Three students sit on the grass in the quadrangle on a sunny day, laughing in conversation

Hear from our students what the life of a Somerville student is like.

Student Life at Somerville

Daisy, 1st year, Physics

As a sciences student, my typical week involves a relatively high number of contact hours. I might have around 10 hours of lectures split 50:50 between maths and physics. These are all held in the physics department which is handily less than 5 minutes away on foot from Somerville. I also have tutorials, for which I complete problem sets ahead of time. Typically, I have two tutorials each week. These are a great opportunity to clear up any confusion and develop your ideas - with a 1:2 staff to student ratio, there’s always time to ask all the questions that you want and need to! The last component of my course is lab work. Fridays are our lab days, where we work though experiments demonstrating the principles that we’ve been studying that week, together with a partner.

The Somerville physicists are a warm and friendly community. I meet up once or twice a week with the other physicists in my year to go through our work in the College bar, and we also try out a new café or restaurant together in our lunch breaks on lab day.

Alongside my studies, I enjoy going to see physicists at both the Phys Soc and the Women in Physics society, as well as listening to talks and debates on topics entirely unrelated to my degree at the Oxford Union. I also enjoy sport; despite not being able to ice skate before coming to Oxford, I’m now part of the Somerville Ice Hockey team. I’m also a member of the Oxford University Gliding Club, and absolutely love getting up in the air at Bicester Airfield at the weekends for a surprisingly low cost! These are just two of the many inclusive sports clubs at the University for people of all levels.

Improving access to Oxford is something I’m passionate about and spend many hours on, both through my role as JCR Access Officer and helping at Physics Department access events. Things I’ve done include having students shadow me, to working as a team leader at a STEM day for local girls, and from helping to calm nerves during interviews, to having my own tested in a mock interview in front of 130 applicants at our Demystifying Oxford day.

It’s fair to say that life at Somerville is busy and involves challenging academic work, but I can honestly say that I am so happy to be studying at a College that is so welcoming, inspirational, but most of all contains such amazingly diverse, fun and friendly students.

Max, 2nd year, Music

My degree involves assignments based on performance, analysis, various topics in music history, techniques of composition and harmony, and studying how music interacts with race, gender, the body, and the mind. I attend lectures and tutorials throughout the week for my degree course, although humanities subjects at Oxford don’t have as many contact hours as the sciences.

Being able to learn from my incredible tutors and fellow students on a weekly basis is a magnificent part of life in Oxford. Whether I’m having a debate in a tutorial setting, or a discussion in the Dining Hall over food, Somerville is a place where your ideas can flourish.

Outside of my degree, I spend much of my time using the fantastic facilities that Somerville has to offer for musicians. I can practice every day on the college’s beautiful Steinway piano in the chapel, for instance. I also sing in the choir several times a week, which has introduced me to an amazing community of friends spanning multiple year groups and colleges. Additionally, I organise, publicise and perform in concerts for the college Music Society, and work on my own musical projects.

Somerville is truly an inspiring location to live and study, and there are no barriers here to achieving what you wish. I can’t recommend applying to study here enough!

Q&A with Students from the 2020 Virtual Open Days