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James Murray

Applied Biology

Applied-Biology_Student_James-MurrayWhat appealed to you about Northumbria University / studying in Newcastle?

I’m from London originally, but after 21 years of living there I’d had more than enough and wanted a fresh challenge somewhere new, and I was very impressed by Northumbria on the open day, so I decided to come to Northumbria and study in Newcastle.

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

I’ve always enjoyed and done well in biology ever since GCSE, through A-levels, and it seemed like a logical progression to further my knowledge and interest in biology by doing a biology degree.

What qualifications did you have?

I had A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and English Language and Literature, and I applied via UCAS.

How did you feel during your first week at Northumbria?

During Fresher’s Week I mainly felt hungover! The first week of the course was exciting though – meeting more new people, getting settled in and getting adjusted to a new way of life.

What do you like most about the course?

The wide variety of different areas and aspects of biology which I’ve learned about, and the structure of the modules throughout the course which give you a great degree of freedom to do things your own way and work to your own strengths.

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

My final year project was the main piece of work I did in my final year of the course. It was an original piece of research (mine was looking at the effects of temperature on the structure and function of key enzymes in two species of marine crab) which I carried out over the course of the final year with the help of my supervisor. It started off with initial research into the topic (looking at what research had been done in the subject area previously, and where my research would fit in with and expand on what was already known in the specific field) which lead to the generation of a project proposal.

Once the proposal was accepted, I carried out my research in the laboratory over the period of a few months. Once work in the lab was complete, I analysed the results and data I had obtained to discover what they meant and their significance, and then discussed the results obtained in relation to previously published work in the field. The full project report was written up in the style of a scientific paper. It was a very challenging, exhausting piece of work, but I got great satisfaction from doing it and seeing it through from the beginning to the end, and I was very proud of the end product and of what I’d achieved.

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

Yes, in the third year of the course. I chose not to do a placement though, as I had already worked in labs full time for two years before starting the course, and I was enjoying myself too much to want to go back to working full time!

What do you do when you’re not studying?

I enjoy going out in Newcastle with coursemates and old flatmates. Newcastle has a fantastic nightlife, it’s a very student-friendly city and there’s something for everyone here. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

What’s your accommodation like?

I lived in Camden Court in my first year of university, and I had a great time there. It was a very friendly, vibrant, fun place to live, and very close to university (a two minute walk). I’d definitely recommend it.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

I’m hoping to work in labs again for a few years to further my experience and research skills, and then I’d like to do a PhD in due course.

How do you get on with your tutors?

Very well, they’ve all been extremely helpful and supportive since day one right up until the final day of the course. They’re always very happy to see you if you need help and they’ll always put themselves out for you. They played a massive part in making university such an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Have you used Student Services during your course?

No, but I knew they were available if and when I ever needed them.

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

Make sure you get the balance of work and play right. Getting a degree is an extremely rewarding, worthwhile experience, but make sure you have a good time doing it! University is a once in a lifetime experience, so milk it for all it’s worth! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Also, try to live in halls in the first year. It’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends from all different walks of life.

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

Over too quickly!

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