Integrated Science: My First Year Review (Part 2)
This is the second part of my effort to summarise how I’ve found the first (ever!) year of MSci Integrated Science. In part 1 I’ve described how and why I chose the course, and outlined how it worked. Here, I’ll focus on my personal experience and try to answer questions I had before starting.
How was the content, structure and workload?
Pretty good overall. Most of the content was very interesting and as up-to-date as possible. I particularly enjoyed learning about parasites, the immune system and cell division. Although I hadn’t touched biology since my GCSEs, I found these lectures really accessible (without feeling too simple). I did feel a little out of my depth with some of the physics content (doesn’t literally everyone?) but not unbearably so.
For me, the content worked really well with the structure of the course. The fact that we could be learning something in the morning and instantly seeing it in practice in the afternoon was brilliant; science is interesting because it’s real, after all! I also liked being able to focus on just one subject for two weeks and then moving on. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by lots of different modules going on at once, and it gave enough time to go quite in-depth on one thing. (And, if you don’t enjoy a subject so much, you only have to endure two weeks!)
I liked being able to go in at 10am every morning and leave at about the same time (3-5pm depending on how long the lab was). Initially, at least, we had little-to-no work to take home with us. This meant I had plenty of time to settle in to student life and go over any content I hadn’t understood without worrying about homework. I found the bi-weekly lab reports quite challenging, but usually managed to get them done well in advance of deadlines. When I look back on the reports I wrote now I’m really proud of them, and feel my ability to write papers came on very quickly. I’m sure this will be a very useful skill moving forward!
There was only one week between the end of teaching and exams, and I left most of my revision until then (I did go over some stuff in the spring holiday). I was glad that we had a lot more teaching time than time spent revising for, and doing, exams. The exams themselves were challenging but not too difficult.
How was the culture/feel of the course?
This is something that’s really important to me and something I really liked about the course. As it’s a course with a small number of students, and we spent almost every day together, we quickly formed quite a close-knit group. We’ve been very supportive of each other academically and spent quite a lot of our free time together too. I’m pretty sure I’ve made friends for life here.
The staff have been very supportive and (again, easier as it was such a small group) always ready to help when I needed it.
Overall, it’s been friendly, non-competitive and enthusiastic.
What do I want to do next?
So far, I feel this degree is very good preparation for a research career and I’m definitely interested in doing a PhD. I’m also interested in science communication and education. I’ll have to see how the next few years go before making any decisions, though!
I hope I’ve managed to convey how much I enjoyed the first year of Integrated Science. If you’re interested in the course (which is possibly changing its name) and have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or send me a message.