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Is Warwick Right for Me?

Chemistry at the University of Warwick will be the right choice for some of you, but not others. It's important to us that the students who come here are happy and comfortable with their decision and find the course meets their needs and expectations. This page aims to give a balanced view of the course here to help you to make a decision.

Teaching

• The first year here is not a recap of your A'level studies - we'll start stretching and challenging your abilities right from the beginning. There are plenty of opportunities to get help and support your learning if you're not confident, but you should want to learn new things and not just recap the same stuff you've done before.

• Our lecturers are innovative, involved in their teaching and like trying out new teaching methods. You'll take part in interesting activities such as a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and using personal response systems so lecturers can get real-time feedback on how well concepts have been understood. However, whenever something is done for the first time, it needs feedback from participants to develop and improve it for the future. You'll need to be willing to experiment and be vocal about your experiences.

• Some of our teaching activities are carried out in small groups (called tutorials), and this is not something that all Universities offer. We think this is a very important learning tool that greatly facilitates deep learning and communication skills, as well as building relationships with your teachers. In your small tutorial groups (usually 4-6 students in your year group and degree stream), you'll get plenty of opportunities to ask questions of academic members of staff, discuss concepts and get help with any academic issues that you have. However there's nowhere to hide when you're in a small group, and you'll be expected to contribute your thoughts and ideas.

Research

• The Chemistry department at the University of Warwick has an excellent reputation for research, and the undergraduate course here emphasises skills for research. You will be reading up-to-date academic literature as part of your studies, developing skills to present information in academic styles, and carrying out a research project. There are also plenty of opportunities to discuss research with world leaders. There is even the opportunity to take part in the University Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) where undergraduate students can spend a summer doing paid work in a research laboratory. You'll need to be actively interested in research and cutting edge technology, though, as research-lead teaching is a key characteristic of Warwick Chemistry.

Laboratory Work

• You'll spend 1 day a week in laboratories in the first term and 2 days a week in laboratories in the second term. We think this gradual increase in lab work allows students to get excellent lab experience without being overwhelmed with large numbers of lab reports immediately upon arrival. Some courses from other universities will spend more time in laboratories and others will spend less. You should make sure you research the amount of time spent doing experiments and make sure that the course you choose has the right amount for you.

• Our laboratories run on a carousel system which means that only your lab group of 6 people will be doing an experiment in any one week. This means that you will develop close relationships within your group, get expert help from our postgraduate demonstrators and have the opportunity to use specialised equipment like Atomic Force Microscopes. However, because everyone does experiments at different times, the content is not linked to the lectures and you will need to be prepared to read around the subject. The experiments are designed to promote independent research and good study habits.

• The assignments for the laboratory course are submitted through an online virtual learning environment. This system means that detailed feedback is delivered to you electronically and gives you valuable opportunities to compare your grades with the average, track your progress and inform your studies. This may not suit some people who prefer not to use electronic forms of communication (although most of you are probably more comfortable with technology than we are!).

• We don't charge for broken glassware in the lab, we know that accidents happen! (Our current students said that this was important to know.)

Size

• The Chemistry department at the University of Warwick is fairly small in comparison to some other departments - we have approximately 40 academics and approximately 160 students in each year. This means you'll get to know all of the lecturers and most of the other students on your course. We'll know you as well and the personal relationships are important to us. Being an anonymous face that no-one recognises won't work here so we will notice and support you if you're having problems but we'll also see if you're partying too much and not working hard enough!

Campus Life

• The University of Warwick is a campus university which means that almost all of the facilities that you need or want are available in on site - from shops and restaurants to a cinema and hairdresser. In the first year you will be able to settle in quickly because everything is easily accessible and you'll be close to the new friends that you'll make. You'll also be able to get to your lectures and laboratory classes very easily. However there's not as much nightlife as you would find in city universities.