For chemists joining us this October
Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/urss/
Sitting here making lists about what I want to get done this summer but lacking the motivation to start on anything. I finished ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and have now successfully moved onto ‘Middlemarch’ and looking at the hunger for knowledge that Miss Dorothea Brooke has, I am confident this book is going to answer a lot of my questions (but then again, all classics do that).
Moving on to the main topic, I remember feeling a bit lost last year after finishing my A levels wanting to prepare for university but ended up not doing much. After having done a year at Warwick, I have compiled a list of things that I wish I had done last summer. You, by no means, should feel obliged to do everything in the list but it is here as a guide for you to look at.
- Missing some chemistry? Read Chemguide. It explains everything very well and will help you fill all the gaps that you might have in your knowledge before you join us. I would particularly recommend looking at organic chemistry because you will find a lot of mechanisms in your first year but some of them are the same as A level mechanisms. You’d be doing yourself a great benefit.
- In my year, we had to do two maths exams – one on A level maths (and GCSE level physics) and the other on further maths. We only had to pass these exams (scores do not count). I cannot confirm that the next year group will also have to sit the exams but there is going to be a lot of maths in chemistry and I will go through some of the maths topics that I would recommend revising (or at least looking over):
- calculus: thermodynamics, kinetics
- operators: quantum
- eigenvalues/ eigenfunctions: quantum
- matrices: quantum
- imaginary and complex numbers: quantum
- trigonometry & pythagoras: inorganic
I have purchased this book to revise maths over summer because I didn’t do further maths. I can do the calculations but I find I don’t quite understand what eigenfunctions mean. Therefore, if you aren’t sure about mathematical concepts, make sure you know what you’re doing! – especially with quantum mechanics where many problems end up becoming purely mathematical problems after you solve the thinking bit.
- Revise physics and biology. Chemistry, you’ll find, includes a lot of maths, biology and physics. Physical chemistry requires you to understand some basic physics. My lecturer recommended Hyperphysics – I’d say particularly look at Heats and Thermodynamics and Quantum physics. I recently have purchased this book myself to revise some physics before I begin my second year. I didn’t struggle so much with biology since I did A level biology. I wouldn’t worry too much about the biochemistry module since it is all taught in great depth. However if you’re keen and have a lot of time, then perhaps read up on DNA and RNA structure, transcription, peptide bonds, the nucleotides and a lot more (but I’m going to leave some stuff so you have something to do at university too!).
- To sum up the A level chemistry nicely, I read ‘What is Chemistry’ by Peter Atkins. It is a very simple A level standard introduction (I think) but after having spent three months reading Jane Austen, Dickens, and other classics and just blogging and writing poetry, I really appreciated the existence of this book. It reminds you of all the stuff that you might not even realise that you have forgotten.
- Look at the research taking place at Warwick. There is something called the Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS)that you might be interested in (the link to the relevant page is above). The applications open in November (but double check) and close in January. ChemSoc do a session on this too but you’ll feel less lost than I did if you know a bit more about it.
- Procrastinate! A bit of a random one but really enjoy the time you have. First few weeks at Warwick are going to be intense – not scaring you but I felt really overwhelmed because of all the various introductory sessions that were timetabled. It does go okay within the first few weeks so not a big worry but you want to make sure you join us fully recharged and ready to jump into the Warwick bubble (trust me, you’ll love it – the past year was one of the best years of my life).
Have a lovely summer, guys!