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Day in the Life of a First Year Biochemist

Disclaimer: This is an example of one of my busier days during the last term (Hilary). However, each day is so different so they won’t all be like this one. This is also my experience only and not representative of all first year biochemists.


8:00 – Wake up and get ready for the day (my college is very close to the science area so I don’t have to walk very far to lectures)

9:00 -10:00 – Biological Chemistry Lecture

10:00-11:00 – Organic Chemistry Lecture

11:00-12:00 – Maths and Statistics Lecture

We typically will have 2 or 3 lectures every morning (but not always 9am lectures, phew!!!)

Lunch – We walk back to college and have lunch in hall or walk into town and grab a sandwich. I will normally chill after lunch until my next class/workshop. Some days we will not have any more contact hours after lunch so I will just work on problem sheets or essays for the rest of the day (maybe go to one of the amazing Oxford libraries or stay in my room).


14:00-15:00 – Class/Workshop. On this particular day I had a biological chemistry class where we went over the problem sheet from the previous week. These classes are only small with a size of about ten people and a tutor. The class gives us an opportunity to ask our questions and go over the things we don’t understand – these classes are so helpful and we normally have one per week. Some weeks we may have a workshop instead which lasts for 3 hours (typically 2-5) in which we are set a booklet of questions to complete and the tutors walk around and help us go through it. This may seem like a long session but it really does fly by and it is very helpful to have the tutor work through questions with you to aid your understanding.

15:00-17:00- I put on an episode of ‘Friends’ to have a break after the class. And then, on this particular day, I had a tutorial in the evening so I read through the essay I had written for the tutorial and did some extra reading around the subject.

17:00-18:00 – Molecular Cell Biology Tutorial on Genetics. In this tutorial we had our essay back which we had written the previous week and our genetics tutor gave us feedback on ways to improve. It is very useful to get both written and verbal feedback in the tutorials. We then went through the topic in the essay which was “deviations from Mendel’s laws”. The tutorial consisted of discussing concepts and drawing genetic crosses on the board to explain these deviations. Tutorials are a great way to engage with the content of lectures and delve deeper into the subject. There are four first year biochemists at my college and we normally have the tutorials together (although sometimes we split into twos). We have one or two tutorials a week in college – but this differs from college to college.

18:00-18:30 – We will typically meet in my room after the tutorial to have some snacks and a chat.

18:30 -20:00 – I will normally try to do some work at this time (maybe start one of the problem sheets set that week or do some reading for an essay).

20:00-21:30 – Today my friends and I went out to the pub for a few drinks. It is really important that you balance out your social and work life in Oxford because it can be quite easy to fall into a pit of working all day. This is neither healthy nor necessary. Spending time with my friends is an essential part of my daily life at Oxford.

I should also state that I have not put in the times in the day when I go to my friend’s room for a 5 minute catch up and end up chatting for a good hour (or end up putting on a film in the middle of the day). The thing is that, although Oxford is very busy and there is a lot of work to do, you still have time to chill with friends and just lounge around doing nothing if you manage your time well.

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