Earth Sciences

Catherine Clark

Independent School, Hertfordshire


A levels: Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry

1st year: Maths, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Computer Science

2nd year: Chemistry A, Chemistry B, Earth Sciences A

3rd year: Earth Sciences

My problem is that I’ve always liked too many things. Having struggled to pick GCSEs and A-levels at school, Natural Sciences seemed like the perfect way to delay specialisation and allow myself the time to explore new and unfamiliar subjects to a higher level. Although I didn’t do physics in my first year here, I am technically a physical natural scientist, or “phys natsci” for short. Instead of physics, I decided to pick up two new subjects: Computer Science and Earth Sciences. Now in my third year, I have chosen to specialise in Earth Sciences, and spent four weeks of my summer doing fieldwork in Newfoundland, Canada for my geological mapping project this year.

Often people hear the word ‘geology’ and immediately think ‘dull’, but rocks are a lot more interesting than you might think! Earth Sciences covers a wide range of topics including plate tectonics, the Earth’s climate system, sedimentology, geochemistry, palaeobiology, mineralogy, petrology, geophysics and more! You even get to attend lectures on dinosaurs… The department is one of the most friendly in Cambridge, having frequent coffee mornings and a ‘Happy Hour’ every Friday evening in the common room. In the first year, there is a field-trip to the Isle of Arran which is incredibly good fun, and allows you to get to know the other students in your year, as well as some of the PhD students and even the lecturers!

Unlike most people, my choice of college was based on the college chapel choirs. I knew before coming to Cambridge that if I were to do one extra-curricular activity, then it would be to sing in a choir. I’d done a lot of research into the choirs at each college, including their time commitments, choir directors and chapels. Clare Choir seemed like the right level of commitment for me, and I knew that it had a very good international reputation. I have sung in Clare Choir for the last two years and really loved the experience. I have been tremendously lucky to tour with the choir to the Netherlands, the USA and South-East Asia as well as record three CDs, leaving me with memories that I will treasure for life. Other extra-curricular activities I have got involved with include Clare mixed lacrosse, Clare College Music Society, Clare May Ball design team and volunteering at the Sedgwick Museum.

Now in my third year, I am still as indecisive as I ever have been. I hope to carry on Earth Sciences for a fourth year to gain a M.Sci. After that, I haven’t got a definite plan. As I said at the beginning, I like too many things, so I feel confident that whatever I end up doing, I know that I will enjoy it.