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Life as a student in Bath

MBA Global Residency in St. Petersburg, Russia

📥  Global Residencies, MBA, Postgraduate, School of Management, Uncategorized

Dee JiaTakahito Honda

by Dee Jia & Takahito Honda (2016-17 MBA students)

We have spent seven wonderful days (June 10 – 17, 2017) in St. Petersburg for the Global Residency program from the Bath MBA. The International Management Institute of St. Petersburg (IMISP) was a great host and presented us with a multi-dimensional experience of Russian business and culture.  Below are a few things that highlighted the trip.


Lectures and Presentations  

IMISP is one of the leaders in Russian business education, offering high quality of continuing education for more than 1,000 managers from Russia and Soviet Union. Sitting in their state of the art lecture room, we’ve taken advantage of this great opportunity and learned a great deal about Russia and its culture.

The Professors from IMISP gave wonderful lectures and cases, from which we have experienced a different business world in Russia. The classes on “Doing business with Russian business people”, “Business-Model-Canvas” and “Five Russian Tsars – Five models of Russia’s future” definitely helped us understand the way of doing business in Russia. In particular, “Doing business with Russian business people” has shown us the unique character of Russian culture, and the typical organizational structure and decision-making process. In return, we gave presentations such as “Seven Business Models” to IMISP.

presentation   presentation

Company Visits

We had the opportunity to visit three companies in St. Petersburg during the trip.

· ESTEL: a beauty cosmetic manufacturer;

· Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH): the biggest beer manufacturer in Russia;

· YIT Company:  a property developer.

The company visiting experience is invaluable. ESTEL and Baltic are both Russian-based businesses. These companies are operating in the Russian domestic market, as well as the post-Soviet Union markets such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Belarus. Due to the massive geographical scale, the companies usually face supply chain management issues. However, they have adopted global operating systems such as the TPS (Toyota Production System) to improve their operational processes.

On the other hand, from the visit to YIT, we learned that there are many Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) who are looking to invest in Russia, especially in St Petersburg. St Petersburg is the biggest trading gateway in Russia and post-Soviet Union market, and several global companies such as Siemens, Coca-Cola and Toyota have already launched production lines in St Petersburg. The challenge for manufacturers in St Petersburg is its infrastructure. For example, the lack of water and an unstable electricity supply.  However, the local government is making effort to solve the issues.

company visits Russia   company visits russia

Leisure Time and Russian Culture

In addition to the lectures and company visits, we enjoyed very much exploring the city! St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and an important Russian port on the Baltic sea. It is Russia’s “Window to Europe”. The city combines Russian, Asian and European cultures in the most extraordinary way. It has many magnificent architectures, museums and parks. To name a few, we visited the famous Hermitage museum, which contains the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso; we took a wonderful boat trip on the canals; and we certainly did not miss the famous Peterhof Palace, the Russian Versailles. Peterhof is an imperial palace in the suburb built by Peter the Great in 1700s.

While wandering around Peterhof, we couldn’t stop admiring the magnificent palaces and gardens. If you have one day in St Petersburg, we’d suggest you to definitely visit Peterhof Palace!

Sights of St Petersburg

Foods in Russia

We also have enjoyed the diversified and hearty Russian foods in St. Petersburg. The foods are a mixture of Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Russian. For example, Polo (Pilaf) and Mantu (Dumplings) were originated from Central Asia whereas Beef stroganoff and Ikra (Caviar) were from west and sea side. The traditional Russian foods include Borsch (beet and cabbage red soup), Blini (Russian pancakes), Russian salads, and Russian dumplings. This variety of choice absolutely satisfied our hunger for an exchange of British foods…

Russian food 1 Russian food 2 Russian food 3


First year Pharmacy course and assessment


📥  Faculty of Science, Jemima (Pharmacy)

I wanted to write about what the first year of pharmacy involves (the content and modules), how it is assessed and what that is actually like. I am the second year of the new course and when I was researching universities Bath was still operating its older course so it wasn’t set in stone what was to be included. I think it would be helpful to know what sort of knowledge the course includes. There are 5 modules- Healthy Body 1 and 2 (Biology), Molecules to Medicines 1 and 2 (Chemistry) and Preparing for Professional Practice. You can find more info about these modules here. Each are 12 credit modules and you have to pass all of them and there are some other requirements. First year doesn’t count towards the degree mark, however you do have to pass everything to progress to the second year, so if you fail something you have to retake it in the summer. In addition to the exams for each of the modules there are is also a Pharmaceutical calculations exam- doing calculations such as working out doses and how many grams are in a certain amount of a cream for example, which has a 70% pass mark and you have to pass to progress.

