Alastair Graves

Hometown & Region: Glasgow, Scotland

Degree: Engineering Science

A levels Advanced Highers: Maths, Physics, Geography

When I’m not working I’m…

  • Cross-country running
  • Oxford OTC (army cadets)
  • College hockey
  • College squash
  • Meeting people in the bar
  • Going to talks (some subject-related, some not)
  • Playing the bagpipes

What made you choose to study at Brasenose and/or Oxford?

I used the prospectus to make a shortlist of colleges I liked the look of (right size, centrally located, good facilities etc) then visited them during the open day.  To be completely honest, I liked all of them but Brasenose opened first in the morning so I visited it first.  It stuck in my mind, but probably just because it was the first Oxford college I’d ever seen!

Is life in Oxford different to what you expected it to be?

Yes and no.  There are far more opportunities to get involved in all sorts of incredible and different things than I had expected.  I was amazed by the length of our first college email containing that week’s notices as there were just so many brilliant opportunities available. Also, people are very ‘human;’ there’s little of the Oxford snobbery, academic or otherwise, that the papers love to talk about.  At the same time, a lot of my expectations came from reading the prospectus, so I had a fairly good idea of what was in store!

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

Brasenose has a real community spirit.  I was made to feel very welcome when I arrived and truly feel at home here.  The central location is also a massive bonus, as is the guarantee of accommodation right in the centre of Oxford. They don’t half do a good brunch too!

A quality you think is important for someone looking to study at Oxford?

I think you need to be easy-going and willing to take things in your stride.  Sometimes we get some pretty tough deadlines, but they’re always manageable (and if not, then you’ll get an extension) and the best way to approach them is to stay positive and just tackle them bit by bit.  That way you can enjoy all the other fun things that Oxford has to offer!

What are the perks of your degree?

At times they can be a bit of a chore, but I really enjoy the weekly lab sessions we have.  They add a bit of variety to the daily routine of lectures and tutorials and can be great fun too.  In first year alone we built a model bridge and working radio and there are lots more opportunities to work in the labs in the 3rd and 4th years.  Engineers also don’t have that many lectures compared to some other scientists.  It’s extremely rare to have more than two hours a day and I’ve yet to exceed ten hours in a week.