So you've chosen a course that only 16 of the UK's 150 universities offer... Do you really know what you've let yourself in for? Here's the down-low for NatSci at Bath, how we operate and what we get up to.
I chose Natural Science as I was indecisive, I wanted a course that allowed me to continue with all the subjects I enjoyed for as long as possible. The first thing to do is choose your Major (You'll do 2 or 3 modules out of 5 in this subject), I chose Physics as it was the subject I most enjoyed at A level and heavily maths based.
Next, you have Minor choices, you can choose one or two, of which you'll do two or one modules of respectively. I chose to take two Chemistry streams (Physical and Organic) for my first two years of study, then I stuck with Physical chemistry and this year I am taking one module from the School of Management (Business Strategy).
When choosing a science module, taking the appropriate A level is a pre-requisite and Maths is required for any Physics student, but for the more varied units like Business, there are no pre-requisites.
Here, Nick, Max and I are listening intently to a Quantum Mechanics lecture!
So as you can imagine, your workload isn't going to be light. The contact hours are high and you have problem sheets coming out your ears; but as the well-known saying goes, work hard, play hard. Only fellow Nat Sci's will understand the struggles of 09:15 starts and 18:05 finishes multiple days a week, but nothing builds life-long friendship's better than quality time together. (And to any future employers reading this- yes I know that's a normal working day but my housemates have two hours a day, at a push!)
Having the ability to choose from so many modules, you'll struggle to find someone with an exact module match, but you'll never struggle for company. It also works out well, as if you don't do a module but a lecturer has hinted to something from another lecture course, one of your friends more than likely does it and you can pick their brains.
Ok, but don't you miss out on the perks of being in a single-subject department?
We do have a society that run events such as interdepartmental football, a pub golf introduction, Christmas Ball, End of year Ball, Bristol socials and we still get to join in all the fun of other departments. Most chemistry-inclined NatSci's have attended at least one Chem Ball and you can attend any other science-related social provided you get a membership to their societies (they're usually £5 and definitely worth it!)
Pre-NatSci Ball 2018. (Thanks Tynan for the views)
It sounds like a lot of work, Why bother? What is so good about it?
Yes - it's interesting to see how your background physics knowledge underpins the hands-on chemistry you formulate in labs and to be able to laugh at the simplifications Chemistry lecturer's give for the Schrodinger equation (no that's not a dig, but it does amuse us). You are going to graduate extremely employable due to the varied nature of your studies. But the best part of being a NatSci? The friendship ensued by being in such a small cohort is unrivalled.
Oh, and NatSci course leaders always bribe us to events with pizza.
Finally, here are my three top tips for prospective NatSci's
- Reread your lecture notes, condense them and stay on top of your problem sheets. One a week per module isn't bad, but all of a sudden, having 10 problem sheets overdue becomes very daunting.
- Work smarter, not harder. Don't spend the gaps between your lectures scrolling through Instagram or watching Facebook videos. Whilst this is fine for 5/10 minutes, if you work in your gaps you won't need to work 'out of hours'. You can still keep your social life, you can go to the pub with your house rather than having to sit in and do that formative assessment you could have done in your two-hour gap earlier... And even if you aren't quite as up to date as you could be - let your hair down once in a while, you'll find yourself feeling a lot more motivated if you let yourself relax too.
- More generally, shop at Lidl and pack your lunch! If you're struggling with a Uni budget, you'll be surprised how much difference a packed lunch makes rather than a £5 meal deal every day. Yes it's convenient and if you're run off your feet it can be worth it, but it will seriously burn a hole in your bank balance. Similarly, cook with your housemates and the shop will not only be cheaper, but you won't get bored eating the same bulk-cooked meal for 5 days in a row. (And if you're lucky enough that one of them works at Sainsbury's- you'll get all the end-of-shelf-life bakery treats in an evening - for free)