Nathan Walker

MSci Biological Sciences

School of Biosciences Student Ambassador

It’s little things which make Birmingham so special to me, I am so at home here!"

My time at Birmingham

I decided to study here because of a combination of the course, the sport and the feel I got for the campus. I liked that the first year modules covered a broad spectrum of topics, and that you could become more specialised as you progressed through the course. I play Badminton at national level, and the sport set up at the University is great, which really attracted me. And finally, when I visited on a summer open day, I loved the campus, it really made me feel at home.

Moving away from home was both scary and exciting at first, but as soon as I had moved in on the Vale, I started to feel at home. Within the first few weeks I had made lots of new friends, integrated into the Badminton team, and got stuck into my studies. I felt at home very quickly, even if I did struggle with working the washing machines! In November, the panic of housing for second year began to set in, but I didn’t actually sign for a house until February, and it was just as good as any other student house, so you don’t have to rush into it! By second term, I had my regular weekly routine and everything seemed to flow so smoothly. After A-levels, exams weren’t too daunting, especially seeming as they were all on topics that I enjoyed! I actually did a month in my tutor’s lab in June following my first year, which was a great experience and I would recommend to any first year student.

What I most enjoy about my course is definitely labs! I love to be hands on, and the regular lab sessions in first/second year were a fantastic chance to put what we had learnt in lectures into practice. Each lab session posed a new problem to solve, and I found out pretty quickly that there was no single correct result, the important thing was how you interpreted the data that mattered. Learning this principle at such an early stage has helped me as I have come to study more complex topics, where the whole truth is not yet known.

I love Raising the Bar café at the Sports Centre. As an athlete, I spend a lot of my spare time at the Sports Centre, and I often do a bit of work in the café between lectures/sport. It is pretty quiet and the staff are so friendly. In my first year, I would just pop in and work then head off for my next session, but over the years, I have gotten to know the staff really well and now I go in every morning for a chat and a drink. It’s little things like that which make Birmingham so special to me, I am so at home here!

I love the number of amazing restaurants there are in Birmingham. I love my food, and there are so many different cuisines to try here. My personal favorite is Red Peppers in the Mailbox; every time my parents visit we have a meal there, the nachos are so good!

My future plans

I have one more year at Birmingham, and then I want to carry on my academic career into a PhD in Environmental Genomics. I love the research element of Biosciences, and I want to be part of the push to extend the boundaries of our scientific knowledge.

About the Student Ambassador Scheme

I decided to become a Student Ambassador as I wanted to share my love for Birmingham with others. I know from when I was applying to University that it was a daunting process, and there was little difference between the first years of many courses. For me, speaking to current students on the applicant visit day who were naturally enthusiastic about Birmingham attracted me here, and I want to have the same influence on as many students as possible.

Being a student ambassador involves answering questions about the university from both applicants and parents, as well as giving tours of the Biosciences facilities and the campus. This gives me a real opportunity to share the many facts in my head with many people, although I do have to make sure I don’t go off on a tangent when it comes to sport, I could talk for days about that!

As well as the positive feedback that I have received from visitors which tells me that I must be doing something right, it is great to work alongside students from multiple years who I might not have otherwise met. Being a student ambassador is also well paid, which means that I have more money to put towards funding my summer lab project.

My top tips for prospective Birmingham students

  1. Don’t just look at the league tables, because they will have changed by the time you are applying for jobs. Look beyond the tables at course content, the campus, and extracurricular activities. You only get to go to university once, and whilst you are there for the degree, you’ve got to make the most of your time there!
  2. Look beyond first year accommodation. You are going to spend at least two years in student housing, so when you are looking around, ask about second/third year housing. We are fortunate to have Selly Oak so close to campus, at other universities the student housing could be a bus journey away from the university buildings.
  3. Throw yourself into the non-academic elements of university life. Whether its sport, music, volunteering etc. this is where you will meet some of the people that will become lifelong friends and this will make you look back on your time at university with many happy memories.