My modules for the first 2 years

There are also two observed structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) in first year, both of which you must pass. The learning for these comes under a mixture of the Healthy body and Preparing for Professional Practice modules. These test how well you can communicate with a patient to find out what is wrong and then give them the right treatment, using clinical knowledge and also knowledge of products and of consultation skill models. To be honest when I heard about these I thought that’s good as I am good at talking, but it is a bit harder than that. You have to learn to a certain extent the Calgary Cambridge model of consultation skills and know the right questions to ask in the right order, checking for any red flag dangerous symptoms. You also have to be able to listen to the symptoms and work out what is wrong with the patient and make sure you get enough medical history, then summarise and give them the right treatment while ensuring you are empathetic and provide good non-verbal communication.

Some of the conditions you cover in first year include cough, cold, flu, hayfever, and sore throat. You sit in a little room with a lecturer and they pretend to be a patient with one of these conditions, and you ask questions and find out what is wrong and offer an appropriate treatment e.g. with chesty cough mixture giving them choices, e.g. drowsy or non-drowsy or children’s depending when their problem is what they are doing, their age. The other consultation is again with a lecturer or someone who role plays a patient who has been given a prescription for, or wants help with, a few different types of inhalers or a peak flow meter for asthma. You talk to them about the device and teach them how to use it properly, checking that they understood. If you fail one you have to retake both, although most people pass as long as you have practised (I did it over Skype with my boyfriend and family and with a flatmate) and have learnt symptoms, treatments and how to use the devices. You also get workshops to help you learn and which provide valuable practice.

The two Healthy body units include things such as DNA transcription, translation, nervous system, cells, microbiology, metabolism, endocrinology, heart, lungs, liver, health psychology- changing behaviours, and much more! Each unit has a 3-hour exam and 60% is multiple choice (with 20% scaling so 20% of your mark is taken off to allow for random guessing). The rest are short answer questions , and typically you can choose four questions from a choice of six. In the first semester we had quite a few 2 hour practicals- for example doing a microbiology practical followed by write ups including data analysis.

The two medicines to molecules units included topics like organic chemistry, bonding, amino acids, shapes and molecular structure, biochemical reactions, drug design, kinetics, pharmacokinetics, acid-base, absorption, analysis and drug development process. These are also 3 hours long exams consisting of some multiple choice questions (some of the patients were Harry Potter characters!) and some short answer questions. We had 3 hour practicals once a week for most of the second semester practising analysis, which was quite interesting, and we also did a practical data analysis which counted for 10% of our second molecules to medicine unit.

The final unit is the preparing for professional practice unit where we learnt things like roles of pharmacists in different departments, different pharmacist skills, ethics, pharmacy law, and evidence based practice which covers how to write continuous professional development entries reflecting what you have learnt. We also practiced dispensing and have worked on two problem based learning projects- a presentation about what to say to a parent of a child with a cough and a summer safety campaign) in our tutor groups which count towards the module as well as an essay. We also have a pharmaceutical calculations exam which is not part of this unit but it is compulsory to pass it 70% for the year which is a mixture of multiple choice and short answer calculations.


