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Rebecca Hardy

Biology with Forensic Biology

Biology-with-Forensic-Biology_Student_Rebecca-HardyWhat appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

I always wanted to move out of home and have the ‘university experience’, as I am originally from Leeds I picked Newcastle not only for its city appeal but because it wasn’t too far from home, but far enough! Knowing people who had already attended Northumbria and loved it sold it for me, and going to the Open Day confirmed it was where I wanted to spend the next four years.

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

After studying and enjoying biology at A-level it made me want to study it further.  As I’ve also always had an interest in forensic science, this degree is perfect, I get to learn about plant, animal and human biology, and about forensics too. After attending an Open Day and learning more about the course I knew it’s what I definitely wanted to do.

What qualifications did you have?

After gaining all of my GCSEs in high school I carried on with my A-levels at sixth form, where I studied biology, theatre studies and leisure studies. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to attain the grade needed in biology, but through UCAS Northumbria offered me a place on their ‘Extended Degree’ course where I studied biology, chemistry, IT and algebra for a year, passing this then enabled me to start my degree. The foundation year at university was a really positive experience and actually gave me an advantage over the students beginning a year after me; I knew how the university worked and what was expected of me.

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

The day I moved into halls was a whirlwind of emotions - excitement, anticipation but most of all nerves about meeting and living with new people, but the worry soon wore off and I threw myself into university life, and by the end of the first week I already felt like I’d been there years.

What do you like most about the course?

I like the intensity of my course and the depth of the subjects. I love the variety of topics involved in this degree - from bioethics to crime scene investigation! The course teaches you through a range of ways, my favourite being practical labs.

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

At the moment I am working on my final year project, which looks at finding new antibiotics from a range of soil samples. My final year also involves lots of forensic modules, in one assessment I have to travel to coach lane campus to a ready made ‘crime scene’- a house which has been set up to resemble the conditions that a Crime Scene Investigator may face on a daily basis. From the moment I arrive at the scene I have to take on the role of a crime scene investigator, and photograph, find and collect any evidence at the scene.

This course is quite demanding but very rewarding when you realise what you have learnt and the results you achieve.

How do you get on with your tutors?

All of the tutors I have had experience with are very kind, from day one they make it clear that you can approach them with any issues and they can be dealt with in a professional manner.

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

Yes, this course is a sandwich degree which means there is a chance to take a year out before the final year to gain experience in the industry. With this degree, the usual places most students work are in laboratories, the placement helps when applying for a job after university as experience is sometimes a must in job profiles.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

In my first year at university I had a part time job in a bar/restaurant but I found that I needed to concentrate on university work more as the time went on.  I love the fact that Newcastle is a lot like my hometown, Leeds, and my favourite thing to do is spend time with my friends and enjoy the nightlife the city has to offer. When I have the time I try to keep fit and I shall be joining the university’s brand new gym very soon!

What’s your accommodation like?

In my first year I lived in one of the university’s halls of residence - Camden Court, which I found really sociable and comfortable to live in; after a year it’s time to decide who you want to live with in private accommodation, usually a rented house. I currently live in a flat with my course mate, the house is a 15 minute walk from university and I really love having my own place.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

My career choices have changed numerous times since I started university, I have just recently sent off my application to study for a PGCE in secondary biology. I do like to keep my options open though and I think any job involving science would suit me, as well as teaching I am interested in lab work and my interest for working in the forensic industry grows.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

I signed up to the careers service in my second year; it’s a very useful service as they email me weekly with any upcoming job openings or graduate job presentations. The service also has a whole area on the web full of useful information including writing a good quality CV, part-time job vacancies and graduate opportunities.

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

Learn to work hard, quick, the university doesn’t wait for you to catch up and you can only get on to the second or final years having passed the year before. Try to save some money in case of any sneaky last minute bills or university books you may have to shell out for. When looking for a house for the first time, look early! It may seem ridiculous but most houses go up for rent from about November onwards and the ‘good ones’ will get snapped up quickly. Go for this course if you have a love for all types of science as there are biology and chemistry elements to it.

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

Incomparable, rewarding and exciting!

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