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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Students

Kowoon Noh (Undergraduate)

Why did you choose to study in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University?

Durham University is a respected university in the UK. The Department of Biosciences offer an excellent teaching programme with a lot of flexibility and choices on the focus of your degree.

What are your memories of the first few weeks as a newly arrived undergraduate student in Durham?

I had the most wonderful start of my life in Durham. The University offered a pick-up from the airport to individual colleges. International students spent a few days to get to know the city and each other before the rest of the students arrived. This was a great opportunity to settle in Durham.

Lectures started a week after I arrived, beginning with introductory talks about different modules. This helped me to make a good start. One of our first practicals was a field trip to the coast. It was cold but also very interesting.

What is student life as a Durham University like?

As a Durham University student, you live in a close community. It is such a small city that you are highly likely to meet people you know wherever you walk.

Durham University has a unique collegiate system. College is far more than an accommodation. It provides you a small home-like area to socialise and take part in events. It is also quite enjoyable to meet people from different colleges. Being a Durham biology student, you will also get to enjoy the 'cardiac hill'!

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

Durham is a very traditional English city- you can experience the true English culture. You will hear the Cathedral bells as you walk and you will pass places with many years of history. At the same time, Durham is a very lively city- full of energetic students. This contrasting combination gives a unique atmosphere and this is why I enjoy the life in Durham.

What is the student community and students' social life at Durham like?

The university has a variety of student-run societies, from sport societies to some unique ones you will never find in any other universities. It is a place where you can meet people with similar interests and discover new interest of your own.

Even though Durham is a small city, there are many restaurants, shops and a cinema. It is a student city and therefore many things are focused on the students. Also, Newcastle is only 10 minutes by train.

What were your biggest challenge and your greatest success in your time at Durham so far?

As an international student, the biggest challenge was becoming independent in a foreign country. I had to learn to organise my life as well as keeping up with all the deadlines. However, my friends from college and my course have always supported me. My biggest success is that I feel more confident now to live in any other countries in the future.

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

I plan to further my studies in a biology-related area. My biggest goal is to work in the United Nations to contribute to future developments in world issues such as agricultural problems.

How will an undergraduate Durham degree help you achieve these goals?

The intense degree programme has given me more than pure biological knowledge. It has given me analytical skills, effective time management and organisational abilities and more. I believe that an acclaimed Durham degree will take me to any highly reputable institutions in the world.

Is there any advice you'd give to other international students thinking about studying in the Department of Biosciences at Durham?

I would highly recommend becoming a biology student at Durham University. You not only get to learn from the great lecturers and scientists but also get to enjoy every day living in this beautiful city. I personally think this is one of the best places to study abroad. The international community is small yet friendly and stable in this community.

To get the most out of your experience, you should consider the different colleges to decide which one suits you best.


Zhi Li (PhD student)

Why did you choose to study in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University?

Durham University is one of the oldest and best universities in the UK especially in the field of Biology, according to the recently published league tables. That's most important reason why I came here.

In addition, I was very impressed by the active and effective working style of my supervisor and administration staff in the school when I applied for my PhD position. Their speedy response saved a lot of time for me to apply for Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate and student visa.

What are your memories of the first few weeks as a newly arrived postgraduate student in Durham?

The University Graduate School, my individual College, the Department of Biosciences and International Office all held lots of welcome and induction events at the beginning of the term. Even at Newcastle airport, the University provided us with free bus services transporting us to the accommodation in Durham.

What is student life as a Durham University like?

Durham is a quite small town, but Durham is famous for the Cathedral and Durham University. I like the pure academic atmosphere at Durham University. Both the University Graduate School and Department of Biosciences offer a variety of training courses throughout the year. We have excellent opportunities to learn how to use the equipment, how to analyze data using computer software, and how to be a skilled presenter. Some of the courses include one-to-one sessions allowing us get help with our own specific situations.

Furthermore, we can broaden our knowledge by attending seminars which are run by our Department of Biosciences at least twice a week. We can also practice presenting our own work and have informal discussion with the other postgraduates in the School in Semibars which are run once a week.

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

It is very convenient to access the literature at home, even in a privately rented house, using our own laptop. We dont have to go to the university library or use the university network to do so. When I studied in Glasgow, it was totally different. I had to stay in the library to write reports and essays. You can't imagine how excited I am now!

In general, as a non-EU student, you may be required to make appointment to register with police and enroll your biometrics in an appointed office, which may be in another city miles away, when you extend your student visa. To do this you may need to wait for several months or catch a train. However, it is much easier to do this if you live in Durham. You can register with police in the campus and enroll your biometrics in the post office in Durham city centre.

What is the student community and students' social life at Durham like?

Although I dont live in college, I can feel everyone including international students are more than happy to live there because there are various activities taking place in college every week. I can receive more than 5 emails everyday regarding the activities and events from different student social groups. Particularly, we have a Chinese student community which organizes several events and parties, such as a karaoke competition.

What were your biggest challenge and your greatest success in your time at Durham so far?

The UK society and Universities have put the health, safety and ethics issues in a very important place, so if you are not sure about any aspect of an experimental procedure, you should ask before action rather than simply depending on your previous experience in your home country. That might be the biggest challenge for me.

The greatest success so far is that I communicate with my supervisor quite well with respect to my project, as I had read a lot of relevant papers before I started PhD. In short, good preparation is essential for a new starter, especially for an international student.

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

I aim to pursue a career as a scientist and researcher in biomedical sciences. With the rapid progression of understanding about the mechanisms underlying various disorders or diseases, I believe the patients will eventually benefit from our research in the future.

How will a postgraduate Durham degree help you achieve these goals?

The postgraduate programme in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University allows me use a variety of experimental methods, and I have access to advanced equipment such as confocal microscopes. All of these are essential for my research career. I have the opportunity to meet outstanding researchers in seminars and approach the frontiers of science.

Is there any advice you'd give to other international students thinking about studying in the Department of Biosciences at Durham?

Durham is very beautiful and will give you a very enjoyable experience if you choose to study here.


Rushdie Abuhamdah (PhD student)

I was attracted to Durham as my sister is a Durham graduate and when I asked her about it she said: 'If I were to choose again, I would still choose Durham." This, combined with the fact the Department of Biosciences is a well recognised research-intensive department with a consistent top ranking, made Durham the choice for me.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working under the guidance of an academically-distinguished supervisor who have given me a lot of support and motivation. As a postgraduate student in Durham, I am fortunate to have two families; my department which is my academic family and my college family, which is another intellectual and social community giving me the chance to engage with academics and fellow students across many disciplines and from diverse backgrounds.

A PhD from Durham University is recognised and valued around the world, it will definitely give me an advantage in pursuing a research career in some of world's finest organisations.

Durham is truly an international university that makes students feel at home giving them a chance for an extraordinary academic and cultural experience.