Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: Undergraduate

New semester, new experiences: Re-Fresh Week!

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📥  Undergraduate

It has come to that routine time of the year where all the students have gone into hibernation for the exam season. But fear not, for just around the corner lies Re-Fresh Week; the perfect excuse to sign up for more sports and societies and enhance my university experience.

Sports at Bath

I  am currently a member of the Ladies Sixes Hockey Team. We train twice a week with additional sessions for fitness and fun games. We play matches every Wednesday and have a social once a week; the socials precede the matches on Wednesdays and they take place at the one and only ‘Score’ night out. Each week there is a different theme for the individual hockey teams and believe me, the Hockey Committee can get rather creative. This season has had me and my Hockey Fresher Teammates dressing up as Oompa Loompa’s, horses, babies and plants, to name just a few.

The Ladies 6’s Hockey Team at Score

Societies to join

Even if sport isn’t your thing Re-Fresh Week offers many other societies that have something to offer everyone. Whether you enjoy music, dancing, baking, environmental awareness, business, or even want to seek out an enriching cultural experience, there is a society for you. If you are keen to explore your musical talent whilst at university then I suggest you join the MusicSoc or even stretch your borders and join the Bath University Student Musicals Society (BUSMS). Likewise, if you feel like dancing is your thing, then the BodySoc may be just for you. Other societies at the University of Bath include the BakingSoc, Vegetarian Society, People and Planet, the Irish society, the University of Bath Management Society and Bath Entrepreneurs.

Entertainment Central- The Media Suite

One of my favourite features of the University of Bath’s groups to join is the Media Suite – CampusTV, Bath Time Magazine and University Radio Bath (URB). These three groups make up the heart of media on campus, and provide the students with constant entertainment, news and humour. I am on the Committee for CampusTV and can safely say that it is an absolute blast; we cover various on-campus events (political and social), as well as create a monthly Score recap of all the weird and wonderful themes and night-out gossip. We even have our very own shows, which are student created and student led. We hold a monthly General Meeting where all CampusTV members can join in as we discuss the projects we have recently created and the ones to come, as well as taking ideas from students for new shows. If you enjoy filming, presenting or editing, or even just have an idea for a new show, join us. We have regular socials, exciting annual events (such as the upcoming Mediacon 2018 and annual Christmas Meals) and generally just have a ball working together.

Me with some of the campus TV team

Students' Union life

One great thing I have done which has really helped to immerse myself into university life is to become a Hall Rep for my Halls of Residence, and this is an easy way to get one foot in the door if you plan on being deeply involved in the Students' Union. As a Hall Rep, you are able to plan and promote fun social events for your flatmates and have the support and funding from the University Students Union to do so. Likewise, you can initiate Community Outreach events and fundraisers as well as sports socials. Being a Hall Rep also stands you in good stead if you wish to be a Fresher’s Week Captain in your second year as you are already greatly involved in the life of the Students' Union. Being a Captain is an amazing experience- you undergo training the week before Freshers' Week and then the party starts. You can either be an Event’s Captain (your main focus is on events management of Fresher’s Week) or a Residential Captain (you are directly involved with Fresher pre-drinks each night and work to get all the Fresher’s involved in the day activities.

On shift as an Event Captain during Freshers' Week 2017

In 2017 I was an Event’s Captain and my shifts included managing the main arena, overseeing various events, and manning the information points. On our nights off, as captains we were allowed access to the main arena and headline events. By being a Freshers' Week Captain, I was able to meet so many new people from different courses and integrate myself with the older year groups. If you come to Bath, I highly recommend applying!

 

Getting stuck into a society

  

📥  Undergraduate

You’ve probably heard all about the many different opportunities there are at university. The chance to learn about cultures from all around the world through meeting new people, gaining independence from your parents and moving to a new city, blowing most of your student loan on nights you won’t remember (I can’t say I’d recommend this) and many other things.

All of this may seem exciting for some but also quite daunting for others and trust me I was one of those who was a little daunted. One of the best ways I’ve found of settling in to university and making new friends is through joining a society. They are groups of students that are linked by a shared interest in a particular topic that meet together throughout the week. At Bath there are a huge range of different societies from the Knitting society to the Curry Appreciation society. They are all great for socializing and meeting new people, learning new skills you never thought you’d try and most of all for having fun.

If you come to Bath all the societies will have a stall in Freshers' Week at the Freshers' Fair so you can find out more about them there if you decide to come to Bath. In this post I’m going to talk about some of the societies that I’ve joined this semester and share some examples of things that I’ve done within them while explaining a bit more about how they work.

Juggling and circus skills society – Gravity Vomit

This was a society that I had researched prior to coming to university as juggling has been a hobby of mine for a number of years and I was keen to get back into it at university. I found out about the society by meeting some of the committee at their Fresher’s stall.

