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Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Rhiannon Nicholson BSc Marine Biology with Sciences Foundation Year, 2020

Rhiannon Nicholson's Photo

I chose Southampton because they offered a smooth transition from GCSE Science to a Marine Biology degree, as well as being one of the world’s top universities for Marine Biology

SFY offered great practical opportunities to get to grips with the chemistry and biology topics, giving me experience of working in a university lab. The scientific reports and essays are incredibly helpful as they require university level formatting and quality, meaning my first-year coursework was a less overwhelming.

Did you get the results you needed to get into university? If  no,  would  you be able to give some advice to those who didn’t  get  the  results  they  wanted or needed?

I did not receive the right results to qualify  for  BSc  Marine  Biology,  as  I did not have any have any scientific  A-Levels,  meaning  I  had to enrol in the Science Foundation Year. My advice would be that there are always alternative pathways to get into your chosen  field  or  degree,  whether  it’s SFY, volunteering or apprenticeship work, so don’t let it deter you!  

What advice would you give to students who have not taken the right A-Levels?

My advice is to look for alternative pathways. Although it is hard work, the Science Foundation Year offers a smooth transition from GCSE Science to BSc degrees, which allowed me to move forward instead of back-tracking to complete more A-Levels. 
 
What did you enjoy about doing a Science Foundation Year (SFY) at Southampton? How has it helped you in terms of your degree?

SFY offered great practical opportunities to get to grips with the chemistry and biology topics, giving me experience of working in a university lab. The scientific reports and essays are incredibly helpful as they require university level formatting and quality, meaning my first-year coursework was less overwhelming. 
 
What is it like studying here?

Southampton offers welcoming and green campuses (many of which feature ducks) and I feel very at home studying here. There is a consistent buzz on campus and in student housing areas of the city. The university has endless quiet corners to study in, yet also has a good social scene. Many of my lecturers have done inspiring things with their careers, which makes studying much more interesting. 

How do you rate the study facilities at the University?

There are always quiet corners to study in, as well as places to comfortably complete group work. The libraries and labs are well equipped to accommodate the number of students on campus, particularly in exam season. The National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) has incredible industrial connections and a lot of primary research is conducted in the labs and aquariums there. 

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ so far?

One of my favourite experiences has been being on the committee for the NOCS Netball team - I have really enjoyed bonding and socialising with course-mates outside of studying. 
 
How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

University has increased my confidence massively, both academically and socially. I have experienced a huge increase in subject knowledge, but also an increased desire to learn more in specific subject areas. 
 
What are you enjoying most about your course?

Marine Biology at Southampton has a lot of hands-on practical work in the lab, targeted at very interesting sea-life modules, which is great fun. 
 
Did you/do you stay in University accommodation?

I stayed in Hartley Grove halls, which is part of Glen Eyre, and I was very happy living there. It’s close to Highfield Campus, which was perfect for Science Foundation Year, and it felt safe and comfortable. Sharing a small kitchen with five others was a challenge, but I found that it helped form a lot of friendships! 24-hour support was available in reception for any issues. 
 
What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

One of my favourite things about Southampton is the easy access to everything - there are bus routes absolutely everywhere that are so simple and regular, plus you get a bus pass included in halls. Southampton has a good social scene for those that enjoy nightlife - there are a lot of good student bars and clubs. The campus has its own pub, which has a great atmosphere because it is often busy. There is a lot of history in Southampton, specifically the SeaCity Museum and historic connections with Titanic. The city walls are also interesting to visit. 
 
What three words sum up how you feel about your experiences so far at Southampton?

Challenging, surprising and valuable. 

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