?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
19 May 2006 @ 09:31 pm
Questions for those who attended university in the UK  
I can go into detail as to why I want to know these things, but the ultimate answer is that I'm a big dork who's into research. Really, that should come as no surprise to any of you. :P


- Do people ever audit classes? Audit meaning just sit in to learn for the sake of learning and NOT to get a grade or go towards a degree - I don't know if that's a term used in the UK.

- At Oxford in particular, I know there are houses where students can live. However, can you also just live in a flat you've rented or bought yourself or are there rules about this?

- Do - or did - any of you know any members of the peerage at school? No folk, I'm really not looking at you on this one. Here's why: I'm interested in students who were the children of lesser members - sons or daughters or earls or viscounts, that sort of thing, where they're still members but about 276th or so in line to the throne. Shut up, I like my exaggerations. :P I'm curious as to how intrusive their status was - did you know? Were they treated differently by professors, other students, anyone? (now this could be very much due to their own personalities, I realize, so feel free to say 'yes, but that person expected it' or what have you) Did they have special arrangements, security, anything?

- Oxford vs Cambridge. How serious is it? Is it a joke or are people out for blood? What if you're going to one and your best friend goes to the other? Discuss.

Appropos to nothing, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the internet sometimes. Oxford has websites devoted to the different programmes! Details upon details!! It does my little Hermione-heart good, I'm telling you, but some things I really need from you guys, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

So the Great Week of Stress has ended, and next week I will know... something.
Also, my vacation for my birthday has been approved, which means, in theory, I can in fact go to England and act like a crazy fangirl, BUT - you knew there was a but coming, didn't you? - only if I'm still in this job, and I don't want to be. If I'm in another job, all bets are off. Even if I'm still in this job, I still have to move by September, so it just may not be doable, even given the fact I could do it fairly cheaply (at least in sharp contrast to the Vegas trip). So... we shall see.
 
 
I feel: curiouscurious
 
 
 
Albion's Reachthe_gentleman on May 20th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
From a Nottingham student...
You can audit classes- my grandad did- although there may be some rules behind it.

You can live wherever you want in the city, I believe, but living out of Halls/College in the first year is probably frowned upon by some if you're doing a degree, since it means you miss out on the social side of college which is v. important for Oxbridge, less so in other unis.

Don't think I know any scions of the peerage, but then I went to a comprehensive school. At uni, I know one or two, and all the difference is that they usually don't worry about money, and one of them has "John Lord ____" on his admin stuff. That is literally it.

Oxbridge are a bunch of tossers who only got in because they offered sex to their tutors, and that's my unbiased opinion as a member of another university. ;)
Vicki: Cedric grinhermorrine on May 20th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
Re: From a Nottingham student...
Oooh, thank you! Very helpful.

I'm not commenting on the last one as I can think of at least three people straight off who'll hurt me if I do. ;)

Do you EVER sleep, btw?? You're always posting in the middle of the night. ;P
Teesside Snog Monster: mobius-scarfjiggery_pokery on May 20th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
1. The term isn't used, but the phenomenon is known among people who are not just ordinarily Oxford variably studious but actively positively polymathic.

2. You can. (Almost?) all the colleges will provide accommodation for the first year and most will provide accommodation for two or three for people who want it, but that does mean there are lots of people who live out of college, often by choice. There is an archaic rule that you have to live within six miles of a particular tower in Oxford and one particular pub six miles south (in Abingdon) that, legend has it, is sited exactly six miles south as a result. Can't remember what it's called.

3. Not personally. I once met one guy who everyone regarded as legitimately upper class, but never actually knew what his claim was, if any. (I just knew him as "Charlie".) Admittedly I didn't go to one of the poshest colleges (largely the oldest, largest and richest ones: Magdalen, Balliol, St. John's, Merton...) and there probably are members of other countries' peerages (or equivalent) and the like there all the time.

4. Almost completely friendly, possibly only except when there are sporting matches and people have been drinking. (For instance, when I used to work for the MSO web site and we reported from the Oxford-Cambridge chess match, there was a big and drinky dinner afterwards with the recital of limericks and they got really quite - surprisingly! - crude and insulting.) There's a bus that goes from one to the other, for instance.
Teesside Snog Monster: potterjiggery_pokery on May 20th, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
2. The Boundary House.

(The reason why I'm up is that I'm working the day shift today. Unfortunately I woke up at 3:40am rather than 5 and couldn't get back to sleep, so it's not going to be a fun one.)
Vicki: Lush Ginger by satinelunehermorrine on May 20th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
Thank you for all of that! I very much appreciate it.

