Hello, I’m Lottie and I study biology at York. There are many reasons why I’m pleased that I chose to study at York. Since arriving, lecturers and the course content have helped me enjoy biology and question the world around us.
At York, there is a diverse amount of research within different areas of biology, each of which contributes towards providing solutions for our global grand challenges. This has inspired me to pursue a research-based career after I graduate. I have chosen a few things that I feel prospective students can look forward to about studying biology at York.
The first, and most enjoyable, part of my biology degree is tutorials. This is where a small group of students meet with an academic throughout the term. You learn about a niche area of biology that the academic specialises in. The enthusiasm from the academic for the topic shines through during tutorials when you discuss a specific paper or give a presentation. As the academic has done these many times, professionally, throughout their career they can give great advice.
I think the most valuable part of tutorials is when I’m placed out of my comfort zone; being asked specific questions about a paper I have presented; critiquing an essay; or, asking to provide a hypothesis for a research question. I find this is the best way for me to improve my skills as a biologist.
Lecturers and the biology department staff
The second thing that I love about York is the lecturers. Each of the lecturers has a unique personality and brings something different to each lecture. For instance:
- dance moves to help understand molecular mechanisms;
- homemade Fantastic Seven movie about DNA damage and repair; and
- you may even be lucky enough to walk into a lecture where the lecturer is playing a bit of S Club 7 (yes, this really happened!).
In the lectures where everyone listens intently until the very end, there is often a chorus of ‘that was amazing’ and ‘I didn’t even realise we could do that!’ as the lecture finishes. I think this is because the passion of the lecturer is so pure that everyone leaves the lecture sharing the lecturer’s passion for this area of biology.
There is a student services in the biology department, which has members of staff that help with things like running workshops for employability and CV drop-ins. Additionally, staff who work in our department often get research published, which is inspiring.
The teaching labs at York are fantastic. During practical’s, there is no textbook learning, and everyone improves their lab skills in the best way possible: by doing. Before coming to York, I remember being nervous about labs because I had little experience of practicals. I also imagined everyone else would know exactly what to do. However, once I arrived at my first lab, I realised most people had little confidence too. As I was practicing how to use a pipette during the first practical, I was surrounded by staff who offered advice.
The diverse range of practicals – from microbiology to biochemistry – means that I have developed a range of scientific techniques and improved my confidence. My favourite practical in the first year was part of the cell and developmental biology module, where I witnessed a frog embryo in the early stages of development. I found it breath-taking to watch the beginning of life unravel before me.
There are also more field-based practical’s, including a practical where you investigate animal behaviour by feeding the ducks on campus. There is an optional fieldtrip to study marine and coastal biology at the end of first year too. I’m really pleased that I chose to go on the field trip because I experienced working in the field and within a ‘wet lab’ whilst making friends with other people on my course.
Meeting other bioscientists
One of the best things I like about studying a bioscience course at York is that there is a lot of contact time, especially in first year. This means that I spend more time getting to know the people on my course during lectures or practical’s. It has meant I didn’t feel like I struggled to find a group of friends, and I have more people to study alongside with and support me throughout the rest of your degree. There is a Biology Society that holds events like winter balls and a lab coat bar crawl. It’s a great way to meet other people studying biology outside of lectures and practicals.
Diversity of courses: Bachelors, year abroad, year in industry and integrated masters
There is a diverse range in modules and courses within the biology department. This means that the path of your degree will become tailored to your own interests depending on your module choices. In second year, there is the opportunity to take a year out of studying at York before your final year. There is the chance to do a year in industry, a placement year or a study abroad. There is also a variety of research projects to choose from during the final year. This means that if you dislike working in labs, you can choose a ‘dry project’. Equally, if you love labs, you will probably end up doing your project in one! You can also take an integrated Masters course, instead of a Bachelors, which is intended to prepare you for a career in research.
Hopefully, I have helped to show you that there are lots of things to look forward to about the biology department at York. If I can give you any advice, it would be to say yes to whatever sparks an interest within you.
The department has so many opportunities to help you figure out what you enjoy. For instance, becoming a course rep, taking part in career workshops or going to a summer school. Equally, your colleges and the rest of the university hold events that give you a chance to try things entirely different and out of your comfort zone. You never know where it may lead you!