Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Hunting for a Space


📥  Faculty of Science, Maeva, Postgraduate

Exam season is upon us. With barely a month between us and the start of exam week, we are all running around trying to find a place to take cover. The next few weeks for many of us master’s students will be spent on the constant look out for the perfect spot to sit and revise. Now at this particular time of the year, it can be harder than trying to find a parking space at midday. Though the student council is doing a great job of addressing the “overflowing Bath” issue, it is a slow moving process.  The increased number of students, both undergraduate and post-graduate has really put pressure on the university’s study space.

If you are anything like me, you sometimes need to get out of your bedroom to be really productive and eliminate distractions. There are only so many hours you sit in a house without feeling stir-crazy. If there is already a little spot on campus that is your go-to place during term time it may be necessary to consider other options during revision period as it may get taken. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself doing what I did last term, coming in to university earlier and earlier to claim my spot.

In anticipation for the stressfulness that trying to find free spaces can bring, I have listed a few suggestions.

1.) The library- Now before you roll your eyes at what seems to be the most obvious answer, hear me out.  The ground floor has recently been refurbished to optimise study spaces.  The new rectangle tables in level 2 allow more people to work on them and in early April, new and improved chairs will be coming in on all levels. Additional silent study spaces were created on level 5 as they are often in demand. These refurbishments were done in response to what the students requested for the revision period, so it would be worth checking it out.

2.)  4 West Café- My friends and I feel we may abuse our rights to sit in the café, as we can spend over 8 hours there a day, sharing only two purchased cups of tea between us. However, the atmosphere is great, if you like the low background noise to help you focus. Plus you can bring your own food in. There are several tables and a decent number of plug sockets allowing us to charge our laptops. The best thing about the café is being able to buy a quick pick-me-up hot drink, or nip across to Fresh to grab some food.

3.) The Graduate Centre- A room specifically designed for master’s students to socialise and study in. It can get quite busy at times, particularly at lunch, but there are a couple of extension leads and plenty of chairs. Revising here is ideal if you want a more laid-back atmosphere. The real perk is that its open really late and it gets pretty quiet from mid-afternoon.

4.) Booking a room- You are allowed to book a room up to two hours a day. This includes group study rooms dotted across campus. Now, if you’re organised, you can form a study group where each individual books a two hour time slot for the same room. This may not be practical as a daily revision method, but it can help on the day before an exam for example. You can book a room by going to the timetabling webpage-

5.) Computer rooms on the 5th floor of the Chancellor building-These tend to be free in the late afternoon and can be a forgotten option. It is practical if you do not want to lug your laptop with you every day.

6.) Bath Central library- Well why not? It is very central, next to Waitrose, and it offers free wifi and quiet study areas. If you live in town this may be an interesting alternative. They also have free computers you can use, including a Quiet PC area which only needs to be booked in advance.

7.) Cafes in town- I sometimes like to get away from very academic settings to trick myself into thinking I’m not actually revising. So I take a quick bus trip into town and head over to a café I fancy that day, Bath has many to offer. One I particularly like is the Boston Tea Party café on Alfred Street near The Circus, not just because it does amazing gluten-free brownies. Like most cafes it has a fast and free wifi, and is a lot less crowded than the campus. Most places tend to not bother you if you purchase one item and stay there for hours, so might as well make the most of it. This is the student life after all.

I like to think that the first thing for a good study session is a calming environment, but what helps me stay calm varies from day to day. Hopefully at least one of these suggestions can help you find a place to work effectively in the coming weeks.


An update on the second semester


📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

The second semester started off slowly but picked up momentum as it went along. The greatest relief was going onto something new and hopefully more interesting after having to re-read the first semester’s notes a million times. The modules bring additional complexity to what we are learning but also add a design aspect to things. Our lecturers are starting to give us more free reign with some of our work, especially with work that is design oriented. Designing circuits and programmes for things like vending machines and safe locks may seem tedious but I began appreciating the engineering that goes into mundane things that people take for granted.

Designing a counting circuit – Don’t worry it doesn’t work

Designing a counting circuit – Don’t worry it doesn’t work

The second semester did not only bring in new modules but the results of our first semester exams. I was surprised to find out that I did better than I predicted myself after completing the exams, (my handwriting was a disaster) but I am happy to say that I made it in one piece. Just like everything in my first year I learned a lot about myself during the examinations that I can work on for the next time, continuous improvement is essential. The first year marks are not counted towards my degree but I think the emphasis of my first year is getting students on the right track more than assessing their marks.

