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Trinity Term

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Friday, April 13, 2018

Trinity Term, the last term of the Oxford academic year, begins on Sunday, when our students will start to return to college during 0th week. Although for the majority of students Trinity Term means exams, there are plenty of other things happening during this part of the year that may help to alleviate some of the stress!

But first of all, let’s start with the dreaded exams. First-years tend to have ‘Prelims’, short for ‘Preliminary Examinations’, at the end of Trinity, marking the culmination of their first year’s work. You just need to pass these exams to be able to carry on with your studies next year, and they don’t count towards your final degree, but if you get a first you’ll become an ‘Exhibitioner’. Scientists in their second year will have exams then too, and everyone takes finals in (surprisingly) their final year. For arts students, all of the exams that count towards your final degree will be taken in Trinity Term of your final year, before which you’ll have submitted written work as well, meaning that there can be a fair bit of pressure by the end of your course. However, there’s plenty of help out there both in terms of revision and exam skills, and welfare and mental health support, both within college and the wider university – plus the fact that you’re all going through the same thing means that your college community can provide lots of support too.

Students in the Masters GardenOne of the best things about Trinity Term is the fact that (usually, at least) the weather is finally fairly decent! This can be annoying if you’re trying to revise (although college gardens make a great place to revise in), but it does mean that there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from work and go out and get some fresh air – check out this previous post on Oxford’s green spaces for some inspiration.

If you fancy a bit of high culture, why not head down to one of the garden plays performed in colleges during Trinity? They're often Shakespeare but sometimes something completely different - either way, watching a student performance on a balmy evening in a beautiful college garden is a great way of spending an evening in Trinity (if you’re lucky with the weather, of course). There’s usually only a small charge for tickets, but it’s a highly recommended way of relaxing post-exams – and if you’re an English student, you can even count it as revision.

Christ Church rowers in Summer EightsIt’s not just the gardens and parks that are enjoyed at this time of year – Oxford’s waterways also get particularly busy. Trinity is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at punting, famous in both Oxford and Cambridge. Most colleges have some punts that students can rent for a few hours for a trip down the Cherwell, and it’s particularly nice on a sunny afternoon – grab your mates and plenty of food and drink, and try not to fall in. Generally the advice ‘don’t let go of the pole’ is best followed only up until the point when the pole becomes irretrievably stuck in the mud, at which point it’s probably a better idea to keep hold of the boat rather than the pole… #ProTip

Trinity also sees the return of Summer Eights, the main college rowing event of the year! Crews from each college compete in various divisions in ‘bumps’ races, where the aim is to crash into the boat in front and thereby overtake them in that division’s standings, or potentially move up or down a division depending on whether or not you’re the ones doing the bumping. It’s a great occasion and the riverbank and boathouses are always full of supporters from all of the colleges cheering on their crews – the sun will hopefully be out, there’ll be lots to eat and drink, and there’s a great sense of community as you all get behind your respective colleges. This year Christ Church will be looking to retain the title of Head of the River gained at last year’s Eights, when our best A ball at Christ Churchmen’s crew finished top of the first division! Get down to the river on the Saturday for the most exciting races when final positions are decided.

And how could we let a post on Trinity Term go by without mentioning the college balls… Most of Oxford’s balls take place during Trinity, with colleges’ annual black tie balls usually taking place between 2nd and 5th week, and the big white tie commemoration balls held by consecutive colleges on a three-yearly basis happening at the end of 9th week. It might seem very stereotypically Oxbridge, but actually balls are just a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity to get dressed up, enjoy what can be a great range of food and drink, plus some amazing music, in the beautiful setting of an Oxford college – so it’s worth trying to get to a few during your time here.

Although exams form a big part of what most students will be focussing on during Trinity, there are plenty of other things going on in Oxford that allow you to relax and enjoy Oxford in summer. Most finals exams will be over by around 6th week, which gives you a few weeks to enjoy yourself in Oxford with your friends before it’s all over – so make the most of the beautiful weather and everything on offer in the last term of the year!