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Durham University

Undergraduate

Katherine Langridge

Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Durham University?

The reputation of the University combined with one of the highest ranked chemistry departments in the country really appealed to me. I liked the flexibility and breadth of the course enabling the study of some modules outside the department in the first two years. My choice was also influenced by the great future employment prospects for chemistry graduates from Durham. The facilities and playing standard of the University hockey club also influenced my decision.

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

Amazing! Colleges really make an effort in the first term to ensure you settle into life at Durham, with a range of events being put on to suit everyone. Everyone is in the same boat so any anxieties over making friends quickly vanished. I also remember it being hectic; signing up to lots of clubs and societies, getting freebies from Fresher’s’ Fair and getting lost a lot too!

What is student life at Durham University like?

Durham offers something for everyone, with the collegiate system offering every sport and society you could think of. There is also the option of high level sports at Durham, with the University teams competing at a very high standard. Last year only Loughborough won more BUCS points.Durhamis unique in this sense combining both academic and sporting excellence. The only challenging thing is trying to find time to do everything.

What do you enjoy most about studying and living here?

Durham is a beautiful and safe city with everywhere you need to go being within walking distance, and if you ever need to go further afield the transport links are great. As Durham is a relatively small city, when you walk through town or the science site you will always bump into someone you know, giving you a real sense of belonging.

In terms of studying, the department offers a lot of support, with a personal tutor as a point of contact and other members of staff are always more than happy to help. The course is broad initially with the option to specialise in later years. It is also well balanced between lectures, practicals and self-study.

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

Social life at Durham is great with things constantly going on from Formals and festivals in college to bar crawls and fancy dress. There is also the option of going further afield to Newcastle with trains only taking about fifteen minutes.

The collegiate system in Durham really lends itself to community spirit with hundreds of people often turning up to cheer on their college side in a cup game.

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

My biggest challenge was in my third year balancing studying, applying for a fourth year industrial placement, and playing hockey for the University team. This was also my greatest success as I obtained an industrial placement with GlaxoSmithKline and I also won BUCS gold with the University hockey team.

The department helped me by providing mock interviews and CV workshops, maximising my chances of getting an industrial placement. The flexibility of the department also meant that I was allowed to reschedule my academic commitments when I had interviews or sporting commitments.  

[Department note: We try to reschedule for external committments but cannot guarantee this.]

What are your career plans and goals for the future?

My industrial placement year has confirmed that in the future I would like a role in chemistry. I am currently looking into jobs within the consumer goods industry and also analytical chemistry, the area covered by my current placement.

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

The reputation of the chemistry department and Durham University is very high, with employers valuing the skills gained from completing a degree here. I have learnt a lot and not just in terms of chemistry, the department equips you with a broad skill set to enter the outside world; from problem solving to communication skills.

The opportunity to have a year in employment as part of my masters degree has been an invaluable experience. I have gained an insight into the pharmaceutical industry which has helped me to decide if I want to pursue a career in chemistry. A year in industry is also a great addition to your CV.                        

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

I would strongly recommend studying Chemistry at Durham, even if you are unsure if you want to pursue Chemistry in the future. The transferrable skills you gain from this degree will allow you go into a wide range of careers. The reputation of the department and Durham University means future employment prospects will be promising.