‘Just turn on the LED’ they said, ‘Its easy’ they said

‘Just turn on the LED’ they said, ‘Its easy’ they said

Spring is also here! Not being from this part of the world I am glad to see sunnier days. I have survived the winter and I am really looking forward to spending some time outdoors as I am tired of crowded canteens and the vending machine area of the library.

Springtime in full swing

Springtime in full swing

The students union has also organised a new set of fairs (albeit less glamorous than Freshers' Week) to attract new members to its plethora of societies, which means it is another chance for me to venture out of my hermetic shell and into the great beyond. I have already tried Pilates (at which I only managed to blubber around unlike my more flexible comrades) and the St Johns ambulance, where I am learning about all the ways people manage to hurt themselves. I’ve taught myself that there really isn’t anything to lose by at least trying, and all these societies are run by students who themselves have hectic workloads, so it’s a very understanding environment where I can put in whatever free time I have.

Luckily for us, Easter holidays are coming earlier this year. This is great because I can finally catch up on some work (and have a break too). Some lecturers have conveniently finished the lecturing part of their respective courses which is great for us because I can spread out my revision more evenly and bring down a lot of the stress that can occur during revision week. Getting a revision-ready set of notes for two of my modules is a goal I set for the holidays.

Last but not least, the legendary summer vacation is getting closer and I have (hopefully) planned myself out to make the most of my free time then. More on that later!


Making the most of Department Open Days at the University of Bath


📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Well done you! If you’re utilising this post, it probably means you have swiped up an offer to study at the University of Bath. Celebrations are in order, although next comes the tricky part: making that daunting decision on which university to firm and which to select as your insurance. You also need to get your head down, as this is where getting the grades becomes very important (don't sweat it, you get out what you put in – work hard, and you’re laughing!).

To help with this tricky decision, here at the University of Bath, every Department holds a ‘Department Open Day’. Yes, we can’t skim past the fact that the free lunch is pretty attractive, as is another chance to stroll around campus and have another nosey at all Halls of Residences; but Department Open Days are really handy in helping you suss whether Bath, and your chosen Department is right for you.

Read on, as I’ll highlight some key ways that you make sure that you get all the wisdom you can wangle from a Department Open Day…

Here at Bath, we usually hold our Department Open Days from October through to April, and most Departments will hold a number of days to make sure they can squeeze in everyone who might be embarking on their course. Department Open Days are packed with prospective undergraduates just like you, wanting to take a gander at the course content, meet people who may be joining them come September and to grill lecturers on what makes Bath so great.

Make sure, whenever you’re waiting for a talk to start, or you’re meandering round campus that you try and chat to fellow potential students. Ask where they’re from, why they’ve chosen the same/similar course to you, what they’re studying at present and why Bath appeals to them. You could even dip into which Halls take their fancy or what societies appeal to them – it’s great to get chatting so you can see what the other people who may be on your course are like and to share your worries/excitements about University.

When attending Department Open Days, make sure you’re organised. You should be provided with a timetable/schedule of the day prior to arriving, so make sure you’re punctual to all talks/lecture tasters or presentations as this means that you can grab all the information available (and make a gleaming first impression!).

For me, when I attended my Department Open Day at the Social and Policy Sciences (SPS) department, I was lucky enough to have a 1:1 conversation with one of the course conveners for Sociology. This was immensely valuable as it allowed to me ask any questions bugging me- I got to intimately meet real academics from the Department and got to hear about all the different areas of cutting-edge research being carried out at the University from the ‘horse’s mouth’. This was really insightful, and it definitely helped shaped my decision to come back to Bath – for good.

I made my decision to firm Bath on my way home from the SPS Department Open Day. I found it very enlightening, making my UCAS response much easier than I had envisaged!

I made my decision to firm Bath on my way home from the SPS Department Open Day. I found it very enlightening, making my UCAS response much easier than I had envisaged!

As embarrassing as it may be when Mum or Dad get out their notepad, or try and engage with other parents at Department Open Days (you don’t have to bring your parents however, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend the day alone, meeting other people without cringing owing to your Mum’s wacky questions!) – it is a good idea to bring your laptop or some paper to jot down key information such as how the course is assessed, semester dates, how many optional/compulsory modules you have to do or when the examination period is.

The long haul to Bath was definitely worth it, so naturally I had to inform Facebook! This seems like an age ago now, considering I'm edging towards the end of my first year!

