Arts vs Sciences: Which is the easiest?

Time to settle the question once and for all

| UPDATED Arts Cambridge Sciences Stephen Fry

Just as there is undeniably a hierarchy of colleges, there is equally a hierarchy of subjects, right? Anyone who studies an arts or humanities subject will have endured the patronising tone of those engaged in the lofty world of science. We’ve all heard about the many hours of compulsory lectures, labs, supervisions and those much whined about 9ams.

But in all fairness, arts students aren’t exactly guilt-free either. Complaints about the long hours in the library reading countless books and terrifying essay deadlines have all been heard before – not to mention we’ve all wondered if Land Economy is a proper subject or what the hell even is ASNAC.

I’m sure we’ve all considered switching subjects. Those poor NatScis burdened with 9ams six times a week, and medics who see their cadavers more than their friends, must dream of the luxury of non-compulsory lectures and supervisions only once per week. And arts students who are sick of having their subjects mocked and are becoming gradually and evermore hysterically aware of their non-existent job prospects long to do a subject held in respect by society.

Does this make me look like a scientist?

But just how hard are Cambridge courses and how incomparable really are the arts and sciences?

In the spirit of serious investigative journalism, I have undertaken my own experiment. Notwithstanding the ludicrously small sample size, the aim of the exercise is to find out if an arts student could do science and vice versa. And like the beginning of some bad joke, a NatSci, Historian and English student were sat in a gyp…

Exercise one was trying to translate some middle English into normal English. Said NatSci balked a little at the incomprehensible nonsense but was determined to give it a valiant effort.

Is this even English?

Translation of the passage proceeded thus: ‘Oh gosh, said the lord (as in landlord?) and the lass (like girl?) yelled, I have here, this is the last and the lost that I have sustained, of cowardice and courtesy […] and I am not never hit and while I may last…’

When asked exactly what it was on about, the NatSci ruminated that it was about loss – a girl being angry with someone. Turns out that girl is Gwaine and this is an excerpt of an Arthurian legend. Kudos to him for trying, there are probably few in the world who want to or need to know what exactly this is.

Just kill me now…

Next, onto the History where the question of ‘Time is not a colourless medium in which history takes place, but a cultural construct that can itself be historicised’ was met with a general consensus of “what the actual fuck” and “how is the question of ‘what do pictures want’ even related to history at all?”

Without wishing to perpetuate the myth that all arts students are shit at maths, there is perhaps a certain ounce of truth in this. And whilst all science students will collectively groan at how easy it is, consider it from an arts perspective where being numerate stopped mattering after GCSEs.

Who needs calculus anyway?

To the uninitiated, Maths, like medieval English, could itself be its own language, with alpha, beta and gamma being called ‘funny a’, ‘funny b’ and ‘funny y’ respectively. The Historian was unsure of what cos is. Upon being told it is a function, said Historian asked what a function is.

While you may decry my experiment as pointless or inane and not even really an experiment at all, there are some conclusions to be drawn. All subjects are challenging and interesting in their own ways. Gone are the polymath days when one could be a poet, philosopher, mathematician AND natural scientist. Even with the insane Cambridge level of multitasking, that’s asking too much.

But the most important lesson to learn from this is it’s best stick to your own subject. You might think you’re messing up now, but trust me, there are infinite possibilities of seriously failing another subject.