(and I know you work varying shifts, so seeing you post or comment at odd times isn't so unusual!)
Kay Taylor: cinderellakay_taylor on May 20th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Do people ever audit classes? Audit meaning just sit in to learn for the sake of learning and NOT to get a grade or go towards a degree - I don't know if that's a term used in the UK.

Yes, if they're very very wealthy and can afford the tuition fees. You don't see it a lot at undergrad level, but there were a couple of members of my college's MCR (Middle Common Room - that's the graduate students - we're the Junior Common Room and our tutors are the Senior Common Room) who had famously been "working on their thesis" for six or seven years. They were rich middle-aged men who had money in the family, and loved Oxford more for the politics of the Oxford Union than anything else. This is a huge generalisation of course. But I've never heard of an undergrad doing it.

Oh! And also the President of the Oxford Union traditionally takes a year off to be President, and doesn't formally contribute towards their degree in that time. I suppose that's similar.

At Oxford in particular, I know there are houses where students can live. However, can you also just live in a flat you've rented or bought yourself or are there rules about this?

What Chris said - also, living "out" cuts you off majorly from the social side, particularly in your first year. About 99% live in for their first year at least, just to get to know people.

A lot of colleges also have flat-type accomodation available, as well. Clare and I shared a flat in Oriel Square for our second year, which was ace.

Do - or did - any of you know any members of the peerage at school? No folk, I'm really not looking at you on this one. Here's why: I'm interested in students who were the children of lesser members - sons or daughters or earls or viscounts, that sort of thing, where they're still members but about 276th or so in line to the throne. Shut up, I like my exaggerations. :P I'm curious as to how intrusive their status was - did you know? Were they treated differently by professors, other students, anyone? (now this could be very much due to their own personalities, I realize, so feel free to say 'yes, but that person expected it' or what have you) Did they have special arrangements, security, anything?

My college was the rich snobby one, so yes, I knew a couple of Viscounts. They were generally dressing up in spats and monocles, though, so any attention was mostly due to their own posturing. We'd call them "Viscount" or "Sir" but also because I could never remember their first names.

Oxford vs Cambridge. How serious is it? Is it a joke or are people out for blood? What if you're going to one and your best friend goes to the other? Discuss.

TABS, TABS, FILTHY TABS. It's more for fun than anything else. We call them "Tabs" because their degree classification is (name of degree) (Cantab) whereas ours is (name of degree) (Oxon). I have no idea what they call us. My objections to Cambridge are mostly based on not liking it quite as much as a city or place to live, which is why I am muchly peeved that Matthew has to move there for his new job.
Vicki: Clairehermorrine on May 20th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
Very helpful! Thank you darling!

The name of the degree thing at the end... buh wuh? I wonder if I'll have to wait on John to explain that to the stupid American, because we have... bachelors degrees, masters and doctorates and then whatever the program was - computer science, psychology, history. So I am confoozled.

Also! The 'college' thing. I know that doesn't mean the same to you as it does to me - can you explain in more detail? That's like your 'house' there?

And do you REALLY want your phone number on an unlocked post for any weirdo to see? o_O I might call you at some point for the heck of it, but I'd have to pay for it - my company isn't international so my phone won't work for that, no matter what I do. :))
Kay Taylorkay_taylor on May 20th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, the degree name thing is like this:

Kay Taylor, BA (Hons) (Oxon)

Oxford and Cambridge are the two universities here which conventionally are named when you put your degree. So if I'd gone to Leeds I'd be Kay Taylor, BA (Hons). Or if I'd done an MA from Cambridge (perish the thought!) I'd be Kay Taylor, MA (Cantab). I rarely put my subject name in because it's self-evident in my line of work that it was Law ;)

Your college is probably the single most important thing about the Oxbridge system. It's like a little separate school of its own, and each has its own character and reputation. You live there, you socialise (mostly) with other college members, your tutorials - as opposed to lectures - are arranged by your college and are normally with in-college tutors. You normally eat there in Hall, use the college Bar, and each college has a library which is normally 24 hours and deals with all subjects. The University, on the other hand, is where you formally get admitted and get your degree from. It handles examinations, lectures, and provides (limited opening hours) subject libraries. There are some things which are effectively "dual layer", like welfare (there are in-college welfare teams and then University services like the Counselling and Nightline services), sports, debating, various clubs and hobbies, etc.

Choosing a college is reasonably important, but you can apply as an "open application" to the University as a whole. You're normally interviewed and offered a place by the individual college that you choose/are allocated though.

