Lecture Hopping: Take Two

MOLLIE WINTLE continues The Tab’s series of lecture hopping. This week, it’s Medicine, NatSci and PPS.

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Thanks to the success of my colleague’s lecture hops, my editor was eager for someone to pick up the baton for round 2. Buoyed up on the tales of his exotic experiences, I ventured forth to the land of the Medics, Natscis and PPSers, heeding no man’s warning.

Medicine, FAB

That’s Functional Architecture of the Body to you. This lecture hall was huge and it was packed. It was also quite the cough gathering – medics are a good-looking but sickly bunch. However, the Engling me was impressed by the air of productivity. Students were taking notes. The lecturer was taking notes. Even I ended up taking notes. I feel confident that I could save your life now. Admittedly, phrases like ‘precursors to the bowels’, ‘dextrocardio’ and ‘the nodal gene’ floated over my head, but the lecture was genuinely interesting, and we were given helpful summaries every quarter of the way through. Did you know that the heart starts to beat 22 days after conception? I did, however, flinch at a close up of the linear heart tube. No one wants to see that at nine in the morning. It was disgusting. The body is disgusting. I’m just glad it’s covered up with skin.

Do go along if you know some Latin. It’s 90% of a medical degree. ‘I’m first going to talk about the septum intermedium’ was greeted without a blink.

Don’t assume medics are humourless. I found this note on the desk in front of me: ‘Did you get my fb message? Got a BONE to pick with you, you minger.’

Physical Natural Sciences, Maths B


First impression: ‘Gosh, what a lot of boys!’ Happily, the lecturer was a woman in a rainbow of mohair. Sadly her bohemian appearance belied her business-like approach. She immediately confronted us with the equation:  c = fxxh² + fxy2hk + yyk², and this was just the beginning of her pilgrimage to inverse differentiation, halting alternatively before the altars of dx and dy.

As the hand-outs had run out, I was unable to follow what I’m sure was actually some pretty basic maths, but I do remember her insistences: ‘You don’t want to solve the constraint equation! You don’t want to!’ which I personally felt was a good tip. After that, things started to get a bit blurry. She kept repeating the phrase ‘automatically satisfied’ which made me feel like I was in a bad dream. It didn’t help that she then told me geometry was my friend. Geometry’s not my friend, I wanted to shout. Nina is my friend. My Dad is my friend. Geometry is the name for the study of shapes. In other words, a pointless activity.

I was cheered up, however, by the abundance of beautifully rhythmical phrases in a Maths B lecture. ‘Partial derivatives’ is made up of two perfect dactyls, while ‘Langrangian function’ is two amphibrachs. You can take the English student out of bed, but you can’t take the…yeah. Anyway I’m sure the Natscis are grateful for all and any distractions from suggestive notations.

Do admit when you’re lost. My neighbour cheerfully admitted to ‘only understanding 50% of what was going on’ and the lecturer was happy to backtrack when asked.

Don’t demand your neighbour to: ‘Show me a Compsci!’ There will inevitably be a row right in front of you who will turn round in unison with baleful expressions.

PPS, International Relations

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I thought that this would be the most familiar and interesting lecture to me, being an arts subject. How wrong could an 18 year old girl be?? It was dire, the worst of the lot by a good two miles. It started off with the lecturer announcing the theme as environment and war. Though this might have been environment and law.  Who can tell. I thought he was joking when he then announced a summary of the history of environmentalism. Unfortunately he was not. Having suffered this, I can tell you that the lot of the environment is a sorry and deeply, deeply boring one. I literally wanted to carve my own eyes out. Where were the politics of superpowers? Where was Stalin, stroking his moustache before deciding to obliterate Lithuania? And why was I being told that oceanic stability is remarkably stable at 3.4%?

A powerpoint kicked in at 10:25 AM. Now I love a visual aid as much as the next person, but this was pictureless, meaningless and joyless. My neighbour insisted that this was a one-off, and that PPS lectures were usually sound and interesting, but by this point my eyes had glazed over so much I could barely see her.

Do bring a book.

Don’t go.


I have come to the sad conclusion that, out of all the lectures I have attended this term, the majority have not been in my own subject. Did someone say nine thousand pounds well spent?