Somerville College AlternAtive ProSPeCtuS

Somerville College AlternAtive ProSPeCtuS

Somerville College AlternAtive ProSPeCtuS


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University of Oxford 2010<br />

S o m e r v i l l e C o l l e g e<br />

A l t e r n a t i v e P r o s p e c t u s

Thanks for picking up our Alternative Prospectus!<br />

This is a guide, 100% compiled by students, full of all the things<br />

we wanted to know about an college when we were applying.<br />

From academics to accommodation, a glossary of esoteric Oxford<br />

terms and student profiles, we hope it will help you get a<br />

feel for what it is REALLY like to be a student at <strong>Somerville</strong>.<br />

When applying to Oxford you apply to one of our 33 colleges,<br />

and this choice can seem like an impossible task – they’re all of<br />

different sizes, locations, ages and have distinct atmospheres.<br />

But the thing to remember is you will be taught exactly the<br />

same course wherever you go; syllabuses are centrally regulated,<br />

everyone goes to the same lectures, sits the same exams, it’s<br />

just the tutorials which happen at college level. In addition, 1/5<br />

of all applicants don’t end up at their college of first choice, so<br />

don’t get too caught up in the college decision.<br />

Having said that, we’d obviously love for you to apply here!<br />

Because <strong>Somerville</strong> is relatively young by Oxford standards,<br />

founded in 1879, co-educational in 1994, and is lacking in gothic<br />

spires, it often gets overlooked by applicants. But if you’re feeling<br />

overwhelmed by the Oxford stereotype, or just want to be<br />

somewhere a little more relaxed, then <strong>Somerville</strong> is the perfect<br />

place for you to apply (see ‘Why <strong>Somerville</strong>?’ page). We don’t<br />

need to tell you that we’re ‘The Friendliest <strong>College</strong>’ like most<br />

colleges do in their Alternative Prospectuses, because you will<br />

learn this for yourself when you come and meet students and<br />

tutors on Open Days and at interviews. You can find more information<br />

about making an invaluable trip up on an Open Day<br />

on the ‘What Next’ page.<br />

List of contributors<br />

Masuma Ahuja<br />

Lucy Arora<br />

Jenni Butler<br />

Ceri Cairnduff<br />

Rilly Chen<br />

Nick Cooper<br />

James Corrigan<br />

Jo Holland<br />

Habiba Islam<br />

Alex Lau<br />

Iain Moss<br />

Josie Messa<br />

David Railton<br />

Matt Rattley<br />

Waheed Safi<br />

Laura Schofield<br />

Jane Taylor<br />

Andrea White<br />

Front & back cover<br />

photos:<br />

Grace Benton<br />

Photos:<br />

Members of <strong>Somerville</strong> JCR<br />

Editors:<br />

Masuma Ahuja<br />

Laura Schofield<br />

So all that remains is to wish you all the best with your application,<br />

and enjoy reading what Somervillians have to say about<br />

how much <strong>Somerville</strong> has to offer you,<br />

Laura and Masuma<br />

JCR 2010

contents<br />

Reasons to apply....................................................................................................................................... 2<br />

Student profiles.........................................................................................................................................3<br />

Accomodation..........................................................................................................................4<br />

Accomodation...........................................................................................................................5<br />

Food and facilities.....................................................................................................................................6<br />

Academics....................................................................................................................................7<br />

JCR...........................................................................................................................................8<br />

Charities...................................................................................................................................9<br />

Entz & Freshers.......................................................................................................................................10<br />

Sports.....................................................................................................................................11<br />

Drama & Arts.........................................................................................................................................12<br />

Music.......................................................................................................................................13<br />

Welfare...................................................................................................................................14<br />

Student profiles........................................................................................................................................15<br />

What to do next........................................................................................................................................16<br />


Why somerville?<br />

1. Equality<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> was originally a college for women, and never conformed to the other college’s 19 th century procedures<br />

of religious tests for entry. Equality and openness are part of our history and not just paraphernalia for a<br />

prospectus. <strong>Somerville</strong> is not at all elitist and you will not get overwhelmed by Oxford stereotypes here.<br />

2. Size<br />

With 350 undergraduates<br />

and 100 graduates,<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> is one<br />

of Oxford’s larger colleges.<br />

This means you<br />

won’t feel claustrophobic<br />

living and studying<br />

around the same people<br />

all the time (a common<br />

complaint from some<br />

of the smaller colleges).<br />

At the same time you’re<br />

never lost in the crowd<br />

since we have a wealth<br />

of support for students:<br />

personal tutors, college<br />

parents (see *incest in<br />

glossary), incredibly<br />

helpful porters on call for anything 24 hours a day, a peer support team, welfare reps, college doctor, nurse,<br />

and everyone gets an annual meeting with the Principal, which means that everyone in college knows what<br />

you’re up to.<br />

3. Location<br />

So we’re not on the High Street, but our location 10 minutes from the centre of town is in fact incredibly advantageous.<br />

There are no tourists snapping photos of you as you leave for lectures in the morning, and we’re<br />

very close to: university parks (2 minutes), the science area (3 minutes), bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops in<br />

Jericho and Little Clarendon Street (outside our back gate), the Bodleian library (10 minutes), and the train<br />

station (10 minutes). And remember, all of these distances are halved with a bike!<br />

4. Walking on the grass<br />

Would you believe it, walking on the grass can lead to rustication (see glossary) in other colleges. We, however,<br />

can utilise our luscious lawns for snowball fights, garden parties, sunbathing, working...<br />

2<br />

This last one seems a trivial point, but it symbolises <strong>Somerville</strong> as a whole: we are relaxed, liberal<br />

and shun all the unjustifiable pomp and ceremony associated with Oxford, giving you the space to<br />

be yourself, fulfil your potential and have a brilliant time doing it.

