How the biosciences universal first year helped to shape my future

Unsure as to what specific area of Biosciences you want to build your career around? Luckily, as Lauren Goodfellow describes here, the University of Manchester offers it’s students a universal first year for all Biosciences degree programmes. This allows students to weigh up their options for a year before deciding what area to focus their degree on. Discover more about it and how it benefited Lauren below… 

One of the main reasons I chose to come to Manchester was due to the universal First Year for all Biosciences degree programmes. If, like me, you’re a bit of an indecisive person, this option is perfect. It means that at the end of your first year, after taking a wide range of subjects, you can switch degree programmes to reflect your interests.

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Many people start out on a general degree such as Biomedical Sciences or Biology and then choose to switch onto a more specific course after taking introductory modules in the first two semesters. In my case, I moved from a specialised Genetics programme to Biomedical Sciences after I realised that I wanted to continue learning a broader range of topics as my degree progressed.

Due to the fact that I started out on a Genetics course, many units were compulsory in my first year. This included ‘Genes, Evolution and Development’, ‘Molecular Biology’ and ‘Biochemistry’. I also had some optional units that gave me and insight into other degree programmes such as Pharmacology, Neuroscience and Physiology. I really enjoyed having a wide range of topics to study, as I found them interesting and it kept me more engaged with my work.

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When looking at the second year compulsory modules for Genetics, I was really interested in half of them but the others I wasn’t so sure on. After having taken many different courses in my first two semesters, I had a much better idea of which particular topics that I liked and which ones I performed well in too. I realised that my academic strengths lay in learning biological systems and macro-level biology, which isn’t the focus of Genetics related courses.

After a discussion with my personal tutor, I decided that switching onto a Biomedical Sciences degree would be the best choice for me. This allowed me to have eight optional units in second year, letting me essentially choose whichever modules I found the most interesting. It was a really easy process that just took filling out one form and emailing it off to the programme directors of the course I was leaving and of the course I was joining.

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In second year, as a Biomedical Sciences student, I took three of the units that were compulsory for Genetics students that I knew I would enjoy. I also took five modules from various different areas of biology including physiology, neuroscience and zoology. As in first year, this variation in my subject matter has made studying a lot more enjoyable for me.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to switch my degree programme after getting an insight to how I studied best in a University setting. You may not necessarily study the same way as you would in sixth form or college, and you may have different areas that you’re interested in after studying them at a University level. Having the chance to switch programmes without having to start all over again gives everyone the best chance of enjoying their degree and getting the best possible results.


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