When I was looking for courses, I didn’t want to just do one subject, which narrowed down my choices significantly. While Natural Sciences caught my attention, a lot of universities just offered Chemistry, Physics, and Biology which wasn’t the type of variety I was looking for. York’s Natural Sciences course caught my attention because of its unique variety.
Choosing a Natural Sciences pathway
I was able to continue doing some traditionally ‘hard’ sciences, while also continuing to do Psychology, a subject that I quite enjoyed at A level. Something unique about York’s course was that it also gave me the opportunity to do Philosophy. This was something which appealed to me as it further diversified the course. When I came for the Open Day, I immediately felt at home. This was in no small part due to the beautiful campus the university has. It was nice coming to the uni and seeing wildlife everywhere, as opposed to the endless collections of buildings that many universities consist of.
Transition from school to university
One of the biggest differences that everyone always mentions is the switch to independence. Joining during the pandemic, this was exemplified. The majority of the Natural Sciences material was provided to me online, so I was completely in control of when to watch it. However, there are still differences even now that everything’s in person.
One of these that’s consistent whether or not there’s a pandemic, is the increase in course work. In my case, this was essays and practical reports, but for other pathways this can be lab reports and group projects. Regarding the teaching specifically, at university there’s a far more varied approach. Regardless of pathway, everyone has lectures, where the lecturer talks about a topic for about 50 minutes. Then there are seminars, where you have the opportunity to delve deeper into the material in a smaller group setting. Most pathways also have labs that take more time than the ones typically done at school. These consist of more complex and involved procedures.
I have gained a slew of practical skills from my Natural Sciences pathway. I’ve learned a number of biological and chemical techniques, from rotary evaporation to larvae dissection. I’ve also learned about a number of different types of chromatography and more about aseptic technique. From a slightly less hands-on perspective, I’ve also learned more about statistical analysis and how to analyse and present data. From a theoretical perspective, I’ve learned about structuring arguments and more about logic and how it’s used. In addition, I’ve learned about orbitals in even more depth. As well as the intricacies of ion signalling and how signals travel around the body. In terms of transferable skills, the ability to adapt and organise my time are two that have arisen as a result of constantly having to flip between a variety of subjects.
Highlights so far
One of the highlights of my pathway is the close bonds that I’ve formed with my fellow neuroscientists. Due to us sharing so many modules across so many departments, and there only being six of us in my year, I’ve become very close with my fellow pathway students, to the point where we’ll all meet up outside contact hours to chill together.
Moreover, we have good connections with the upper years, and will frequently ask them for advice on modules and assessments. However, this also extends to people on other pathways in my year, to the point where I’m able to recognise the vast majority of coursemates by name and face, something very few other degrees can hope to achieve.
Something that I’m very much looking forward to is the opportunity to learn all about how to use MRI and MEG and analyse their data in my third year, and subsequently conduct studies using these methods.