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Larissa Laine

Human Biosciences BSc (Hons)

Human-Biosciences_Student_Larissa-LaineWhat appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

I am from Finland originally and heard about Newcastle from a friend who was studying here at the time. I chose Northumbria because the course in Human Biosciences offered a wide range of modules and seemed to have a lot of practical work. I was also very keen on the possibility of going on a placement, which wasn't an option in some other universities.

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

I chose Human Biosciences because every year the course allows you to choose a module in a slightly different subject area to the core modules. For example, I chose a bioinformatics module in my first year, a nutrition and bioethics module in my second and last year respectively. Also the broad education that the course offered was appealing as at the time I did not know which field I wanted to specialise in.

What qualifications did you have?

I had completed the Finnish matriculation examination, which is equivalent to A-levels in the UK. I applied though UCAS. 

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

I was nervous but excited about all the new things I was experiencing and everything that was to come. We got a very warm welcome form the lecturers in our school which helped calm my nerves. 

What do you like most about the course?

The lab practical sessions. We had a lot of them, which I thought was great because you learn so much more by doing something for real.

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

After my placement I stayed part time at the Freeman Hospital Microbiology Research Department during my final year where I carried out an evaluation of a novel chromogenic isolation medium for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This research also became my final year project. The work was very challenging and demanding as it required a lot of practical work including some molecular work. However, it was very rewarding as well as the research will also be published at a later date. There was a lot of support available when completing the final year project from lecturers and supervisors. The assessments consisted of an oral presentation, supervisor assessment and the written work. My course required a lot of work, but as with any course if you want to do well and get good marks you will need to put in the effort. It is all worth it in the end though when you graduate with a good degree. 

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

The School of Life Sciences collaborates with local hospitals so I did a research placement in my third year at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and the Freeman Hospital Microbiology Research Department. During the year I was heavily involved in several research projects, two of which have been published in journals. I would recommend going on a placement because you learn so much when working with people in your subject field and when you graduate you will have a year's work experience already, which is something that employers will appreciate.

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I was involved in the International Society in the first year and was the President of the Society in the second year. In my final year I had the part-time job at the Freeman Hospital. Otherwise I enjoyed going to great pubs in Newcastle with friends to relax or go on trips around the UK.

What’s your accommodation like?

I live in private accommodation and the quality can be very variable. I would advise everyone to check out any potential flats before signing a contract. 

What would you like to do when you graduate?

My ambition is still the same - I want to become a researcher. The quality of my course at Northumbria has made sure I have a broad knowledge of a range of subjects and it has given me a great foundation in bioscience, which I can now build on. My time working at the Freeman Hospital Microbiology Research Department supported my studies and ambitions and helped me choose which area I want to specialise in, which is medical microbiology. All of the above made it possible for me to obtain a very competitive Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD studentship at the University of Glasgow so I can continue on the road to achieving my ambition.

How do you get on with your tutors?

I got along with them very well. They have an open door policy - meaning you can go knock on their door whenever you had a problem understanding something covered in a module and they would help you.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

In my first weeks in Newcastle I did see the International Student Advisers, who helped me with things like where to go for a bank account and English customs, which helped me to settle into Newcastle.

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

I would advise students to use all the services universities offer. At Northumbria you can find help for any problem so you don't have to try and get through them alone. Many of the subjects in my course are very complex so I would also advise students to straight away ask when they aren't sure about something because otherwise when exam revision time comes there won't be time.   

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

Exhilarating, demanding, rewarding.   

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