You might think getting a degree means committing yourself to your desk, surrounded by textbooks and giving up dreams of travelling the world. But why not do both, asks Jess Harvey, a final year student on the International Wildlife Biology degree.
"Students on this unique course enjoy a perfect balance of learning through lectures, labs and field experience, including travel around beautiful South Wales and overseas.
Throughout the course, we develop field skills first-hand from South Africa amongst the famous Big 5 to stunning coral reefs and rainforests in the tropics, setting us up to carry out our very own third year research project on anything we like, wherever we like!"
Jess found out what some of her fellow students got up to this summer:
Talented wildlife photographer Anne-Fleur spent her summer in Swaziland, studying vulnerable African elephants (Loxodonta Africana), carrying out vegetation surveys and behavioural sampling with a team of other aspiring wildlife biologists.
"Getting the chance to study elephants in their natural habitat has truly been an unforgettable experience. This expedition gave us the unique opportunity to experience life as a field scientist firsthand. I’ve always felt a connection with Africa and this trip has only confirmed that for me. I will definitely be back!"
Budding behavioural ecologist Vicky jetted out to Calakmul, a forest in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico where she contributed to Opwall’s ongoing work researching forest communities. She is writing her dissertation on sex differences in behaviour of spider monkeys (Ateles fusciceps).
"My trip to Mexico was absolutely amazing, on a personal and an academic level. Learning so many new skills and meeting new inspirational people was so humbling. I really did feel like I was making a difference to conservation in Calakmul."
Whilst studying tropical bird populations across Indonesia, Rob discovered that travelling for your dissertation is not only about experiencing new wildlife, but also having the opportunity to immerse in new cultures and meet new people!
"Doing my dissertation data collection in Indonesia was an experience I will never forget. It’s given me first-hand experience of field research and allowed me to travel to places I never would have gone to otherwise. Staying with the different villages gave me a unique insight into the amazing Indonesian culture."
Tropical Islands aren’t all about breath-taking white beaches with blue seas, they also hold some of the most diverse habitats in the world – as Christina found out when she studied Iguana habitats on Utila!
"I was able to put the knowledge and skills I’ve gained throughout my course into practice, conducting habitat surveys around the island. It was great fun to do fieldwork in the mangrove swamps, and will definitely be an experience I’ll never forget!"
Don’t worry if you’re not a keen globe trotter, there’s plenty of fascinating wildlife to explore right on our doorsteps in Wales! George studied bird diversity and distribution just an hour away from Treforest Campus at Hatterrall Hill and Llanthonoy Priory.
"My dissertation offered a realistic look into scientific fieldwork. It was both physically and mentally challenging, and exactly what I enjoy doing."
With so much diversity in wildlife across the world, the options for what you can study are almost endless.
Whether you are passionate about climate change on coral reefs, botany in Brazil, or monkey populations in Peru! These students have worked hard and gained invaluable experience which will help them beyond University in their careers to come, not to mention some amazing memories for life!