Throughout my A level studies I realised that my interest lay across both Chemistry and Biology and with a wide range of biological topics. I would be fascinated by microbiology but love reading about evolutionary history. Many of the university courses, especially within the biological sciences, required you to specialise even before you had begun your degree and the Cambridge Natural Sciences course offered so much more breadth and flexibility. The first year gives you a fantastic grounding in the biological or physical sciences so that whatever you eventually decide to pursue you are coming at it from a background of wide scientific knowledge. In your first year there is also a compulsory Maths component. These cater to a wide range of abilities and there are Biological Mathematics options for the biologists which are more applied and focussed on how Maths could be used to understand biological systems which I found very interesting and useful. The second year allows you the chance to begin to specialise slightly but you can still keep your options open. I studied Chemistry, Biochemistry and Cell and Developmental Biology so could end up doing Chemistry or Biological options in my third year. I decide to take Biochemistry for 3rd year and am really enjoying the opportunity to further my understanding and combine the Biology and Chemistry I have previously studied. During the coming Lent term the Biochemists undertake a term long independent research project within one of the labs in the department. I am really looking forward to being able to apply all the techniques I have learnt throughout the course and it will be fantastic preparation for my intended career in research. The Biochemistry course is also one of a limited number of Biology options which offers a 4th year and I am intending to stay on for this. During 4th year you do a research project over two terms which I hope will further develop my research skills and allow a more in depth investigation into the research problem.
When it came to choosing a college to apply to, I had felt for a long time that I would like to go to Clare. It has a well deserved reputation as a friendly college and a strong musical tradition. The chapel choir are highly acclaimed and the opportunity to hear them at evensong is something which definitely should not be missed! Clare Ents and Clare Jazz cater for more contemporary tastes but there is such a wide range of societies and events that you are sure to find something you love. Clare also has some of the most beautiful buildings and grounds of any college. Walking through Old Court at night is always a special experience and the gardens are a lovely place to relax in summer. Old Court and the gardens provide a spectacular location for Clare’s annual May Ball which is an incredible experience – it just about makes exams worth it!
Clare is also a very strong college for Natural Sciences. Both the first year accommodation in Memorial Court and second year accommodation in The Colony are well situated for science lectures, which are less than fifteen minutes away by bike. The directors of studies and fellows for Natural Sciences are all friendly and helpful and there is the additional excitement of having David Attenborough as an alumnus – Clare’s science society has an annual formal and many years he is the speaker!
The Natural Sciences course is very rigorous and will challenge you but the support from directors of studies and friends means it is manageable and intellectually stimulating rather than overwhelming! I have had a fantastic time in my first two years and look forward to what is to come.