MBA Global Residency at the entrepreneurial French Riviera: an inspiring setting for innovation

📥  Global Residencies, MBA, Postgraduate, School of Management

Students sitting on a wall by a beach

Once upon a time, nine entrepreneurs from Bath MBA decided to go to Skema Business School's campus located at Sophia Antipolis to get a further understanding of innovation and its endeavors.  Even though Sophia Antipolis sounds like a town in Ancient Greece, it is the European Silicon Valley situated between the sea and the mountains at the French Riviera.


collage of beach shots

Looking at the scenery it is easy to understand why Pablo Picasso decided to stay and to see where his inspiration and enthusiasm came from. As Pablo Picasso was the pioneer of the Cubist movement, the Côte d’Azur has at least 200 start-ups in Information and Communication Technologies and Perfumeries spread between five incubators and four accelerators. Our journey in the South of France started on a Sunday. We went to explore Monaco,

Our journey in the South of France started on a Sunday. We went to explore Monaco, Nice and Menton, a hidden magical place located on the Italian-French border.It was the perfect mixture, culture, natural beauty, and leisure.


Pablo Picasso house collage

On Monday morning we departed to Skema University, where we met our wonderful professors and hosts: Dominique, Michel, Etienne, and Elisabeth.  During the week, we were delivered the program of innovation and Entrepreneurship: Doing Business in Europe. The content of the course not only was practical but also complemented our studies with an effectual approach to entrepreneurship. Between classes, we developed two different business ideas that aimed to disrupt the fashion and travel industries.


Skema University

After Class, we had the chance to explore the little villages around from Cannes to Monte Carlo. Later, between 7 pm and 9 pm, we enjoyed the sunset at the beach only two blocks away from the hotel. La French Cuisine was the protagonist of the trip. Every day we had the opportunity to eat at least one meal by the seaside, and a promenade afterward was mandatory. If we had to choose the best dinner of the week that one would be Chez Lulu, a Michelin recommended restaurant, were we celebrated Joanna’s Birthday.


Celebration meal

During the week, among du Vin, de la Champagne, des Macarons, du Fromage, Volleyball at the beach, morning runs and group projects, we had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Amadeus, the biggest corporation, and employer located in the region.


Amadeus picture

We also had the occasion to observe the perfume production at Fragonard, perfumery.  There we explore the whole process, and of course, we had the emphasis on the sales customer journey, which was a total success. Regarding entrepreneurship, we had three talks with entrepreneurs located in a start-up incubator in Le Grasse, the capital of perfume in France.

We could not be more grateful for an experience where we learned by exploring; the Global Residency is without a doubt a very mindful part of the program. It was a lovely event composed of fun, family, friends, culture, gorgeous food and most importantly knowledge.

Animez-vous pour découvrir la France, Bon Voyage !


Lisa flowers picture

“The trip was perfect! We saw beautiful sights along the stunning Côte d'Azur, got to enjoy the beach, sea, and sunshine every day, had very interesting company visits and insights into the innovation and entrepreneurship scene in the south of France. I would highly recommend this trip to all future students!”

Lisa Solovieva, MBA student


Joanna Borecka photo

"I had such a great time! SKEMA School was so well prepared for our visit, the teaching program was excellent, it has genuinely enriched my understanding of entrepreneurship. It was also a brilliant opportunity to spend more time with my fellow MBA students - they were fantastic companions!"

Joanna Borecka, MBA student


We need to start talking about mental health

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

- in general, not just in Universities.

With many recognised illnesses, there is one group that is still tough for people to talk about; mental illness. Like any illness, it can impede your progress, but quite often it can remain unnoticed and undiagnosed, making it even more difficult. In fact, I’m often surprised about how many people are affected by it.

Well, I believe that the first and most important thing is to be more open about mental health; this will mean that people are more able to recognise that they are ill, to know that they are not alone in feeling this way. Because there is this stigma around mental illnesses, people may be scared to ask for help, and this could lead to devastating results. By being more open, I would like to think that something can be done before it’s too late, but also that people struggling are more willing to seek help. I also think that by being more open, people who are not suffering from mental illnesses would feel more confident in how to help someone else who is – because, to be totally honest, while I would do my best in that circumstance, I’m not sure if that would be helpful or not to the other person.

One thing I’ve learned about research is that it’s competitive, can be isolating and there are constant changes (the up-and-down nature of research), and this can make it really difficult to make friends. This is made worse by the fact that PhD projects start throughout the year. It’s not surprising to find yourself feeling down when your experiments are not working, and you feel totally on your own. It is usual to feel upset that someone had published something similar to what you are working on, if that does happen. Other things happen too, and if you are struggling, then please do not suffer on your own; there are services, from the University wellbeing service, your supervisor and colleagues, the Ombudsman, your GP. Talk to your friends about what you are going through – maybe they’re going through something similar – and about what would help you. Different things work for different people – I found talking to a psychologist helpful after being diagnosed with a physical illness, but you may find that medication is more helpful.

