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Wondering where to spend the next 3 years of your life? Look no further!
University of Lancaster in general
Member Name: 4pintfoss
University of Lancaster in general
Date: 05/08/09, updated on 06/08/09 (869 review reads)
Advantages: Friendly, good night life, good academic deparments, new accommodation.
Disadvantages: Quite small
Life altering decisions are difficult to make. There's no doubt about it. Deciding which universities to apply to is one of those difficult decisions. You're half way through you're A-levels and on top of all of the usual stresses such as coursework and exams your asked to start planning the next 3 years of your life - madness! Biology was my favourite subject so I thought that it would be wise to do a degree in 'Biological Sciences'. I stupidly didn't put much thought into which universities I applied to, I just picked the ones which sounded interesting and hoped for the best. Then it was just a matter of applying to those universities and waiting for the offers to roll in. I got rejected from Durham and Bristol, but got conditional offers (whereby you need to get certain grades) from York, Sheffield and Lancaster. I decided that the grades required to get into York were too difficult for me to achieve, so that left me with Sheffield and Lancaster.
I went to open days for both Sheffield and Lancaster, looking around the cities, the accommodation, and the Biology departments. Sheffield looked ok, nothing special, but ok. The accommodation looked old, and all of the departments were spaced around the city as opposed to being all together. Lancaster on the other hand looked fantastic; from the accommodation to the biology department I thought that it looked brilliant. Lancaster is a campus university, meaning that the university accommodation and departments are separate from the city itself, and all close together. However Sheffield was just above Lancaster in the league tables for biology at the time, and lots of my school friends were applying to Sheffield so I thought that I would put Sheffield as my first choice and Lancaster as my reserve choice.
My exams came and went, and soon it was results day. I was horrified to discover that I didn't meet the criteria for either Sheffield or Lancaster. Upon phoning Sheffield I was told that my grades were not good enough, so I was pretty upset. I pulled myself together and phoned Lancaster, and they said that I had a place! I wasn't particularly happy as it wasn't my first choice......that is, until I started receiving information packs from the university.
**About Lancaster University**
Lancaster University is set atop a large hill just outside of Lancaster city itself, and is surrounded on all sides by picturesque landscape. It is a campus university with all of the universities facilities together in one small 'university village'. Central to the university is 'Alexandra Square' which links most of the University together. Lancaster University operates a collegiate system with 8 colleges; Fylde, Country, Furness, Pendle, Lonsdale, Grizedale, Bowland, and Cartmel. There is also the Graduate or 'Grad' college.
Choosing one of the 8 colleges is one of the first things that you do when you know that you definitely have a place at the university. In the welcome pack there are a few pages dedicated to each college trying to sell themselves to you. Choosing a college is not an easy choice, but I would advise you to join the one which appeals to you the most. You apply for 2 colleges, so that if all of the places are taken up for your first choice, you have your second choice to fall back on. I chose Fylde, which has the reputation of being the sporty college. I myself do not really play any sports, but I chose Fylde due to the accommodation, and the way that it sold itself in the welcome pack. During 'Fresher's week' you are encouraged to support your college and after a while you get pretty patriotic towards it. Each of the colleges has a different location, accommodation, and its own unique bar (Fylde's has just been renovated). Some colleges are also bigger than others.
So you've done it, you've left home and your off to university. But what do you do when you arrive? When you arrive you will be directed to you college office where you will be given your room keys and a very friendly student guide will take you to your room. Your guide will show you around your flat and encourage you to unpack. Once you have unpacked (or during the unpacking process) you start to meet your flatmates. This will no doubt be a strange time as you feel that you want to make a good impression, but find it difficult to be yourself as your parents are still there. After a while the parents will leave and then you are left to your own devices.....that is until your 'fresher's reps' arrive.
Fresher's Reps are 2nd year students (or above) who will be with your flat every night of fresher's week. They will encourage you to meet people and have a good time. The fresher's reps that I had were fantastic and really helped me to feel at home. In fresher's week there are lots of big nights in the college bars, and in town. My fresher's week was one of the most fun weeks of my life. Don't worry if you don't drink much or are tea total, you will still enjoy yourself immensely. Many of the people that I met in my fresher's week are still my close friends after 3 years of University.
In your second year you are given the opportunity to become a fresher's rep. I was a fresher's rep and enjoyed it immensely. It gave me the opportunity to meet more people and give my fresher s as good an experience as I had during my own fresher s week.