Each society has a committee that runs the society. The committee consists of a Chair, a Secretary and a Treasurer. They get elected by members of the society through a voting process that happens each previous year (with the winners fulfilling the roles throughout the following academic year). The Chair heads up the society and should know about everything going on in the society from finances to new members coming in. The Secretary is the link between the committee and the other members – they are responsible for the communication of events and news as well as organizing meetings for the committee. The treasurer is in charge of the budget and finances for the society, making sure money is being spent effectively and in accordance with the budget.

After meeting the committee members, I was really excited to go along to my first session. We meet in art studios with high ceilings to practice juggling and other circus skills like diablo, plate spinning, unicycling and much more. Getting consistent practice in and having other people around me to learn from has meant that my juggling has improved massively, and I’ve picked up a few other skills along the way.

Our collection of juggling props

Not only have we had the regular meetings, but we’ve also had a range of socials events including skating, going to the pub, and a Christmas meal. These are a great way to get to know people with similar interests, and are pretty fun too. Other events include teaching groups how to juggle and the committee are planning a one-day juggling convention where over 200 jugglers from around the country will gather to learn from each other, compete, and to watch an awesome show at the end of the day. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Bath Video Game Society

I came across this society at the society fair at Freshers' Week and thought I’d check it out. It’s quite a large society and they run monthly LAN parties where they book a room on campus and everybody brings their own computers to play games together.

Despite the stereotype of gamers being somewhat anti-social, I felt very welcome on my first visit. Whatever game you’re interested in you’re bound to find someone whose played it and loves it as much as you do. The main games played were League of Legends, DOTA 2 and CSGO but with the classic Mario kart thrown in there as well along with a group of people playing some boards games together.

They ran some tournaments throughout the day and ordered in pizzas, so you could quite easily stay there for the whole day if you wanted to. I got involved in one of the tournaments and came third- it was an easy way to find people playing the same game and to talk to them about it (trust me I could go on for hours talking about DOTA).

Christian Union

Another society that I had looked into before coming to university was the Christian Union (CU). This society isn’t affiliated with the Students' Union so isn’t on its website (long story as to why that is) but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the largest and most impactful societies on campus.

The CU’s aim is to “To give everyone at Bath University the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ” and they do this in a range of different ways.

They have weekly meetings where we all gather together to get teaching and be encouraged in our endeavours whatever they may be. I’ve met so many different people on different courses, different years and a whole range of backgrounds. Everyone’s so welcoming and great to talk to – having people to learn from who have experienced much more than you and to have them looking out for you is so reassuring. Its like a little family.

Not only are there weekly meetings but the CU also regularly hold events that are open to anyone. During Freshers' Week every night at the chaplaincy members of the Christian Union give out free tea and toast to people coming out of the main arena events. They do this to bless those on campus and let people know about the CU – I helped out on one of the nights and it was so rewarding to just give to people and see the reactions from them (which really made the lack of sleep worth it).

Some of the food we made for events

 

One of the other things that I love about the CU is how keen they are to get everyone involved. We ran an events week, where we had loads of events all focused on the aim of the CU to spread the good news. Pretty much everyone in CU helped out with the events, with setup, making food, hosting the events and promoting everything. I tried doing things I’ve never done before and felt really challenged but grew so much through that experience.

Without a doubt, when at university it is really worth getting stuck into whatever societys you find yourself at home with – it is hugely rewarding and really helps to maker the most of your time at Uni.

 

Take part in an adventure at university!

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📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Hoping to be a part of something spectacular at University? Secretly dream of being a performer? Look no further than the University of Bath’s very own A capella group: 'Aquapella'.

Amongst all the interesting lectures, coursework, nights out, and  more – a hint of music may be just what you are looking for. Aquapella is less of a group and more of a family, which opens doors to the most amazing experiences.

Just this past year the group excelled to new heights by competing in the International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s). Having placed 3rd at quarter-finals and 1st at the UK semi-finals, with one of their members being awarded ‘Best soloist’ for both of these rounds, they now hold the title of “UK National Champions of A capella 2017”. As if this wasn’t enough, the now UK National champs were invited to compete on Broadway in the Big Apple where they went on to win the International Award for Best Choreography. What a year it has been! How do I know? I myself was a member of the group during this unforgettable year.

Aquapella at the ICCA finals in New York

The inside scoop: the life of an Aquapella member…

Becoming a member of Aquapella is nothing short of an experience in itself. You start with a taster session where you can sing along with the group and get a feel for what Aquapella is like. Then there are the auditions and finally call-backs where the group will teach you some of their songs and see how you ‘blend’. Once you’re in, the fun starts!

Aquapella have the most exciting events on their calendar; from flash mobbing a TED talk, singing at School of Management Events, to flash mobbing a wedding (requested by the groom of course). You can most definitely catch Aquapella busking in the beautiful city of Bath on Saturdays and Sundays and if that’s not enough, you can even hire them yourself. But just before you think it’s all work no play, I can assure you that Aquapella’s social calendar is just as full with socials between the various A capella groups sprinkled across the UK.