The thing to remember is, that mental illness can happen to anyone, like physical illness. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and keep looking until you find something that works for you. Don’t beat yourself up about it – being ill has nothing to do with “just having the blues”, etc. Find people who are willing to listen, and be prepared to listen; by being open, I hope that less people are suffering with a mental illness on their own, and that people feel confident in how to help others who are struggling with a mental illness. Let's stop stigmatising mental illness.


How I came to study Pharmacy at Bath


📥  Faculty of Science, First year, Jemima (Pharmacy)

I thought it would be helpful to write about my journey to studying pharmacy here at the University of Bath. I will start by saying that while I have enjoyed my first year of Uni, pharmacy is an incredibly difficult course. When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor and even when choosing my A levels I knew I wanted to do something involving patients, using my science to help people. I did work experience in a hospital with the view to do either studying medicine or pharmacy and I honestly found the doctors job on this specific ward very boring, spending hardly any time with patients hours looking at a patients’ tests.

I also spent time with most other healthcare professionals- physios, occupational therapists, nurses, healthcare assistants and a ward pharmacy assistant. I found their jobs much more interesting and rewarding- I talked to the pharmacy assistant about the role of the pharmacist and really enjoyed what the pharmacy assistant was doing, checking drug charts, talking to patients, arranging discharge medicines, roles the pharmacist often did as well. I also did some work experience with emergency nurse practitioners in a minor injuries unit- I loved their role as well but knew that I didn’t want to be a nurse. I found out that pharmacists are starting to be used in this sort of area in A&E and in GP surgeries, and I also considered other potential areas for pharmacists, and from then on I decided that I wanted to be a pharmacist. I completed an Extended Project Qualification (equal to an AS) on the future of pharmacy- how pharmacists’ roles are changing in traditional types and what new areas of pharmacy are emerging.

I first came to the Uni on the open day and I fell in love with Bath straight away, even after a difficult journey that should have taken about 3 hours but which took over 5 (leave plenty of time if travelling by car to an Open Day as Bath can get quite congested!) I had also visited Bath a couple of years earlier and had always wanted to come back and so it was so great that the Uni offered pharmacy. I would really encourage people to go to open days- it is a wonderful way to get a feel for the university, the facilities and the course that they are offering. I think it is so important that I am helping out at our upcoming open days (more to follow).

Bath is one of the top universities for Pharmacy in the UK, consistently getting 90-100% pass rate in the pre-reg exam (which is set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and all pharmacists must pass to register). As a comparison, one other uni that I applied for had a pass rate of about 50%. The grade requirements for pharmacy at Bath are quite high- AAB, including chemistry and one other science at A level as the scientific content is of a high level and is hard. I exceeded the offer and have still struggled to understand/remember things at times this year!

For me applying to do Pharmacy went like this: I went to the summer open days at the end of first year of college in around June time (Bath has Open Days in June and September) then applied in October for 5 pharmacy courses of different standards/grade requirements. In early November I had my first interview, at Bath! For healthcare courses, you almost always have to have an interview, partly I think to help reduce the numbers of people slightly as lots apply and it is very competitive, but mainly to check that you have the people skills for treating patients, to check your motivation for wanting to study pharmacy and to ask a little bit of chemistry. I was so pleased my first offer was from Bath (my favourite uni) and then over time I had interviews at the other places and got other offers. Once I had got one from Reading as well, my insurance, I officially put my firm and insurance choices on UCAS. I was worried about putting my firm and insurance as Bath and then Reading as they both had high requirements but my personal advice would be to put your two favourites unless you are really unlikely to get the grades.

In April I applied for accommodation,  and then I found out I had a place at Bath on results day in August. From then on I was in a pharmacy Facebook group chat and then we got allocated our accommodation and there were pages set up on Facebook to find your flatmates so then we had a flat groupchat. Then at the end of September I finally started studying Pharmacy at the University of Bath.