Waheed Safi<br />

profiles<br />

Studying at Oxford is a unique experience, and <strong>Somerville</strong> makes it even<br />

more special. <strong>Somerville</strong> is one of the more laid back colleges – you can<br />

walk on the grass, and we don’t wear gowns for dinner! It’s a friendly, liberal<br />

environment, and knowing everyone in halls makes it feel like home.<br />

The Engineering course itself is challenging, but rewarding. At the end of<br />

your second year you can choose from five options of engineering, but until<br />

then you get a really broad perspective of the subject. The workload<br />

involves two sets of questions, which are set for the two tutes per week.<br />

Each set of questions requires roughly five hours. So it’s pretty intensive,<br />

but having applied time with your tutor really helps your academic progress.<br />

You also have two lectures per day and a labs session every week.<br />

Aside from all the work, there’s plenty of time to socialise, with clubs and pubs just down the road from <strong>Somerville</strong>.<br />

I really enjoy the sports side of things too, and do football, rugby, tae kwando and cricket every week. I’m<br />

also president of the Afghan Students’ Society, so I’ve made loads of friends in different groups.<br />

Lucy Arora<br />

My name is Lucy and I’m doing History at <strong>Somerville</strong>.<br />

The course is really interesting, and there aren’t many<br />

hours of contact, meaning that how you organise your<br />

time is really down to you. It’s compulsory to do some<br />

British and European history, but there is a lot of choice.<br />

This year I have been learning Russian, so that I can<br />

study original documents from the Revolution next year,<br />

which should be really cool. The <strong>Somerville</strong> tutors definitely<br />

make half of the course – one of them even sings<br />

for all of his students (although, unfortunately, that only<br />

happens once a year).<br />

There is quite a lot of extra-curricular stuff going on in<br />

the college and on a wider university scale; I tried a brief<br />

stint with the <strong>Somerville</strong> women’s football team, which<br />

was definitely worth it for the socials! I think sadly my tendency to run away from the football prevented me<br />

from being a long-term member of the team though... Now I am the college Environment and Ethics officer,<br />

meaning I am responsible for trying to improve our recycling facilities and running events like Sundae sessions<br />

for Fairtrade Fortnight. Alongside that, I am involved in the central Environment and<br />

Ethics committee of the Student Union, where I have had a chance to meet loads of inspiring<br />

people from other colleges and take part in university-wide campaigns.<br />


accomModation<br />

.First Year<br />

This is often the first room outside of home most<br />

people can move into, which can be scary. Wherever<br />

they live, by the end of the first year, most<br />

students have grown attached to their rooms, the<br />

paper thin walls, and the buildings they live in.<br />

Generally, there are three large buildings where<br />

freshers are housed:<br />

Vaughan: This is the largest first-year<br />

building, with 60 rooms. It’s the ugly one, across<br />

from the library. But what it lacks in aesthetics,<br />

it makes up for by being one of the most sociable<br />

areas in college. The rooms are standard: desk,<br />

chair, comfy chair, bed, sink, chest of drawers,<br />

and closet. Because the building is so large, one<br />

shower is shared between ten people, as is one<br />

kitchen. However, because there are so many<br />

people living in this building, someone is always<br />

nearby and up for a tea break or a chat in the<br />

hallway. Also, Vaughan has the Vaughan JCR -<br />

popular for its TV and a good place to hang out<br />

before heading out of college for a night out.<br />

Penrose: A smaller building, this isn’t entirely<br />

occupied by freshers. Having finalists as<br />

neighbours might mean that you have to turn<br />

down the volume on your stereo. But the rooms,<br />

while they come with the same standard furniture,<br />

are much larger. Bathrooms and kitchens<br />

are also shared between fewer people, and the<br />

kitchens are bigger and more useful for cooking<br />

larger meals.<br />

4<br />

Darbishire: Far from the two other big<br />

buildings housing freshers in college distances,<br />

Darbishire is by the Lodge. The rooms vary in<br />

size and are generally nicer than Vaughan rooms.<br />

Bathrooms and kitchens, again are shared between<br />

fewer people than in Vaughan. Because of<br />

its (relative) distance from the rest of the freshers accomodation, the people living in<br />

Darbishire generally grow close. In my year, there were often dinner parties held in the<br />


Second Year<br />

Somervillians have generally had to live out in their second year. Most people choose to live in Jericho, the area<br />

right behind college, where rent per person generally varies between £300-£450 per month. At the beginning of<br />