Aquapella at the ICCA semi-finals in London

One of our first socials of the year was a karaoke night with the 'Bristol Suspension' A capella group, held at the Bristol University Students' Union. A few weeks later we travelled to Cardiff for a blast from the past with a decade themed social where each group dressed up to the nines of different times. In addition, to these socials, Aquapella holds their very own annual Christmas meal and Aquapella reunion night in December. These two nights are an all-time favourite where firstly, you get to indulge in the Christmas festivities such as turkey, mulled wine and Secret Santa, and secondly, new Aquapella members get to meet old members as well as the founder of Aquapella himself, whilst of course singing and dancing the night away.

Work, work, work, work

International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)

Getting to the top requires hard work but there was laughter all the way. Preparation for the ICCA’s involved vocal training, choreography, and great marketing efforts to fund the group’s travel. From Exeter for the quarter-finals, London for the semi-finals, and New York for the international finals I can safely say that the group bonded incredibly through this journey both on and off of the stage.

Edinburgh Fringe

Each year Aquapella travels to Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they rent out a venue and put on an hour-long show which takes your through a journey filled with laughter, inspiration, as well as ‘sass’ and leaves you in joyful tears. The Aquapella Fringe show is nothing short of really hard work – the group trains for two weeks to bring the sheet music to life and all members hand out flyers each day at the festival in order to bring the public to the show. Fringe is another incredible experience filled with yet more laughter, cooking rotas, board games, and special end of year celebrations.

Parading around the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival

Handing out flyers to a famous face at the Edinburgh Fringe festival

Aquapella, where to now???

Having recorded and released a music video for their single “Somebody Else” just this past year, Aquapella stays on the ball by recently having been in the studio recording a fantastic cover of “Purple Rain” (coming out soon). The group has also entered the Voice Festival UK this year! Keep an eye out for more details about performances, song releases, competitions, ball games, and more on their Facebook Page and their brand-new website. And if you do end up coming to Bath and feel that you’d like to be a part of Aquapella’s unforgettable adventures, then you should definitely put yourself forward for the Freshers' Week auditions. I am really glad that I did, and have learnt so much about music and myself by being a part of this very special musical family.

Some more photos from our time in New York City at the International Champs of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)....

 

 

 

Transitioning from Physics A-Level to University level

  

📥  Undergraduate

The idea about progressing your studies into higher education can be daunting and is usually surrounded by a thick cloud of misconceptions and, primarily, frantic searching for information on student forums. With this post I aim to clear up the main misconceptions around this transition and hopefully give some insight and clarity to prospective Physics students.

1. You might not want to pack up that entire stack of Physics textbooks and notes.

The great thing about starting a new Physics module at university is that at the beginning of the course students are taken through the basics . This is to account for the fact the student demographic will be a diverse mixture of people with all kinds of scientific and education backgrounds. So, while some of the material taught might seem redundant and obvious coming from an A-Level student perspective, it could be entirely new information for a significant percentage of students. Moreover, the majority of the groundwork was taught and given to us in the notes, provided by the lecturers. Due to this I found myself to personally have no use of the A-Level textbooks and notes I brought along with me. This could, of course, be different from person to person, given the fact there are numerous exam boards and individual learning styles.

Vibrations and waves handout (provided by lecturer) and my notes

2. Shift of teaching dynamic.

The way you are taught will obviously change as you progress onto university. But not by much. Although daunting at first, I found the lectures were comparable to your average A-Level lesson. The lecturers are very approachable in the way they create an interactive atmosphere. Students can ask questions and/or seek further explanation at any time during lectures.

My notes on the Properties of Matter module, which we learn during the first semester of study

There’s also the option to talk to the lecturer after the lecture or outside of teaching time, i.e. visiting them during office hours or revision sessions. It is easy to assume that you’ll receive little to no one-to-one attention for help with assignments and problems. Speaking from my experience with the University of Bath Physics Department, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do lecturers provide constant opportunities for support throughout the course, you also have a personal tutor with whom you meet at least once a week in a group. Moreover, there are more support systems in place, such as peer mentors and peer-assisted learning sessions.

3. You will need to step up your individual study game.

It’s an obvious fact that your studies will become exponentially more independent, but I’m here to explain just by how much. The biggest difference at university is that you don’t really receive prep/homework. What you do receive are problem sheets with no specific deadline, except maybe for the day the problems class regarding those questions is held. It is basically your responsibility to find time in your day to sit down and do those problems, and preferably not the day before your exam! So, although there is a well-built support framework set out for students, it is up to the student how big of an advantage of all of the resources available they’ll take.

