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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Matthew Norman BSc Environmental Science

Current student

Matthew Norman's Photo

My lecturers challenge me and they keep me on my toes; but, most importantly, they inspire me. Motivating yourself to get work done is easy when you're so often inspired by the great research and people around you.

What made you choose to come and study at Southampton? 

I had previously studied, and given preference to, subjects that fall under the Humanities umbrella. But I decided to veer away from my comfort zone and enrol onto a science degree. I had always been fascinated by the natural world. However, I had less flair for scientific study than say, English. To be accepted onto the Environmental Science BSc, I needed A-levels in science subjects. The University of Southampton provided a fantastic opportunity through the Science Foundation Year – an intense academic year comprising of chemistry, mathematics and biology A levels. Upon completion of the Foundation Year I was able to enrol onto the Environmental Science degree course. I chose Southampton because of its outstanding opportunities for access to higher education.   

What is it like studying here?  
I have access to some of the best facilities, events, research, advice, personal development programmes and opportunities in the UK. My lecturers challenge me and they keep me on my toes; but, most importantly, they inspire me. Motivating yourself to get work done is easy when you're so often inspired by the great research and people around you. I could quite easily live on campus, given that most of your needs are taken care of, be it food from the shop or various cafeterias, social space in the University pub, or exercising in the sports halls and gym.
How do you rate study facilities at the University, such as the Library? Have you found the Library, its content and the study spaces available within it useful?  

The University has plenty of study space available to all students. I usually take my laptop to one of the Google-esque pods on the third floor of the library. But if I don't have my laptop with me, or I don't need a computer, there are lots of rooms in the library providing University computers or just desk space. 

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ so far?  

I joined Enactus, a social enterprise society in my first year and cannot recommend it highly enough. It has afforded me opportunities beyond anything I thought I would participate in. I have travelled to Kenya and Malawi on multiple occasions to implement social enterprises conceptualised right here at university. As a society we won the Enactus World Cup in 2015 in Johannesburg – this was the ultimate highlight of my time at university. I've been invited to numerous events, including a pre-Enactus World Cup evening at the House of Lords, and a leadership talk at the World Cup itself, where I presented in front of around 600 people.
What other activities have you taken advantage of while at University?  

I undertook an Excel placement in the summer between my first and second year. I worked as an 'enterprise champion', helping to identify all enterprising opportunities the University has to offer, from activities in certain modules to extra-curricular activities. Through the job I got to visit the Intellectual Property Office in Wales, where I gained a ‘Master Class in Intellectual Property’ qualification. I have helped the Social Impact Lab run a few of their activity days, mainly by presenting Enactus to new students and generally encouraging students to leave their comfort zones. I've been invited to and attended the University’s annual Sustainability Awards, (winning the Staff-Student Collaboration Award), and the Excellence in Volunteering Awards. I’ve also presented research at the annual sustainability symposium.    

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course?

There have been a lot of course seminars held by speakers who recently graduated from Environmental Science and now work in the environmental sector. I have had lots of exposure to employer involvement throughout my degree and through Enactus.  

What are you enjoying most about your course? 

I enjoy the passion that everybody has for what they do. Selling environmental wellbeing can be a tough job, but all of my lecturers are incomparably passionate about what they teach. 

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans? 

I have had, and taken the opportunity to study several 'Curriculum Innovation' modules whilst at university, including: Sustainability, Global Challenges, and Ethics. The UOSM (Curriculum Innovation) modules are unique in that they are not entirely driven by academic measures, but instead encourage students to engage in discussion and debate. I have thoroughly enjoyed the UOSM modules because they open up new pathways of thinking and encourage a mixture of students to contribute their views.  

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities have you undertaken and how have they enhanced your undergraduate experience? 

The majority of networking events I have attended have been through Enactus. These have included training days, a national competition in London, and conferences arranged by the society. I have actually just secured an internship with the University once I graduate, and it was given to me by the same staff member who gave me my internship as an 'Enterprise Champion'. I haven't undertaken any work experience directly related to my degree subject, however, the skills I have learned through the work experience I have undertaken in an enterprise capacity will be of critical importance for my future.  

Did you stay in University accommodation? What were your halls of residence like in terms of facilities?

I stayed in Montefiore halls during my Foundation Year and Glen Eyre during my first year. Both were brilliant. We had more than enough showers, kitchen space, outdoor space, travel links and social events. I am still best friends with my hall mates to this day.  

Do you like living in Southampton? What are the benefits of Southampton as a city?

I do enjoy Southampton, especially the green spaces. The Common is wonderful and full of runners and cyclists and sporty students. Southampton has the rare benefit of being a slightly smaller city than somewhere like Manchester, for instance, but still providing lots of fun places to visit and socialise. It feels very inclusive; you will usually run into somebody you know, even in the town centre. 

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