Hilary, most freshers have to have picked a group<br />

to live with and will be signing for houses. Sizes of<br />

houses can vary from 2-person to 7-person houses,<br />

and every house and group of people varies. Living<br />

out has its advantages, people cook more, sometimes<br />

have basements with TVs, and can host<br />

house parties without fears of the Porters asking<br />

them to keep it down. And so , while living out has<br />

its challenges (like who does the dirty dishes), it is<br />

a unique experience and most second-years tend to<br />

enjoy it.<br />

NB: In October 2011, 68 new en suite rooms will<br />

become available and most second-years will be<br />

able to live in college.<br />

Third/Fourth Year<br />

accomModation<br />

Housing in third/fourth year is determined by a randomized<br />

room ballot. Most people tend to pick to<br />

live in Park, Wolfson, or Dorothy Hodgkin Quad<br />

(DHQ).<br />

Park: The rooms in Park are bigger than most<br />

that people had as freshers, and many have a beautiful<br />

view of the quad and window seats. Living<br />

in halls with friends can sometimes be a welcome<br />

change after a year of living in houses. Park is a<br />

comfortable building, with an incredible kitchen, a<br />

newly re-done JCR with leather couches and a TV,<br />

and the computer room in the building. Also, Park<br />

is internally connected to Wolfson and Holtby.<br />

Wolfson: This is the distinct, modern building with the huge windows. The rooms in Wolfson are a nice<br />

large size and every room has a huge window - both a good and bad thing. While the big windows make for an<br />

incredible view, people can also look into your room at night if your blinds/curtains aren’t closed.<br />

DHQ: DHQ has a unique living set-up. Living blocks are divided up into 2-person and 4-person<br />

flats, and people can choose to live with their friends in flats. The rooms are generally very<br />

large and flats all have a kitchen and a bathroom that flatmates will share. While DHQ is across<br />

the quad from the Holtby-Park-Wolfson buildings, many people choose to live in DHQ for the<br />

comfort of barely-shared conveniences and large rooms.<br />


Facilities<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> offers both catering and non-catering facilities to all<br />

its students at all times, and you don’t have to make a decision<br />

either way when you apply.<br />

Food is served in hall 3 times a day during the weekdays and<br />

lunchtime at the weekend. At lunch and dinner there are at least<br />

2 hot food options, vegetarian, jacket potato, salad, soup, sandwiches,<br />

fruit, yoghurts and puddings. A full meal with a drink<br />

and all the trimmings will cost on average £3. For breakfast you<br />

can opt for the full English, or go continental with coffee and<br />

cereal. Full English or brunch at the weekend comes in at a very<br />

reasonable £1.50. On Tuesdays dinner is replaced with Formal,<br />

which is always something to look forward to. They cost a little<br />

more than normal dinner (£8.50) but it’s a sit-down meal, and<br />

you get served three courses, and the food is amongst the best<br />

in Oxford. What’s more, because we don’t have formals every<br />

night like some of the other colleges, lots of people go and everyone<br />

makes an effort to look good, and everyone congregates<br />

in the bar afterwards, so it turns into a real event.<br />

For the Tuesday nights and weekends when you are not eating<br />

in hall, you’ll have to fend for yourself . The size of the kitchen<br />

varies depending on which building you are in. Park, for instance, has a lovely big kitchen with two fridge freezers<br />

and two ovens. Vaughan on the other hand has two kitchenettes on each floor, one with a fridge, a sink and a<br />

microwave, one with a fridge, a sink and a hob and grill. Most of the other first year accommodation has kitchenettes<br />

of a similar standard. They’re all perfectly adequate for pasta and sauce - and really, what more do you need?<br />

For your pleasure and convenience, <strong>Somerville</strong> also has:<br />

• Laundry rooms in every building with massive washing machines (and a dryer too)<br />

• Gym complete with treadmills, weights and rowing machines<br />

• Two music rooms and a grand piano in hall<br />

• JCR common rooms with computers, TVs, games consoles and comfy sofas and chairs<br />

• Computer rooms in Park and the library with reliable, cheap printing facilities<br />

• Dark room and exhibition room<br />

• <strong>College</strong> bar which is not only a place to get cheap drinks (£1.40 for a pint and £1.10 for a glass of wine), but<br />

somewhere you can watch Sky TV, play pool, argue over what song you want the juke box to play...<br />

• Lastly, there are multiple function rooms of varying size that you can book (for free!) for meetings, play<br />

rehearsals or whatever else you’re up to!<br />


Academics<br />

I could tell you that the myths are all false, and academic life at Oxford isn’t nearly as much hard work<br />

as people claim. I would, of course, be lying. However what is true is that an Oxford education can<br />

be one of the most rewarding and fascinating times of your life, and <strong>Somerville</strong> provides the best of<br />

atmospheres in which<br />

to experience this. The<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> attitude to<br />

work is the <strong>Somerville</strong><br />

attitude to everything:<br />

we all love our courses,<br />

and want to do well<br />

(not least to be better<br />

than all those other pesky<br />

colleges), but above<br />

all we want to enjoy<br />

ourselves doing it!<br />

Although the scientists<br />

wish to claim they have<br />

the most work, the arts/<br />

sciences split is more<br />

about how work is<br />

structured. Science students<br />

find themselves<br />

in lectures till 1 most days, labs some afternoons and tutorial sheets to complete in the evenings. A<br />

week for an arts student is far less structured- most lectures are deemed “skippable”, and with the exception<br />

of the odd tutorial, academic life centres itself on private reading and writing essays (which<br />

never, despite best intentions, get completed until at least five minutes before the deadline; five hours<br />

after for some.) However, when you’re reading in one of Oxford’s beautiful libraries, especially the<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> Library, open 24 hours a day and one of the most well-stocked <strong>College</strong> libraries in town,<br />

the days seem to while themselves away…<br />

I briefly mentioned tutorials, which, if a little daunting, are one of the best parts of being at Oxford.<br />