Fresher's week is not only about drinking and having fun however. It gives you the opportunity to learn your way around campus, enrolee for your course, visit Lancaster City itself and familiarise yourself with your surroundings. There is also a 'fresher's fair'. There Fresher's fair is where you sign up to university clubs and societies (see later). There are loads of freebee's given away and the whole thing is great fun.
**Accommodation - on campus**
Lancaster University has some of the most up to date accommodation of any university within the UK. Almost every college now has some brand new accommodation (and some also have some older accommodation too). 1st year students are guaranteed a place on campus, as second and 3rd year students are encouraged to live in town. When I came to Lancaster in 2007 I moved into brand new en suite accommodation. The buildings from the outside look beautiful and modern, and this theme continues inside. Upon walking through the door you are greeted with the choice of either a lift or stairs (I lived on the top floor, but only used the lift when I had heavy shopping or was too drunk to take the stairs :P). There are 2 flats on each floor. Each flat has 8 en-suite rooms and a large shared kitchen. In the kitchen there are 2 fridges, 2 freezers, 2 cookers, 2 sinks, a microwave, a toaster, a large table with 8 chairs, a large cupboard, 16 small cupboards, 8 drawers and a bin. As you can probably imagine the kitchens were pretty big (big enough for parties!) and everyone has ample storage space. Also, everything in the kitchen is good quality and modern.
The rooms are modern and quite large, and when you first step into the room ideas run through your head of how you can make the room 'yours'. The rooms contain a single bed (with lots of storage space within), a medium sized wardrobe, a desk with broadband access, a large double window and an en-suite bathroom (toilet, shower, sink and mirror). Even with all of your belongings in the room still has quite a lot of storage space. The rooms are also very quiet. You can't hear anything above or below you because the floors are very thick.
There are only 2 niggles that I have about the accommodation. The 1st is the fact that there are no washing machines. Instead you have to take your washing down to the few washing rooms on campus. This can be difficult if you, like me, leave doing your washing until you have no clothes left, and end up taking all of the clothes that you own down in one go. The 2nd is the price. My room in my first year cost me £90 per week, and this has gone up every year.
Most students decide to live off campus in their second year as it is cheaper, and offers a different experience to living on campus.
**Accommodation - off campus**
There are lots of different places to choose from when choosing where to live off campus. Most people opt to rent out houses owned either privately or by the university. These cost between £40 and £60 per week depending on how grand the house is, but don't forget that you may have to pay bills on top of that. I have found that private houses give you a far better house for your money than university owned houses (owned by Lancaster University Students Union - LUSU). So try to avoid LUSU housing.
Another option is 'Chancellors Warf' which is located towards the top end of the city centre overlooking the canal. This is also university owned. I had considered this accommodation for my second year, but upon looking around it all reminded me of an army barracks, so I decided against it.
I was lucky enough to stumble across some accommodation called 'Cable Street'. This is privately owned student Accommodation which has won the 'Student Friendly Business' awards several times. From the outside the accommodation looks beautiful, but on the inside it varies. Each flat is unique and in my first year we were late to market and so got one of the smallest, worst flats that they had. But in my 3rd year I changed flats to something which was much nicer. Generally flats vary in size between 3 - 6 rooms per flat. Most of the rooms have double beds and most flats have a lounge as well as a kitchen (separate or as a kitchen diner). The price of the accommodation is about £70 plus £150 per year for bills. This may sound like a lot, but you get a lot for your money. Firstly you are literally a 2 minute walk away from Sainsbury's and Somerfield, so you can get all of the offers which save you a lot of money over the course of a year. Also you are about 5 minutes walk away from the city centre. Secondly you get the summer free - on campus you have to leave by around the 1st of July (I think), whereas at Cable Street you can stay until September - free of charge. Then there is the office. In the office you can print (in colour) and photocopy for free. They will also bind your dissertation for free. There are cans and bottles of chilled drink that are also free along with sweets biscuits, cake and other goodies that you can help yourself to while you wait in the office. The office staff are also very friendly and helpful. The office organises free parties (around 3 a year) whereby you are taken to a club and given free entry and free drinks all night (:D). There are also other benefits from living in Cable Street such as discounts at bars and coffee shops. There is a handyman on site that will deal with any problems that you may have. You want some more shelves? Just ask him and he'll put some up for you. You want a chin up bar installed on your doorframe? He'll do it! To top it all off the owner has just had 'medieval stocks' installed outside the office as a voluntary punishment to people who are rowdy and cause disruption (throw eggs and tomatoes at them etc.). As you can see, Cable Street is a fantastic place to live!
