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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Annie Shaw Master of Biochemistry, 2020

Annie Shaw's Photo

My favourite parts of the course have definitely been the independent lab projects in third and fourth year because you get the opportunity to work in a real research environment and try cutting edge techniques. The lectures I’ve attended throughout my degree have also been an incredible opportunity to learn and be inspired.

Why did choose to come and study at Southampton?

I initially looked at Southampton as it is a high-ranking Russell Group university with a strong reputation. However, my mind was made up when I attended an open day and fell in love with the campus. I liked that everything was in one place and it felt really homely. The course also sounded great because there was a lot of flexibility within it and you could tailor your modules to fit your interests.  

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton?

Having never moved out of my hometown, I was most nervous about moving to a city where I wouldn’t know anyone.  

Once at Southampton, how were your fears overcome?

Living in halls it was really easy to make friends which helped me to settle in quickly. There were so many events going on during Freshers’ Week that there were lots of opportunities to meet people and have fun, which was a great distraction from how nervous I was.

What is it like studying here?

I enjoy studying here because the course is really interesting and challenging. You’re taught by experts in their field who put their research into their teaching and are also really nice and supportive. However, there is also a great focus on having fun outside of your classes. The Students’ Union is great, offering over 200 clubs and societies, a range of social events during the year and even a pub on campus, so there’s definitely something for everyone.

How do you rate study facilities at the University?

I would rate the study facilities at Southampton highly because they have consistently met my needs over the last 4 years. The library is excellent, housing multiple copies of all core textbooks, 5 levels of seating and computing/printing facilities. The undergraduate teaching labs are also very well equipped and provide everything you’ll need to complete experiments. In terms of leisure, there are loads of sporting facilities, including a swimming pool, various courts available to book, and a huge multi-purpose sports hall.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

During my first year, I joined the Southampton Vixens Varsity Cheerleading Squad. I had never done anything like this before, but I had so much fun learning a new sport and performing our routines at the American Football games, as well as our end of year showcase. Another highlight was being among the first undergraduate students at Southampton to use CRISPR-Cas9 in a third-year project. It was really exciting getting to use a cutting-edge technique, and the fact that it was successful gave me an enormous feeling of pride.

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

My time at Southampton has definitely increased my confidence, pushing me to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. For example, as Vice President of the Biological Sciences Society I gave a speech to the whole cohort of first years (over 200 people), which I would have never had confidence to do before. It has definitely deepened my subject knowledge as well and helped me to develop a wide range of academic and personal skills.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

You do have the opportunity to choose optional modules in other areas such as psychology, business or languages. However, I personally chose to stick with modules directly related to my subject area.

Did you stay in University accommodation?

I was in Monte halls, which is one of the largest halls in Europe! This really helped me to settle in and make friends because there were so many people that it was really easy to socialise. There was also a 24-hour reception which was great for making you feel safe, as there was always somebody around to help if you had an issue.

What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

Housing two universities, Southampton is a great city for students because we make up quite a large proportion of the population. There are plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and clubs so you’re guaranteed to find places you’ll like, no matter what you’re into. Campus is away from the town centre which helps it to feel more relaxed, but the transport links are great, with multiple train stations and plenty of regular buses so it’s really easy to get around.

Do you have future career/study plans after graduating?

I am currently applying for PhDs in biochemistry/molecular biology and hoping to stay in academia.

What one word sums up how you feel about your experiences so far at Southampton?

Memorable

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