Studying Healthcare and Applied Science at University

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2 Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 Choosing the right course 3 Joint and postgraduate opportunities Entry requirements 4 Applications 5 Interviews 6 Typical modules 7 Day in the life 8 Healthcare and Applied Science at DMU

3 1 Introduction As core GCSE subjects Biology, Chemistry and Physics are all familiar areas for students. However, potential undergraduate courses and even future careers that utilise this knowledge may be unclear. Aside from pathways such as Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry there are a whole range of other degrees available that allow students a practical application of a science subject in exciting and dynamic industries. This chapter is concerned with four of these possible avenues Biomedical Science, Medical Science, Forensic Science and Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science, and how each of these options can provide a unique learning experience for students. Biomedical science is the term for investigations carried out on human samples of tissue and bodily fluids to diagnose disease and monitor the treatment of patients. From cancer screening to diagnosing HIV, from blood transfusions for surgery to food poisoning, biomedical scientists are the foundation of modern healthcare, working in partnership with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Without biomedical scientists the diagnosis of disease, the evaluation of effectiveness of treatment and research into the cause and cures of disease would not be possible. Medical science investigates the human body, how disease occurs, how it is diagnosed and then managed. It is ideal if a student is interested in a career in the medical or healthcare professions. It integrates basic biomedical subjects with medical disciplines including genetics, immunology, physiology, toxicology and pathology. It takes students from bench to bedside providing an understanding of the human body in health and disease. Forensic science can be defined as the application of scientific knowledge to questions of interest in civil and criminal law. In its broadest sense, forensic science can be applied to consumer and environmental protection, health and safety, archaeology, plus the more obvious areas of murder, robbery, arson and illicit drugs. Work in forensic science may mean analysing a number of materials from trace evidence such as fibres, glass, paint, biological materials or fire and explosive debris. Pharmaceutical and cosmetic science is a collection of closely related subjects concerned with the development and manufacture of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. The pharmaceutical industry develops, manufactures and markets the medicinal products for use in the treatment of many diseases. A primary role is to transform a raw chemical drug into a medicine convenient for the patient or healthcare professional.

4 2 Choosing the right course Selecting the correct science course to study at university is a big decision and students need to consider several factors to ensure that they make the correct one. Initially this begins with thorough research into the industry itself, career aspirations and progression routes. Students should pay particular attention to the module breakdown of any potential course, especially the area of focus in the final year of study. For example, a biomedical science course may focus its third year primarily on the study of disease. If this is not a topic that interests the student then it is a strong indication that this is not the correct course for them. When thinking about future career paths students may also need to consider the eligibility to be registered. At DMU our biomedical science qualification secures registration as a biomedical scientist with the Health Professions Council. This is vital for future employment prospects and therefore students should look for a course that can provide them with all of the necessary practical and theoretical knowledge required, along with full registration to the appropriate boards. Once these areas have been considered students should be in a stronger position to select the correct science course to suit their individual requirements and to allow them to follow their own ambition. At this stage students then need to begin considering other factors that will impact the university experience as a whole and enhance their learning. These areas include facilities, industry links and placement opportunities, which when combined offer undergraduates the environment that they require in which to fully thrive as a science student. A university s equipment should be to industry standard and where necessary specialised towards the particular course. For example, students wishing to follow forensic science may look for dedicated DNA laboratories and those researching pharmaceutical and cosmetic science courses may look for specialist pharmaceutical analytical chemistry laboratories. Visiting a potential university s open day can give you a much clearer indication of the facilities they have as well as the demand from current students to gain access to it. Universities should also be working with professional bodies to create industry links that will benefit their students in several ways. This may be in the form of guest lectures and workshops which invite industry professionals to share their experiences and provide advice and guidance where appropriate. These industry links may also lead to placement opportunities for students to embark on. Opting to take a sandwich course (two years study, one year industry placement, final year of study) can seriously enhance a graduates CV, not only will they have a strong academic foundation but also a years worth of valid, relevant work experience that showcases their abilities to apply their knowledge in a practical setting. These placements may be with small local firms or in some cases large national and international companies such as Boots, NHS, GSK, Orchid and 3M.

