Integrated Science: My First Year Review (Part 1) – OurWarwick
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Integrated Science: My First Year Review (Part 1)

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Maddie Lee | Integrated Science Contact Maddie
Anything -- I found university quite daunting to begin with,…
Find out more about me Contact Maddie

I’ve just finished my first year of MSci Integrated Science at Warwick Medical School. It’s also been the first year the course has ever run; the first year of any undergraduate courses at the medical school; and, of course, the first full academic year of Covid. A lot of firsts! So, how has it been? Well, I’m going to attempt the most honest review I can (I promise I’ve not been told to write this, I’ve genuinely loved it this much). Part 1 covers how and why I chose the course and how it worked; part 2 will be my thought and feelings.

How did I get here?

As I’ve discussed in a previous blog, I had a false start year with a course I found wasn’t for me. Although this wasn’t a great time (it was a bit of a personal ATL and my ego was quite bruised) the good thing was that my sense of what I did want to be doing was sharpened. I wanted a fun, science-y course with lots of practical labs, but I didn’t really want to specialise in a particular area of STEM. I wanted a small group of people that I got on well with. I wanted a bit more routine than most degree courses are able to offer. I wanted to be academically challenged, but in a way that felt supportive rather than competitive.

Just when I was beginning to think this course couldn’t possibly exist, I noticed Integrated Science on the list of Warwick courses (I might have overlooked it initially as it’s based at the medical school, which I’d assumed was just for, you know, medical students?). It was a slightly surreal moment as it looked exactly like this dream course I’d been looking for. I combed the webpage a few times, looking for the inevitable drawbacks, but everything seemed about as close to perfect as it could possibly be. I mean, small cohort and linear course structure in the first year? Range of STEM subjects being brought together? Looking for people who are excited by science? This was exactly what I wanted.

The scientist in me was also intrigued by it being a new course — a bit of an experiment itself. Although it felt like a bit of a leap into the unknown (what if it’s too easy/too hard/not as good as it sounds?), I was keen to give it a shot. I’d already dropped out once — what did I have to lose? So, I decided to apply.

How did the first year work?

The course has been divided into two-week blocks, each covering a certain topic. This started with some foundational computing and lab skills and an introduction to cell biology. Then, blocks moved from atomic- to population-scale. Each block consisted of morning sessions, with lectures and problem sets, followed by afternoon lab sessions. The labs for each block worked towards a real-life scientific problem. At the end of each block, we wrote a (proper!) scientific paper based on what we’d done — this was assessed and counted towards our overall mark for the year. At the start, we were given a scaffold paper to work with which was gradually taken away. We started more or less filling in blanks and finished the year writing the whole thing.

Unusually for a degree course, teaching carried on into the third term for three blocks. We had one week of revision, then a week of fairly short exams on the lecture material.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Maddie Lee | Integrated Science Contact Maddie
Anything -- I found university quite daunting to begin with,…
Find out more about me Contact Maddie

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