4. Practical work

Probably the biggest change I had to adapt to- the laboratory work. This could of course have to do with the new lab atmosphere, but that is a factor in adapting to any new place. Within these lab sessions, typically 3 hours long, you are given a lot of responsibilities. Firstly, the safety of yourself and those surrounding you (i.e. don’t poke the cool-looking equipment) and secondly, having to adapt to brand new material, equipment, techniques and gathering data all within a set timeframe. Don’t let that come as a scare, because you are given a set of detailed instructions/background information and there are very friendly and attentive lab support staff. You will find yourself using some methods and knowledge covered at A-Levels, but you will mostly be building upon them. For example, you will learn new graphing methods, how to use other types of graphing paper, how to make more effective and efficient measurements, new types of data analysis, etc. You will also be faced with the challenge of starting to learn to do wordy writeups of those experiments, especially when it comes to doing your first lab project. But again, there’s a strong support framework set for tasks like this.

To summarize, although adaptation time may vary from student to student, you won’t be alone in this transition. You will be surrounded by fellow freshers in the same position as yourself and, speaking for the University of Bath facilities, with access to a support system all through your studies.

 

Chemistry: To BSc or not to BSc?

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📥  Faculty of Science, Undergraduate

Sweet – you’ve chosen to study Chemistry at the University of Bath! Great choice, but now comes another decision. Do you choose to follow the MChem course or the BSc course? What the heck is the difference? Which one will suit you? Does it even matter?

I’m Freya, and I’m a fourth year MChem student. When I was applying to study Chemistry, I didn’t have a clue which degree course to follow. I settled on the MChem route on the basis that, assuming I did an industrial placement, I’d (hopefully) graduate after four years with a Master’s degree instead of graduating after four years with a Bachelor’s. This blog post was not written to sway you one way or another, but to lay the Chemistry cards on the table and allow you to assess what is best for you.

Let’s start with your first two years at Bath - you won’t see any difference between BSc students and MChem students at this stage. There will be differences if you study Chemistry with Management or Drug Discovery, but BSc students and MChem students will be as mixed together as two ideal gases in a closed system. You will attend the same lectures and help each other out with the same labs, rock up to the same tutorials and endure the same exams. But things will change come third year, so I’d recommend working out what’s going on before then!

Let’s talk BSc. This is your solid, old-fashioned, Bachelor of Science. It can be followed as a three-year course in Bath, or a four-year course with a sandwich year in industry/year abroad at a partner university. Final year is final year, whether you choose to take a sandwich year or not. What this means is that when you return to the university for your fourth and final year, you will follow the same course of study as a third year BSc student who did not choose to undertake a placement/study abroad.

I’ll use an industrial placement as an example, but the same applies to the study year abroad. You will not receive a grade for your sandwich year, but you will have to pass the year to proceed to your final year. This essentially means a year out from formal assessment and the opportunity to earn a bit of money or explore a new culture without the exam stress (dreamy). It will be accredited on your exam certificate though, so employers will know that you have got this experience. What this does mean is that you’ll gain a BSc in four years instead of three, so it depends how keen you are to escape the education system!

Having spoken to BSc friends, the unique selling point of the program is the freedom you get to tailor the final year to your personal interests. You’re able to select between different Chemistry modules in both semester one and two, as well as modules from management, education, or the foreign language centre. You also have an abundance of options regarding your final year project; you can work in the lab, you can do a public outreach project, you can do a case study in a school – you’re the one in control!

Now let’s talk MChem. As I said, everything until the end of year two is followed exactly the same as your BSc colleagues. MChem students can either do four straight years at Bath, or four years including an industrial placement or a year abroad. The main difference between you and your BSc pals is that you will have to complete distance learning during your sandwich year, and they won’t. I don’t blame you for recoiling in horror at the thought of having to study after a long day at work – it isn’t the most pleasant notion. However, your time is your own and you’ll graduate after four years with a Master’s degree, saving yourself an extra year of study and student debt. You will take two exams in the summer before final year; one distance learning exam, and one general chemistry exam (a multiple-choice test on first and second year content). Combined with a placement report, your supervisor’s report, and some coursework, you’ll get an accredited year towards your MChem.

In your final year of MChem, you will have no choice in the modules you study in semester one. In semester two however, you’ll have 100% freedom of choice, as long as you stay within the listed chemistry units available. The main block of the year will be spent on a research project, working for a member of staff in the department. You won’t have as much choice as your BSc counterparts, but you will choose your project and you will become a member of a research group.

They were the hardcore facts and figures, now for some advice:

  • If you want to do a Master’s, I’d suggest doing it as part of a placement program. You’ll pay £1800 for your placement year instead of £9000 being at Bath. You’ll probably get paid, and (this goes without saying but) you will broaden your horizons.
  • If you choose an MChem with a study year abroad, you will be expected to pass exams at your host university and complete the distance learning for Bath. Although the grades at your host university won’t count towards your mark, it’s worth considering the potential workload.
  • If you are undecided where you want to go after your degree, it might be worth doing a BSc. You can only do a non-lab-based placement if you are on the BSc course, which opens up areas such as education, marketing, and management.
  • You can switch between the two courses. Please don’t see this as a no-wiggle-room commitment! Focus on your application for Chemistry, and work out the BSc/MChem details later! I think you need to have a 55% average in order to switch from the BSc to the MChem at the end of the second year, but switching is no problem at all.