Confirmation of my place at Bath!

Confirmation of my offer from Bath!

A bit of advice if you are just looking to apply to do Pharmacy as a backup for medicine-don't! If you are thinking about it be careful as some universities say they would rather have someone with lower grades/lower predicted grades that wanted to do pharmacy than someone who wanted to do medicine but didn't get in. I didn’t realise that Pharmacy would be so hard or intense- everyone thinks of medicine being really hard but I think (maybe controversially) that pharmacy is just as hard and you have to have much of the same knowledge- complex biology and chemistry, potentially even more chemistry and maths doing calculations as well and knowing more about drugs. The course for pharmacy is 4 years as opposed to 5 for medicine but really pharmacy needs to be or could easily be stretched to 5 years (with some unis doing this).

After completing a pharmacy degree there is a year (pre-registration year) where you work in a pharmacy underneath another pharmacist, with an exam at the end set by the GPhC. One of the slightly annoying things about pharmacy is the fact that you have so much knowledge you must know and by the time you are qualified you have had a lot of training and often continue to train (Independent prescribing, Clinical Pharmacy Practice Certificates/Diplomas/Masters etc) and have to complete 9 continuing professional development entries every year. You don’t get paid anywhere near as much as well qualified doctors (although it is still a professional salary), and may not get as much respect from people- some people think you are just training to be a glorified shop assistant, which is really not true and I am glad to say that I think the public perception of pharmacists is starting to change. If you really want to do pharmacy and become a pharmacist, which I personally wanted to, then Bath is an excellent place to study it!


PGBio Inspirational Speaker 2017

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

Every year PGBio, the post-graduate biology society, invite a senior scientist to deliver an inspirational talk. This year, we were very fortunate to have the Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse come to us. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine alongside Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their work on the regulation of the cell cycle, was the former president of the Royal Society and is currently the director of the Francis Crick Institute.

It was amazing to have Sir Paul talk to us, and later on I had the opportunity along with other PhD students, post-doc.s and a Masters student to have an informal group coffee with him. Sometimes, these kinds of situations can get awkward, but that was not the case here, and I really appreciated his honesty and kindness. Here are some of the highlights from the day;

Attack your hypothesis from many angles, and if it’s still intact, then it’s probably true – I have not considered this before, and I guess a part of me is scared of doing this precisely because whatever hypothesis I have may not stand. But I can see that it is important to let that dear go, so that you can be thorough in your research and, ultimately, have confidence in those hypotheses that remain intact.

Reality of research is that we all make mistakes – this is definitely true, but it’s something that is not always evident when you read research papers; well, they are usually the “good bits”, right? It is comforting to know that you are not the only one to make mistakes.

Enjoy what you are doing, and have breaks – this is something I definitely stand by; the ups and downs of research is tough, and if you’re not enjoying it then it is going to be harder. And sometimes, the best thing to do when things are not going well is actually to have a break, whether that’s going home early and not thinking about whatever experiment is not working until you come back the next day, or just taking a few days/weeks off. It really does help to have a fresh mind!

I am so glad that I had this opportunity, especially at this stage in my career, and this will be one of those events that will stay with me. So, thank-you Sir!


First year reflections

📥  Uncategorized

First year is officially drawing to a close, with only one seminar and one lecture remaining for me. This doesn’t mean I’m finished though, as I’m rudely reminded by the list of deadlines on the wall in front of me, but there are just 4 pieces of coursework and an exam between me and a four month summer! It’s very strange in the sense that Freshers' Week feels like it was just the other day, but I also feel like I’ve known my friends here for years, so I can’t really tell if this year has flown by or felt crazily long..

It’s very strange though that knowing that I’ve almost done a quarter of my degree (and I’m doing a placement year, so for those who aren’t they’ve done a third!). I’ve got involved with a lot of stuff this semester and I’m really glad, as, although it’s not good to overcommit yourself to stuff and end up stressed, I definitely feel like you get more out of uni if you put more in. I only realise this now after my mum nagged at me for years in secondary school to get involved with stuff and I could never be bothered… oops! Never too late I guess.