The long haul to Bath was definitely worth it, so naturally I had to inform Facebook! This seems like an age ago now, considering I'm edging towards the end of my first year!

It’s also favourable to work out how many textbooks you will need to purchase for your course and whether you will be spending time doing practical assessments or having ‘lab time’ as associated with many of the science courses offered at Bath. You can look back in writing when making your mind up on your favourite university, and this means all the information churned out by lecturers doesn’t go straight over your head!

It can also be useful to bring along a copy of the prospectus as from year to year, some parts of the course may change, so being able to edit these on paper will help you out in the long run. Whether it’s a change from coursework to examination, the offering of new optional modules or the changing around of lecturers – take note, so you can be well in the loop when replying to your offers on UCAS Track.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to whoever you see on campus, as you need your decision to be as informed as possible. Everyone on campus is friendly and should be approachable (a few may have sore heads from the night before, so may appear a touch grizzly!). Every Wednesday between 10am and 1pm, we have a Welcome Point at the foyer of The Edge where you can get answers from Student Ambassadors; on Department Open Days, most departments will pull in current students or Student Ambassadors to fill you in on whatever you feel you may have missed, so take advantage!

One of the mistakes I made when attending my Department Open Day was not plotting enough time for the day: I had to make the long trek from Cambridge which meant that in order to be home by a reasonable time, I had to leave campus at around 2.30pm and I regretted not having longer to explore and ask questions. If you feel it’s necessary, book to stay in a nearby B&B or hotel so you’re not rushed for time due to travel arrangements.

Having an extra hour or two means that you could be able to cram in a visit to the City of Bath which you might have missed when attending the Open Days here. I can’t say it enough, but as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and generally dreamy city, visiting the hub of Bath - the tourist and shopping district, is a must.

To make the day a tad easier for you, remember to print your ticket for parking on site or the for the Park & Ride service before the day. The University of Bath operates a free Park & Ride service from Lansdown, with the number 33 service running from 9am on many of the Department Open Days. Bath also offers a Travel Bursary Scheme to help particular applicants with the cost of attending Department Open Days and interviews.

Finally, following your talks, tours, presentations and sample lectures, make sure you check out the Student’s Union, the Library, and the Sports Facilities at the University of Bath. If you need directions, flag down a student in a red t-shirt, all of whom are ready and raring to help make your day as easy as possible.

Good Luck, and remember to make the most of your Departmental Open Days. We hope to see you at the University of Bath come September!



Things to consider before applying for a PhD

📥  Faculty of Science, Maho, Postgraduate

I’m guessing a lot of you will be exploring options for your future, so I thought I’d make a list of things which I think are important when considering a PhD, and when preparing for a PhD interview.

Do you like lab/computer work?

As you might expect, we spend all our time working on our project, which means being in the lab or working at our computer all day. Now, you have to remember that this is not like doing practical classes, where the protocol is well established. There will be times when you spend months doing the same thing over and over again, with small modifications each day. Other times things will work perfectly the first time! Another thing to mention here is that the results are mostly unknown; I’d guess that majority of practical classes have been run before, so people know what to expect, but for me right now, I do experiments without knowing if the data will match the hypothesis. Therefore, it becomes quite tiring and difficult, and probably the best motivation is your love of lab/computer work! One good way of finding this out is, did you enjoy your final year project?

Do you like the sound of the project?

Ok, I’m not expecting you to know exactly what kind of project you would like! But look at the description; does that sound interesting to you? Do you think you will enjoy working on that project? Is the project in an area which you like? I would say choose based on the project rather than location, which may be difficult for some of you who have family commitments. Also, it doesn't have to be in a similar field to your final year project.

Find more than one potential PhD position.

PhDs are competitive – I have been turned down for two, and am not fully funded. As projects are often tied with funding, adverts will be going up regularly – keep checking! There will be more than one which will be of interest to you. Even if the application deadline has passed, that potential supervisor may get funding for another PhD student. Essentially, don’t give up if you are sure about doing a PhD!

Will your experience fit with the project?

For example, if you are not much of a computer person, will a bioinformatics project suit you? – if you are happy to learn how to code and work on a computer project, then great! But if you would rather be in a lab, then maybe that project is not for you. Also consider the kind of modules you have taken, or are taking; if you enjoy the biochemistry modules more, is an ecology project going to fit you?

Read at least one of your potential supervisor’s publications.

So, you have an interview – what’s the best way to prepare? I think the key is to get an idea of what that lab does, for example are they working on developing new ways of using genome sequences?  Pathogen evolution? Or are they working on animal development? A good way to get this information is to look at the papers your potential supervisor has published. And, you can impress them at the interview by letting them know you have read their recent work!

