FAQs for Erasmus Exchange Students

During your time at Oxford, you will carry out a research project which will be assessed by your supervisor. If you wish you can also attend Biochemistry undergraduate lectures, but this aspect cannot be evaluated.

You will be able to stay in Oxford for 18 weeks from the middle of September, excluding Christmas vacation.

In the 4th (final) year of their biochemistry degree at Oxford, our students carry out a compulsory 18-week research project starting in the middle of September. Students taking part in the Erasmus exchange scheme will carry out their project in a research laboratory in one of our partner universities. Normally, the first 12 weeks of the project will be before the Christmas vacation and the remaining 6 weeks in the new year but sometimes the Oxford student may need to work over the Christmas vacation and return to Oxford earlier. The exchange student will have to fit in with these arrangements,

Research projects are available in a wide range of laboratories associated with the Department of Biochemistry. Towards the end of each year a list of projects is published here and this will give details of the proposed projects, relevant references and the name of the supervisor. You can then do further research on the internet to find out about the work of the supervisor to help you make a choice. During your project you will be supervised either by the head of the laboratory or a member of the research team.

Oxford students have to make their choice by the end of the Spring (Hilary) Term, which is usually in the middle of March. In order to increase the chance of getting your preferred project, you should also aim to let us know your choice by that date. If your decision to come to Oxford is made after this date, we will still be able to get you into a laboratory but not necessarily your first choice.

You will have 18 weeks in Oxford in which to carry out your project. You can either devote the whole of that time to the project or else divide the time between the project and lectures. What you do will be determined by the needs of your syllabus at home.

You can contact the supervisor of your host laboratory as soon as you have heard from our office that you have been accepted; project allocations are made during April. We will email you as soon as this is decided and give you a contact email address for the supervisor. Do not expect your supervisor to be precise about your project until nearer the time of your visit as often the project will depend on what work is being done in their laboratory at the time. However, you should ask for a list of appropriate references for background reading and determine an exact starting date in the laboratory to fit with your College's offer of accommodation and available flights. You should plan to start in mid-September, usually at the beginning of the third week.

You must agree your arrival date with your laboratory supervisor and College (see below). Part II students in Oxford normally start work in the laboratories three weeks before the beginning of the full term; normally mid to end September. It is your responsibility to discuss with College by email about when you plan to arrive.

Oxford has 39 Colleges which are responsible for undergraduate teaching (through the tutorial system and faculty) and the welfare of their graduate and undergraduate students; all undergraduate and graduate students at Oxford belong to one of these colleges. The Colleges are independent of the University and self-financing. If your application to come to Oxford is successful you will be paired with one of our students who wants to take part in the Erasmus scheme and you will be assigned to that student's college. We will write to you to let you know to which College you will belong as soon as it has been decided to accept your application.

Oxford University is made up of two parts - the Faculties which control the academic syllabus and lectures of all taught courses, and the Colleges (39 of them) which provide accommodation, tutorials and a social and sporting life. The Colleges vary in size from ~100 to 400 undergraduates, and 20-200 graduates (some 5 colleges have only graduates). You will have status as both an undergraduate and gratuate and may well get accommodation in a graduate house.

The Colleges were founded from about 1120AD on, the newest being founded in 1966. Historically all colleges have developed individually and all have slightly different procedures. The College buildings range from 12th century to modern 21st century, and accommodation for students is as varied, some of it being in houses in the City. You will be allocated to the college that your exchange student is at, so you have no choice. As soon as you have been informed of your college, check its web site (there are links from the university site (www.ox.ac.uk) to all the colleges).

Your accommodation will provided by your exchange student's College and will be either in College or College controlled housing. Very occasionally it may be in privately rented accommodation with friends of your exchange student; this is because the student has elected to "live out". Wherever you are placed, you will live with other students and have full access to all the College's facilities.

Once you have been accepted to come to Oxford, and your exchange student is identified, we will write to the appropriate College asking them to get in touch with you to give details about the College and where you will be living. Most colleges will not do this until after the end the academic year in early July. If you haven't heard from the College by the middle of July, you should let the exchange co-ordinator's office here in Oxford know (erasmus@bioch.ox.ac.uk).

The formal ceremony to admit new undergraduates to Oxford University is called "matriculation". All students are matriculated and wear academic dress "subfusc" for this ceremony which takes place at the Sheldonian Theatre on a date determined by your College. Academic dress is used for formal occasions in Oxford and you will be able to borrow the necessary items from other students. Academic dress for men: a dark suit, black shoes and socks, white shirt and collar, white bow tie, cap and gown. For women: white blouse, black ribbon, black skirt or trousers, black stockings or tights, black shoes, dark coat (if desired), cap and gown.

Photograph courtesy of Simon Ho

Visiting students after matriculation

Your exchange student will have a wealth of valuable information about Oxford, Biochemistry and College to pass on to you to help you make the most of your time here. Similarly, you will can give the student information about your university.

Oxford is very fortunate in having excellent links from all the main airports in the south of the UK. You will probably land at either London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport both of which are connected to Oxford by a frequent, approximately half-hourly, direct coach service. Journey times are about 70 minutes from Heathrow and 120 minutes from Gatwick. Timetables and fares can be accessed on line at www.theairline.info/ or http://airline.oxfordbus.co.uk/. . London Stansted airport is linked to Oxford by the National Express 757 coach, running every two hours.

The coach will take you into the Central Bus Station at Gloucester Green in the centre of Oxford. Most Colleges are within 15-20 minute walk of the bus station but you may prefer to take a taxi (cab); the journey will cost around £9.00. College will have told you where your accommodation is and where you need to go to get keys etc., if they have omitted this information, please let us know.

No fees are due to Oxford University. You may have to continue to pay fees at your own university but should check with your Erasmus Co-ordinator.

You do need to pay for food and lodging - room rates vary and discussion with your College and/or exchange student will give you the necessary information; typically rooms will cost £150-£170 per week, all found (including electricity, heating, etc. but not meals). You will be expected to do your own laundry. Some Colleges have information about these costs on their web sites. Meals can be bought in College (reservation and payment systems vary) and you can entertain guests; costs are very reasonable (much cheaper than in cafés or restaurants). Oxford (like any tourist city) is not espcially cheap but, if you prepare your own food or eat in College, it should not be too expensive, but eating out in the city can be expensive. Formal Hall dinners at College, which are held occassionally throughout term, are also fun and good value for guests and students alike.

If you are required to write a thesis on your project after you leave, you must be organized with data recording, gel photos, graphs etc. and take everything back home with you, even if you think you will not use it.

Yes, you will be assessed by your supervisor while in Oxford and this assessment can be passed on to your home university if required. Please ensure that you know exactly what your university requires in the way of certificates from Oxford.