Most students have between one and three tutorials a week for about an hour at a time. They’re an<br />

opportunity to discuss the topic you’ve studied that week with your tutor, and are generally quite<br />

relaxed. (One of my tutors had a chaise lounge in his room; sofas or chairs are more common.) In the<br />

end, if you’ve read a decent proportion of the reading list each week, you’ll be fine and you may even<br />

enjoy it! Tutors are also really understanding, and will help you if you find yourself going astray (as<br />

will your fellow students- <strong>Somerville</strong> solidarity goes a long way!)<br />

So although each eight-week term is crammed full of academic work, it isn’t nearly as<br />

bad as it seems. And when you’re sitting on the <strong>Somerville</strong> Quad in Trinity, drinking<br />

Pimm’s in one hand, pretending to read in the other, it’ll all seem worth it!<br />


JCR<br />

Ahh... the JCR, what can<br />

we say about this august<br />

institution? Short for<br />

Junior Common Room,<br />

it is both the communal<br />

areas of college for undergraduates,<br />

but more<br />

importantly it is essentially<br />

our elected governing<br />

body and mini-parliament<br />

in <strong>Somerville</strong>.<br />

It is essentially a Students’<br />

Union on a very<br />

small scale. There are a<br />

number of elected representatives,<br />

including<br />

Welfare Officers, Admissions<br />

Officer, Academic<br />

Affairs Officer,<br />

International Students<br />

Officer, Lesbian Gay Bisexual<br />

and Transgender<br />

(LGBT) Officer and of<br />

course the big dog itself,<br />

the President.<br />

Between us we do our best to deal with all the problems that you encounter, to set up fun events for everyone,<br />

and just generally try to make your lives as easy, fun, and as smooth as possible during your time here.<br />

We have a fairly decent budget which goes on sports teams, bops, newspapers, and many other things.<br />

Last year, we managed to redecorate one of our common rooms and install a 42-inch television with the<br />

money at our disposal. As well as that we’ve organised our own Arts Week, with a fashion show, an open<br />

mic night, and a film showing, and Charities Week in college. So if you want to get involved with anything<br />

in college, the JCR is the place to be!<br />

As well as serious motions, we like to do some silly ones that are purely for fun. So if we want to make Neil<br />

Buchanan or Dennis the Menace a honourary member of the JCR, we can vote on it! Should we make<br />

every Friday Hawaiian shirt day? Does the college believe that George Harrison was the best Beatle?<br />

Anyone can propose a motion, serious or otherwise, so it’s definitely fun and important to get involved!<br />


<strong>Somerville</strong> is one of the most generous colleges when it<br />

comes to charity money. There is a £9 a term JCR charity<br />

contribution on our college bills (although you can opt out<br />

of this if you want). This adds up to give us around about<br />

£3,000 to dish out each term.<br />

Unlike at some other colleges, there are no set causes that<br />

our money always goes to; anyone can propose a charity at<br />

the JCR meeting. It’s a fantastic way to get support for a<br />

project you’re involved in or simply for a charity you think<br />

does great work.<br />

Throughout the year there are <strong>Somerville</strong> versions of entertaining<br />

events run by OUSU’s charity committee, RAG<br />

RAG (raise and give). These include <strong>Somerville</strong>’s got talent<br />

in Michaelmas term and Mr and Miss <strong>Somerville</strong> in Hilary.<br />

Additionally, in Hilary term, the charities officer also hosts<br />

several events for <strong>Somerville</strong>’s Charities week.<br />

The <strong>Somerville</strong> Ghana Library<br />

Project<br />

Every year, a group of <strong>Somerville</strong> students takes<br />

on the task of running ‘The <strong>Somerville</strong> Ghana<br />

Library Project’. <strong>Somerville</strong> student Hattie<br />

Beg set up the charity in 2003, and since then<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> students have helped run a free public<br />

library for hundreds of children and adults in<br />

Cape Coast, Ghana. Each summer, a group of<br />

enthusiastic Somervillians travel to Ghana to see<br />

and help with the library.<br />

charities<br />

Being able to visit the project is an incredible experience.<br />

We met the two librarians who we employ<br />

and talked to the people who use the library,<br />

as well as improving the library building and discussing how to improve the project. We also got to travel - we saw<br />

the rainforest, crocodile reserves, and beautiful beaches. We were even lucky enough to be in Cape Coast for the<br />

famous Fetu Afahye festival which is celebrated every year.<br />

Being part of the project teaches you skills that you don’t learn in tutorials! Whilst in Oxford, we manage the<br />

finances, organise some amazing fund raising events as well as keeping up to date with the library via email. It’s a<br />

