Tag Archives: Study

what will student life be like this year?

Although it may still seem like a bit of a way off, it will soon be that time of year where we’ll be getting knee-deep in some studying again.

By Elliot Chard-Maple

With the next academic year on the horizon, we are all very much aware of the shift that is likely take place with COVID-19 still impacting our day-to-day lives. For new students, this might seem daunting, and that is entirely understandable. 

For returning students like myself, you will already be familiar with the transition to online teaching via the likes of Zoom. During these, quite frankly, unprecedented times, online seminars were strange at first. However, as long as we have our stable internet connections, we should be fine in the coming month. I will say, though, that I’m in the minority with an atrocious connection. As I attempted to attend seminars, my connection would drop time and time again to the point where it was impossible to listen in.

Fortunately, it appears that as of writing this, lectures will be recorded. We can only hope that seminars, should you suffer from weak Wi-Fi like myself, will also be recorded. Missing seminars due to low attendance is something that can be amended, but if you’re like my poor Wi-Fi and I, missing an online seminar would simply be unfair. 

But what of our social lives? What of the many students who are hoping to spend more time with their friends before they are launched into graduation and beyond? And what of the new students who have relocated, unfamiliar with Plymouth or its people?

Although social media has been our best friend over the last few months, it simply cannot replace the face-to-face experiences you can have while at university. Right now, it seems late-night drinking with your pals is a distant memory. All we can do is hope that things change in time. 

If you’re like me and are very concerned over how the university year will operate, I don’t blame you. I am about to become a third-year student and am very interested in how our timetables will work. Will we be required to physically attend university for seminars, for example? For me, that is an awkward position to be in due to my partner’s health condition. On the other hand, there are some people who just want to get outside and make the most of that wonderful university experience that may only come along once in your life.

Whether you want to be at the university physically, or want to remain at home to keep loved one’s safe, there is one thing we can all agree on: we all want COVID-19 to come to an end sooner rather than later. For now, we all must be patient and hope for the best.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Why You Should Study Conservation Biology

By Tobias Chalcraft

To quote Kermit the Frog, ‘it’s not easy being green’. As climate change and related environmental crises increasingly decorate the media, there’s a growing demand for more people to take on a more sustainable mindset. Hannah Hall, 21, is starting her march to the front line of this cause via undergraduate studies in Conservation Biology, here in Plymouth.

When asked what guided her towards her chosen area of study, Hannah said, “I’ve always had a keen interest in conservation and ecology, ever since I was a child watching David Attenborough documentaries, an interest I feel as though many people my age share. So, when I found out I could study a course at university which allowed me to learn more about these wonderful places I had seen on TV growing up, I couldn’t think of anything more perfect”.

When hearing about the material covered on her course, including cellular genetics, ecosystem services and population ecology, it is safe to say that Conservation Biology goes way beyond gardening. “The first year allows for everyone to be on the same level of knowledge, covering subjects such as introduction to biology, animal and plant physiology and evolution. The depth and content of these subjects is similar to what is covered at A-Level biology but acts as a nice refresher into the area after a long summer break”.

In the second year of the course, Hannah highlighted that the material moved more specifically towards conservation, covering “ecology, principles of conservation, methods of conservation, animal behaviour and optional modules” as well as a field trip to Mexico.

Overall, Hannah hopes her course will allow her to pursue a career in research, as she aims to undertake both a masters and PhD after completing her degree next summer. However, her current plan does not involve sticking around in the UK. As deterioration increases in less developed tropical countries, Hannah wants to move abroad in order to work towards a more sustainable development in these exploited areas by seeing “how governments can work with the local people and conservationists, that allows a substantial income but also retains the quality and biodiversity of the surrounding environments”.

So, why should others study Conservation Biology in Plymouth? “This course is great for teaching transferable skills. The tutors, professors and lecturers are extremely supportive and are available to talk to almost whenever. They also give a keen focus on current issues and problems”. There is also a big focus on current affairs, as Hannah recommended that prospective students “get themselves up to date on current conservation and ecology issues in the UK and around the world”, as this can demonstrate an interest in the course and help to get the most out of lectures. 

To compliment her first two years of university education, Hannah is about to conclude a placement year in which she has spent time in both Nepal and Peru. In her final month in South America, Hannah now looks towards her final year of undergraduate studies. “I am planning to write my dissertation on seed germination trials of an endangered Adean plant called Puya raimondii under different temperature regimes, as these plants are very sensitive to climate change”. However, permits and permissions are required to export the seeds from Peru to England and due to the difficulty in obtaining these permits, experiments on plants closer to home may have to be carried out instead.

If her dissertation is of good enough quality, Hannah’s dissertation supervisor seeks to publish her work in a scientific journal, making her a published academic before even achieving her undergraduate degree.

When asked what drives her studies, Hannah replied, “Since I have started my degree, I have been extremely lucky to travel to countries such as Mexico, Thailand, Nepal and Peru and not only seen the pristine, tidy, clean and seemingly perfect areas which are made so to attract tourists but also, what I call behind the scenes. In Thailand and Peru, I saw large areas of rainforest cut down to make way for agricultural crops and animals. In Nepal, I saw how poverty stricken the rural communities were and how heavily they rely on crop agriculture as income, but which in current years is becoming less reliable as monsoon seasons become shorter and temperatures change. Knowing that I have the skills needed to make an actual change to this world, whether big or small, makes me strive to do the best that I can!”

Perhaps with more Conservation Biologists promoting a more pro-environment development of our planet, there may be less of an excuse for good ol’ Kermit to sing his aforementioned lyric. 

For those interested in studying Conservation Biology at University of Plymouth, you can follow Hannah on Twitter @Hannah_Con_Bio to find out more about the course or to ask her any questions.