I’ve tried to encompass the strengths and downsides of both courses, but I’m bound to have missed something. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to know more. Whatever you choose is not set in stone, and you’ll soon get a feel of what is right for you. To BSc or not to BSc? Indeed, that is the question.

 

Being a student society committee member: Chem Ball MMXVI

  

📥  Undergraduate

Everyone wants to find their crowd at university. Everyone wants to find people they identify with, activities they love doing, events they look forward to attending. Some students will relate to course mates, bonding over late-night revision sessions and that one unanswerable question in the tutorial. Others will turn to societies, and peruse the hefty list of hobbies, values, and beliefs to find their people. For me, it was a winning combination of the two.

September 2014 was the month I became a chemistry student at Bath. All I ever wanted was to do was to be a scientist, and to belong in a department with like-minded people. As soon as I arrived, I signed up for the Bath University Chemistry Society: 'Chem:Soc', and that’s where it all started. I attended every social going, making new connections and getting to know my peers. The Chem:Soc Christmas meal 2014 was distinctly notable, as here was my earliest memory of the formation of my chemistry friendship circle. I’ll always think well of the West Gate pub for that!

The focal point of this year however, was the Chemistry Ball. Held at the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms, the night promised panache, class, and the opportunity to see our lecturers unleash their inner party animals. For the weeks building up the Chem Ball, I could barely contain my excitement! Little did I know that the Ball was going to very much shape my second year experience at the University of Bath, for this was the night that inspired me to run for the Chem:Soc committee.

ChemBall- it was just so fancy!

I didn’t have much time to mull this over – elections were in the weeks following the ball. This was probably a good thing because elections are stressful, and your irrational mind tells you that nobody will vote for you. I ran for the position of treasurer, faced with opposition, and decided to go full steam ahead with the campaign. My friend chose to run for chairman, and we both went in blind with nothing to go on but determination to help our fellow students find their feet as we had done in the year gone by. You can see where this is going; we both won our positions!

So Project Chemball MMXVI was born. The first thing we did was book the Pump Rooms eight months prior to the ball. Whilst we were looking forward to running all our socials, and providing points-of-contact for our members should they need us, we did everything within our power to host a party unlike one we’ve ever thrown before. We thought we were being super clever branding the ball with a Roman numeral trademark, linking the anno Domini ‘2016’ with the BC world of the Roman Baths. It was a project invested in by a curious cohort and executed by a strong committee (seriously committee guys – you’re the best).

My role as treasurer was hard. I was the right-hand (wo)man to the chair, and basically told him what we could and couldn’t afford to do. Getting my head around SU commission was tough; having to negotiate with restaurants and bus companies was out of my comfort zone. We even haggled with the Chemball caterers, something my meek conscience had never dreamt of doing. Everything we did, we did with Chemball MMXVI in mind. It was not cheap, we knew this from the start, but making profits on our welcome social, Bristol social, and Christmas dinner allowed us to subsidise the ticket costs and widen the inclusivity of our highly-anticipated night.

300 tickets sold to placement students, chemistry students, natural scientists, lecturers. The day of the ball had arrived! I woke up and immediately started to document the progression of the day; the morning in to afternoon, the afternoon in to evening. Lectures (really sorry) seemed to go on forever – we were just too excited (and at this point, ridiculously nervous). I rushed home to allow a shameful amount of time to get ready and then bundled into a taxi with the rest of the committee to go and get the party started.

It was a damp night which wasn’t particularly convenient for running around town carting speakers from cars to the venue, but alas, we managed. Having chatted to our event managers and double checked the quantity of champagne available, we were good to go. A queue started to form outside under the sleety skies, and suddenly everything felt under control and almost serene. From there on in it was relatively smooth-sailing. Conversations were flowing (as well as the wine) around the steely green water, laughter was bouncing from ancient wall to ancient wall, and my heart-rate was beginning to settle down. A black-tie event; I was overwhelmed with how smart everybody looked and the efforts that were made. Not that I didn’t think my peers were capable of scrubbing up well, I just struggled to believe that they were doing so because of an event that I’d helped to run.

The Roman Baths by night, as captured by our brilliant photographer Freddie

At 8pm sharp, we were called to dinner. A delightful array of soulful food in the most elegant of rooms. Towards the end of the meal, the chairman and I were allowed to climb up the balcony to take some photos of the dining room. This didn’t go unnoticed; suddenly the room started to applause in the kindest of gestures and I was stunned with the alien notion of feeling completely in my element (excuse the pun). My experience with Chem:Soc, as horrifically cheesy as it sounds, helped me to find my place in chemistry. It was a confidence-booster, a challenge, and a bonding experience with my peers. Yes, it was irksome at times, it was tiring, and it involved playing ‘mum’ on nights out. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Me and Robin (Chairman) enjoying the night

 

What it’s like to study civil engineering at Bath: an update from my first semester

  

📥  Faculty of Engineering, Undergraduate

One of the main reasons that I came to study at the University of Bath was the quality of the teaching and the content of the course. The course at Bath is heavily design focused compared to other universities – though this is the case you don’t necessarily need to be good at drawing (as I’m certainly not), but being able to communicate well through sketching is important. This is something that can be practiced though, so don’t let it put you off applying.