fantastic and impressive project to be involved in.<br />


Entz & Freshers<br />

Freshers<br />

“Down it, Freshaaaaaa!” – upon hearing this war cry it would be<br />

easy to fall under the illusion that you are at any other British university,<br />

but there’s no doubt that this is a one-dimensional view<br />

of <strong>Somerville</strong> Fresher life. Sure, Freshers’ week is filled with your<br />

usual blurry stagger from bed to pub to club to bed, but the path of<br />

an incipient alcoholic is definitely not a mandatory lifestyle choice.<br />

However, once the craze of Freshers’ week is reduced to a handful<br />

of embarrassing facebook pictures there will still be endless<br />

opportunities to make friends in less high octane surroundings<br />

through a myriad of clubs and societies.<br />

Freshers’ fair, both on a university and a college level advertise<br />

these clubs in a fun, free-dominos-pizza-vouchers way. You will<br />

never join all of the societies you feverishly sign up to, but the fact<br />

that the medieval re-enactment society does exist is heartening.<br />

Bops<br />

Bops (the slightly eccentric college organised parties of Oxford)<br />

are the ultimate chance to realise your otherwise socially unacceptable<br />

dress-up antics with a series of mad themes- tribal fetishes<br />

anyone? And in Freshers’ week the rightly famed bop juice (with dubious components of suspicious colour)<br />

is available by the bucket load. This combined with atrocious dancing are an essential bond builder<br />

with your fellow students - you will make some of the best friends of your life.<br />

Other Entz events:<br />

Annual garden party (with ice cream vans, barbeque, strawberries<br />

and cream, Pimms, bouncy castle, and sumo suits), and club<br />

nights.<br />

The Ball<br />

Every three years <strong>Somerville</strong> gets together with Jesus college and<br />

we have a huge summer ball. This year’s theme is Paparazzi... for<br />

one night only, the sprawling grounds of <strong>Somerville</strong> <strong>College</strong> will<br />

be transformed into a world of glittering hotspots. Saunter up<br />

the red-carpet whilst sipping wine, win big in Monaco, hang out<br />

in celebrity green rooms and party to some of the best live performances<br />

and biggest names in music.<br />


Oxford is a great place to get involved<br />

in a whole range of sports, from the<br />

sublime to the ridiculous, rowing to<br />

extreme Frisbee, there’s bound to be<br />

something you’re into. The great thing<br />

is that with a collegiate structure, you<br />

don’t have to be at Blue (1 st University<br />

team) to get a game. At college level<br />

the emphasis is very much on getting<br />

involved and having fun, with only the<br />

occasional team practice. Most sports<br />

compete against other colleges in ‘cuppers’<br />

matches, so there are always plenty<br />

of games if you want them. <strong>Somerville</strong><br />

has teams in rowing, cricket, rugby,<br />

male and female football, netball, mixed<br />

hockey, pool, foosball, tennis.<br />

And if there’s a sport you feel is underrepresented, then you can start up a team and receive some funding from the<br />

JCR for kit and other sporty expenses.<br />

Rowing<br />

No doubt rowing is one of the most popular sports at Oxford:<br />

and naturally <strong>Somerville</strong> is massively involved in this<br />

with our own Boat Club.<br />

The club is split into men’s and women’s teams, with a first<br />

crew for each gender and then lower boats which are usually<br />

made up of novices. We have a mixture of people who’ve<br />

rowed before and people who don’t even realise how much<br />

lycra is involved in rowing – but absolutely everyone can join<br />

the club (lycra appreciation is preferable, although can be<br />

developed).<br />

Sports<br />

It’s not all about early mornings in the rain (and that only<br />

happens for half the year anyway), rowers are regularly found on crew dates with crews from other colleges, men’s<br />

vs. women’s crew bar crawls, religiously watching of the film True Blue (you’ll know it line for line once you leave)<br />

whilst eating pasta, and other random activities that keep up the fantastic team spirit held within the boat club.<br />

And then there’s the races: the biggest being Christchurch Regatta in Michaelmas which is a novice-only race,<br />

and the two bumps races: Torpids in Hilary and Summer Eights in Trinity term. If you take<br />

“bumps” as literally as it sounds, that might give you an idea of what’s involved. Our women’s first<br />

boat are in the top two divisions for Torpids and Eights, and our men’s first crew is consistently<br />

rising up the ranks in Division III.<br />


drama & Arts<br />

Drama<br />

Oxford has a reputation for<br />

some of the best student theatre<br />

in the world. This may make it<br />

seem like it is difficult to get involved.<br />

On the contrary, it is the<br />

perfect opportunity to try something<br />

new. Never before or<br />

again will it be so easy to have a<br />

go at producing a show, directing,<br />

acting, filming marketing<br />

etc. Funding is easy to come<br />

by and pretty much anything<br />

is possible. There are various<br />

levels of student drama and the<br />

University accommodates. You<br />

can experience new roles, or<br />

even use the drama here to get<br />

noticed by agents. <strong>Somerville</strong><br />

has its very own Drama Society<br />

to help out its students. It has<br />

a large fund to invest in shows,<br />

or even put on a <strong>Somerville</strong> show in the Quad. Similarly, <strong>Somerville</strong> has a reputation for producing some<br />

great talent - whether they be producers, directors or actors. For Freshers who need that extra persuasion<br />

to get involved or who just need a place to start, there is Cuppers. Cuppers is an inter-college competition<br />

whereby each college puts on a production, or even more. The results is a huge week-long competition<br />

where at least 40 shows are judged. At the end of the week there is a final to showcase the best 10 shows,<br />

followed by Oxford’s very own Tony Awards.<br />

Arts<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> Arts culminates in an annual Arts Week, which is either at the end of Hilary (second) term or<br />

the beginning of Trinity (third) term. It’s run by the Arts Officer, and basically tries to fit something from<br />

every art form into one week, and do it stylishly - no mean feat! This year’s Arts week ran, amongst other<br />

things, a photography day, a world music night, a student film screening and a fashion show in the chapel.<br />