Meet the people working with your potential supervisor if you can.

The people who work with your potential supervisor, whether they be post-docs or PhD students, will be the people who you will spend most of your time with, so it is good to meet them if you can. This will also give you an opportunity to ask questions; how things work in the lab, what is it like working for your potential supervisor, what kind of experiments are commonly done, what is it like to live there (if you are new to the area)… perhaps take a look around the city/town. You have time, as you will be there for three-four years!


Juggling part-time work at university

📥  Charlotte, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

I am a typical girl. I adore shopping, I love going for coffee with my chums and I love having a bit of money on the side to get my hair snipped, go to the cinema or buy some flowers in town on a Saturday morning. Many of the boys I know are the same; they like to put some pennies aside for grabbing a pizza and some beer when the rugby is on, or to fund a trip to Bristol or to buy the newest FIFA game. At University, having some ‘money for a rainy day’ is really handy.

This is why I decided to get a part-time job to keep up in tandem with my studies at the University of Bath. Naturally, you’re probably grimacing at the idea of getting in from a day of lectures and seminars and shooting off to a job. You also might think giving up that Sunday lie in and flat bacon breakfast for the workplace may suck too. I disagree- working whilst at University has definitely helped me to fund some brilliant Christmas presents for my friends and family, and I’ve met some truly lovely people at work and it’s definitely a release from my studies which is really welcomed at times, especially with those beastly exams looming!

Just to throw another spanner into the works, I’ve actually got two, yes two jobs at University! This sounds a little nutty, doesn’t it? How can I possibly work towards a ‘first’ classification (something I really want to achieve from University), keep up with people socially and have two jobs. Well actually, it hasn’t proved that hard! Stick with me here, it totally works for me!

I decided that the best and most convenient place to get a job would be on campus. This would mean I wouldn’t have to ramble down the hill, or get on a packed bus on a Saturday morning for work and I could be really close to my Halls of Residency. Fact: I did indeed manage to swipe up a part-time job on campus, and it takes me 37 seconds to get there! As barmy as it sounds to time my stroll to work, it really does show just how handy the placing of work is for me.

To get my job on campus, I decided to start job-hunting early. I frequently scrolled the JobLink website and listings provided by the University of Bath for students looking for jobs before I came to University. I did specify when seeking a job that I wanted a post on campus, but I did also send my CV to some cafes, shops and cleaning positions in the City of Bath; this frankly wouldn’t be too hard as it only takes a few minutes to get to town on the bus, and the buses are really frequent. The city is pretty compact too, so I knew that shops and eateries would be easy to find and get to.

I sent my application to a café/restaurant on campus called The Lime Tree and on the first day of Freshers’ week, I got an email inviting me to an ‘informal interview’ at the Lime Tree. I was still a little muddled as a disorientated, frazzled Fresher but I decided to go along and give it my best shot.

The interview was indeed very informal, and just felt like a chat over coffee with the managers, although some grilling questions did pop up. Luckily, it went really well and only days later I got an email saying that they would like to employ me as a member of their casual staff. Many of the contracts on campus are ‘casual’ which means in most cases you won’t have a fixed, rigid contract and you can essentially tailor your hours around your other commitments, picking and choosing when best suits you to work.

This is the 'Lime Tree' refectory on campus at the University of Bath. A place I work, to give me a little money on the side!

This is the 'Lime Tree' refectory on campus at the University of Bath. A place I work, to give me a little money on the side!

I find this really helpful as I don’t have to worry about whether going to a talk, listening in to an extra lecture or going out in the evening clashes with work, as I just choose not to work during those times. Add to this, another bonus of working on campus is that in 2014 the Students' Union campaigned for everyone to earn the ‘living wage’ and this means I earn a very adequate amount and I don’t have to go without a new pair of trainers when I fancy them! Yay!

Another advantage of working on campus is that you’re not tied to a contract in town which may require you to work during Christmas, Easter or over the summer as no one is on Campus at these times and thus I can go home without worrying about working or having to find cover in order to get time off.

