David McGinn

Hometown & Region: Omagh, Northern Ireland

Degree: Medicine

A levels: Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature

Year of study: Second Year

When I’m not working I’m…

  • …Going to interesting talks (Oxford gets some of the most incredible speakers)
  • Reading (non-sciencey stuff in my spare time)
  • Drama
  • Making the most of the college bar (which I also work in)

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

I never really wanted to study anywhere else. At Oxford you live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (which is small enough that it feels more like a town) and learn under people who know their stuff better than anyone. The structure of the course also appealed to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, the obvious thing is the tutorial system – it means you get lots of contact with people who are researchers and clinicians and I enjoy being able to talk through topics and ask as many (stupid and hopefully some not so stupid) questions as I can. It also means you have a very close connection with your tutors who are always willing to help you out which is an especially nice thing come exam time if you feel there is a topic you don’t understand. Secondly, the research project and intercalated degree we do here appealed because I could well imagine myself doing something at least in part research based in the future.

I applied to Brasenose because as I was walking back to the bus stop on one of the open days, I was all but dragged into the college by a 3rd year medic who promised me he could give me a tour in a short enough time that I wouldn’t miss the bus. The comfy sofas and general happiness that the college exuded made me feel like I could call it home very quickly. I thanked him when I arrived for my interview because I don’t think I would have even considered applying to Brasenose if I hadn’t been kidnapped from the street that day.

The location helps as well, it’s right in the centre of the city so apart from the odd walk to one of the further out colleges for tutorials, everything is within 10 minutes on foot and much less than that on a bike.

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

It’s certainly a very busy lifestyle – since terms are quite short everything gets compacted in and that certainly takes some getting used to, especially since my ability to manage my time has never been particularly impressive. However it also means you’re never bored when you’re here and we get extra long holidays – that’s definitely worth noting since in a couple of years time long breaks become a thing of the past for most of us.

Another aspect of life in Oxford that I’ve loved is the novelty of some of the things that go on here; the May Day celebrations that end on Madgalen Bridge at 6 in the morning, the film sets I sometimes have to casually cycle through on my way to lectures, formal hall where you get 3 course meals for the price of a starter.

The weather is also much better here than at home, a fact that English people struggle to understand.

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

Since I’m doing medicine it’s the only thing I can really talk about and it’s true to say that the standard of teaching is incredibly high across all colleges. My tutors here are always helpful and I’ve had extra tutorials to help me get my head around things I’ve found difficult. The library being open 24h a day is a big plus for me since I’m a night owl but get distracted easily so prefer not to work in my room.

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

Being willing to come up with new ideas and think critically about your opinion and the opinions of others. It really isn’t about being able to learn lists of facts and regurgitate them, it’s so much more interesting than that.

What are the perks of your degree?

Spending lots of time in lectures etc. means medics make friends outside their college much more readily than just about any other subject. In 3rd year we get to follow our own interests with far less structured learning (i.e. no early morning lectures or practicals for the year).

I would love to travel and work abroad in the future – medicine gives me that opportunity.