As with pretty much everything Arts related, there are loads of opportunities to take part: it takes a whole<br />

heap of micromanagement and production, and well as a small army of musicians, singers, actors, dancers<br />

and models (...and comedians, and photographers). The Arts Officer also helps to publicise various arts<br />

related events, exhibitions, shows and lecture series’ that go on throughout the city, and trust me, there’s<br />

a lot.<br />

12<br />

Essentially, <strong>Somerville</strong> Arts takes what you want to do, and runs with it. There’s endless<br />

possibilities, not only in college but at the various university-wide ensembles, orchestras<br />

and drama productions and all it takes is a little initiative and drive. Enjoy!

music<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> has a thriving and successful musical<br />

scene, with many students involved to some degree<br />

in the musical life of the college. The <strong>Somerville</strong> Music<br />

Society (SMS) is heavily involved with all aspects<br />

of music within college, and puts on events, socials,<br />

and concerts throughout the year, involving many<br />

different performers and encompassing all genres.<br />

SMS also coordinates opportunities for students to<br />

receive music lessons from other members of college,<br />

provided for free, and the experience is fun and rewarding<br />

for all involved.<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> also has an excellent chapel choir who<br />

sing evensong every Sunday and perform in concerts<br />

throughout the year. This summer, the choir is touring<br />

Milan for a week, which is sure to be a musical<br />

treat for all involved. They are led by professional<br />

musical director David Crown, one of the few college<br />

choirs to be so, and enjoy singing a wide variety<br />

of music, from sacred all the way through to gospel<br />

and some more modern pieces. The choir is selected<br />

by audition and is currently made up of around 30<br />

members of college, with several choral awards offered<br />

every year, and they are improving as an ensemble<br />

all the time. They take on one large project<br />

every term, ranging from Handel’s Messaiah<br />

to Gluck’s Orfeo and lead evensong in a large cathedral<br />

once a year.<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> has great facilities, with pianos available<br />

for student use all over college, a dedicated<br />

music room, fully equipped with piano and a new<br />

drum kit, and other rooms which students can<br />

use for music practice.<br />

Altogether, <strong>Somerville</strong> is a great college for musicians<br />

of all levels, and offer opportunities to improve,<br />

perform, or just to enjoy!<br />


Welfare<br />

General Welfare, Peer Support<br />

Here at Oxford we realise that the work hard, play hard lifestyle can definitely take its toll on you both mentally<br />

and physically. That’s why we really think that the welfare of students is important here at <strong>Somerville</strong>. We have<br />

two main schemes:<br />

1. Welfare officers: We’re always contactable<br />

for any welfare problems or even just for a friendly face and<br />

a chat. We are on hand to pidge any necessary items for<br />

all kinds of emergencies and organise welfare promoting<br />

activities such as free yoga. We are happy to listen to any<br />

problem and accompany you to university run support<br />

groups<br />

2. Peer supporters: These are students who<br />

are trained by the counselling service. They are also available<br />

to provide support<br />

It’s all about giving you space to chill out and have a good<br />

time but also be here for you when you need it most.<br />

International Students<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong>, being an exceptionally friendly college, is a<br />

good place to start life as an international - it’s easy to feel<br />

welcome and integrated. People are helpful and friendly,<br />

which makes the adjustment easier. And there are a fair<br />

few internationals in every year at <strong>Somerville</strong> (in addition<br />

to university-wide societies for people from certain countries),<br />

so you’ll rarely feel alone in any culture shock or confusion. In addition to that, there is an international<br />

officer on the JCR, so should you run into any problems, there will be help.<br />

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> is one of the most liberal, tolerant and friendly colleges in Oxford, with the result that everyone, whether<br />

gay, straight, bisexual or unsure can happily be whoever they are. You’ll find lots of opportunities to meet other<br />

LGBT students, both in college and the University at large, with social events put on every term. Every year an<br />

undergraduate is elected the LGBT officer, and puts on these events and is around generally for chats, coffee and<br />

biscuits. For some, the idea of coming out is daunting and scary, but there is no pressure to do so as soon as you<br />

arrive. Above all, it’s about being happy in college – and the LGBT scene at <strong>Somerville</strong> helps you to do this.<br />

Women<br />

14<br />

There’s a special room dedicated to <strong>Somerville</strong> college girls which is a great place to hang out<br />

and relax, maybe have a read of some of the trashy magazines.There is also a good range of rape<br />

alarms, condoms and pregnancy tests that can be delivered free of charge and completely confidentially.