For the first semester the architecture and civil engineering students get taught the same units for everything except geology – I think I’m right in saying there is no other university in the UK with a joint architecture and civil engineering department. It’s also interesting to see how both groups differ in their approach to solving problems and to understand each other’s point of view when designing – one favours architectural beauty and the other structural stability. As the two professions are closely related, it's beneficial to learn how to better work together in preparation for future careers- something that is a key feature of the course at Bath.

Our first main project was a unit called Design Studio, and the brief was to design a place to sit that exemplified the theme “floating” in some way using all the materials that we were given. Initially we were randomly allocated into groups of 5/6 and instructed to design a 1:10 model of our proposed chair. This process involved purchasing card, paper, string and balsa wood that was used to represent OSB, canvas, rope and softwood rods and creating small scale models. We probably made over 20 models before we settled on a design to focus on – modelling really helps to see how the chair will work physically and can convey ideas a lot better than drawings.

After the 2 weeks we had a “crit” which involved our model being critiqued by some of the lecturers, who gave us lots of good feedback. Shortly before it we were told we had to make the model at a 1:1 scale using the real materials – so it changed our perspective on things knowing it had to hold someone’s weight. In 4 weeks we had to make changes to the design to improve it structurally and aesthetically and then physically construct it alongside creating a design report. We split the workload between all of us according to our strengths – for example the architects did the drawings for the design report and those who had done DT at A-level did a lot of the construction.

Our final model for the first crit

Overall the project was very enjoyable and a great learning experience, but it was also tough at points. Agreeing how to proceed with design decisions and where to make compromises took a long time and it was difficult to make everyone happy. However, it gave us the invaluable experience of working in a multi-disciplinary team on an interesting and challenging task, something I am very thankful to have done (this wasn’t the case at certain points in the project!) Despite the struggles, the outcome was much better than I expected. At the final crit the lecturers loved our concept and the execution of the construction which gave us a nice end to the project.

Our finished structure

Another interesting unit we do is called Structures 1A. We learn about where and how forces act on structural elements in a building to keep it all in equilibrium and which materials are used to optimise performance in a building taking in to account cost, life expectancy, and lots of other things. Not only do we look at successful examples, but we also study why certain structures fail - whether it’s down to poor design of a connection or certain materials being put under extreme conditions which have not been accounted for in the planning. Making sure these mistakes are not repeated is key for any engineer.

To start with, the teaching was at a very basic level covering concepts like stress, strain and mechanical equilibrium which are taught at A-level physics. This is done to get everyone onto the same level as some people might not have taken physics or have forgotten that stuff. The teaching isn’t all lectures; we have tutorials where specific questions can be asked based on questions we’ve been assigned, and we have laboratory sessions to support the material taught in lectures. These lab sessions have involved us compressing concrete until it breaks and putting steel rods under tension until they snap. They help to understand the concepts taught in the lectures and show what it takes to break materials we would typically deem as being very strong.

The remnants of the broken concrete blocks

All in all, the start to my civil engineering course has been thoroughly enjoyable and has made me excited for the rest of my time here – we will see if my enthusiasm for it lasts!

 

Management sandwich placements at Bath

  

📥  Undergraduate

Hi there!

Welcome to my first student blog post. I am a second-year BSc Management with Marketing student, drowning in work but loving every second of it. As you may know, the University of Bath’s School of Management is renowned for their various ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ sandwich degrees. The thick sandwich degree structure, entails is a ‘juicy’ year out working in an industry relevant to your course; an industrial placement. These placements are invaluable experiences that stand you in good stead for future graduate job applications.

In contrast, the thin-sandwich degree structure is ideal for students who wish to fulfil more work placements of a shorter timespan throughout their course period. These placements often take place over one semester. The University encourages students to enrol in a sandwich course structure and have established an incredible support system for the application process. This post will hopefully provide you with some inside details on how the thick sandwich degree Industrial Placement application process is carried out and possibly convince you to choose this type of degree.

There is more than one type of thick sandwich in Bath

A bit about the University of Bath support for placement students …

There are three fundamental elements that support the Industrial Placement Application Process; Mock Applications, lectures as part of your Personal Development Program (PDP), and a Placement Team specific to your course. In addition to these support systems, the University has a general Careers Centre and hosts many on-campus company presentations, events and Careers Fairs. All of these are great opportunities to take advantage of and are useful to you when seeking and applying for a placement; be sure to make the most of them if you come to Bath to study Management. Furthermore, if you are unsure of which company or industry you would like to work in they are geared to assist you and guide you.

