Laura Quinn: BSc Microbiology with Immunology
"The course initially attracted my attention as I had always found the immune system interesting. My interest lay in the challenges that microbes put upon the immune system and the features different microbes posses to survive. I chose Leeds as it is a massive city with a few universities and lots of students, so I knew I would get the full experience of student life.
I have enjoyed having the opportunity to carry out lab work and learn far more about the immune system and microbiology. The lab time on the course helps with making friends. Some of my closest friends are the people I shared a lab bench with in the first year. Living in halls is another way to make a large group of friends, and the nights out and organised events are great.
I have had lots of great experiences, my favourite being my year out in industry. I worked in the Core DTG group at GlaxoSmithKline, as a part of the transcriptomics team. My work focused on using micro array analysis and TaqMan to run a number of expression analysis projects. I worked closely with my supervisor who was the lab leader of this group. My days were spent in the lab, analysing data and writing up completed projects. It was an amazing experience which taught me a lot.
In the first and second year I enjoyed having the opportunity to put knowledge into practice in a lab environment. Another highlight would have to be learning and understanding complex aspects of the taught modules.
The support on the course has been good. Personal tutors are there whenever you need them and lecturers are more than happy to answer any questions and help with any issues. Personally I have had no major issues, however if an issue did arise I feel confident of the support I would receive.
Leeds caters for students, so there is always something to do. I enjoy running and swimming and Leeds is good for both. With Hyde Park and a number of different running routes which are safe. I also enjoy going to different cities such as York and Manchester, it is easy to get to a number of different cities from Leeds.
I feel I have had a good few years studying something I enjoy. Microbiology with Immunology is a very interesting degree which covers a range of topics, and one that I would definitely recommend."
At the time of writing Laura was a final year student. She graduated in 2009.
Mohammed Haider: BSc Microbiology with Immunology
"My degree at Leeds has consisted of state-of-the-art, research-led teaching which has been both fun and eye-opening to the field of microbiology and immunology. For much of my first and second year, some of the taught material was delivered via cross-disciplinary teaching from related courses, including biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology.
The structure of the course and its content has been varied and dynamic. In first year, we had a combination of lectures, small group tutorials, and three-hour long practical classes. In addition to lectures, my second year put a greater emphasis on small group seminars, group presentations, and more demanding six-hour long practical classes.
In my third year, there was a lot more flexibility to the course, which enabled me to refine my area of study and choose to attend lectures and seminars which interested me the most, and I felt that I was learning very advanced topics by the time I reached my final year. The highlight of my entire degree was my third year dissertation project which involved writing a 10,000 word report detailing my research, as well as producing a poster to summarise the essential components of my project. I was allocated a supervisor during this period which was a great source of help and guidance.
Throughout my time at the Faculty of Biological Sciences I have felt part of a very supportive environment. Staff members were always happy to answer any I questions I had, either in person (during or after lectures) or via email. The administrative staff were also very helpful, particularly in my first year when I was not sure where, when and/or how to submit assignments, and when I had queries about term start/end dates during the academic year.
The university has great facilities including the Edward Boyle Library which provides a great environment for studying. There are also computer clusters throughout the campus, some of which are open 24 hours, so there is always a computer available.
Leeds city centre contains many bars, restaurants and cinemas – my favourite restaurant is Gzing because it serves Kurdistani cuisine, and the food is essentially the same as I eat back home. I love going to the cinema at The Light and visiting Roundhay Park to enjoy the scenery and just be away from the hubbub of the city.
My advice to prospective students would be to start working on any piece of work as soon as it is assigned. Trust me, it pays off in the end, and leaves you time to enjoy yourself without having a stressful rush at the end. If you’re not sure about something at university, ask, you’ll be surprised to see how helpful people are!"
At the time of writing, Mohammed was a final year student. He graduated in 2011.
John Short: BSc Microbiology with Immunology
"I chose the University of Leeds; firstly because the Faculty of Biological Sciences had modern labs and equipment, everything was fresh and new. The lecturers seemed very friendly, approachable and cared about students. The University also had a very strong research orientated course – the content is based on current research and thinking, including the interests of lecturers and their research.
The course itself provides a comprehensive package of different fields within microbiology, whilst also looking at the big picture and major concepts. One of my highlights was the HIV debate in my final year, where there was an intense parliamentary style debate over whether a vaccine would be found for HIV or not.
I also really enjoyed the final year dissertation, which provided me an opportunity to interact with a leading researcher. The final year project was the best part as it really helps you to focus on whether you want to stay in academia and gives you the opportunity to write a publishable piece of work. My dissertation was selected by the University for publishing in the undergraduate journal “Bioscience Horizons”, which will be a big boost for my academic career.
Another highlight was having the opportunity to work for a year in industry at GlaxoSmithKline. This was an excellent way of gaining experience of a commercial environment compared to an academic one. It gives you plenty of networking opportunities, a decent salary for a year and also the opportunity to meet new people.
One of the best things about the course is that if you network effectively with the lecturers and achieve decent grades you can be enrolled on a paid summer project. I have completed two summer projects in different fields at the University to gain experience and knowledge, and this has proven invaluable in applying for PhDs (successfully!!) as well as increasing your confidence for performing lab work and completing your own project independently.
The level of support is outstanding. The administrative staff deal with finance and course issues quickly. The lecturers are easy to approach and to talk to, in fact they enjoy imparting their information to enthusiastic students!
It is very easy to make friends with the people on your course and in the wider University. I have now enrolled on PhD that starts in October at St Andrews. My long term career plan is to be leader of my own lab group."
At the time of writing John was a final year student. He graduated in 2009.