Fresher's Week is a reasonably traumatic week-long experience designed to make you willing to fight to the death for your college and everyone else who attends its hallowed halls.

At Oxford college membership is often flaunted by wearing hoodies with the college names on. Or college scarves. Don't pick a college which has an ugly college scarf, it'll make you sad all winter. Pembroke's is pink and navy, for example.

I went to Oriel, which is traditionally very right-wing, wealthy and obsessed with rowing. Other reputations which spring to mind (scandalous!) are Wadham (socialists), Merton (academically gifted) and Pembroke (attempted to sell undergraduate places to a Sunday Times reporter). Some colleges only offer a few subjects, like the Permanent Private Halls which are usually religious in nature, and one is graduate-only (Harris Manchester). St Hilda's is women-only, although that may be changing soon.

And that's my ramble on the subject of colleges! Feel free to ask more though, it's one of the most Byzantine elements of the system.

(screen my phone number comment if you tend to have weirdos hanging around your journal, dear)
Teesside Snog Monster: southparkjiggery_pokery on May 20th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
Oriel was the last all-male college until, I believe, around 1980. Other reputations are that Jesus College has a lot of Welsh students and that The Queen's College has a lot of Northerners (Northern England). St John's is an extremely rich college; it owns tons of property, the libraries are particularly good, it can afford to raise slightly less money from its students than most colleges, it's generous with scholarships and so forth. They are very strong academically.

Pembroke were perilously close to going broke when I first went to Oxford, but then they sold some paintings and were apparently in much less trouble afterwards - though quite possibly not, judging by the comment above. St. Anne's, Keble (where I went) and St. Catherine's are distinctive primarily by virtue of being relatively large (and, all three, slightly peripherally located) though this only means that they might have 500-600 undergraduates each rather than 400 or so.

Fresher's Week is a reasonably traumatic week-long experience designed to make you willing to fight to the death for your college and everyone else who attends its hallowed halls.

Not at Keble. I suspect we couldn't be bothered.

Britain does not have conference centres to nearly the same extent as the US - a lot of Oxford colleges (and, I'd imagine, lots of Cambridge ones too) get much of their income through hosting academic conferences. Accio idly looked at the concept of holding something HP-related at Christ Church (here's the link between the two) but the cost would have been ridiculously prohibitive.

Just a bit of fun... (See also the Tab equivalent.) In truth, both relatively strong and relatively weak colleges (and there isn't all that much of a spread) can vary heavily in quality from subject to subject.
Kay Taylorkay_taylor on May 21st, 2006 01:07 pm (UTC)
Yup to the conferences. I funded my degree by working as a scout (Oxford term for a cleaner - the Cambridge equivalent is bedder) for conference guests at St Catherine's, which is a spectacularly architecturally "adventurous" college (read: lump of concrete) and takes in over 50,000 conference guests every summer season.

Oriel was the last male-only, and we're still 2:1 men to women. We're generally bottom 10 in the Norrington table for overall degree results, but the table does tend to be biased towards large colleges (Oriel is only 300 or so, making us one of the smallest, which also accounts for the very very strong sense of college identity).
luciuswednesdayschild on May 20th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC)
At Cambridge, we have no need to puerile nicknames for Oxford students, because we know we're better than them.

All joking aside, apart from the rivalry during Varsity matches (the Oxford vs. Cambridge sporting competitions, which you get awarded 'blues' for if you participate in them--uqx has 'half blues' for participating in Varsity chess and bridge, but if he'd played rugby he'd have got full blues) and the boat race, there isn't any real rivalry, and what there is is pretty good natured. The intercollegiate rivalries are stronger (i.e. between Trinity, my college, and St John's, the college next door, which has been going on for centuries, literally), but they're still good natured.
Kay Taylor: in the company of wolveskay_taylor on May 20th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, intercollegiate fighting is very prominent in Oxford too.

Don't get me started on bloody Pembroke. Splitters.
folk: ::screwedfolk on May 21st, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
1. Um...not really, but that's more because students are slackers than because it's verboten.

2. Blah blah silly Oxford.

3. When you say "school" I'm going to assume you mean "college/university" and not "high/senior school". I did, and some of them were the obnoxious twat variety that Kay mentioned, and some of them were just normal people who had a "the Hon." in front of their names on forms and things instead of "Mr" or "Miss". I know that Boris Yeltsin's grandson went to Millfield School and people kept flashing laser pen light thingies at him, which made his hulking bodyguards tackle him to the floor whenever he got lit up, though.

4. Blah blah Oxbridge don't care blah blah. At least my M.A. isn't bought.