profiles<br />

Josie Messa<br />

Hi, I’m Josie, a second year mathematician, and I’m also <strong>Somerville</strong>’s women’s boat<br />

club captain. Obviously a good few hours of my day are taken up with working – either<br />

going to lectures, sitting in tutorials or avoiding working in the library by religiously<br />

checking facebook/my emails. I usually have around three problem sheets a week to<br />

complete, how they long they take depends on the topic – sometimes I can do one question<br />

in 20 minutes, sometimes it takes a few hours to do some reading and play around<br />

with different solutions.<br />

I don’t just do maths in the library though, I’ve been involved in some maths out reach<br />

work run by Marcus du Sautoy – specifically in helping him develop some interactive<br />

elements for a new book he was writing, which was like jamming but with maths.<br />

I wake up at horrific times in the morning to go down to the river to yell at rowers, and then usually finish off<br />

my days by going on crew dates, hanging out in my friends’ kitchens having bizarre conversations until the early<br />

hours, going to concerts, going to the union, going clubbing…<br />

Matt Rattley<br />

I’m Matt, and I’m a chemist! I’m chosen my subject because there’s something very<br />

rewarding about understanding how all the materials and chemicals around you<br />

work – chemistry is such a vital part of modern society, and it’s incredibly diverse. A<br />

typical week is normally pretty full with labs and lectures (often in the mornings…),<br />

plus preparation for tutorials can take a while – it’s not too bad though, especially if<br />

you’re organised…<br />

I’m also a bassoonist and play a lot of music up here – Oxford’s great for that kinda<br />

thing – and I’m also training to be a Peer Supporter, which is really rewarding.<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong>’s a great college to be at – it’s so laid back and welcoming! There’s not the<br />

same almost-psychotic need to be better than everyone else that some of the other colleges<br />

suffer, and the people here are definitely more fun. There’s a great community<br />

too, we’re pretty small so everyone knows everyone else.<br />

Masuma Ahuja<br />

Hi, I’m Masuma, and I’m an international student from the United States reading PPE.<br />

My course is pretty cool because I have a lot more options and choices than most people.<br />

We can drop (if we want) one of the three subjects in our second year, and with Politics<br />

and Philosophy, there aren’t really any defined structural requirements and you can pretty<br />

much pick and choose what you want to do. Since PPE is so wide, everyone ends up with<br />

a different kind of degree, with emphasis on whatever they care about or are interested in.<br />

We have a couple of lectures a week, but most of your learning (and procrastination) happens<br />

in the library.<br />

Other than PPE, I’m an editor of a student magazine, am being peer support<br />

trained, am a member of the JCR committee, and I like to kickbox<br />

from time to time. My free time (which I manage to make lots of) is spent<br />

with friends watching tv, cooking while having girly chats, and napping.<br />


What next?<br />

You’ve decided that <strong>Somerville</strong> and Oxford are the place for you , but there’s still lots to do! Follow these steps to ensure<br />

you’re making the most informed and well prepared application. NB All dates are for 2010.<br />

Research<br />

The course you’re interested in: check out what you’ll be learning, whether it involves a year abroad, if you’ll be assessed<br />

solely on exams or on the basis of a dissertation. Check out the university website: www.ox.ac.uk<br />

‣ Is it something you can see yourself absolutely loving for 3 or more years?<br />

‣ What are the entry requirements, can you satisfy them?<br />

‣ Is it offered at the college you’re interested in?<br />

Open days<br />

They’re the best way to decide whether the place is right for you. On 30 th June, 1 st July and 17 September academic<br />

departments open themselves up for tours, taster lecture and informal chats with tutors, and colleges operate an open<br />

door policy all day also with student run tours, and talks on admissions requirements and the college.<br />

UCAS form<br />

Applications are not separate (as in Cambridge), Oxford receives the same personal statement, reference and grades<br />

as you send your other university choices. Application deadline: 15 th October deadline. Choral and organ scholarship<br />

applications must be in by 1 st September. Tip for your personal statement:<br />

- At least 2/3 needs to be on your subject: why you want to study it, wider reading, special areas of interest.<br />

The remaining third can be about your extra curricular activities but it is imperative that you relate these<br />

experiences to skills that relate to studying your subject. Don’t just list achievements.<br />

Written tests<br />

Oxford requires the completion of Admissions tests for certain subjects. The deadlines are:<br />

- 1 st November: LNAT (Law*)<br />

- 3rd November: BMAT (Medicine*), ELAT (English*), HAT (History), Aptitude test for Mathematics<br />

and Computer Science (Maths and Computer Science – obviously...), Thinking Skills Assessment (Economics<br />

and Management, Experimental Psychology, PPE and Psychology and Philosophy)<br />

*These tests are sat where you take your driving theory test, the others are taken at school.<br />

Written work<br />

Deadlines: 10 th November (check subject requirements), 14 th November for Art portfolios.<br />

