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The University of Southampton

Matthew Sadd MChem Chemistry with research project abroad, 2017

Undergraduate student

Matthew Sadd's Photo

At A-Level I found it very hard to choose what I wanted the start of my career to be, since I was only 17. At the time I really enjoyed Chemistry as I studied it at A-level, then after I started to look at potential careers that stemmed from it I knew I had made up my mind.

I chose the placement course since it is always good to gain experience which would be needed for future jobs and this way it was tied in with my degree.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

Out of all the open days of different chemistry departments I visited Southampton came across as the most welcoming environment. You have to remember that you are going to be spending 3-4 or maybe more years of your life in the same place so you need to be happy with where you are. To me, out of all the universities, Southampton was the place where I wanted to live.

What do you enjoy most about studying at Southampton?

Here in Southampton you are surrounded by the New Forest, you have a beach less than 30 minutes away by train, London is only an hour away for days out or evening concerts, there is just a multitude of things you can do here in your spare time.

Putting those things aside Southampton itself is great, with the common now home to its own festival, the docks and river.

What do you think of the teaching staff?

It is fascinating to think how so many of our lecturers are performing research at the front of their respective fields. It’s not something you are particularly aware of in your first year, but as you mature and begin to get deeper into your degree its quite inspiring to think about the work some staff members are doing.

How have the facilities contributed to your learning?

The library and number of student spaces is great, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate at home with so many distractions. However, as long as you know where to look there is always a quiet space on campus to concentrate and get work done, there’s even the NOC library which provides a great change in scenery.

Have there been any field trips/ trips abroad that you particularly enjoyed? If so, please explain a little.

In the summer after my third year and for the first semester of my forth year I was on a six month placement at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden to perform research surround Li-S batteries. It was a fantastic experience living in another country for 6 months, I made many new friends from all around the world, but I also participated in research that I really enjoy. The placement let me show off practical skills to a group outside of Southampton and has allowed me to secure work for myself post-graduation.

Have you participated in any other groups/ societies/ activities outside of the classroom? If so what are they and what do you enjoy most about them?

I’ve been part of a few societies, never really stuck to one, but the abundance and variety of societies to join is fantastic. When you do join, it’s great to meet a new group of people outside your course.

What has been your best memory from your time here? This could be a particular project/ activity/ relationship/ placement.

For a while I took my degree for granted and never really bought into it, I always thought I would get my degree and then try to enter a separate profession or go on to do further training in a different field. However, after doing my 3rd year research project where you have something to work on I really began to enjoy everything Chemistry had to offer. Especially the research, through the reading of literature and practical work in an effort to solve the puzzle that was my project.

Could you say something about what you would like to do once you graduate?

My 6-month placement as part of Chemistry F101 really helped me make up my mind. Once I graduate I hope to return the laboratory group I was with for my placement in Sweden, to continue doing similar research in a field that really fascinates me.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention? For example friendships/ facilities/ teaching/ staff/ accommodation/ memories/ support available/ the campus/ advice for new students.

Advice I would have for any new students, and forgive me for using the cliché, but just throw yourself into the student life. Don’t have reservations, join societies try something new and make as many friends as possible.

*Course formerly titled MChem Chemistry with six month placement

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