If I was to offer some advice on getting a part-time job at University; here are my pearls of wisdom:

  • Prioritise your studies – Even if you’re offered extra hours or premium pay for adding on a few shifts a week consider whether this will affect coursework deadlines, examination revision or even just staying on top of your reading and learning.
  • Hunt around – Don’t settle for the first job as the pay may be poor, the hours offered may be a little skewed or it may be too tiring to return from and then cook a meal, clean your room, make a presentation etc. Avoid manual or labour-heavy jobs so that you are not exhausted when you need to get up for an early lecture!
  • Weekend posts rock – try and aim for places that are looking for ‘part-time weekend staff’, as opposed to only ‘part time’ staff as this may entail more work during the week, which is much less convenient than on a Saturday or Sunday. You don’t want to have to rush off from lectures to work or have work clashing with group work meetings. The weekends are the best time to cram in a paid position, although think ahead if your family are popping to see you at the weekend and try and swindle some time off to see them.
  • Keep tabs on payment – make an Excel spreadsheet or jot down the hours you work and the rate of pay you’re on. Make sure when you’re paid weekly or monthly that you’ve been paid the right amount and carry out some research to make sure that you’ve been taxed correctly.

I also am lucky enough to manage the social media presence of a Tea Business, and find that this too is very flexible around my degree.  Do remember that if you want to have another small job, or some voluntary work, alongside a a part-time job AND your studies then make sure it doesn’t distract you from the reason you’re here- to learn!

Good Luck!




Adding spice to university life: gym, vegetable plots, and the Bath Award

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

Things had started to get pretty repetitive for me in university. Bus – Class – Lunch – Class – Bus is the cycle I’ve been in since September. However, I have managed to find some extra-curricular activities to add some spice to my routine.

After a long wait I have finally convinced myself to get a gym membership (halfway through the year). I have delayed getting a gym membership for a while due to a mixture of university workload and procrastination. I was also very unsure of what I would be doing in the gym because I’m not that avid of a gym-goer, so I was surprised that the gym offered me a free service when I joined that set me up with a trainer who wrote out a workout schedule for me.

Early mornings at the gym

Early mornings at the gym

After booking a meeting with the trainer I settled with a programme that I do on my own and gets changed every six weeks. I have also seen trainers that provide a personal training service too, but that wouldn’t suit me because I prefer my timetable to be flexible. Having a space where I can put on my music and row till I can’t feel my legs anymore is greatly appreciated … at least until I have to waddle into campus next day.

The main reason for my awkward induction to the Sports Training Village gym was because I was getting bored of swimming being the only sport I do whenever I get tired of work. I am slightly regretting not joining a sports society to learn a new sport, but there is always next year. The gym will be keeping me busy until then with all the different things that I can do. It’s slightly becoming an obsession as I am starting to look at different techniques which push me to my limit.

I have also begun to apply for volunteering opportunities through the Students Union. One of these is a community garden where students get to prepare and plant a plot in a park in the city of Bath where anyone can contribute to/benefit from what is planted. The idea is to get people familiar with plants that are local to the area, and all of it is organic. I really enjoyed this more than any of the volunteering opportunities I have had before because I really believe in organic produce and using public spaces for more than just flower and tree galleries. I also have gotten to meet some really cool people who have similar interests.

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The vegmead vegetable plot in early spring

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

The one and only, Rodney the Rhubarb!

Another opportunity I am looking forward to is teaching secondary students about electricity and magnetism with an engineer from Airbus- I can’t wait!

Last, but not least, I have started to look at the Bath Award and to about the criteria I need to meet in order to complete it. The Bath Award is an award given by the university to students who take on tasks that provide them with key skills that they will need when they graduate and enter the world of work. Its requirements are fairly straightforward and I think it will reflect all of my extra-curricular activities nicely by the time I graduate. So I can both enjoy my time volunteering and rest assured that the time I spent will be appreciated by future employers.


A Social life: having one and funding it!

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

University is definitely not all about work and study, it is so important to have fun and to take some time out from studying. I’ve loved the social side of university so far and I hope I can give you a flavour for what it is like here at the University of Bath. Of course, it is difficult to fund a social life, especially when you are a student and perhaps find yourself in charge of your own money for the first time, so I hope to give you some handy tips too!

There is a good night life in Bath (despite what you may have heard!) with a number of student nights running at various clubs throughout the week. A personal favourite is Moles on a Tuesday night where they play all the very best cheesy songs! However when getting the bus into town seems like just too much effort there are two nights a week put on by the Students Union (SU) on campus. Score takes place on a Wednesday night and is mainly attended by sports teams but is open to all, Klass takes place on Saturday night and is great to go to as a flat because it is so convenient, with it being on campus. Each Saturday is a different theme which can provide great opportunities for dressing up!

