I’m a biotechnology research Master’s student, with an interest in gastrointestinal subject areas. I hope to work for the NHS in the future. For fun I like playing sports such as fencing or tennis to take a break from university.
MRes Biotechnology and Business Enterprise
Choosing postgraduate study
I mainly chose to do a postgraduate research degree because it will make me better qualified for several jobs and PhDs. Regardless of which path I choose, a postgraduate research degree will prepare me for a more intensive work environment. It’s giving me valuable skills and traits for the workforce that I wouldn’t have developed as an undergraduate, which will hopefully give me a competitive edge when applying for jobs.
I enjoyed doing research for my undergraduate dissertation project, so I decided to do a research rather than a taught Master’s degree. My future goals involve staying in science, in a role that hopefully will at least partially include a research element.
It is not just the funding opportunities that made me stay at Newcastle however; the University is well-known for its biomedical research, as it is a Russell Group university. This excellent quality of research was another reason why I chose to stay.
I also know Newcastle to be a lovely city and my undergraduate university experience was brilliant, so it seemed like a logical choice.
Studying at Newcastle
I like the MRes courses in the Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School because of how much you can tailor the course to match your interests. I’m doing a Biotechnology Master’s so I have to take the required core modules for that course, but the rest of my modules were to my choosing. I’m taking modules in toxicology and in biomaterials/tissue engineering, which are vastly different to my core business module. The projects offered are varied as well, and we could choose the project we wanted. The process is a lot more flexible than undergrad!
One of the first things I noticed as a postgraduate was that the Graduate School pay more attention to students and that staff can get to know you. It’s a nice change from undergraduate studies, because I don’t feel like just part of the crowd anymore. My learning experience feels a lot more personal, and the module leaders can actually monitor your growth and tailor their help and guidance to you.
A major reason for this is that the class sizes are much smaller. My largest module (apart from the main module all MRes/MSC students have to take) probably only has 23 people in it, so it almost feels like school again. The workload feels a bit heavier this year compared to undergrad, but since the module content is interesting (and since you choose the modules you want), it doesn’t seem that bad.
I also take a German language course outside of my normal university studies, which gives me the opportunity to meet both undergraduate and postgraduate students outside of my course. Though it takes balancing with my main studies and other activities, it is so much fun and I learn a lot.
On my course, I feel like part of the MRes community, particularly with people in the same modules as me. Since we go through the same struggles, we can relate with each other and have plenty to talk about. I’ve hung out with some of my new course friends outside of university, so it definitely helps connect students. The staff are also more approachable, and we’re provided information on postgraduate conferences and events through our course. These events give us an opportunity to network with postgraduate students and staff from elsewhere, in addition to students and staff here.
Although seemingly small, the access I have to postgraduate facilities is somewhat exciting. The Ridley Atrium in the Medical School is only open to postgraduate students and staff, so it feels like our own special space.
I currently live in private flats rented through an agency. After three years of undergrad, I’ve learned what to look for in an agency and in a flat. My current flat is a good price for what I get, which is a one bed flat for £120 a week – though as I split the costs with someone I only pay £60! The location is super convenient for me as well, since the flat is only five minutes from the Medical School.
In terms of ease of sorting out accommodation, I haven’t had any problems since I went with a better agency this time around. Renting with an agency where the landlord is the main contact was definitely the better option.
Living in Newcastle
I love the convenience that living in a city like Newcastle provides. Newcastle is a large enough city that it has pretty much everything you need and there is plenty to do, but it’s small enough that it’s easy to get to places and is not too busy. There is an abundance of lovely restaurants and pubs the city offers, plus activities available either in town or directly outside such as ice skating or going to the cinema. The local community in Newcastle is perhaps the friendliest I’ve come across, so you always feel very welcome here.
I would certainly recommend living in or at least visiting Newcastle to friends, because it is such a pleasant city and I always find I miss it when I’m away for long.
Funding my studies
I received a Vice Chancellor’s International Scholarship. I also had the Alumni Discount and International Family Discount applied to my tuition fees, since I did undergrad here and my sister also attends the University. The rest of tuition and my living costs have been paid by both loans and help from family, so it’s been very manageable.
I received an email prior to applying for the Vice Chancellor’s International Scholarship stating that I was eligible to apply for it. The application process was simply filling out a short form, and I heard back within a week about it.
Apart from that, most funding will be listed on the University website, which I did check before starting my course. It helps to go and look for the information, since it won’t always be offered directly.
I’m hoping to become a healthcare scientist in the NHS, specialising in gastrointestinal physiology. If not, I will probably try to go into industry or academia for a few years until I can apply for my dream job. I also plan to complete a PhD in the future, as I’d really like that qualification.
Doing an MRes at Newcastle University is definitely gearing me towards roles in academia, and because I take the business module, for roles in industry as well. In terms of reaching my dream career, the University has been helpful in providing contacts of people who have successfully gotten onto the programme I’m aiming for, and they have helped me with application processes. The Careers Service also provide application checking services and interview practise sessions, which are helpful for any role I apply for.
I haven’t started my research project yet, but I’m sure that will be the main highlight of my postgraduate experience. It’s in an interesting topic about seaweed alginates and making weight-loss-helping supplements, so I am really excited to start.
Newcastle University offers excellent teaching and research, and the courses are rewarding as long as you’re willing to put the effort in. When you do get to Newcastle, take all the opportunities given to you (within reason), like work or volunteering opportunities, postgraduate networking events, or clubs and societies that the University offers. There are social events that the University and some venues and organisations in town offer, which you should also give a try. Just because you’re not an undergraduate anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and have fun.