Student Ambassador: Sinead Duffy

Sinead Duffy - Photo: © Bertie Beor-Roberts (2014)

Year: 3

Subject: History

Where are you from?: Luton

Highlight of the year?

The highlight of my second year was participating in Summer Eights: one of Oxford’s biggest rowing competition of the year! It’s a unique style of 'bumps' racing where you try to catch the boat in front of you before being caught by the boat behind you which takes place over four days. Last year it was particularly exciting for me as the Women’s Vice-Captain of Merton College Boat Club which meant that I was involved in organising training ahead of the competition. I should point out that I only started rowing at university (which is very common) and adds to my sense of achievement because this time three years ago I had never even been in a rowing boat!

How do you cope with the workload?

In short, I embrace it! Oxford has an academic reputation for a reason but I chose History because I enjoy it and this is something that I try to focus on! This is easier said than done but a big thing that helps with this is organisation- breaking down work into smaller stages such as looking up what libraries books are in, going to these libraries to borrow the books, read secondary literature, read primary sources, plan my essay and finally write my essay makes everything easier to manage. It’s also important to keep a sense of perspective when it comes to work and realise that you cannot physically or mentally work all of the time and that’s okay!

What are tutorials like?

For Historians, tutorials are discussions that take place with a tutor and usually one or two other students which last for about an hour and typically happen once or twice a week. Ahead of a tutorial we write an essay which forms the basis of our conversation. Tutors have various styles when it comes to tutorials and I might start by reading my essay aloud or summarising my argument. Tutorials challenge your ideas and make you think! I find them really useful because they encourage active engagement with a topic and are a great way to learn from your tutor and your peers. Tutorials are often seen as a particularly daunting element of the system of learning at Oxford but you definitely get used to them!