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

If this kind of nightlight isn’t for you then the SU has a variety of other events during the week, such as a quiz night, film night and an open mic night. The quiz night is great for bringing out people’s competitive sides and the SU has been known to show some classics on film night.

As well as these events which are organised for everyone, there are also events put on by specific societies for their members. I am a member of the Baking Society and we have fortnightly socials where we basically just eat cake (what is there not to love?). Also BAPS (Bath Association of Psychology Students) has regular socials such as pizza nights, bar crawls and trips to Bristol, I know that societies for other courses have similar events. These are just the societies I am part of, there are so many more and I guarantee there will be at least one that takes your fancy! Have a look at our Student’s Union website for a full list of the societies here at Bath.

One of many societies you can be part of!

One of many societies you can be part of!

So you’re probably wondering how, as a student, you are supposed to have enough money to enjoy these kind of events. Well, I have to admit it has been a learning curve but I am finally starting to feel like I can budget well and have enough money to enjoy myself. My first tip would be to be disciplined when buying food. It is so easy to see all your favourite foods on the shelf, transfer them to your basket and before you know it you have spent a fortune, so make a list before you go shopping and only buy what you need – planning meals for the week really helps with this. I have also made the most of getting food from home when I visit or getting my parents to take me food shopping when they come to visit me.

Valentine's themed bake!

Valentine's themed bake!

My second tip would be to make the most of discounts! Whether that be downloading vouchers from emails you’d have previously moved to ‘trash’ or visiting food shops late at night as they apply discounts. A great way to save money is to have an NUS card, which will make sure you can get all the student discounts you are entitled to.  I have found that one very costly aspect of University is travelling so be sure to get a railcard/National Express card and consider getting a saver bus ticket if you think you will be using it regularly at University.


Through the eyes of an introvert

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📥  Faculty of Science, Postgraduate

"So, what do you study?", they ask. Oh dear. If only they knew that using this as a conversation starter would probably lead them into trouble. "Condensed Matter Physics", I reply, then pause to receive nods or some sign that they know what I'm talking about. Instead, I receive a blank face.

Ideally, I would explain the following. Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) aims to understand condensed states of matter like solids and liquids. They're "condensed" because their particles are close enough together that they interact strongly. Strong interactions can lead to incredible behaviour. For example, when liquid helium is cooled below 2.17 Kelvin (-271 °C), it becomes a superfluid which can climb out of its container; it appears to defy gravity! This is thanks to its particles moving together rather than bumping into each other. Now that's teamwork. Considering that much of our world consists of solids, including semiconductors used in all modern technology, developments in CMP influence our lives more than you might expect.

But that's not how I react to their blank face. Actually, I relate CMP to something more familiar: "Well, CMP is like Nanoscience. There's a lot of overlap between the two subjects." This gives me the nods I was looking for and leads to questions about the science of tiny things which I'm welcome to answer. I realise that this indirect approach isn't as helpful for CMP to become better known. Yet, I assure you, it's not out of laziness. It's just that I have a natural tendency to make conversations brief. Expressing myself in writing, on the other hand, feels more comfortable. I have more time to think, not rushed by the pace of the world. So, here's insight from my first semester as a postgraduate which I couldn't tell you with the same clarity in person.

I'm studying CMP in a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) based jointly in Bath and Bristol. CDTs admit students in cohorts of about a dozen per year, and I couldn't be happier with mine.

The cohort structure provides many opportunities for teamwork, although we haven't yet tried to defy gravity together. If I were in a conventional PhD without cohorts, I might worry about feeling isolated and alone. Sure, someone doing a conventional PhD may have a close-knit research group, but it's still not the same as being part of a student cohort like how undergraduate studies felt. Our cohort is well supported by approachable academics, too. In fact, our CDT coordinator has shown such patience in dealing with any of our problems, both academic and personal, that he's almost like our babysitter!

We get double the support because the CDT is a joint venture between Bath and Bristol. Both cities have their pros and cons. I prefer our office in Bristol because it's more spacious and has a better layout, but Bath does allow 24/7 access. As for access in Bristol... it's not as forgiving.

