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"Oxford or Cambridge." Topic

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516 hits since 10 Sep 2011
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Mike G Inactive Member11 Sep 2011 12:37 p.m. PST

My son is a is sophomore at a university here in the states. He has been invited to apply to a program that will give him an opportunity to become a student at Oxford or Cambridge for a year. I have a a question. I know that they are both world famous universities, but is either one more well regarded? His ultimate goal is to attain a PHD in chemistry.


GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2011 1:38 p.m. PST

Not much between them really:



On balance, Cambridge at the moment.


Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2011 4:24 p.m. PST

When I visited, Cambridge was the city that more seemed as a classic English university city should. Oxford seemed a miniature London with great museums. On a different plane, Oxford supported King Charles and Cambridge went with Parliament, if that means anything.

Mrs Pumblechook Inactive Member11 Sep 2011 4:31 p.m. PST

As both seem similar on the rankings, and equally have a 'name' in the academic systems, perhaps he should look at other siiues. Possibly, he could research the faculty pages of the staff at both Universities, and also see what units will be offered their if he attends. Is there any particular research area he is interested in yet? Who has published, and what and where? Are the networks of academics he would like to create, in a particular area of chemistry?

Personal logo Chris Rance Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2011 3:11 a.m. PST

It depends on the area of chemistry he is studying, but in general Cambridge is perceived as better at the sciences and Oxford the arts. If academic criteria are the only ones worth considering then perhaps that should sway him.

I left Oxford 20 years ago (well 1993), and I know things have changed a lot since then, but it was a general consensus among my school friends (8 of us were successful Oxbridge candidates) that while Cambridge worked you harder, Oxford stretched you more – sometimes in areas well outside your discipline. Cambridge also feels like a city built around a university whereas Oxford is very much a university within a city IMHO. If the "experience" of univeristy in the UK is important to your son, then these are also things to consider.

Personal logo Chris Rance Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2011 3:15 a.m. PST

Oh I should also add that choice of college is extremely important, be it at Oxford or Cambridge, even at D.Phil/Ph.D. level. Make sure he chooses one that he will feel comfortable at; you are a student of your college first and university second.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2011 5:01 a.m. PST

Cambridge is colder and windier….

RavenscraftCybernetics12 Sep 2011 3:01 p.m. PST

which one has the better looking "girls gone wild" video?

Midpoint14 Sep 2011 8:46 a.m. PST

See here for rankings in the physical sciences: link

…if you put much store in rankings [I don't]. I'd say Cambridge has the stronger history/brand for sciences/maths/computing and Oxford for arts/humanities.

I assume this is part of an undergraduate programme? If so it is fairly unlikely that a choice of college is going to be one you have to make. Either the partner institution will have a connection to a specific college, or assignments will be made on the basis of space and subject.

Hope your son is brave, the experience is likely to scare him to death.

As for life outside study – I'd pick Cambridge.

KatieL15 Sep 2011 8:47 a.m. PST

"Hope your son is brave, the experience is likely to scare him to death."


Lot of wargamers in Camb.

Mike G Inactive Member15 Sep 2011 4:03 p.m. PST

Unfortunately my son thinks I am a bit daft playing wargames. However, when he starts discussing the research he is conducting, it makes me itch.

Bangorstu27 Sep 2011 12:29 p.m. PST

I'm actually from Cambridgeshire.

To address things that matter to students, Cambridge has better beer, good pubs* and plenty of good looking women – but yes the winters can be harsh if you're from a warmer climate.

* including the Eagle where Crick & Watson announced they'd discovered 'the meaning of life' i.e. DNA. It also has a ceiling signed by USAF personnel from WW2.

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