I am currently studying for a degree in Biology at the University of Exeter. I have just finished my first year and am in the process of choosing my second year modules
~Why choose biology~
Obviously I believe biology is the most rewarding and fascinating subject one can read at university! To me biology has it all, it has a fantastically broad range of subjects. In my first year alone I studied:
Animal and plant physiology
Animal, plant and protist diversity
Many biology degrees also beyond the first year have a real broad choice for students on choosing their path within the field of biology. There are so many different areas to specialise in.
Also biology is so interesting as its links with other subject areas are so vast, including physics, maths, chemistry, geography, ethics and morals, philosophy and religion (evolution anyone?).
I find it refreshing and interesting that biology today is not narrowminded and asking questions and seeking knowledge is rewarding and fruitfull.
I believe also that everyone has an innate love of biology, its the science which asks why of nature. It is human nature to wonder and biology opens the intellectual door to an adult fascination of the world, similar in feeling to that of a small child.
~What do biology students REALLY learn~
We learn everything! Right down to looking at a tiny bacteria under a microscope up to observing birds in the wild. The beauty of biology is that it is both macromolecular and micromolecular, and both aspects may be learnt in one degree!
We spend a lot of time in lectures but also with practical sessions and out in the field collecting data, as well as research.
This term we spent an afternoon dissecting owl dropping to anaylse the skulls of their prey, disgusting but so interesting!
~Biology and the future of Earth~
I really feel biology in the next ten years will come into its own. I believe it has all the answers in the brains of biologists to solve the world problems. Many problems facing our existence are rearing their heads now and biologists are gearing up for that.
The problems of climate change, prevention and clean up of it.
The oil spill of the gulf of Mexico a couple of weeks ago, that is biologists sorting that out!
The problems of famine, droughts and not enough food crops available with a growing population are tasks to solve for microbiologists and biotechnologists.
The problems of diseases such as HIV and AIDS, as we become more international a world, diseases spread between far flung countries more easily. This is a problem
The issues of biowarfare and the use of bioweapons such as anthrax in the american letters a few years back are problems for the biologits of MOD.
Biologists are really coming into their own now.
~Careers in biology~
With the economic uncertainty and the questions of debts from going to university, maybe people are looking more critically at whether a degree is that useful.
I say yes and a biology degree certainly! I opens doors into anything!
Many graduates complain about poor job prospects etc. but really I believe, there are a few key things required to make it as a graduate and succeed:
1. Go to one of the top ten universities
This is a MUST. In the competitive market we live in, it gives credit to your degree and also provides invaluable links with proffessionals both in the field of study and private business ones. These are the people you will need to 'get on'. Going to a tucked away little university may still offer the same level of degree, but these links are lost.
2. Get a first in your degree
Really without a first, you're not going to make it to the top. Its all about how much your interested in the subject and the work you put in.
3. Do extra things outside the course
In biology, this is really a must. This forges links, gives you career ideas and also extra skills and knowledge
For example in my first year, I worked with primary school children in the university in Science week and got a scholarship to go on a week away at leeds university to study plant biology with leading scholars from America, Japan etc.
These experiences let you SHINE to the people in power. They are priceless.
4. Be willing to travel
The UK is not the only hub of biology in the world, to really get on in the field you HAVE to be prepared to travel to do research and work. Places such as rainforests are great for research and Institutes in America and Japan are great for learning.
Biology at university opens so many doors to careers in research and business (think millionaire biotech businesses!). Its all about how much effort you put in. The more you put in the more successful you will be
I have a degree in biology which i did at Staffordshire University. I have always loved the subject and find it really interesting. The parts of biology i find the most interesting is molecular biology, microbiology and evolution. Which you can link each one of these up.
I find the whole subject fascinating. We really do take alot about living things from the big animals right down to the way small microscopic organsims work for granted.
However, having a degree in biology has got me nowhere. Especially with todays climate where there is not much out there for graduates they are in an even worse situation. I graduated in summer 2003 and it took me 6 months before i got a job with my degree. I got a temp job through a scientific agency as a lab technician for a pharmaceutical company. I thought it would be a foot in the door. The work was very repetitive and to be honest it wasnt that interesting. Very mundane. It was not what i expected. I was forever on a rolling temp 1 year contract because it suited the company more to keep temps rather than permanent staff. So i was never in a stable position.
I then went to work for a university on a research study in molecular biology. I thought yes! something more interesting. Yes it was more interesting, but i was paid less a lot less. I was working for money i could get without having a degree. I was still on a contract too, even though it was for 2 years rather than for one, i still felt insecure over my job.
It seems if you want a job within biology you need to do a PhD and still the pay is not much more. Unless you want to teach i would say dont do the degree unless you want to do further study. Also the jobs after within research can be very monotonous and boring.