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Amy Cossey

Criminology and Forensic Science

What appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

At 18, I wanted to move away from home but I didn't want to go far. I'm from Durham so it wasn't too far for me to travel home if I needed to. It turns out I never needed to, in fact I settled in so well I barely ever went home. I love Newcastle as a city, it has everything you could possibly need. There are an endless number of pubs clubs and restaurants, places to see, gigs and great shopping, you could never be bored in this city. Northumbria University has a great reputation too and was one of only a few places that offered the course in the entire country.

What was it about the course / subject area that particularly appealed?

I didn't have the chance to do as much science at school as I would have liked so I was eager to pursue a science at university. A lot of people expect the course to be like CSI or a television show but the reality is very different. There is a strong science element, which means that even if a career in forensic science is not for you, you still gain all the basic skills necessary for a career in a general laboratory based science. The fact that the course has a lot of practical, lab based work also appealed to me as I like having the chance to practice what I learn, and employers are always keen to employ people with practical skills.

What qualifications did you have?

I have A-levels in English Language, Psychology and Design. I saw the course as a bit of a change from what I had studied and if I’m honest a bit of a risk but it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Although my A-levels weren't science related it didn't matter too much as the first year of the course included modules that were basic biology and chemistry to help everyone get up to the same level.

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

Lost. I have a terrible sense of direction and I was constantly getting lost around campus and having to ask for directions to places. It was bizarre coming from such a small sixth form to such a large campus. It didn't take me long to get used to and everyone was really helpful and friendly so I settled in really quickly. It's like a second home to me now.

What do you like most about the course?

I love how the course has so much variety to it. It's not all science based and doesn't focus solely on criminology. The 50/50 split means the modules are very different but they all tie in together.

Can you give an example of a piece of work you’ve been involved with recently?

I am currently in the middle of a module called 'Practical aspects of crime scene investigation'. This module involves a few lectures towards the start of term and then we are sent in small groups to the crime scene house we have at Coach Lane Campus which has a mock crime scene. We have to put on scene suits and are each assigned a room to analyse and then collect samples (swabs etc) that are taken back to the lab for analysis.

How do you get on with your tutors?

I haven't had too have much contact with my guidance tutor but he is always available when I need him. My dissertation tutor has been amazing and is always on hand when I need her. My dissertation was based around Human Trafficking and it was reassuring to know she had experience in this area.

Do you have the opportunity for any work placements during your course?

Yes, there is an opportunity to take a placement year during year 2 and 3 of the course. The nature of forensic labs mean it’s impossible for an undergraduate to undertake a placement in that setting.  However, it is possible to work with major companies like GlaxoSmithKline.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

During the first two years of university I spent time with friends both from University and from home. When it came to the third year a lot more of my time was spent in the library. I worked as a student rep for some of my time at university and spent a couple of hours a week volunteering with a local charity that supports people that are homeless.

What’s your accommodation like?

Being local, I decided to rent private accommodation instead of using halls. This allowed me to choose somewhere that I liked and to be able to move in with my friends. I have lived in Sandyford, the city centre and Heaton. Newcastle has several big student suburbs that are well furnished with shops and every other amenity that you could want.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

The nature of the course means I could choose a career in forensics or opt for something in criminology. Currently I'm looking into working within a prison on the National Offender Management Service programme. I am also looking at careers working in a forensic science laboratory.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

I have used the Careers Service to help with my CV as well as finding me part-time work whilst I studied. I do know there are other services available, which I personally have never had to use but I do know of people who have used them and found the services they offer very useful.

Do you have any advice for anyone applying for your course, or for university in general?

The first thing I’d say is that there are so many courses out there and if the title of the course is the same the content will vary from university to university, so you definitely need to do research. I know there are a few universities that offer Criminology and Forensic Science but none of them offer the same modules that Northumbria do, so it’s important to research that. I’d also suggest visiting university open days and having a good look around all the universities because they all vary so much it’s important you find out as much as you can about the place where you're going to spend at least the next three years of your life.

What three words would you use to describe your time at Northumbria?

Challenging, amazing, growth.

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