Remember though that when living off campus you have to get the bus into University every day (about a 30 minute journey), and you'll have to pay £180 for a 3 term bus pass. Although to be honest it's probably cheaper to get a 2 term bus pass, as you probably won't go on campus that often in your 3rd term.
I enjoyed both living on and off campus, but I find that meeting new people is easier on campus.
**Anything else to know about campus**
Just a quick word about the shops and facilities on campus. There is a 'Spar' and a 'Central' which sell basic groceries and are very expensive when compared to Sainsbury's. The range of products in these shops are quite limited, but it is certainly possible to get everything you need from there. Most people opt to go to Sainsbury's, and there is a free bus service to Sainsbury's on a Wednesday. This is good, but walking from the bus stop to your room with 2 weeks worth of shopping is difficult.
There is a large library on campus where you can borrow all of the books and journals that you will need for your studies. The library is also very quiet so can be used to revise for exams. Next to the library is a 'Waterstones' where you can buy academic and general reading books, as well as stationary.
If you want to buy lunch on campus there are several places that you could visit. There is a 'Greggs', a 'Wibbly Wobbly's' (burger bar), and numerous café's, pizza parlours, fast food restaurants etc. There are also collage café's within the college bars.
The sports centre on campus has a range of facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, netball pitches, football pitches, a weights room, a fitness room, a female weights room, squash courts and a large hall. The sports centre also has classes that it puts on such as circuit training (excellent fitness), aerobics, bums and tums, boxercise etc. the sports centre costs about £120 for a full membership or about £30 for a half membership (you pay every time but at half the normal price). I had a half membership which suited my needs. The number of people I know who bought the full membership only to use it once or twice is crazy - so think carefully about whether it is for you.
Around the campus are lots of huge fields which are ideal for BBQ's in the summer, and a duck pond which is ideal for relaxing. The duck pond is currently being extended. Around the duck pond are numerous species of ducks, geese, rabbits, chickens, and other water foul and pond life.
Even though Lancaster is quite a small city, it has some of the best nightlife that I have ever seen. In addition to the college bars are the pubs and nightclubs in town. The main clubs are:
- Sugarhouse - good on a Friday or Saturday night. Decent music, good prices, newly renovated.
- The Carlton - only on a Wednesday, it's actually in Morecombe, cheesy music, cheap drinks, and the perfect place to go in fancy dress.
- Elements - best on Mondays, cheap drinks, lasers
- Revolution - good music, good atmosphere, expensive drinks
- Hussle - cheap cocktails, very small, can be fun but smells like feet :S
- Cuba - cheap drinks, crowded, awful DJ - I hate it but many people like it.
- Toast - poor DJ, poor atmosphere, and the worst club in Lancaster in my opinion.
There are also plenty of pubs and bars. For example Wetherspoons (there are 2 of them), fibber McGee's, Mint (excellent cocktails), The Friary, The White Cross, The Water Witch and many more.
The city is very friendly towards students and there are a lot of student offers and student nights.
**The City Itself **
Lancaster is not a big city, but I feel that it has everything that you could want.
Shops include: Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Farm Foods, Marks and Spencer, Home Bargains, Game station, Game, Boots, Body Care, Wilkinson's, HMV, WH Smiths, Poundland, Waterstones, Thornton's, The Body Shop, Ann summers, BHS, Next, Burtons, Top man, Accessorise, River Island, Officers, The Early Learning Centre,, Holland and Barrettes, KFC, McDonalds and many more.
There are also a lot of good restaurants such as: Verdes, Bella Italia, Pizza Margarita, quite simply French, Marco's, Crowes, and many more.
Lancaster also has a castle which is currently used as a prison. I would recommend going on one of the castle tours as it is very interesting and well worth the money. Next to the castle is an old church and also a roman bathes (which hardly anyone knows about).
**Places around Lancaster**
If you get bored of Lancaster, and you fancy a change then you can visit the Blackpool pleasure beach, which is great fun. You could also go hiking or camping in the Lake District. Then there is Morecombe bay. It a nice place to go for a walk, or if the weather is good then it's a nice place for a BBQ. Also if you want to do some serious shopping you could go to Preston, or to Manchester.
All of these places are a short train journey away.