It is currently the week of my mock interviews; the second stage of the mock application process. The first stage of this application process involves sending my CV and cover letter; which I worked on throughout my first year at University. The Placements Team sends feedback on CVs during the summer holidays, and this helped to ensure that I was prepared to start second year off with a stellar application just waiting to be sent out. My interview is tomorrow and I feel well prepared having attended the University Careers Fair where I spoke to my mock company to get an idea of what they look for in a prospective student. In addition, I have attended all of my course specific PDP sessions which are really good at helping to create that special cover letter, develop interview skills and guide you on how to be successful in the application process.

With the right support, interviews don't have to be scary!

Interacting with Companies on campus…

Many PDP sessions are led by external speakers from various UK firms. These professionals aim to present their company principles and values while giving valuable tips for the application process ahead. I recently attended a Slimfast session on ‘Networking while on your placement’. Here I learnt some keys facts about the firm, developed my understanding of the importance of networking and how to go about it in a professional manner (as well as getting my hands on some great freebies).

In addition to these compulsory PDP sessions, we have many opportunities to attend various optional sessions. Some of the optional sessions which I attended include; a PwC Presentation on Psychometric Testing and a MARS presentation on why sustainability is a strong focus in their company. Your placements team works hard to ensure that there is something for everyone; they are persistent in posting about opportunities to ‘meet the firm’ at company presentations and networking events. A highlight from my second year so far has been the pizza and networking event arranged by the Placements Team wherein returning Industrial Placement students and students currently seeking placements were able to gain some personal insight and tips on company placements whilst socialising over pizza. A great way to network.

Get involved with societies that improve your employability…

Here at Bath, there is a diverse and exciting range of societies that have all sorts of weird and wonderful things to offer and can really help to boost your employability. Among these societies are the business-related ones such as The University of Bath Management Society, Enactus, Women in Business and Bath Entrepreneurs. These groups are geared to enhance your employability by sharing external company events and competitions and hosting speakers to stimulate your entrepreneurial mind. In addition, they hold socials in the beautiful City of Bath; so, there is a work hard/play hard mentality if that interests you.

For the entrepreneurs out there…

For those of you that are keen entrepreneurs, Bath Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Bath are two groups to look out for during your time at university. Enterprise Bath hold many entrepreneurial competitions such as Apps Crunch, The Business Plan Competition and Dragons’ Den. If you have a business or app idea that you would like to develop, be it in a group or individually, then these are just for you.

On that note, did you know that you can use your own business as your Industrial Placement! This has been done before and has proven to be an incredible hands-on experience in which you gain practical skills, immensely develop a business-like mind and create something of your own at the same time. Bath alumni Rob Huysinga did exactly this on his 6 month BBA placement where he co-founded the company Pan-N-Ice. Who knows, maybe this could be you one day.

Well, there you have it, insight on the Bath University Industrial Placement Process. I hope that this blog post assists you in understanding the ‘thick sandwich’ degree at Bath and for current students reading this; good luck with your applications!

 

Cooking and Eating as a First Year

  

📥  Undergraduate

Whether you’re the Queen of England or Dave from Westwood, there is one thing that connects us all. That rumbling feeling in your stomach in your 9am because you just rolled out of bed without breakfast, or that insatiable lust for Domino’s after a night out; hunger is universal. But that’s where the similarities end. For some, food is sustenance. For others, it’s their purpose in life.

Personally, I never thought too hard about food when deciding to come to Bath - I knew I wanted self-catered accommodation and I trusted that I could feed myself somehow, but beyond that I had no plans. However, with such a busy Freshers’ Week and the first few weeks, it's useful to have a clearer idea of how you’re going to eat. It’s not something you want to be trying to figure out whilst you’re getting barraged with new information about timetables and socials. With that in mind, here are some cooking and eating habits I’ve found so far as a student in Bath.

The Budgeter

This person is smart and responsible. Their kitchen cupboard and fridge shelf will always be organised and well-stocked, yet they never seem to spend as much money as you. Their secret? Online shopping. Bulk buying may seem unnecessary when you live five minutes from Fresh but when you see an online deal for half-price pasta sauce and you buy enough to drown in, you can sure as hell bet you’ll have food for the next few semesters at least. Just make sure you really like pasta.

On a serious note, as much as online shopping may seem lazy, it is simply the most convenient way to get your groceries when you live on campus. They deliver right to your door and let you return the crates at your leisure. Make sure to buy in bulk and shop with some friends or flatmates to lower the cost of delivery.

The Eater-Outer

On the other end of the sensibility spectrum is the person who likes to eat out all the time. The person who makes a beeline to The Parade Grill after every lecture and knows the menu to every restaurant in town. Everyone has their own habits though, and especially in the first year, you might find yourself being a bit like this person. And for good reason, because eating out is a social occasion – I found one of the easiest ways to get to know people on my course was to talk to them a bit during lectures and then ask if they wanted to get food afterwards (note: this only works for certain times of the day).

The Meal Planner

The Meal Planner is a truly gifted person. They have the magical superpower of seeing into the future, and they can predict what they’re going to be eating for the next five days. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta. Pasta.

