Tag Archives: Cardiff University

Today: The £9000 Niggle

7 Jun

Tuition fees go up to a maximum of £9000 a year, and it has raised quite an important question:

Is it all really worth it?

A good question, however it is one that has been raised before, in the 2006/7 entry year the fees went up to £3000, this was the year before I went to university.

Alot of my peers decided they would go, on account of all the important people telling us that it was worth the money. I have to say that I agree with the prediction, it was worth the money – overall.

There are many of my university colleagues  however who thought it wasn’t worth it. Many who only get 3 hours of contact time a week, 36 hours of contact a semester, 72 across the whole of one academic year.  £42 (ish) per lecture attended. This is mainly speaking for the BA people out there, yes I know you had to put as much work in as I did (in your final year at least) but we are talking about financially worth it.

See, doing a Physics and Astronomy degree, I had about 20 contact hours. With lab time. so in one month I had out stripped the BA people for an entire academic year. So in the 12 weeks of one semester, I have had more contact time than they will get in their entire degree. Worth it?

One of the things that a recent report has brought up is that the teaching hasn’t improved.

No Shit.

I was lucky, I had a spectrum of different lecturers to give me a great insight into my degree, I had great ones, I had shockingly uninterested ones and I had those who just gave enough to get enough.

Now the shockingly uninterested ones really couldn’t charm a prostitute into bed, they dragged on and made the lectures feel like they went on for about 4 hours (5 if you were hungover).

I had lecturers who were really knew their stuff. Like they knew more about it that the wikipedia article could ever explain. But they just wanted to talk… alot… and we didn’t really learn much, we ended up having to question spot. Which was unfortunate because I really really enjoyed the subject that this one lecturer taught.

The lecturers who could get me to do the work for the lectures I hated (Maths… any maths and horrific particle Physics. ) I admired. I found it interesting that they left parts blank, meaning I asked questions, which got me to do the work. I hated it, please don’t think I enjoyed it, but I found it interesting and satisfying when I could finally answer a question.

The great lecturers took what I was already interested in and  blew it out the water. They really mixed up what I thought was happening and it was like they opened up a whole new world.

I’ll name my top 3 modules for my degree and why I like them. This is purely on how it was taught to me, and how I reacted. even if I hated the subject – and what’s surprising is that none of them are practical ones:

3. High Energy Astrophysics – I had heard ominous predictions about the lecturer of this course, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting lectures I have ever been in. The topics we covered were all brand new to me, and every question that I asked I got an honest answer back. I didn’t get a watered down “Well.. you know what a photon is” lecture, I got a scientist to scientist response. Any help I needed all I had to do was ask. It definitely wasn’t my best mark. But it was an enjoyable to lecture to sit in. Even if the lectures were on a FRIDAY BLOODY AFTERNOON.

2. Statistical Mechanics – I hate maths. I really don’t understand what the hell went through any of the great mathematicians minds when they came up with the crap we have to learn, but for me I was sleeping. I can do applied maths stuff, I can use maths to solve a real world problem, but as for maths for maths sake? No thanks. So this lecture course was a struggle for me. With one difference. I have no idea how this guy did it, but I was fascinated in how many things this one bloody method could be used on.  I was panicking like mad before the exam, but I came out of it with a high 2:1. That is the result I am most proud of. I managed to get 50’s in my other maths modules, and high 60’s in this. I just enjoyed figuring it out!

1. Physics of Stars – This was a module like no other. It had all the Astronomy you could ever imagine, and it was taught like a maths module. Wait – yes I am aware that I said above that I hate maths, but this was astronomy maths. This was maths that you could build from the base up, you could build from addition all the way up to calculating the gravitational strength of a star. So much information was suddenly opened up to me from this one module, it was honestly like I had absorbed a book by fusion. (Was going to say osmosis, but thought I would stay on-topic).

So is university worth it?

I can say that 60% of my modules I enjoyed enough to remember them.

The rest I just turned up to to pass, whether this number is the same for others out there I’m not sure on. But I didn’t just get a degree out of my university experience. There are more things to life.

£9000 doesn’t count against you, the 4 x £9000 some will pay won’t count against them. I’m currently in £27000 worth of debt, and I don’t even pay off the interest I earn on that a month. Which is a failure of the Students Loan Company, as well as the Govenment for mot regulating it properly. A graduate tax? Maybe, but My debt should be getting smaller. Not bigger.

That is another blog entirely however.

Go to university, If you want to expand on what you know, or get the professional qualification you want, then go. It will build a hell of a lot more life experience than you expect, much more than living with your parents will for 3 years.

As Nike would say: Just do it. 


Today: Five Years Time

7 Jun

Last week i finished my degree.

Barring any unfortunate fails, i will be graduating in July! Can’t wait. Not just to graduate i guess, but to start the next part of my life.