At Lancaster University you can do a major subject and 2 minor subjects. I chose to do more modules in my major rather than doing a minor, as I felt that it would benefit me more than doing an unrelated subject. As I previously mentioned I did a degree in biological sciences. Biology is one of the subjects which gives out 'subject awards'. A 'subject award' is a payment of £1000 per year. This really helped me towards my living costs. The biology department is excellent with lots of teaching facilities, labs etc. The lecturers and staff are also excellent. The lectures are interesting and are delivered in an interesting way.
For biology there is a big workload, but that's to be expected. The workload increases in the 2nd and 3rd year, but not to such an extent that it gets overwhelming. In the 1st year I missed lots of lectures due to being to hungover to go. Also the 1st year just seemed to add to what I knew from A-level biology and did not introduce much new content. Missing lectures in the 2nd and 3rd year is ill advised as the 2nd and 3rd year count towards your degree classification. You also go into far more detail about specific topics, and it is imperative that you attend the lectures. You have your exams shortly after Easter. The exam period is very stressful, but there are support networks in place if you are struggling.
From my friends I have found that the universities other departments are also excellent. I do not know enough about them however to go into any detail.
A point to note about University is plagiarism. At A-level for a piece of coursework you could just copy entire paragraphs out of a book and no-one would bat an eyelid. At university you have to write everything in your own words. You will be taught how to do this so don't worry. You also have to reference where you get your sources from which takes a lot of time and it has to be done in the correct format. If you fail to reference your work properly you will lose marks.
I am dyslexic (makes writing this review rather difficult!) and I had access to student support. They are very helpful, but I found that I would rather do things myself rather than constantly get help from student support as I want to be independent. I was also able to get 25% extra time for my exams, which is a great help, as otherwise I would not have been able to finish any of my exams.
**Sports and Societies**
At the fresher's fair you will have the opportunity to sign up to numerous sports, clubs and societies.
In terms of sports, clubs and societies there are: rugby, football, darts, hockey, trampolining, pool, cricket, korfball, ultimate Frisbee, American football, netball, basketball, squash, badminton, the mountaineering club, Archery club, fencing, karate, taekwondo, sailing, skiing and snowboarding, to name but a few. Below is a useful like about sports, clubs and societies:
I for one did not sign up to any clubs, sports or societies. Instead I signed up to one of the only organisations at the fair - the 'Liverpool University Officer Training Corps' or 'LUOTC' which is part of the Territorial Army. I would highly recommend talking to the people at the stand (dressed in army uniform) about this as it is one of the best things that I have ever done. You are not signing your life away - you are not liable to be called up for service and if you don't enjoy it then you can leave at any time. You get to learn basic military skills such as weapons handling, section attacks, platoon attacks, map reading, military knowledge, battlefield casualty first aid etc. Also you get to do adventure training such as kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing, hiking, skydiving etc. The whole point is to teach you leadership. In the 1st year you are introduced to leadership. In the second year you 'learn' leadership, and in the 3rd year you 'perform' leadership. As with anything, you get out of it what you put into it. If you can't make a training evening, or weekend away then that's fine, as it is designed to work around your university studies.
You train on a Tuesday night - 7-10pm, and go away on a weekends training (7pm Friday night to 2pm Sunday afternoon) every 2 weeks. There is also an annual camp at the end of the year which lasts for 2 weeks. The best thing about it is that you get paid! I got paid £45 per day to do this. This doubled as a part-time job for me at university, and during a year I earned over £2000 - which is a lot of spending money! I have been on paid skiing expeditions to the French Alps and also paid diving expeditions to Cyprus!
We also have our own bar. The prices are £1 a pint and £0.50 per shot - so it's the cheapest bar around! We have regular socials, and we have a reputation for having a good time.
In order to join you have to sign up at the fresher's fair. The next step is to attend an assessment day, and then an assessment weekend. There are basic fitness and medical requirements, but I can assure you that these requirements are not difficult to meet.
It sounds too good to be true, but it isn't. Its an excellent way to improve your CV as you can gain recognised leadership and management qualifications. Its also a brilliant way to meet new people and try different things. To be honest, I don't think I would have enjoyed my time at university as much as I have if I had not joined LUOTC.
If your interested, then here are some links:
That's all that I have to say about Lancaster University. I hope that you have found this review helpful. If you want to ask me any questions about Lancaster University then please feel free to message me.
Summary: If your wondering where to spend the next 3 years of your life then look no further!
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