Meet our Students
To find out more about what it is really like to study at Lancaster University, see what our students had to say.
Through a major research project completed as part of his degree, Alex believes he has developed not only his subject knowledge but his lab skills and independent study.
Alex was most impressed by the University campus, and the small group study environment offered by the programme. Of the degree, he says, “I chose Chemistry at Lancaster as I wanted a degree where the classes were smaller and the lectures felt more personal. I much preferred the campus style that Lancaster offered compared to the city style of most other universities.”
For Alex, the best part of the degree has been his lab project on graphene supercapacitors. “I chose my project from a long list of projects offered by the Department.” Alex believes the research has been crucial in developing his skills, commenting, “Through my research, I’ve developed my skills in finding and gaining information from scientific papers, problem-solving and general lab skills, all of which will be very helpful in my future career.”
Alex is now keen to get to work on his fourth-year research project, saying: “I’ll be working on a sodium ion batteries research project. I’ve already started on this project through my internship in the Chemistry Department over the summer holidays, so this will give me a head start for my final year thesis.” He hopes that this internship in the Chemistry Department will stand him in good stead going forward.
Alex speaks very highly of the support he has received throughout his degree. “Everyone has been very supportive. It’s very easy to contact your lecturer to talk through your problems and if you’re having trouble with anything outside of chemistry there is also your academic advisor who knows you personally.”
Alex is also really impressed with the academic support he has been given. He told us: “The support I’ve received from my academic supervisor has been excellent and I feel that I’ve not only gained more independence but I’ve also gained in confidence.”
Alex is also enthusiastic about his development throughout the degree as he says: “Through studying at Lancaster I’ve gained a lot of self-management skills, especially when it comes to organising my time around assignments and labs. Being at Lancaster has also made me much more confident in speaking to and meeting new people.”
Alex’s advice for students who are looking at studying Chemistry at Lancaster is to “go for it”. He believes Lancaster has a lot to offer students and praises the small group sizes and it's more personal approach. “The dynamic is so different to other chemistry departments in other universities where there are hundreds of students. At Lancaster, you don’t get lost in the crowd, and it’s much easier to find help and to get to know the people on your course.”
Alex is keen to praise what Lancaster has given him so far, “It’s been an experience that has given me a lot more confidence and skills, which I know will be applied in any area of work I go to.”
For Sapphire, as soon as she came to visit Lancaster it felt like home. There was something very appealing about being in small classes and pioneering the future of chemistry.
Sapphire felt ‘wanted’ by the University as they were the first to reply to her application. “The staff were also very enthusiastic and friendly.” After visiting other universities, she says: “Lancaster was my favourite.” Sapphire was also impressed with the friendliness of people in the City who were obviously used to students, and the sports centre facilities really appealed to her.
Sapphire has really enjoyed her Chemistry degree throughout her undergraduate time here at Lancaster. “The support from all the staff members is really amazing. There is a really good staff to student ratio in lectures as well as seminars/workshops, which means you get to know both staff and other students very well, leading to a welcoming learning environment.” Sapphire was also impressed that if she needed help, she could just go and see the lecturer in charge of the module for support. As well as academic support, Sapphire has also found the teaching office staff very approachable for personal issues, such as mitigating circumstances for exams and coursework extensions.
Sapphire has also found being a student ambassador, student rep and involving herself in university and department life, through events such as Open Days and outreach activities, has been a major factor in her enjoyment.
Sapphire has enjoyed studying in the recently refurbished £26 million labs. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to not only complete lab work in modern, new labs, but also to complete assessed work in the comfort of the communal areas.”
In terms of her development, Sapphire has seen herself and her ideas change over the course of the degree. “Before I started, practical work was the aspect I was most concerned about. However, due to the friendliness and approachability of the staff, I soon became relaxed in a lab environment.” Sapphire’s favourite modules have always been those associated with the more theoretical side of chemistry, which have taught her problem-solving skills, along with numerical and analytical data handling skills. “My absolute favourite part of my degree has been my fourth-year research project in computational chemistry. This project not only taught me how to use different software packages and analysing the data output, it taught me how to manage my time effectively.” It also developed her ability to undertake individual research and solve problems by herself, without the aid of her supervisor.