Deadlines- almost there!

Deadlines- almost there!

There are some good things about first year being over. I know that the course next year will be more interesting, as a lot of second years have said that. I’ve still really enjoyed this year, but it’s a fairly broad overview to psychology, and I’m looking forward to focusing in on more interesting aspects and learning about more things which I haven’t studied before. I’ll also get to leave behind the flatmates who never quite learned that the kitchen sink is specifically there for washing up… a concept some clearly struggled with. Ah, I can’t wait to have a tidy kitchen!! And I’ll get to live in a nice, big house with a bath! And a tv!

Halls is like living with your friends and I do love my flatmates, but it is going to be great having our own house and kitchen and being able to sit in the garden and have a local pub.. can you tell I’m excited?? But I also know a lot more about the uni now. I haven’t got the apprehension that came with starting last year about making friends or getting lost. I’m now in societies and do volunteering and just kind of feel like I know what I’m doing which is definitely a nice feeling!

I will miss my room in Norwood

I will miss my room in Norwood

Obviously, there are a few downsides, too. Like, er, the grades counting towards the final degree. I would love to know how many times this year I’ve said ‘it’s fiiiiine, it’s first year; doesn’t count’ when someone’s stressing over work. It’s the go-to phrase in moments of doubt. You just need 40% to get to second year, and while a 2:1 or first is preferable if you’re doing a placement, it’s very easy to forget that when trying to convince someone to come on a night out. I’m also a little bit gutted to leave behind Norwood House. Halls are the epitome of convenience; when again will I ever live above both a night club, a supermarket, a starbucks, etc. etc. etc. And being able to crawl out of bed 10 minutes before a lecture and make it there on time?! I have essentially been living the dream. While there are lots of perks to having a house, halls have been pretty great. And I don’t get to have freshers week again! My friends are reliving it by being freshers crew, where they’ll be allocated a flat and take them to activities and drop them off at different events during the week, but I’ll be working at home so didn’t want to commit. I’m quite jealous though as I’m sure the events will be great again, and I’m still not over missing Russell Howard this year… maybe they can sneak me in..

One of the definite highlights of first year has been making so many great friends

One of the definite highlights of first year has been making so many great friends

First year has been so, so good, and involved all kinds of things, from late night hide and seek in the library, sitting with cider on sunny days by the lake, trying ballet lessons for the first time, nights out in Bath and Bristol, late night work sessions in the library, countless trips to Fresh (the on-campus supermarket), flat walks around the golf course, gym classes, lots and lots of coffee before 9.15s, many, many trips to the various fast food places in town open after the clubs shut… and that’s just naming a few. While it will be nice to go home for summer and have the luxuries of a washing machine and not having to do things like remembering to buy food, uni has been great and I’m already excited to come back for next year!

Laura x

Bath is sooo pretty

Bath is sooo pretty


Bath in the spring- campus and beyond


📥  Rob (Physics)

The sun has returned! The nights are drawing out and Bath’s campus is bursting with life in every corner. From the spring flowers, to the famous campus ducks. Even the students look lively through the haze of coursework deadlines and hangovers. Sitting by the lake has become a common pastime on campus, whether to read, drink some beer, or even have a barbeque.


The whole campus is full of these flowers

Turns out making friends with ducks is easy – just keep feeding them!

Turns out making friends with ducks is easy – just keep feeding them!

The change in weather has made me rediscover one of my favourite things – walking. I have a lot of free time of Thursdays which I’ve been using to explore the local countryside with my flatmates. I’ve discovered a couple of really interesting routes through the local area and plotted them on top of an ordanance survey map – if you come to visit with your family I’d recommend having an amble. These routes take a good half a day, but they go to and from campus so you could easily fit them in. I took a few photos of the walks which I’ve put below as well.

