What’s it like studying Biosciences?

Alice Booth

Decisions, decisions

I initially found it quite difficult choosing what degree to study and where. I’ve always been quite an analytical person and knew I wanted to study a scientific degree, but the specific one I wanted to do eluded me. I found biology very interesting. However, as the idea of blood makes me feel faint, I soon realised medicine was not for me. I eventually decided upon biosciences at Durham due to the wide range of modules offered in the degree as well as the quaint, compact city reminding me of home, and I am glad I did!

First year – a good mix of modules

In first year, the modules vary widely to give you a taster of what studying biosciences has to offer, from biochemistry and statistics modules to physiology, ecology and animal behaviour. In my first year, I was quite shocked at which areas of biology I ended up finding most interesting. I certainly had not expected it, going into my degree. I got the chance to study topics I had not previously considered and found new passions.

Pipettes and microscopes

I also had the opportunity to do several laboratory classes to practise skills that would be needed in later years, such as using microscopes and pipettes. This also gave me the chance to experience working in a lab in case I choose to do a postgraduate degree or even work in research one day!

A rooftop view over some of the labs

From cafes to the countryside

During first year, I greatly enjoyed exploring Durham, from going on picturesque walks in the countryside to eating my way round a lot of the cafes in Durham, yet there is still a lot more to explore.

Second year – personalising my degree

When first year came to a close, I was able to choose modules for second year that particularly piqued my interest and that I wanted to study further. This enabled me to fine tune and personalise my degree around my specific interests. Several of the modules offer field trips in second year, such as an ecology camping trip over the summer. I personally did not attend any of the field trips as my modules are more centred on cellular biology, but I greatly enjoy the experiments I get to perform in the lab!

Meeting up with friends, with a goat or two thrown in

Asides from academics, I have met a great deal of amazing friends who I share passions with and can relate to. We often meet up several times a semester to go out – lab coats are mandatory! My college ran multiple activities throughout the year to give us an opportunity to meet students in the wider college community whilst also having fun with our friends. One of my favourite memories was the mobile petting zoo that came to college the week before exam season started as part of the ‘destress campaign’. Sadly, it started raining halfway through, but it was quite entertaining watching fellow students running inside carrying rabbits and guinea pigs whilst students in charge of walking the goats were pulled around college campus as the goats attempted to eat the bushes!

Goats at the mobile petting zoo

Surprising myself

Outside of my degree, I have become quite a fan of weightlifting since coming to university and actually joined Durham University Lifting Club at the start of second year! Something that I would not have expected from myself two years ago!

Discover more

Our Department of Biosciences is a leading centre for this increasingly important area of study and is ranked 6th in The Guardian’s Best UK Universities 2022 league table. Students develop a wide range of analytical and practical skills that prepare them to meet the challenges we face across the globe including food security, sustainability and the impact of climate change.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Biosciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

Create your own personalised prospectus here

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Alice Booth

Hello! I am Alice, a second-year biosciences student at John Snow. I have started multiple new hobbies since coming to university, such as weightlifting. In this current academic year, I am hoping to try out a new sport or activity - indoor rock climbing sounds particularly fun to me, however I am known for being quite clumsy so this may not be the best choice!

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