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Why You Should Study a Life Sciences Degree

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Sponsored by the University of Warwick
 
When it’s time to decide what to study at university, you tend to find there are three different groups of people. The first group know exactly what career path they want to follow and have an obvious degree to pick to ensure they get there. These are the people who will be doctors or lawyers or engineers. The second group don’t really know what they want to do but plan to just study their favorite subject from school, whether it be English, history, math or a modern language.
 
Far more common than either of these groups, however, is our third group, consisting of an overwhelming majority of students, none of whom have made their minds up yet. Sure, if this is you, you’ll have a vague idea about what you enjoy studying or would like to learn more about, but you’ve essentially resorted to flipping through university prospectuses and hoping one course or another catches your eye.
 
The danger with being in this third group is, if you don’t research every option thoroughly, you might completely miss out on a course which is perfect for you and your interests. Take life sciences, for example. Scanning lists of university schools, faculties and departments, you might see the words “life sciences” but dismiss the subject area without investigating it further. After all, it’s hardly the most understandable name. Aren’t all sciences to do with life in one way or another? However, as we found out from chatting to the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, this area of study has lots to offer, and could be perfect for you.

OK, but what actually are ‘life sciences’?

To put it simply, life sciences are the science subjects which involve the study of living organisms. So, if you enjoyed studying biology at school, chances are you’ll be interested in the range of life sciences programs available at institutions like the University of Warwick.

However, there’s much more to this field than just dissecting frogs or identifying parts of the body. At Warwick, three different undergraduate programs are run by the life sciences school: biological science, biochemistry, biomedical science. While the first of these adheres fairly closely to the biology lessons you’re used to, the other two offer different and unique avenues of study that could be perfect for your range of interests.

Combine your interests into one life sciences degree

Can’t decide between studying biology or chemistry, for example? Split the difference and study both by applying for a biochemistry degree. You’ll still cover key areas within both subjects, from organic chemistry to multi-cellular organisms, but you’ll also get the opportunity to specialize by taking optional modules in subjects including immunology or synthetic biology. Approaching these topics from a background in just biology or chemistry wouldn’t necessarily be as feasible as it is when you’re studying biochemistry, and you’d be surprised how many different topic areas this applies to. To get an idea, check out the list of optional biochemistry modules on the University of Warwick’s website.
 
Similarly, the diverse range of topics covered by the biomedical science degree is perfect for anyone with an interest in medicine but doesn’t want to pursue the traditional career path of becoming a qualified doctor. Rather than be funneled towards one career in particular, a life sciences degree ensures you keep your options open and can move across a wider range of specializations.

Gain practical experience in industry before you’ve even graduated

OK, so you’re beginning to come around to the idea that a life sciences degree will enable you to combine multiple academic interests, but let’s face it: university is too expensive these days for you to just pick something solely because you find it interesting. Sure, you’re not one of the people imagining a future as a high-powered city lawyer, but you still want to know you’ll end up with a fantastic, rewarding and well-paid career when you leave university.
 
One advantage of studying a life sciences degree at Warwick in particular is that all three courses come with the opportunity to spend a year working in industry. As well as providing a fantastic chance to network, schmooze and potentially get your foot in the door of a graduate scheme, this is also a brilliant way to take what you’ve learned in the lecture room and find out how it applies in a real-world context. Found your biochemistry module on protein biochemistry fascinating? Just wait until you’ve put that knowledge to work in a professional laboratory environment.

Still not convinced?

If we haven’t well and truly piqued your interest in life sciences by now, I’m not sure how much more we can do. We’ve established it’s a fantastic way to combine multiple academic interests and specialize in fascinating and cutting-edge new areas (bioenergy anyone?) and also looked at how you’ll be perfectly placed to graduate with a top degree and hopefully land a job with a major employer in your chosen field. What more could you need to convince you?

Maybe this will help. From 2018 onwards, the University of Warwick is offering International Life Sciences Excellence scholarships to undergraduates, which will reduce your course costs by £5,000 (US$6,600) for the first year of study. Scholarships are awarded to students based on past academic achievements, motivation to study, extracurricular activities and their vision for the future, and anyone with an offer to study a life sciences degree at the university can apply.Thought that might tempt you.

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