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Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day

Thursday October 5th 2017, 9:30am — 4:30pm.

Bookings will open on September 1 2017.

Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day
Planning on (or already) doing Maths & science at A-level (or equivalent)? Love science but not sure about Uni? Talented at Maths, but want something less abstract? Want to know a bit more about science degree subjects that don't often appear on the school curriculum? Heard of Earth Sciences, Engineering, Statistics, Computer Science, Biological Sciences, BioMedical Sciences, or Materials, but not really sure what they are?

We are delighted to welcome year 11 (final year of GCSE) students to the "Lesser-Spotted Sciences Day". The day draws together science subjects from Oxford's Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division and beyond, that aren't commonly taught in schools.

During the day, participants will:

  • attend some sample lectures — explore some new subjects
  • hear about careers oportunities — find out where a Science degree can take you
  • visit an Oxford college — find out what its really like to live and study at Oxford.

Speakers will be Oxford University lecturers and tutors, and there will be the chance to meet current Oxford students.

All delegates will attend sessions on Computer Science and Statistics. They will then have the option to choose from the sessions listed below. For each of sessions A, B and C there are two possible options. We'll ask which ones they are interested in on the booking form. We provide some hints as to which session students might like to choose, based on what science subjects students enjoy at school.

Session A Choice 1 Choice 2
Session A: choose from two options Earth Sciences Philosophy

Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences are the focus of scientific understanding about this and other planets, embracing an enormous range of topics, including the evolution of the solar system, the earth, and life, the nature of planetary interiors, the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, earth-surface processes and the origin and behaviour of oceans and atmosphere. Pick this if you like Physics and Chemistry.


Philosophy is an academic discipline that exercises reason and logic in an attempt to understand reality and answer fundamental questions about knowledge, life, morality and human nature. The ancient Greeks, who were among the first to practice philosophy, coined the term, which means ?love of wisdom.? Through the ages, philosophers have explored subjects such as the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics, to topics including the paradoxes of quantum mechanics, the nature of space and time, artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality. At Oxford it is only possible to study Philosophy alongside another subject: these include Maths, Physics and Computer Science. Choose this if you like Maths. Or like the idea of combining science and humanities subjects.

Session B Choice 1 Choice 2
Session B: choose from two options Materials BioMedical Sciences

Materials Science

Materials scientists study the relationships between the structure and properties of a material and how it is made. They also develop new materials to meet engineering specifications, and devise processes for manufacturing them. Current work in materials science is key to the practical application of nuclear fusion for power generation, optical fibres for telecommunications and silicon microchips for the information revolution. Materials science is an interdisciplinary subject, spanning the physics and chemistry of matter, engineering applications and industrial manufacturing processes. Choose this if you enjoy Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical Scientists focus on how cells, organs and systems function in the human body. An exciting and dynamic area that is highly relevant to the understanding and treatment of human diseases. Biomedical sciences shape modern medical practice. Choose this if you like Biology and Chemistry.

Session C Choice 1 Choice 2
Session C: choose from two options Engineering Biological Sciences

Engineering Science

Engineering Science is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. Key branches of Engineering include chemical engineering, (the application of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering principles in order to carry out chemical processes on a commercial scale, eg petroleum refining, fermentation, and biomolecule production) civil engineering (the design and construction of public and private works, such as infrastructure, bridges, dams, and buildings), electrical engineering (the design and study of electrical and electronic systems, such as electrical circuits, motors, electronic devices, computer systems, etc), and mechanical engineering (the design of physical or mechanical systems, such as power and energy systems, aerospace/aircraft products, engines, etc.) Pick this if you are interested in Physics and Maths.

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences at Oxford is taught jointly by the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology, and combines traditional topics such as animal and plant systematics and relationships, and biological structures ranging from molecular and cellular to the whole organismal and ecological system. A biological scientist might observe why organisms act the way they do (behavioural biology), how they have changed to adapt over time (evolution and development), how illness can develop and spread between individuals (infectious diseases) and how we can ensure that communities thrive and survive in the right conditions (ecology and conservation).
Pick this if you enjoy learning about the biology of animals and plants.


This event is open to high-achieving Year 11 students from UK schools who are planning on, or taking the majority of their A-levels (or equivalent) in Maths and the sciences. This event is intended for students who enjoy science, but don't know which areas they might want to explore more in the future. Students should be on course to receive a minimum of AAA in triple award science/AA in double award science at GCSE, plus at least an A in Maths.

