Two years ago, I was clueless as to what I wanted to do after sixth form, and where my future would lead, but after studying chemistry at Bath for a year, I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.
Looking around Bath on an open day in June 2019, I fell in love with the University, from the sports facilities to the green space at the lake (and all of the ducks), the campus itself and department facilities, and the welcoming nature of all of the student ambassadors. Attending a talk on chemistry from Dr Dan Pantos (Senior Lecturer) on this open day was a real turning point, and as I listened to the many worldwide applications of chemistry. I decided that chemistry was the degree for me.
From environmentally sustainable energy and products to the development of drugs and making vests bulletproof to drug testing in sport, the possibilities of where chemistry can lead are endless. Also, the skills gained from studying chemistry at degree level are transferrable and will benefit me later, whether I decide to get a job in a research lab or go into another industry.
I chose the BSc Chemistry degree program with a placement year- even though I signed up to a BSc, you can easily move across to the MChem (or vice versa) up until at least the end of the first year, as long as you have a 55% average for 1st year. I also chose straight chemistry, as that gave me more module options in the first year.
Although I chose the chemistry of everyday things and environmental/ sustainable chemistry as my two optional modules, I could have chosen the two management options or equally the two drug discovery options, and if I had picked those, I would have had the choice to move permanently onto that course for my other years at Bath. Once I heard the optional modules, I was really interested in the environmental module, and so chose to stick with the straight chemistry options.
I chose to do a placement year for the work experience I would gain. Bath is well known for students doing a placement year (with over 2/3rds of students either undertaking a placement year, or study abroad year in their 3rd year of study), due to the strong connections they have with employers, and the continued support they give to students looking for a placement.
I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to improve my future employability. Also, I’m still not certain about the career that I want after graduating, so I thought a placement year would be beneficial to see what industry I might want to work in, after my four years at Bath.
Throughout my first year, I’ve had online lectures (approximately 3 or 4 per module a week), alongside online Q&A zoom calls at the end of the week per topic, which were really helpful to go through practice questions to consolidate your knowledge and have the chance to ask any questions you have on the last week’s lecture content.
We also have a tutorial call once a week, where we go through a pre-set worksheet of questions in small groups (normally between 5 and 7 students) with one of our tutors. Having this small group has been great, as we get more personalised feedback from our tutors, and also are in a small group of students, where we can support each other.
Finally, we have labs (inorganic, organic, physical, and computational)- these originally started in person, along with an in-person workshop once a week; however, everything had to go online again for subsequent lockdowns.
Luckily we have experienced the labs in person a few times at the beginning of the year, and again recently for one 8 hour lab day per lab group, but hopefully will be back in person for the next academic year, along with lectures and tutorials.
Although my first year studying chemistry at Bath has not been exactly what I expected, with online lectures and virtual labs throughout lockdowns, I have loved my first year and loved university life itself including making new friends, experiencing living without your parents, exploring a new city, and trying new things. Now I am excited to start my second year of chemistry at Bath University in September.