Five years ago it was June 2006. I was Returning to school after the shambles that was my As-Levels, with out one thought of leaving the small suburbs of Woodley. I was 6 weeks away from the summer holidays, and we were all being told to think about what we would write for our personal statements, how to sell ourselves to what degree we wanted to do. I had decided to do physics and astronomy – just like my physics teacher.

I had no idea what i would be writing so I just started with the simple question of “Why i want to go to university”, and went from there. Who knew that 5 years since then I would be finishing my physics degree, probably gaining a 2:2 honours degree, from a prestigious Russel Group University – Cardiff University – and yet I still don’t know what to do after i graduate!

I know I want to enter Formula one, I want to be involved in Research and Development, and I want to be an innovator. Unfortunately to get into Formula One it’s more of a who you know, then what you know. So I will be sending alot of e-mails out asking for work experience around the time of Silverstone, or over winter -testing…. hmmmm the choices!!!

So what do i want to be doing in 5 years time? Let’s make a handy list. (easy reading for ya there!)

  1. Not living in my parents house
  2. Married
  3. Have a career
  4. Go to Monaco GP
  5. Have a permenant paddock pass as i’ll be working for a F1 team. . . .
  6. Not miss a single F1 race for an entire season
  7. Go to New York
  8. Go to Paris
  9. Hawaii! gotta go to Hawaii…
  10. Pay off my student loan… (~£25 k….)

Nothing too extreme there… Considering 5 years ago i told my head of sixth form i wanted to go to cardiff and study physics, I got told:

I wouldn’t aim too high Harriet. Why don’t you do Geography? That’s your highest grade”

Screw you. I’m getting an honours degree. From Cardiff University. I can acheive anything!

Though I am aware that only a lottery win will allow me to pay off my student loan in 5 years!!!

Today: More Women in Science

5 Mar
Image of Stargate: Continuum cast at Arctic sh...

Image via Wikipedia

I am currently sat in Week 6’s Discover! Club’s activity, which is adding a blog post commenting on what has been discussed in this presentation about how women are portrayed in Science.

As a woman in science I feel I could write about myself here, so engaging my ego as much as possible i think i will.

I’m a total science-crime-fighting-drama person (with a swing towards Grey’s Anatomy as well…. Patrick Dempsey = YUM!), we were talking today about how women can be portrayed in these drama’s. Personally I was (and still secretly am) a Stargate fan, I watch the series more than the poor excuse of a film, enjoying the primitive adventures they travel on whilst travelling through an interstellar transportation device called a Stargate.

Now actually studying for a physics degree i find it quite satisfying pointing out the mistakes, continuity errors and general scientific rif-raf that has been presented to me over 10 seasons of SG1, 5 seasons of Atlantis and the 2 series of universe.

Back on point.

There is a character in stargate that i can quite unashameably say is one of the main reasons i decided to study Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University. That character is successfully portrayed by Amanda Tapping, and she pretty much plays my heroine. Dr Lt. Col. Samantha Carter:

Strong, emotional, clever beyond anyones dreams, can shoot things, gets with the hot guys, BRILLIANT.

It’s any wonder why i wanted to model myself on her!

I do think it depends on what you watch as to how the women are portrayed. Also some of the writers, I have noticed that whenever it is a female author of that episode, the women seem to be very domineering, intimidating, bitchy and very pretentious, compared to when the men write about them. Where it’s the other extreme (generalizing here boys)

The girls i am working with are all UK yr 9’s. 14 year olds, choosing their GCSE choices and probably spend a little bit more time watching TV than they should. They are easily influenced by the people they meet in their life, even though they wouldn’t admit it even when under torture (at least if there were any boys around). And probably even more affected by who they see on the TV.

Thankfully TV is alot more forgiving nowadays and the portrayal of female scientits is becoming alot more positive, than that nerdy girl in the corner.

The girls seem to be taking to the challenge quite well, listening around anyway -noticed that this is like a running commentary? LIVE BLOGGING PEOPLE! – o dear. I’m not sure about their takes on the subject at hand, but they certainly know who they want to write about, people from the BBC’s Coast – Dr Alice Roberts, People from Scrubs, other scientific things…. (i really need an Ipad or soemthing that i can walk around and actually see what people are doing) All for different reasons, why they look up to them, Why they don’t, whyt hey think they’re famous….

The posts are going to be uploaded to: http://morewomeninscience.blogspot.com

So have a read if you want.

The revellations may not end up in another book, but it may give people an insight that 14 year old girls may actually be affected by what’s shown on TV. But more postively than we give the directors credit for.

Hopefully it’ll inspire them to take up a passion for something that was dreamt up in a writers dream!

Today: A Day in the Life….

18 Feb

I have recently been filming a UCAS ‘Day in the Life’ video as a student here at Cardiff University….

Although I sound like a 12 year old girl and look hungover in pretty much all of the frames, the comedy music makes it sound like an awesome time!

There was so much more i could have said, but i guess i’ll have to wait for my Oscar performance another time!

The video is here on one of my Professors blog’s, and on you-tube so have fun watching!