5 3 Joint and postgraduate opportunities Due to the intensive nature of these courses students should be advised to study them as single honours and focus their efforts on developing the necessary skills required to become successful within this industry. For those who wish to continue their studies to a higher level there are a small but growing range of postgraduate opportunities available, for example MSc Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, MSc Advanced Biomedical Science and MSc Pharmaceutical Quality by Design. DMU graduates from Biomedical Science BSc, Medical Science BMedSci and Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science BSc may wish to progress their careers into a slightly different field and can opt to transfer onto Pharmacy MPharm at DMU; or pursue potential career opportunities in Medicine and Dentistry at other institutions. Others may diversify further and enter other fields such as medical writing/research, sales and education. Entry requirements Applications to science based subjects are competitive, arguably fuelled by the excellent graduate employment rates, generous graduate salaries and the students own desire to invest their time in a dynamic profession and industry. In order to be successful students must focus on gaining the strongest pre entry academic profile possible, beginning with their GCSEs. Most institutions will be typically looking for students with a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including maths, English and science. Equivalents such as key skills may be considered but at present some universities are no longer accepting these qualifications and therefore emphasis should be firmly placed on GCSEs. Entry requirements for all branches typically range from UCAS points depending on the institution. In many circumstances admissions tutors will be looking for Chemistry qualifications (often at grade B or higher) and where possible another science subject. Candidates from all FE qualifications courses will be considered, but those choosing to study BTECs and Access courses are advised to check that they incorporate the necessary level of science. In addition to a strong academic background admissions tutors will also be looking for extra curricular activities (such as relevant work experience and/or wider reading) that a student has undertaken and that has equipped them with skills/additional knowledge which will be of benefit on their course. Whilst this may not necessarily be a named element within the entry criteria admissions teams will certainly be looking for a commitment to the subject and a thorough understanding of what the course/jobs entail is often best illustrated in this way.

6 4 Applications Due to the relatively secure and strong job prospects involved with science based degrees they are often incredibly popular and applicants will face tough competition from their peers. In order to maximise their own potential success students should focus their attention of creating a strong personal statement, that discusses information not already included on their UCAS form and demonstrates their passion for their chosen subject. Fundamentally the most important area is demonstrating to the course leader that they have a clear understanding for the pathway that they have chosen and if possible where this interest has come from. Admissions tutors are looking for students that have a realistic knowledge of their selected field and one that has been generated from valid sources. For example, a student who applies for forensic science based courses citing fictional television programmes that they watch as their motivation is likely to find themselves without any offers. Instead a student should discuss any wider reading that they have undertaken. This may have been in text books, journals or industry magazines, but discussions of articles, ideas or developments that have interested them are extremely beneficial. This allows the admissions tutor an insight into the areas of science that particularly motivate a student and also the level of scientific understanding that they possess. Wherever possible students should read topics that are separate from their school/college syllabus, again demonstrating further commitment to their subject area. If a student can obtain any relevant work experience this will be looked upon favourably. Course leaders aren t looking for a day by day account of the activities undertaken whilst on placement, instead they are looking for evidence that this placement opportunity has enhanced a student s understanding of a particular field overall. They may choose to discuss a staff member that they have shadowed, and how this experience has driven their ambition further, or mention a particular instance that occurred that taught them more about the profession/field. Finally, it is worth noting that science based courses and future careers do not exist in a vacuum. As qualified healthcare professionals graduates will often find themselves working as part of large teams, sometimes alongside colleagues whom they have only just met. Therefore, providing evidence as to a student s strong communication, team work and organisational skills can indicate their suitability for these professions. Students should never just list skills or attributes that they believe they have, instead they should look for examples from their academic, professional and personal lives that clearly demonstrate these traits being put into practice.

7 5 Interviews Applicants for these courses may find that there is not an interview element to the process. Therefore this places increased pressure on a student s initial application; it must create a strong first impression of a candidate that is fully aware of the course that he/she hopes to study, is dedicated to the intense nature of its work load and possesses the necessary skills to be successful. However, some institutions will anticipate that their candidates not only satisfy academic entry criteria but also that they perform well at interview. This is the university s opportunity to ascertain that a student is suited to their chosen career path and they are aware of the work that is expected of them. The interview stage is designed to investigate the details discussed within the personal statement and for the student to expand on any points that they had to restrict due to the word limit on a personal statement. Interview formats will vary between universities, but each should write and inform a candidate of the structure well in advance of the day. Many institutions will treat this as a relatively informal chat between the candidate and a course leader and use it as an opportunity to learn more about the student s personality, inspirations and motivations. Again, it is unlikely that students will be able to prepare for this element in advance, however, it is worth thinking about examples that they can use to demonstrate the skills that they have. These examples can be from work experience or texts that they have read, but they should demonstrate a variety of different skills and a breadth of interest around the subject area. Another method that an institution may adopt to assess a students ability to communicate and work well as part of a team is to provide a piece of text and ask students to work as part of a group (or alone) to discuss it further. This gives candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their analytical and interpretation skills and to draw on their own personal experiences as a frame of reference. It will also allow students to display a deeper level of understanding for their chosen discipline that they may have struggled to convey in the word limit. At interview stage students may also be asked to complete the necessary paperwork for a full criminal records (CRB) and health check. This is a pre-requisite for some courses (especially those involving placements) and if a student cannot pass either of these checks then they will be refused entry onto the course.

