Everything Natural Science Cambridge

(41 Posts)
natscihelp Mon 15-Oct-18 19:31:36

DD is interested in Natura Science probably. She loves all sciences - probably a slight leaning towards physics. Absolutely loves it and is positively energised by it. She is in Year 12 currently and her school has a reputation of giving advice very late in the process. First time going through this so would welcome any advice and top tips from those whose DC have been successful in gaining a place. Would love to know about tips and advice for application process, test, interview as well as once you are there how has the course been? Also this is a very specific degree but where else do you apply to fill the other 4 places for UCAS form whilst getting one PS to suit all?

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MarchingFrogs Mon 15-Oct-18 19:50:53

In answer to your last question, Lancaster NatSci gives lots of options and can include a year abroad. A friend's DC is currently spending their third year in Canada.

natscihelp Mon 15-Oct-18 20:02:23

Thank you frogs will keep that on our list to look at.

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Malbecfan Mon 15-Oct-18 20:34:04

If your DD is on Twitter, check out the Cambridge NatSci posts. There are 2 feeds, one Biological and the other Physical. Their remit is to describe their course and their lives there and to answer any questions. The Physical one is @cambtweetphys, the Biological one is @cambtweetbio.

There are a lot of places now offering NatSci. My DD is studying physical at Cambridge and also put Durham, Imperial, Warwick & Bath on her UCAS form. We visited Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham & Manchester too, but they may have been variants of the course. She is absolutely loving it.

ShalomJackie Mon 15-Oct-18 21:35:52

Bloody hell Malbec you did a full on UK tour. Did you split them over Autumn and Summer open days?

natscihelp Mon 15-Oct-18 21:45:30

This is great Malbec. I too am a fan by the way.

We did go see Imperial already - didn't realise they had a Natural Science course - or was it more their physics course. Will get DD to check out twitter. Thank you how did your DD find the application process? What do you think made her successful in gaining a place? I know that the last one is really hard to answer but thought I would ask anyway.

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TheThirdOfHerName Mon 15-Oct-18 22:53:13

DS2 (also in Y12) wants to study either Physics or Natural Sciences. His shortlist for Natural Sciences includes:
Cambridge (admissions test required)
Birmingham (essay required)

He has visited Southampton, is visiting Birmingham on Saturday and is booked to go on a Physics masterclass at Cambridge in November.


TheThirdOfHerName Mon 15-Oct-18 22:55:40

He also has a shortlist for Physics courses:

Ideally he would like to apply for a four-year course e.g. MPhys or MSci, but the grade requirements for these are usually higher than they are for the BSc, so it might depend on his predicted grades.

SuperPug Mon 15-Oct-18 23:00:35

If she qualifies for their outreach criteria, there's an incredible programme of master classes etc through Imperial.

chitchattery Tue 16-Oct-18 00:36:48

DD has just started second year physical natsci at Cambridge. She wanted to keep her degree broad as she loved the interfaces between the subjects. She also applied to Durham, Bath and Nottingham for natsci but ended up picking Chemical Physics MSci at Bristol as her insurance as she felt the course best matched her interests. She is now massively relieved that she didn’t do chemical physics as her interests have changed over the year and the Cambridge course is giving her the option to specialise in areas that she would not have expected. I guess that’s the real beauty of natsci. The offers were all pretty much the same A*AA although obviously she needed A*A*A for Cambridge.

natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 07:11:49

Thanks super pug unfortunately she won't qualify for the outreach programme.

This is all so useful. It helps to build a picture of the unis and courses out there. Would also welcome any tips on applying for Cambridge for this course.

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natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 07:15:27

Chitchat sorry the bolds with the A stars make it confusing. So is that her offers were A star A A everywhere but she needed A star A star A for Cambridge?

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natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 07:17:24

Thanks thethird for the uni names. We have to start narrowing down somehow so will take a look at the different courses at these unis.

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WorkingItOutAsIGo Tue 16-Oct-18 07:19:10

[waves at the other mothers with DDs doing phys Natsci at Cambridge!!]

Re getting in - I have written this here before - my DD’s interviews were nothing but Maths and Physica questions. I don’t think they cared about anything but academic ability and the ability to answer difficult questions she didn’t know the answer to and had to address from first principles. So not sure that anything else she did had any bearing on it.

She wrote a general Personal statement for physics and then added Natsci stuff to the specific Cambridge form afterwards.

chitchattery Tue 16-Oct-18 07:58:58

Yes natscihelp those were the required grades.
DDs experience was the same as workingitout except she did entrance papers in maths and chemistry so the interviews were in those subjects. There was no discussion of her PS or why that subject or that college. Just a whiteboard to answer the maths questions and draw graphs. They asked lots of “what if we now told you this” sort of questions which she felt were about pushing to the point where you couldn’t follow or your knowledge ran out. She thought one interview went well and the other was dreadful if that’s any help.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 16-Oct-18 10:13:09

As Working says, there is an extra Cambridge specific form - the SAQ- after they submit their UCAS form. There is room for an additional PS on there where they can add in exactly why Nat Sci would be the right course for them.

natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 10:14:53

Thank you i wasn't aware of that. At this point in year 12 is there anything that we should be doing now that you look back. DD loves science so is involved in a heap of extra things - clubs, articles, lectures, books. Work experience has been hard to get in the STEM field

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chitchattery Tue 16-Oct-18 10:56:11

