street, very convenient when you need to go buy milk.