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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Luke Vassor BSc Biology, 2017

Undergraduate student

Luke Vassor's Photo

The Biology course here provides students with constant stimulation and a new piece of inspiration in almost every lecture.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

The University of Southampton had a greater apparent emphasis on field biology and ecology in comparison to other universities I had visited. Given my ecological interest and the suite of intriguing modules on offer here, it seemed an obvious choice.

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton?

“Anxious” is perhaps the wrong word! I was a little nervous (but excited) about entering a new stage of my life and integrating into the university “bubble”, but everything quickly fell into place, and the novelty was as fun as expected.

What is it like studying here?

Southampton is a very busy and lively university, owing to its size and wealth of facilities and societies. There is always something happening on campus and a multitude of groups you can become a part of. The Biology course here provides students with constant stimulation and a new piece of inspiration in almost every lecture. It is objectively one of the best value courses on offer, with novel research injected into undergraduate lectures, access to brand new laboratory equipment and opportunities to travel on various field courses. The spectrum of modules on offer, lectured by academics from a range of fields, provides you with the means of tailoring your degree to your own interests, and moulding your career path after you leave.

How do you rate study facilities at the University?

I have been pleased with the study facilities on offer at Southampton during my time here. Hartley library and the other common learning spaces on Highfield campus have rarely left me in need of a place to work. The laboratories in B85 Life Sciences made for a great supplement to the theory lectured in my time spent studying here and are still in near-new condition.

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

First and foremost are the field courses I have participated in across my three years here. Having travelled to Spain (BIOL1001) and Belize (BIOL3070), these made for incredible experiences for many reasons. The chance to work in some amazing, biologically unique environments, whilst having instant access to the knowledge of academics and experts, is an opportunity which is hard to come by outside of university. Taking what you have learned in the lecture theatre and applying it in the field cements that knowledge and stands you in good stead for a career in academia later in life. The opportunity to get to know your lecturers and supervisors on a more informal level, through these trips, also makes the course that much more personal and rewarding.

Outside of the course, living in university halls of residence and playing intra-mural rugby with Barbarians R.F.C. have made for some amazing memories across my three years here and friends that I will hopefully keep for many years to come.

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

The most valuable thing I have learned here is that success at university is entirely self-determined. Retrospectively, before university I feel I was naïve as to how much I could achieve in a week, month or year with enough grit. I am proud of how much I have managed to cram into my three years here and would not do it differently if I had the chance. In terms of academia, the chance to spend so much time studying independently has resulted in increased confidence with handling the subject matter and an improved ability to form connections between different topics and modules. I have developed enough skills here (e.g. problem-solving and analytical) to leave university with confidence and thirst.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

Having recently submitted my third-year dissertation, I am enjoying the pride of completing the largest piece of academic work I have written to date, whilst also in the middle of writing another field project report from my field trip to Belize.

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

Yes. In my first year I took an Ocean and Earth Science module which introduced students to marine ecology (SOES1006). I have also taken a geography module introducing students to geographic information systems (GEOG2010), as this has direct applications within ecology and will hopefully give me a head-start with any ecology-related study I undertake in the future.

Did you stay in University accommodation?

Yes. I spent my first year in Chamberlain halls of residence. The security was reassuring with regular patrols being made as well as 24-hour support available by telephone. The second-year representatives which visited the flats were great at making sure everyone was included and proactive at getting people involved.

What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

Southampton itself has a lot to offer for both day and night life. (e.g. West Quay and the Watermark). Two of the clubs in Portswood are almost exclusively visited by University of Southampton students and sports teams which makes for a more comfortable and entertaining night – you will always bump into someone you know. It is a big city and like every city it has intimidating areas but as long as some common sense is exercised you will be fine.

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