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Durham University

Undergraduate

Georgina Uttley

Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Durham University?

The location and prestige of the university was what mainly attracted me. I enjoyed the idea of having a collegiate system which suited me because it became easier to make closer friends both on the same and different courses.

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

The experience wasn’t daunting and I wasn’t at all homesick! Very quickly settled into my college and the support from college mentors and the senior tutor were of a good standard. The transition from freshers week to lectures was quite a step but by the end of teaching week 2 you’ve pretty much got the idea how the rest of your year should pan out! 

What is student life at Durham University like?

You are surrounded by very friendly people and supportive staff wherever you go! You’re also encouraged to get involved in more than just your studies, such as sporting clubs and other social groups. Because it’s a relatively small (yet beautiful) city you quickly get to know your way around and it’s not too difficult to spot your friends amongst the crowds since a high proportion of people living here are students!

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

My final year has thus far been the most enjoyable, doing a research project (although not in Chemistry) allows me to take responsibility for my own work and investigate into discovering some novel findings at the cutting edge of science. Durham is a fairly safe city, with good transport services and not too far from larger cities such as Edinburgh or Newcastle, for those of you who enjoy walks there’s plenty of sightseeing to be done and the countryside is not far away!

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

Being part of a college generates a strong sense of identity during your time here and every college is different to suit the interests and personalities of everyone who applies to this university. There are many weird and wonderful societies to get involved in and you can even create your own if you feel adventurous enough!

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

My biggest challenge was realizing that it’s not like A-level, (not to put you off) but it’s normal to no longer feel on top of the pile, you’ll find you’re just as equally competent as your peers. As well as learning new skills, adapting to different ways of thinking was a huge step for me. However, my greatest success was getting expected results in my research project, sometimes it’s very normal for experiments not to work out, but when you get a positive result you realize that all your efforts have paid off! 

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

At the moment, I’m considering following a career in research and have begin applications to PhD projects at other institutions. I’ve discovered I have a passion for neuroscience, so I’m actually starting to sway from Chemistry slightly. This was due to my dissertation and my current 4th year project.

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

A degree from Durham isn’t like any other, with a Chemistry degree in one of the UK’s top departments you’re likely to stand out from the crowd. Science is a competitive area to apply for and securing places at university is becoming increasingly more expensive, but if you can impress the admissions team in the first instance you’ll probably impress an employer too.  

Is there any advice you'd give to other students thinking about doing Chemistry at Durham?

Be prepared for a change in study skills and be able to adapt your study skills to meet the demands of the course, it’s NOT like A-levels!! But when all is said and done, a Chemistry degree will provide you with transferable skills such as time management and scientific writing. It’s a very challenging subject and can open many doors for you down several career paths once you’ve graduated. The MChem puts you in good stead of you want to follow a career in academia, but for those of you who want to study a rewarding subject but don’t necessarily want to pursue a career in science (i.e banking, teaching) then the BSc is an option for you.