But for all the sacrifices their taste buds will have to make, their schedule will reap the rewards. A one-hour gap between lectures is often not enough time to walk back, prep, cook, eat and walk to your next lecture. If you do a course with more than a few days where you’re short for time at lunch, consider breaking out the plastic containers and freezing some Bolognese. You’ll thank yourself later.

Stocking up in 'Fresh' on campus

The Junk Foodie

Bless the junk foodie. They’re not harming anyone. They just want to eat their crisps and biscuits in peace, and not deal with their flatmates asking if that is indeed what they’re having for dinner. Yes, it is. Now if you’ll excuse me and my diminishing figure, I have deadlines to attend to (junk foodies often appear when assignments are due. If you see one, make sure it has lots of its drink of choice, coffee.)

The Meal Dealer

The Meal Dealer is similar to the Junk Foodie, in that it’s choice of eating habit is based mainly on convenience (or laziness, depending on how you look at it). However, they differ in one key aspect: the willpower to endure the huge queues at Fresh during lunch and dinner hours. The meal deal (sandwich, snack and drink) costs a measly £3, and is something that can keep you upright during your afternoon lectures, though as a dinner option it leaves you wanting more.

So, there you have it: five different eating and cooking habits at Bath. With a range of lifestyles, eating habits, budgets and some of the finest restaurants (and kebab shops) in the country, you’ll be spoiled for choice when your stomach starts rumbling.

 

Freshers' Week for the mildly awkward

  

📥  Undergraduate

It’s loud. It’s fast. It begins with a tearful goodbye to your parents and ends hungover at 9am in a lecture hall wondering why you didn’t just take a gap year instead. It’s Freshers’ Week, and for some people, it’s far from their ideal week.

Personally, I knew it was going to be a hard week to get through before it started. I’m not a heavy drinker, clubs are a bit too loud for me and meeting so many new people in so little time sounded a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, I still wanted to make friends. I still wanted to enjoy my time. You’re only ever a Fresher once, they say.

Moving in takes place over the first weekend. I moved in early on Saturday, and despite having to wake up at 7am and leave the comfort of my own bed, it was worth the extra effort. Being the first in your accommodation means you can meet people as they trickle in. You have time to settle in and breathe, you can help others with their luggage and you can get to know your flatmates one by one. For someone who’s not as outgoing in group conversations, this was a huge plus. One of my flatmates brought along a few biscuit cans full of homemade brownies to share, and though it didn’t occur to me beforehand, it definitely seemed like a good way to be friendly with your flat without having to utter a single word.

Chocolate, a quick way to anyone's heart

With the weekend out of the way, it was time to get down and dirty. Our Eastwood house consisting of eleven guys (at least the toilet seat’s always up) managed to fill one of our three fridges entirely with beer.  It was a magnificent sight to behold even if my stomach did tremble a bit. There’s a lot to do during Freshers’ week even if you don’t have a hankering for hops though. Every night there are two films shown around campus and on Monday it was Guardians of the Galaxy 2, my favourite movie (I know, I have very refined tastes). Seeing that on a big screen, I wouldn’t miss it for anything, not even ‘the sesh’. ‘But it’s the sesh!’ my flatmates exclaimed. ‘But it’s Baby Groot! I replied and away I was. I did worry that I might’ve alienated my flatmates a bit by missing out on the first big night out, and throughout the week I did make conscious attempts to not be M.I.A or in my room for too long, but ultimately I realised that even if you don’t go out with your flat every night, and you don’t sit down to have dinner with them everyday, they will still like you.

There are a range of activities during the day such as arts & crafts, yoga sessions and city tours. If you can summon up the energy to venture out into the cold wilderness of not your room, you can find something happening on campus at all times, guaranteed. Everything from going around collecting freebies from the Freshers’ fair to going around a second time and hoping they don’t recognise you. The struggle is perhaps not finding things to do, but people to do them with. For most people coming out of secondary school, it might’ve been two or three years since you’ve had to make new friends. Maybe you don’t even remember how your closest friends became your closest friends. Whatever the case may be, tagging them in memes and looking at their Snapchat story just isn’t a substitute for real human interaction, so reluctantly, even the most mildly awkward of us will have to put ourselves out there.

It’s funny how relationships form during the first few weeks of university. Some don’t make it through the initial test as they shake your hand and tell you they’re from Chippenham and you have to nod and pretend you know where that is. Some seem to be just fine until they say the fatal words ‘Oh I live in Quads’ and you can’t look the poor guy in the eye because now you’re just in it for a beanbag. Most don’t turn out to be lifelong friendships you expect to make at university, so if you’re a bit disappointed that your life isn’t like a scene out of Friends, don’t fret.

Once Freshers’ Week is over, you’ll realise that it wasn’t such a painfully awkward experience after all. Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses. Maybe it’s the fact you actually have lectures now (like whaaat?). It might even be, god forbid, because it was actually quite fun and everyone was in the exact same terrifying, unfamiliar situation as you.