Here are 5 things you should know about doing Biosciences in Cornwall!
Everyone I spoke to before arriving to university was worried about the reading lists. Did we really have to get all the books? And how? But truth is, you don’t have to worry about buying them. On campus you can utilise the library to borrow up to 20 items with unlimited renewals as long as you remember to do it before it’s overdue. There’s also an inter-library loan service available if the book you want isn’t available on the Penryn Campus – in which case it’ll be delivered down from the Streatham Campus. If that doesn’t work for you, second and third years often look to sell their secondhand textbooks throughout the year. There’s even a textbook sale that occurs on campus early in the year to facilitate this, so keep an eye out for that too. And there’s always the Internet if you’d prefer a PDF version to the heavy physical copies.
Doing a Bioscience degree means that you’ll have to conduct research and write reports about your findings. In scientific writing, other relevant academic reports and papers have to be sourced in your own discussion to give your conclusions further depth and credibility. So it’s important to take a moment to have a read of that article that your lecturer said was “optional” in yesterday’s lecture. They usually don’t take more than 15 minutes, and even just a skim through can help you in the next report you do for that module. It’s always important to keep adding to your vault of outside reading to not only develop your academic discussion, but also to enhance your own knowledge.
There’s a lot to cover in each module so the pace of each lecture can get pretty fast. Sometimes the lecturer may move on before you’re done taking down that important statistic they had specifically put on the slide for you to remember. The best way to deal with this is to prepare for your lectures. Whether it’s the day before or the hour before, make sure you have an idea of what’s going to be taught in the lecture ahead. The slideshows are always put up 24 hours before the actual lecture, so I like to fill up my notebook with some key points on the slides beforehand. This way, I won’t be worried about copying the slides during the lecture, and instead have my attention focused on what the lecturer is actually saying.
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of content to review by the time you get to exam period. So do yourself a favour and take down notes that you’ll be happy to look through when the time comes. Personally, I like to use my laptop to take notes, and find it convenient to use OneNote. It allows me to create different notebooks for each module I do, and subsequently separate sections within these notebooks that I create for every lecture I attend. You can do the same by going to the website and signing in with your Exeter email, as it’s a service that’s linked to Outlook. If you find that using your laptop is distracting, you can download a free app called SelfControl that helps to block the websites you know you would be tempted to visit for any amount of time you wish. If you prefer a pen and a notebook, the student shop offers a range of stationary so you’ll never have to worry about running out of space in your notebook or ink in your pen.
People find out early on that the practicals are “optional” – that is, your grades are only affected if there’s an assessment involved and you weren’t marked as present for the practical. But go to your practicals. Not only are they fun, but they also allow you to get involved with everything you’ve been learning about in lectures and writing about in your reports. Trips to the beach get you up close and personal with the animals that live in rockpools and the rocky shore; labs on campus allow you to explore anatomy and spend time with some of the living specimen that the department takes care of; and there’s even a trip to Newquay Zoo! Please just go for your practicals. They’re so much fun and your lecturers have worked so hard to plan them so that you have the best learning experience.