Our route map

My route map

Francesco made friends with this nice old lady from Bristol. She was fishing at a reservoir that we passed on the blue route

Francesco made friends with this nice old lady from Bristol. She was fishing at a reservoir that we passed on the blue route

This is Midford castle, again – part of the blue route

This is Midford castle, again – part of the blue route

A surprising place in the middle of nowhere – all of the houses in the settlement are in this photo. Hardly even a village

A surprising place in the middle of nowhere – all of the houses in the settlement are in this photo. Hardly even a village

The whole area is full of canals. You can even take a boat trip to the city from Bathampton

The whole area is full of canals. You can even take a boat trip to the city from Bathampton

Further afield

The Easter break has been a chance to discover some sights slightly further out from Bath. A number of factors – having some time off, really decent weather, and most importantly my girlfriend’s car, have made this possible.

Bath is surrounded by natural beauty. It sits directly below the Cotswolds, a region that’s characterised by its idyllic villages, rustic charm and seemingly never-ending hills. As well as the Cotswolds, there are the Mendip Hills area which is slightly southwest of Bath. The most attractive part of this area, in my opinion, is the region of Cheddar Gorge. It’s a geological wonder that seems to be out of place in the middle of rural England and there’s a dramatic walking route which traces the top of the Gorge. They can all be accessed by public transport though a car would obviously make the trip easier; if you’re here on an open day I’d say a trip to Cheddar is much better than Stonehenge – both more exciting and at the significantly cheaper price of zero pounds.

Castle Combe- So there’s not much here but it’s pretty as it gets.

Castle Combe- So there’s not much here but it’s pretty as it gets.

Cheddar Gorge- this is the best walk in the area, in my opinion. Dramatic but accessible. Much better than paying a small fortune to look at Stonehenge.

Cheddar Gorge- this is the best walk in the area, in my opinion. Dramatic but accessible. Much better than paying a small fortune to look at Stonehenge.



Review of Engineering Placement Year


📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

I am now coming to the end of my year-long placement as an engineer at a Plymouth firm called Pipex px®. In this post, I will attempt to give you a brief summary of the highs and lows of my experience. If you have not yet decided whether to do a placement perhaps this post will help you make up your mind. If you are in the process of applying to the University of Bath (I really hope you are!) then this piece will fill you in on everything that the placement scheme at Bath offers.

If you look back to the blog post I wrote at the start of my placement year you will be able to get a more in depth feel for the first few weeks. However, for the sake of completeness, I will recap those weeks in this post, giving you the ‘full package’. Moreover, I can now put those weeks into perspective and make relative comparisons against what I now know about the real world of work – scary stuff!

Without further ado, here is my placement year, condensed into several short paragraphs. I shall start at the beginning…

"My colleagues, managers and directors could not have been more helpful"

As far as I am concerned, the first three months of placement felt like a real whirlwind. As expected, I had a lot of names to remember and a lot of protocol to learn before I could begin real projects in earnest. A formal training programme saw me through my first few weeks and for the following two months I wrestled with some introductory projects. During these months, time flew by very quickly as everything I was experiencing was completely new to me. I had to learn exactly what processes the engineering team followed to see projects through to completion and since I hadn’t been there very long this led to lots of questions. Fortunately, my colleagues, managers and directors could not have been more helpful and I quickly learned that there is no such thing as a stupid question. The wages earned during placement year are a real bonus- having money to spend outside of work was such a novel for thing for me and I made sure to make the best use of my free time; every evening and at weekends. I could suddenly afford cheap flights and trains here and there and I made sure to use these offers to my advantage – it was great! I kept fit by popping down to the local rowing club at least two evenings a week. I think that being a member of a local gym or sports club like this is really beneficial as exercise gave me the opportunity to clear my mind, keep healthy and remember that there was life outside of work.

Not a bad way to unwind at the weekend!

Not a bad way to unwind at the weekend!

Between the months of October and April I really had my work cut out. I was lucky enough to be part of a team working on a huge project in Switzerland and this kept me fully occupied for over 6 months. I gained real responsibilities and learned so many skills associated with managing large, time-constrained projects worth millions of pounds to the company. At the time, it felt like a real baptism of fire but now that office life is coming to an end I am really grateful and honoured that I was able to work on such an important project. Although overtime was necessary and I even worked over the Christmas holiday period to make sure things got done, I was still free at weekends to do whatever I wanted and this was just brilliant. It is always worth remembering that whilst studying at university, even at weekends students are burdened with upcoming coursework, hand-ins and revision. In the real world of work, at weekends, I was completely and utterly free to do whatever I wanted and whilst on placement I had a little extra cash in my back pocket to fund the next adventure too.

