5 best aspects of studying Natural History
- The diversity of the course. We develop a wide range of skills including carrying out a kick sample for a river survey to producing a short wildlife film for digital production. We are taught the correct way to set up and use a microscope in the first year, completing an assignment based on drawing plant cells under a high magnification. During second year, we complete a pollen analysis as well as drawing different types of pigeon feathers under high and low magnifications. In Behavioural Ecology, we complete a number of lab practicals, including full lab reports. It is fascinating to study the behaviour of various animals, such as the effect of introducing females guppies to a male guppy tank and how this changes their behaviour.
- The number of field trips and excursions. I am looking forward to going to Spain this summer and then Iceland in September. However, going to Botswana at the end of third year will be the best by far. The trips were what caught my eye whilst attending the Open Day. I really enjoyed conducting cetacean and sea bird observations in Pembrokeshire, as well as carrying out seal pup surveys during the season. We also had the opportunity to visit Skomer Island, an island off the Pembrokeshire coast, where we saw the largest colony of puffins.
- The equipment on offer, especially photography and video production. At the start of the Natural History course, we each get a DLSR camera in order to complete the weekly photography tasks. We can also hire out various lenses or GoPros to get a variety of shots whilst out in the field. Being able to take the camera abroad on our field trips is what I'm most looking forward to, but I now also like to do photography in my spare time, capturing birds in their habitat at a local nature reserve.
- Learning GIS skills. This is an important topic to study as not only is it a good skill to have for employability but also I find it enjoyable to map out different data sets, such as creating a management scheme for a sensitive species. I will hopefully be incorporating GIS into my final year project and possibly going into a career that involves GIS too.
- Learning how to calculate statistical tests, with the use of the professional software IBM SPSS, which forms a significant part of the final year project as well as Masters degrees. I plan to carry out my dissertation on Malapascua Island in the Philippines, working on terrestrial-based GIS studies with specific focus on the relationship between ecology and the socio-economic impacts. I will be looking terrestrial waste as a form as marine litter, and using underwater data to analyse the types of rubbish found.
Rowell Bingham from Rugby in Warwickshire is studying the Natural History degree.