Sapphire has also been keen to take internship opportunities to help her research. “Last summer, I did an internship here in the Department of Chemistry, working with my fourth-year supervisor. I worked for about six weeks, learning how to run calculations and analyse them. This helped me make faster progress with my fourth-year project as I was already familiar with the code, and has helped me gain a PhD place here in the Department next year.”
For new students looking to apply to Lancaster, Sapphire has nothing but praise, saying: “Lancaster University is a friendly, safe and beautiful place to both live and study.”
A visit to Lancaster on an Open Day and a tour of the campus was what excited Kate as it felt very homely and there seemed to be a real sense of community. The main thing that stood out about Lancaster was how friendly it felt.
Kate is very impressed with the support she has received from her lecturers, saying: “If I encountered any problems, I’ve always found my lecturers more than willing to help.” Kate’s favourite topic is organic chemistry because she likes to understand how certain chemicals react and why. As well as developing her chemistry knowledge, Kate has also developed her problem-solving skills as the degree has progressed and she is expected to do more research.
Kate is impressed that a recent £26 million refurbishment has meant the students study in completely new labs. “The main thing I enjoy about the labs is how modern they are; a lot of the other universities I looked at had old wooden labs. I have found the Department has a very strong emphasis on lab skills and this is the main thing that will aid me to get a job in the chemistry field.”
In her third year, Kate has been successful in securing a study abroad placement in Kentucky in North America. This, she hopes, will provide her with lots of new opportunities to develop and learn in another culture.
Of her choice to study Chemistry at Lancaster, Kate is emphatic that this was, “one of the best decisions I have made.” Kate can’t speak highly enough of the Department, “It is an incredibly friendly place and the atmosphere of the campus is brilliant. The Chemistry Department was easily the best department I looked at and the facilities are amazing! I would encourage anyone to go to Lancaster.”
Victoria chose Lancaster as it was a campus-based university, it had a nice community feel and it felt a lot friendlier and inviting compared to other universities.
Victoria decided to study abroad in New Zealand so she could explore a new area of the world, experience another university and put herself in a situation outside of her comfort zone.
Of the experience, she says, “There were lots of highlights but I particularly enjoyed bungee jumping and skydiving. I also travelled to Australia and went diving in the Great Barrier Reef, something I will never forget. I also immersed myself in the university by participating in hosting chemistry events for the NZIC (New Zealand Institute of Chemistry).” Through her experiences, Victoria made lots of friends for life and really got to know not only her peers but her lecturers as well. “It was a very challenging year, with many ups and downs, but looking back I can whole heartedly say it was the best decision I ever made.”
Comfortable learning environment
Victoria was impressed that there was always support available in the Department. “Through small class sizes you have the chance to get to know the lectures, which, from personal experience, made me feel more comfortable and confident asking questions.” She was also impressed that if help was needed outside of class, the academics were friendly and willing to set time aside for students to go over and clarify lecture material.
Of her studies, Victoria has really enjoyed topics that have included a lot of maths and physics aspects. “In my second year, I was introduced to Quantum Mechanics and Computational Chemistry, which I would say are my favourite topics of study so far. These topics have taught me how to deal with abstract ideas and to think outside the box, which are skills that I can take away and apply to any future career.”
Victoria believes that studying at Lancaster has enhanced her skills as well as teaching her many new ones, saying: “My communication skills and time-keeping have come a long way.” Additionally, the chemistry modules have taught Victoria how to deal with abstract ideas and to think outside the box.
Her advice for students looking at studying chemistry is just to “do it!” For Victoria, Chemistry at Lancaster has been a unique experience as she says, “the teaching staff are fantastic and they make you feel like you’re not just a number. Undertaking a chemistry degree is difficult but it’s very rewarding and incredibly interesting. Research your universities and pick somewhere that is right for you!”