Interviews<br />

The interview period is roughly 5th-17th December, and this is split into an Arts week and Science week. You’ll be here<br />

for at most 3-4 days and will have at least 2 interviews at the college you’re staying at, and all scientists are interviewed<br />

at another college too. At <strong>Somerville</strong>, we try to make the interview period as stress-free as possible. We walk you to all<br />

your interviews, and provide entertainment in the evenings, get stuff out for you to do during all your free time, and are<br />

around all the time for a chat if you’re bored.<br />

Some things to remember:<br />

- Interviews are all about thinking laterally. You’re going to be asked questions you don’t know the answers to, so just try<br />

your best to explain how you’re thinking the problem through even if you can’t answer it straight away.<br />

16<br />

- Tutors are looking at your academic potential and suitability to study here and NOTHING<br />

else!<br />

- Be prepared to be flexible, so if you’re proved wrong on a point, adopt the criticism into your<br />

argument and respond constructively to it

Glossary<br />

Battels - Bills paid to college for accommodation and<br />

other college services.<br />

Bops - <strong>College</strong> parties. If you like to dress up, consume<br />

dubious “Bop Juice” and dance all through the<br />

night, then you’ll enjoy a bop.<br />

Cambridge - Essentially a swear word here. Call it<br />

“The Other Place”<br />

The Co-op- Far be it from us to advertise one shop<br />

above others, but this is both the nearest and is open<br />

the latest. It will save your life on a weekly basis.<br />

Deans - In charge of discipline and welfare of students.<br />

Entz - The guys in charge of entertainment and bops<br />

Hilary - A boy’s name, a girl’s name and also the<br />

name of our second term (Winter/spring term)<br />

Incest - Surprisingly frequent. You will have <strong>College</strong><br />

parents, who are second years who look after you.<br />

This also leads to college brothers and sisters and<br />

uncles, aunts and grandparents. Essentially anyone<br />

in college may be distantly related to you. Hence incest.<br />

Jamal’s - The Indian restaurant up the road. Few<br />

questions are asked, BYOB and enjoy it.<br />

JCR - Short for Junior Common Room. Both the name<br />

of a couple of rooms where undergrads can hang out,<br />

and <strong>Somerville</strong>’s own student union organisation.<br />

Jericho - The area behind college in North Oxford.<br />

Fairly affluent- you may well live out here in second<br />

year<br />

Lodge - AKA Porters’ Lodge. This is the front gate<br />

where letters and guests arrive and are looked after<br />

by our Porters.<br />

Library - An enchanted building where days shrink to<br />

mere minutes. Most leave having visibly aged.<br />

Michaelmas - The name of our autumn term.<br />

Mods - Exams taken at the end of first year to ensure<br />

you carry on. (See also: Prelims)<br />

OUSU - Oxford University Student Union. These guys<br />

look after all the students, and organise Fresher’s<br />

fair, RAG week and a bunch of other fun activities<br />

Pidge - Short for pigeonhole, or mailbox. Oxford<br />

stubbornly refuses to use emails for everything and<br />

still uses pigeon post to send notes from time to time.<br />

Porter - The guys who are basically in charge of college.<br />

They cover security, and the general day to<br />

day running of college. <strong>Somerville</strong>’s are notoriously<br />

lovely.<br />

Pogo - The college cat. Feature on the corner of every<br />

page, he’s well loved, and finds his way on top of<br />

all the cosy heaters in college.<br />

Prelims - (See: Mods)<br />

Principal - The biggest of the big cheeses. If the college<br />

was a country, she would totally be the Queen.<br />

You’ll meet her once or twice a year.<br />

Quads - The quadrangle patch of grass in the center<br />

of college. You can walk on it, and will spend lots of<br />

lazy summer afternoons procrastinating here.<br />

Rustication - being sent to the countryside for a lovely<br />

picnic. More commonly used for being removed from<br />

college for being naughty. (see also: Sent Down)<br />

Scouts - The cleaning staff who will take out your<br />

rubbish and periodically clean your room. Some<br />

have been known to make beds and help tidy up, if<br />

you ask nicely.<br />

Sent Down - To be removed from college permanently.<br />

Not a good thing.<br />

Subfusc - The exact meaning is unknown. Some<br />

claim it is Latin for “of a dark/dusky colour”, others<br />

claim it is Greek for “looking ridiculous”, and<br />

others claim it is Mongolian for “tourists are pointing<br />

at me”. Essentially the suit, gown and cap worn<br />

for highly formal occasions including matriculation<br />

and exams.<br />

Thatcher, Margaret - Our most famous alumnus.<br />

We have ambiguous feelings about her.<br />

Trinity - The third and sunniest term at Oxford. Also<br />

the name of a college.<br />

Tute - Short for tutorial or tutor. Essentially where<br />

and with whom most of your learning is done.<br />

Union, the - the University’s debating society that<br />

hosts regular debates and celebrity speakers as well<br />

as balls.<br />

Vaughan - The concrete disaster/delight (delete<br />

as applicable) where most first years live.<br />

You will probably end up loving it..<br />

Walking on the Grass - A crime in<br />

other colleges for which you can be<br />

fined, but in <strong>Somerville</strong> this is not<br />

only legal, it is actively encouraged. 17

<strong>Somerville</strong> <strong>College</strong> - www.some.ox.ac.uk<br />

University of Oxford - www.ox.ac.uk<br />

<strong>Somerville</strong> Admissions - O1865 270619<br />

Email - student.admin@some.ox.ac.uk<br />


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