Maximum of 5 student places per school.

When and where

Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Andrew Wiles Building, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG. Thursday October 6th 2016, 9:30am — 4:30pm. Booking essential. See below.


How much does the taster day cost?

This event is free. There is a cafe on site, but it likely to be extremely busy, so please bring your own packed lunch. Attendees will need to organize their own transport to Oxford. (See below).

Do I get to hear about all the subjects you mention, or will I have to choose some? Will I get to take part in practical sessions?

At the point of booking, session preferences will be recorded. We will do our best to meet as many of these requests as we can. It's going to be a long and packed day, but if you're taking the time to come and visit us, we want to make sure you get access to as many different subject areas as possible. There isn't time in a day like this to fit in lots of practical sessions — they will mostly be lecture style. But, if one of the subject areas inspires you, you can always make a return visit to one of the Departments for a more in-depth look at a subject — many of them put on subject taster days and other events for prospective students.

How do I book?

Bookings will open on September 1 2017. Bookings can be made by students or their parents. Teachers: you are very welcome to organise this as a school trip, however we do need the students themselves (or their parent') to fill out the form. Please note we normally only offer a maximum of five places per school. However, we can offer more in exceptional circumstances: please email us with details.

My school would like to send a couple of students with a parent/unaccompanied. I'm a student wanting to come without anyone else from my school. Is that OK?

We understand that sometimes schools might only have one or two students who you would like to attend, and can't justify sending a teacher for so few pupils. We are happy for a parent to accompany the student(s) or for students over the age of 16 to attend unaccompanied.

We are a UK independent/fee-paying school or home schooling. Can our students still take part?

Yes! Please fill out the booking form. If you are home schooling please just write 'home educated' in the school name box. Don't forget, students under 16 years of age need to be accompanied by an adult.

I attended an event of the same name last year. Can I come to this one?

We wouldn't recommend coming a second time, as you may have seen some of the talks at this event on your previous visit. We would recommend coming to an alternative event, such as an Open Day, or a more subject-specific event such as Philosophy Plus. If, after looking at other events, you still feel that you are undecided as to what subject you wish to study, you are more than welcome to attend a second time. We do also hold another, similar annual event for students studying Further Maths which you may find of more use. Information on this can be found here.

Do I need to book a parent place? (My young person is 16 or over.)

The number of people who can attend this event is limited by the number of seats in our lecture theatres. Parents who sign up to the event will follow the same streamed timetable as the student attendees. Therefore, if you only wish to drop off/pick up your young person (or even just drop in for a tea/coffee with us) there is no need to book a parent place. Parents are, of course, welcome to attend, but please be aware that if you book a parent place but decide instead to spend the day shopping in Oxford without telling us in advance, that is a wasted place at the event and could have been used by a keen young person. If your young person is under 16, you do need to book a parent place as you will remain responsible for the student during the day. You will follow the same programme as the student(s) in your care.

How do I get to the venue?

Maps and directions can be found here. We strongly recommended that you use public transport if at all possible. If you do travel by car or minibus, please note that parking in the city centre is very limited. There are several Park & Ride bus services that run from car parks on the outskirts of Oxford. If you are bringing a minibus please note the Council's pages on access for High Sided Vehicles at Park and Rides.

What should I bring with me?

All delegates will need to bring a packed lunch. (Some cold drinks will be available free of charge.) There is a cafe on-site, but this is a large event and the cafe is likely to be very busy. Therefore we strongly recommend that you bring food with you. Something to make notes with would be useful. As part of the day you'll take a college tour. It will take about an hour, so sensible shoes should be worn, as you will be walking to the college and back during this time.

What should I wear?

Some students will wear school uniform; others will be more casual. It's entirely up to you. You really don't need to wear a suit (unless of course you really really want to.) The day is long day, so the most important thing is that you're comfortable. As part of the day you'll take a college tour. It will take about an hour, so sensible shoes should be worn, as you will be walking to the college and back during this time. You may want to bring an umbrella, as British weather is always unpredictable.

Is accommodation available?

Unfortunately we are not able to provide accommodation. If you cannot travel to Oxford on the day, you may like to consult Oxford Rooms which offers B&B accommodation in Oxford University colleges, or book accommodation at one of the city's Youth Hostels.

I've got a question — who do I talk to?

Please contact:

Please note the organisers reserve the right to change the programme without notification or to make alterations to the advertised details for the day at short, or without, notice.