My first experience of biology at Durham was through a summer placement that I took in my first year of sixth form. This introduced me to the Biosciences Department, for me the standout factors were its working environment and resources. The department had a friendly feel, all of the staff were welcoming and the resources available in the labs were fantastic. Since studying at Durham, this opinion has strengthened as I have had more time to appreciate the staff and facilities as a real student. Everyone who studies at Durham is assigned an academic advisor who will oversee your work and help you with any problems you may be having. They are great to ask questions of and can also feedback to module leaders questions and concerns that have arisen from their modules. I have felt very well supported by my academic advisor, we have meetings once or twice a term to discuss my progress which I find keeps me motivated to continue working hard as I know that someone will be looking at my progress.
Staying motivated has been one of the biggest struggles for me coming to university, especially when doing the bulk of my learning online for Michaelmas term 2020. However, even with learning remotely, studying modules that I am genuinely interested in has helped me to stay on track with work as I am keen to find out what will be covered in the next lecture. That is why the flexibility and range of choice when choosing second year modules is my favourite part of my course. In second year, you can choose 5 modules from a very wide selection which means you can completely tailor the content of your degree to your interests and future career aims.
All universities have lots of societies to join and Durham Is no exception. All subjects have a society open to anyone whether they are on the course or not. Biosoc is the Biology Department society, they hold lots of socials throughout the year as well as an annual Biology ball! This is always really fun, last year it was held at a hotel in Durham and the theme was ‘Under the Sea’, think Blue Planet but with less Attenborough and more students. There is also the opportunity to get involved in other academic societies where you can meet other people from different courses that you may also be interested in.
Even with the course being majorly online this year, the department has worked hard to keep students engaged by giving us activities to accompany lectures and allowing us into university for face to face teaching where possible. The labs were my favourite taught component of the course last year and that has not changed this year. The lab facilities at Durham are fantastic, and even though the labs have been less frequent with social distancing, it has been the highlight of my term so far, Usually, in first year, you will be in the lab for 4 hours per week, this allows you to learn a lot of important lab skills which will help you in the rest of your studies as well as in employment.
My experience studying at Durham has been so much better than I ever imagined. Biosciences has given me the opportunity to explore my interests within the subject as well as allowing me to explore new interests and ideas. I am very excited to continue my studies this year as well as broadening my knowledge of my favourite areas of biology next year.