DDs school encouraged her to enter the chemistry physics and biology Olympiad’s and to do maths challenges and she was lucky to be able to go to further maths classes and have work marked etc without taking the FM A level which she didn’t want to do. She found that every second practicing curve sketching was time well spent. She did manage to get some work experience in a company that worked in chemical trading. They employed lots of postgrads so she was able to get a feel for what they had studied. And they paid her- lucky girl !

chitchattery Tue 16-Oct-18 11:00:40

Quick thought. Not sure if natscihelp DD wants phys or bio natsci but for phys some colleges require FM if it’s available I think. DD applied to one that didn’t. I’m not 100% sure of that and DD too busy to ask as in lectures and supos all day but just check it out on the college websites.

natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 11:43:38

Thanks @chitchattery that is really helpful. DD has done maths and physics Olympiad's but not seen anything about biology and chemistry ones - will ask her.

She is interested in the physical natural science. Would AS further maths be acceptable. She could have done a full further maths technically but is instead doing all the sciences. We weren't really keen on her starting with 5 alevels. But yes doing extra maths practise can still be done even without the full qualification.

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natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 11:45:12

Any chance and only if you don't mind could you PM me the name of the trading company - just to get an idea of the types of company and to looks into whether these are more formalised schemes or open
Applications. Not a problem if you would rather not.

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OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 16-Oct-18 17:50:17

It sounds like she's doing all the right things. She could look at doing a Nuffield research project. It's worth her applying if it looks interesting even if you don't think contextually she would get a place. But don't do it for the application do it because it's a worthwhile experience.

If she is interested in the physics side she might enjoy doing the mechanics Step 1 questions. But it's OK if she finds them very hard.

Malbecfan Tue 16-Oct-18 18:11:24

Sorry not to have replied sooner.

No, we didn't attend open days at all those places! We did a couple of road-trips in year 12 just to look at the universities and get a feel for the places. The first one took in Newcastle, Durham, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham & Warwick over 3 days. DD hated the big cities so from that list, ditched Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield & Nottingham very quickly. We did another trip (a one-day one) to Southampton, Bath, Cardiff & Bristol. Only Bath made it from that group. In the summer after year 11 we spent a full day in Cambridge going round looking at different colleges. DD then did a Women into Science course at Corpus Christi so applied there & was pooled to her current college.

WorkingItOut DD was asked to write out the periodic table in her interview. She didn't get very far but they wanted to see which way she approached it. She remarked that it was a shame that they weren't interviewing DD2 as she knew the entire table from the song. One of the interviewers googled the song during the interview to see which one it was. The other interview asked her (I think they are called) Fermi questions, those where you have to know a number of variables. This wasn't the one she was asked but something like: how many tanks of unleaded fuel would it take to drive to New York? You need to know the distance, the average fuel economy of the vehicle and the capacity of the tank in order that you could answer. They want to know her thinking out loud. So using my example but giving DD's sort of responses, she said something like: I'm not sure how far it is from here to NY. They encouraged her to guess (she is crap at geography so would have got that bit wrong!) but they gave her some hints, then she said she wasn't sure of the fuel economy rate. She tries to keep her car at 50mpg so they said that was a good starting point, and so on.

chitchattery hello to another 2nd year mum! I totally agree about the breadth of the courses and the opportunity to try new things. DD absolutely loves Materials Science and thinks this is something she would like to take further. The Head of 6th form at my/our school said that he thought NatSci applicants were scientists who couldn't make up their minds. Ignorant tw@t! How did DD know she'd enjoy Materials until she had tried it? It didn't stop him bragging about her being at Cambridge to prospective parents though...wink

natscihelp Tue 16-Oct-18 19:18:08

Thanks @OhYouBadBadKitten and @Malbecfan both your posts very useful. Will take a note of those things for DD to look at.

I like the covering a few unis in one go by not necessarily doing an open day but visiting the town. We are planning a short family road trip over half term so wondering if we might think of doing that. There is no way we will be able to cover all the unis this year so will have to be quite strategic how we do it.

DD and I love the Natural Science course and Cambridge do seem to do it very well - what little we have read on it. It genuinely seems to be for those that see how they all work together and not that they can't choose. It's pure love for the subjects.

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Malbecfan Tue 16-Oct-18 19:45:29

Sorry natscihelp I didn't really answer your questions. Too much Malbec lol!

DD found the application ok. She knew she loved Chemistry and took Physics, Maths & FM A levels. What made her successful? I wish I could say good parenting, but she's more of an "in spite of" than a "because of" in my case. DH is a scientist though. She did an EPQ which they mentioned briefly in her 2nd interview. She did some science outreach at school - there is a local science festival and she helped at those on the school stand. She had 2 lots of relevant work experience in years 11 & 12 which she could include on her personal statement.

Apart from that, she is a very determined person. She is well-organised in terms of deadlines and notes, which stands her in good stead.

It's so tough being a parent of someone who you know has the potential to do well. On the one hand you want to batter down the barriers and yell out "my kid is amazing" but on the other, you can't. We said with her & with DD2 who is now applying for the Biological Nat Sci that we never had the chance to apply to Oxbridge so we would support them in whatever way we could. They don't do many chores at home as long as they are studying. We take an interest in what they are doing. They have both done other activities like music and sport/dance but to be honest, Cambridge is not bothered by them. They say they want enquiring minds and a genuine interest in the subject(s).

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