After 7:15 pm, Bristol's physics building has what I call a lockdown for undergraduates and first year CDT students. On one night, as I was leaving by 7 pm, I was surprised when my card wouldn't unlock any doors; I was locked inside my own physics department. Little did I know that on Fridays, lockdown happens earlier at 6 pm. In this situation, we're advised to call security. Too bad this was the one night when I didn't have my phone. Other escape plans also had problems. My last resort was to break an emergency exit door, but I was reluctant to make any alarms go off. Luckily, a senior faculty member eventually passed by. He mentioned that a few years ago, someone locked inside an upper level jumped out a window and broke a leg. Maybe he was spreading a rumour to scare me from getting locked inside again. Regardless, I was thankful that he let me out. In the weeks following, I pushed the CDT to give better access, and I hear that there's now a plan to delay lockdown back to 10 pm. Future CDT students: you're welcome.

My first semester involved plenty of new experiences, yet my next promises to be even better. As part of my CDT placement, I'll be doing research in the Netherlands for six weeks—I'm excited and scared at the same time! It's as far out of my comfort zone as I can imagine, but that's exactly what I need to become a better me. I won't be alone either as I'll have a project partner from my cohort who considers herself a loud introvert. We'll be partners in crime. If you liked reading this blog, follow us to the Netherlands where we're bound to find more trouble!




If you are interested in knowing more about the CDT in Condensed Matter Physics then please follow this link:

My Bath Bucket List


📥  Charlotte (Sociology), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year

Living in the city of Bath is very special, and I always find myself feeling a little too soppy when strolling the historic streets, and declaring to my friends and family at home that I’m lucky enough to be living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I knew on my first Open Day at the University that it was the place for me, and I consider Bath a ‘mini London’; it’s got every shop you’ll need, a cornucopia of tourist attractions, pretty efficient public transport and some brilliant eateries. It’s packed with visitors snap, snap, snapping away with their cameras and its arts and culture scene is thriving.

I suppose what is different to London is that Bath seems more ‘gentle’. The pace is a little slower, the people are much friendlier and there’s much more of a sense of calm and a shared curiosity to learn and explore. That’s exactly why I love Bath, and feel uber lucky to reside here! The bonus is that the University is truly great, and interacts closely with the city and what’s happening ‘downtown’.

Today, I thought I’d jot down my top 8 things to do in Bath. A ‘Bucket List’ I suppose. To help me out, I’ve linked in the Bath Leap List here, this is a whole pamphlet bursting with things to see and do in Bath and in surrounding cities. There’s stuff for students, and some more nature-y based things for your parents and families who love a woodland stroll.

If you’re a lover of the Great British Bake Off, or a lover of bakes and sweet treats in general, you must treat yourself to a Sally Lunn’s Bun. Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in Bath and is placed down a tiny and very quaint backstreet in Bath. Sally Lunn’s offers buns which are a mix of scones, brioches and bread rolls all in one and they’re very light, and truly tantalising. You only have to take to Instagram to see all the toppings offered, and the surroundings inside the shop are gorgeous. The waitresses wear traditional uniform to serve Bath’s special buns and it’s a wonderful hour to spend filling your tummy in Bath. They’re unmissable!

Of course, the next go-to is the Roman Baths. Could you visit Bath without popping in?! As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Roman Baths are very central in the city and are a treasure. Immersed in roman history, quirks and traditions, the Roman Baths are an integral part of Bath’s history. The Roman Baths also hold events such as Tunnel Tours, behind the scenes trips at the Baths and even T’ai Chi on the Roman Baths terrace! Why not?

Only a minutes’ walk from the Roman Baths is the Guildhall. Here, an indoor market is held during the week and on Saturdays – it sounds a little odd, but really is a great place to visit. There’s fresh foods, homeware stalls, a sweetie stall that seems to offer every marshmallow flavour under the sun and even a café among the market stalls and shops. The building is very beautiful, and only adds to the experience.

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

The Guildhall Indoor Market. It's awesome

There’s no way you can miss the magnificence of the Bath Abbey when exploring Bath; it’s pretty triumphant and immensely gorgeous. As bellowing, and slightly scary as the Abbey may look, both inside and out it’s crafted to perfection. Indoors is tranquil, comforting and ornate and the Abbey only asks for a donation to go in. There’s usually things held inside the Abbey such as bake sales, choir rehearsals which you can sit in on, and the Christmas Carol concert is second to none. Absolutely worth a trip inside!

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Part of a dreamy stroll I regularly do along the Kennett and Avon Canal, leading to Pulteney Bridge

Walking along the canal in the city of Bath is very refreshing as unlike other canal strolls, the Bath canal really is riddled with locks which you frequently see families operating to get their narrowboats down the Avon & Kennet Canal. There’s many a dog-walker around, and many spots to stop for a picnic in the most scenic of settings.

