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Why you should think about applying for Natural Sciences

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This article was written by Tavistock Tutors

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Why you should think about applying for Natural Sciences:

At the end of Lower Sixth (Year 12) of Sixth Form, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study at university. I kept asked myself whether I wanted to study Maths, Chemistry, Physics or even Medicine. The problem was that I enjoyed all these subjects and that they all had the potential to change the world. By the time UCAS applications had opened, the pressure was on to choose the “right” subject for me. I knew that in the British university system, signing up to one course meant that you had stick at it for another 3 or 4 years.

Luckily, Cambridge offered the Natural Sciences degree. The Natural Sciences Tripos allow students to choose three different sciences and a mathematical option to study in their first year. This meant that I could delay choosing the right subject until at least second year whilst at the same time, getting a feel for what university level courses in these subjects were like. In my first year, I studied Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science and Mathematics. In the second year of the degree, students choose three subjects, though subjects such as Chemistry and Physics had two courses, which meant that wanting to do either of these in third year would require you to take both courses.

Despite enjoying all these subjects, I felt Chemistry had the most breadth.This isn’t surprising, given we live in a world where everything around us is Chemistry. Physics and Materials, despite their importance, had much narrower courses and required the same mathematical skill set. Chemistry on the other hand, required a wider range of skills from an understanding of mathematics, for example to solve the Schrodinger equation in quantum chemistry to being able to synthesise efficient routes to a target molecule, which ranged from Taxol (an anti-cancer drug) to Kevlar (the material used in bulletproof jackets). This is why I fell in love with Chemistry, knowing that I could continue learning aspects of the physical world and apply them to the natural world.

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In third year, the Chemistry course became even more diverse. In one lecture you would be studying about how enzymes in your body functioned and an hour later you would be learning how an NMR machine worked. This interdisciplinary approach from first to third year is not only exciting, but also important. Given how most advancements in science these days are done on the boundaries of different fields, an appreciation of them is crucial for future research. I hope I’ve given you some insight into why Natural Sciences is an excellent course, and should definitely be considered if you’re looking at science subjects for university.

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