In the spring time, it was very satisfying to see the large project I had been working on come to a close. I was able to make sure everything I did was left in an orderly manner and tie up any loose ends. As far as my engineering know-how was concerned it was also extremely useful to see the steps taken by large firms to bottom out massive projects and make sure that all work carried out can be accounted for commercially. Although not directly applicable to my studies, I am very excited to bring back my new-found organisational skillset to everything I do in Bath while studying Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. One thing placement has reinforced is that organisation is key – I am very confident that I will be able to apply this to many aspects of my life after placement, and not just academia.

"I had been given various roles in a range of projects and had so many new opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer"

As my contract at Pipex began to run down and months left turned into weeks, I made sure to take time to consolidate everything I had learned. As suggested by the ever-helpful placement team at the University of Bath, I regularly wrote notes on everything I was learning whilst on placement and kept an up to date notebook of my year. This was very helpful when it came to writing my final placement report. As an engineer on placement it is necessary to write a lengthy report documenting everything that you have done whilst on placement (in the long run, this report acts as a mock-up of the report that must be submitted to our accrediting professional body e.g. the Institute of Mechanical Engineers). With this in mind, I made sure to include as much detail as possible in my report. As it happens, the process of writing this report was worthwhile; it brought home the fact that I had done so much in the space of just one year. I had been given various roles in a range of projects and had so many new opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer – the work I was involved with was so far removed from anything I had ever done before but in each situation I was able to adapt my skills and deal with any problems. I am proud of what I have achieved and I must thank the very supportive engineering team at Pipex for all their help, support and tolerance.

So there we have it, a whistle stop tour of all things placement – this time with some perspective. Although not always sunshine and rainbows, the whole experience has been unforgettable and put me in a fantastic place for the future, whether that be in engineering or elsewhere. As always, the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bath have gone ‘above and beyond’ to make sure that I am not only happy, healthy and safe whilst away from campus but also that I lay solid foundations for professional accreditation when I graduate.

If you have any questions relating to placement as an engineer please do leave a comment below and I will do everything I can to make sure your questions get answered. - happy to help wherever I can – placement is such a valuable year…


Learning and collaborations

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

Recently, I got a chance to learn about a technique which I knew about but have never used before. This was definitely a great experience for me, as a big part of doing a PhD is learning new techniques and expanding your knowledge. There are certain techniques and experiments which will be applicable for a lot of fields, while others are more specific to certain fields, and having a chance to use a technique which may not necessarily be a standard in your field is rewarding and also helpful in improving your knowledge (as you can probably imagine). Also, it's like a breath of fresh air when you are stuck repeating the same experiments.

Projects will require a different set of techniques, and each set will be different. And the truth is, there is a difference between knowing the theory behind the techniques and knowing how to use them (however, knowing the theory definitely helps, especially when you’re stuck); even though I knew the theory of Western blotting, it still took me ages to get one to work! Sometimes, when you need to do a particular experiment that you've never done before, this can mean collaborating with other people in your group, or other groups. Given the vast amount of techniques available, you end up knowing quite a lot about a few, selected techniques, so collaborating is a fantastic way of learning that little bit about a different technique - who knows, that little bit of knowledge may in fact give you an edge in future job applications! I guess that is also why a lot of research papers contain a lot of authors.

This PhD has been enlightening in that I have got to see how research actually works in reality; from how to figure out why the experiment is not working, to getting an insight into how long it actually takes behind the scenes – I now know how long it can take to get the data for a paper, then how long it takes after that before the paper is actually published, and I really didn't anticipate how frustrating that all can get at times. All in all, I have really enjoyed getting to use the techniques which I have learned, and I suppose learning something new recently reminded me of the thrill of research and why I wanted to do a PhD in the first place; definitely helpful to be reminded of that when you are lacking motivation... Use opportunities to expand your knowledge when you can, because, like I mentioned above, you never know when that little knowledge may come in handy...