Why study Earth Sciences?
There are loads of reasons why you might study Earth Sciences. The breadth of the course allows you to come in from a range of outlooks on science. For example, I entered from the geography perspective of wanting to study volcanology (though I’ve since changed my mind) while others enter from the eyes of geophysics, geochemistry, computing and more. If you can think of a subject area that somehow relates to studying the Earth, the Earth Sciences course probably covers it.
Having such a variety of subjects under one roof is good as it means you can dapple in lots of areas during your time here. Equally, it means you must put up with those subjects that might not be ‘your’ subject. For example, I really don’t get on with mineralogy but love studying the formation of the Solar System and the physics of the atmosphere and oceans. You could say Earth Sciences is like tapas: it has lots of separate components and you’ll like some more than others - but altogether the whole charade is a positive!
How can you prepare to study Earth Sciences at Oxford?
The biggest thing to do if you’re thinking of applying to Oxford, especially for Earth Sciences, as there is no admissions test or written work required, is to READ AROUND THE SUBJECT! When you write your personal statement and when in interviews you’ll need to express your interest in the subject. I found that reading BBC Focus magazines was brilliant for getting a general appreciation for the natural sciences. I also read an autobiography of a volcanologist whose team were caught in an eruption of Mount Galeras in Colombia while conducting fieldwork. (I recommend this book if you like volcanoes! It’s called Surviving The Volcano by Stanley Williams.) One thing that you might overlook doing is watching documentaries – as if you didn’t need another excuse to watch David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II again!
So, Earth Sciences. Should you choose it? Hopefully, I‘ve given enough insight into what it involves that anyone interested in using a wide-range of scientific and mathematical skills in an Earth context could say yes. Of course, if these reasons were not enough to convince you, maybe the Rocktail socials and field trips will!