8 6 Typical modules Biomedical Science Year one Year two Year three Basic microbiology Molecular genetics Clinical biochemistry Biochemisty and genomics Medical microbiology Cell biology Organ systems Transfusion science Molecular science physiology Haematology Inflammation and immunobiology Medical Science Structure and function of cells and tissues Molecular genetics and genomics Clinical investigation Advanced Biochemistry and Medical toxicology pathophysiology cell biology Evidence based Pharmaceutics and Molecular chemistry medicine therapeutics Forensic Science Forensic biology Forensic chemistry Bodies tissues and fluids DNA profiling Forensic chemical Forensic imagery and Drugs of abuse pathology photography Forensic IT Authenticity and fraud Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science Compounding basic microbiology Cell biology Product formulation Applied pharmacology Applied microbiology Development and manufacture of pharmaceutical products Biochemistry Cosmetic science Quality assurance and quality design principles

9 7 A day in the life Students studying for science based degree can expect intensive timetables that reflect the nature of the subject. A student will typically have a minimum of scheduled hours per week which will be made up of a combination of lectures, practicals and tutorials. Students should be prepared to learn a lot of new science and to commit several additional hours each week (approximately 13-20) of self directed study. Throughout the week the theory learnt in the classroom environment will be demonstrated and applied through a series of practicals. During the course of the academic year each student will undergo a series of assessments based on different assignments. These include essays, phase tests, presentations, case studies and examinations. Each method is designed to equip students with the necessary skill set to apply their knowledge in industry and reflect the work that they can expect to undertake as professionals in their chosen field. Students will also be offered the opportunity to take place in an optional placement year in a variety of different sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, Biotech and Chemistry. The Health and Life Science faculty has a dedicated Work-Based Learning team to help students to find their ideal role. Whilst on placement students will have interaction with their own personal tutor (constant communication through s alongside two visits per year to their placement). They are encouraged to utilise this link to discuss any questions, queries or concerns that they may have and to gain advice on how to make the most of their placement opportunity. At the end of this year students will be asked to complete a report, detailing what they have learnt during their time.

10 8 Healthcare and Applied Science at DMU The Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at DMU is home to several course opportunities that allow students to pursue their interest in science based subjects in a practical and applied manner. We are extremely proud of our extensive laboratory spaces which provide our undergraduates with all of the necessary equipment and facilities that they will need to fully explore their chosen subject area at industry standard level. These include clinical science pharmacology teaching labs, atomic force microscopes, tandem mass spectrometer and a designated forensic crime scene house. Through teaching our students in a practical, hands on environment we hope to replicate industry practice and provide them with all of the necessary skills and knowledge that they will need to become successful graduates. Alongside facilities and equipment we have also worked hard to cultivate strong relationships with professional bodies, including the NHS Forensic Science Society and the Institute of Biomedical Science. By working in conjunction with industry we can ensure that our degree content remains valid and recognised by employers. As well as our extensive links and accreditation with professional bodies, our courses also benefit from regular guest lectures and workshops from accredited and experienced professionals. This provides, not only an outlet for students to learn new skills and techniques, but also a chance for them to learn and understand more about the challenges faced within the industry. In order to enhance the learning environment even further the faculty will happily help to facilitate optional placement years for each student with leading companies. These provide a wealth of opportunities to enhance a students understanding of their chosen field and build invaluable industry links that will be of great benefit, giving students a chance to combine their course expertise in a practical, real life environment. Course tutors for all of our science courses are heavily involved in industry leading research and many will have come from professional practice backgrounds. This expertise is transferred into their teaching and students can benefit from their insights when completing their own assignments. Alongside the academic staff there is also a dedicated team of technicians that can provide full support within the laboratory settings and ensure that students are fully aware of how to use the equipment to meet their own requirements. For more information about DMU s science courses, open day dates and to request a prospectus please visit dmu.ac.uk or call

11 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND ADVICE E: W: dmu.ac.uk/uniadvice FOR ALL GENERAL ENQUIRIES T: E: ALTERNATIVE FORMATS Where possible DMU publications or specific sections can be supplied in alternative media. For further information on how we can help, please contact the Enquiry Centre on or +44 (0) , or text phone +44 (0) , March 2012 All rights reserved. Design by Newenglish Design newenglish.co.uk

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