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Walking along the canal is lovely, as there's many bridges and a lots of locks

During the autumn months, walking along the canal is particularly nice as the scattered leaves and auburn trees are very beautiful. Walking along the canal will lead to the Pulteney Bridge in the centre of town, and the end of the walk could not be more eye-catching (or tourist flocked!).

Pulteney Bridge

The one and only Pulteney Bridge!

Pulteney Bridge is where some scenes of the Les Miserables movie were shot, so you can’t not come by and have a selfie! The weir under the bridge is fast-moving and makes an interesting photo. The bridge was built in 1774 and is of Palladian Style in the heart of Bath. Many would argue that the bridge resembles the Ponte Vecchio in Florence which adds some exoticism to Bath!

What would a trip to the city of Bath be without visiting the Royal Crescent? The Royal Crescent is a key (and rightly so) attraction in Bath. The Royal Crescent epitomises Georgian architecture, and was built over 230 years ago. The crescent is very distinctive, and cannot be visited without taking a selfie outside of the 30 terraced houses! Just next door the Royal Crescent is the Royal Victoria Park, the starting point where many hot air balloons are launched in the summer – it’s a great place to be.

If you love good food and drink, and also love trying out independent places as opposed to chains; Kingsmead Square, slap-bang in the middle of the city is the perfect place for you. Bursting with independent coffee houses, brunch stops and tea rooms with a farmers market on a Saturday – Kingsmead square is the best place to re-fuel. I can recommend the Society Café for a stunning cappuccino and equally perfect pain au chocolat or if you’re grabbing dinner in this district; hit up The Stable which prides itself on only serving cider and stonebaked pizzas – they’re divine.

That’s all for today, but what I’ve suggested is only scraping the surface! Bath is very busy and bustling and you’ll never struggle to find things to fill up your days here!



End of Semester Exams: Part 2


📥  Faculty of Engineering, First year, Yousuf

This may sound like crazy, but I really couldn’t wait to come back to university. There is something about university life that I seem to have gotten used to subconsciously but never seemed to have figured out what it is exactly. As soon as my train got back into the station and I set foot back in Bath, I had a confident skip in my step and a solid ‘Battle-plan’ for revision week. I treated myself to a good night’s sleep and next morning I was off to the university library to hunker down for what was to come.

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

Try not to get stuck in the long line at the bus stop before an exam!

I slowly realised that having some of my friends come along to the silent study area is a bad idea because silent study quickly turns into a miming competition and a lunch planning committee. I also understood the unwritten laws of the library during exam periods. The seat you get is the seat where you will stay until you cannot physically turn one more page, the moment you leave someone will take your seat and you’ll be abolished to library purgatory where you shuffle around the library looking for another seat. However, I did also discover that there is a treasure trove of rooms that are booked for students to study in which I found extremely useful.

Going into the exam for the first time was a bit scary and weird at the same time. Scary because it was my first exam at  university level, but weird because the atmosphere was more relaxed than A-Level examinations. The invigilators seemed to expect you to know what to do and don’t tend to repeat things like at the beginning of IELTS exams- I specifically enjoyed not being told a hundred times about the punishments of cheating!

When I started my first exam (Mathematics 1) I had a shaky start due to my own anxiety. I wish I could apologize to whoever had to mark my paper because of all the crossing out I did. The fact that I had a choice of questions I could answer did not help either as I kept jumping from question to question trying to decide which was easier. I managed to pull myself together just in time to do the required amount with enough confidence in my answers to hand in my paper with a good outlook.

After the first exam the following exams were pretty much straightforward. Although some of the exams surprised us because they differed vastly from the 5 year trend seen in the past papers, I still managed to keep my momentum up until the final exam. I realised throughout the semester that I can only prepare for something as much as I can, and to a certain degree I have learnt to this. Managing time during an exam is a critical skill that I will need to learn quickly, but since my first year does not contribute to my final mark on my degree I have some time to figure this out

After completing my exams I had prepared to go on a little holiday to London just to have a change of scenery. I managed to find a deal on a hotel that isn’t too far away from central London and along with my 16-25 railcard I managed to save a good amount of money, which was put to good use I promise. Choosing London as a destination might seem boring compared to where a lot of people go on their holidays but seeing a familiar place with a new attitude made my visit more special.

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Harrods is always in a Christmas mood

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Workers taking down Banksy's latest while on my visit

Coming back to university for the second semester was kind of like starting a New Year again. I have made my resolutions and I have learnt from my previous mistakes, all that’s left now is to take it head on.