Forensic Science graduate Emerald Taylor tells us about her experience of doing a foundation year at Kent, and how it helped her get to where she is today.
I studied Forensic Science at Kent. It was a very diverse and immersive programme; we are fortunate enough to collaborate with other schools. I really enjoyed my time during this degree; it was challenging, interesting and allowed us to develop a wide range of skills. I graduated with a 1 st class degree as did many of my cohort.
I have always enjoyed science related subjects. For me, a science subject is not just for boys it is for anyone with a desire to learn; push boundaries and themselves further. It was also important for me to do something that challenged my abilities. It is often thought with a science degree there are only right and wrong answers; and that can be true but there are so many ways to get to these answers, that is one of the things I enjoy most about the sciences. If you can think outside the box, then your way might be something completely new and exciting.
I chose Kent because it was one of the best universities in the country for Forensic Science. Not only did it contain a lot of chemistry modules it also had the most diverse module subjects. This enables some of our modules to be taught by different departments creating diversity and exposing us to different teaching and examining styles. Some of these modules include law and anthropology.
I liked that Kent was a campus-based university this made it easy to get between lectures and created a sense of community. It is also in the perfect location to reach the sea and London in less than an hour by public transport. The School of Physical Sciences also has a great array of societies which further enriched the course, such as the Forensic Science Society.
I did not do very well during my A levels; I found the examining style hard to engage with. However, when I was offered a foundation year by Kent I accepted straight away. I knew it was time for me to move away from sixth form and go to university.
The foundation year allowed me to find my footing at university without the fear of being not good enough. I also found the teaching and examining styles were much better suited to my learning style. This allowed me to grow in confidence and ability despite already having a good foundation in scientific knowledge.
The foundation year is also aimed at students who do not have a background in science and maths related subjects. This allows a broader range of students to access a science degree without the traditional subject choices usually associated with science degrees. The foundation year at Kent is particularly good because it teaches the basic principles in an approachable way; you do not have to be a great mathematician or chemist. You are trained in all these things, in both theoretical and lab-based techniques.
I found the foundation year challenged my time management and organisation the most as the degree despite being a foundation year is a full-time course. It is designed to bring students to the same level as those entering the first year. Others found it challenging because of their subject backgrounds however, the way the course is taught, anyone can become good at maths or chemistry because we have great lectures, as well as an established mentoring system run by older students.
A foundation year course is great – it prepares you for what is to come from the degree without throwing you in at the deep end. It also makes science degrees accessible to people with different education backgrounds. I think it is beneficial and worth strongly considering if you’re offered a foundation year. A foundation year does not make you any less of a worthy student than anyone else.
I went on to do a MSc in Chemistry and now a PhD in Chemistry. I also do a lot of public engagement and outreach with schools sharing the joys of science with everyone. I am also part of the 1 million Women in STEMM movement, encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEMM subjects by breaking down barriers and sharing our experience. Here is my profile link for you to find out more about my background and progression through university: https://www.1mwis.com/profiles/emerald-rhiannon-taylor