BMS in the UK: Choosing your third year modules
I don’t blame you, I did the same thing
The best part about the program at NUMed is being able to complete your third year of studies in Newcastle. But before you even think about booking flight tickets or deciding on where to stay, you’ll be asked to choose your modules for the first semester.
The first semester of third year involves purely teaching and in-course assessments. You’ll get to decide on one module from 3 blocks of modules, each containing 3 choices, and one vocational module. The core modules are 20 credits each, while the vocational module is 10 credits.
The choices for my year were:
- Immunology of Health and Disease
- Genetics of Common Disease
- Assessment type: Timed essay
- Chronic disease
- Cancer Biology and Therapy
- Disease of the human nervous system
- Assessment type: Extended essay
- Medical biotechnology
- Microbiota and pathogens: mucosal microbiota protozoa and fungi
- Clinical ageing and health
- Assessment type: Research article analysis
- Business for the Bioscientist
- Research in Biomedical Sciences
- Healthcare Organisation and Practice
- Science communication
A separate post on choosing your vocational modules will be up soon! It’s really important to consider it just as much as your core modules.
I chose to study Genetics of Common Disease, Cancer Biology and Therapy, Medical Biotechnology and Science Communication. At the time of writing this post, we’ve completed Genetics and we’re halfway through Cancer and Science Communication, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all of these modules.
But how do you decide on what modules to choose? Keep reading for some tips.
- What interests you?
By this time, you may be more aware of what career pathway you intend on pursuing/staying away from. Needless to say, each module is a ‘hot’ research area, and so this shouldn’t worry you. It may sound cliché, but you should base your decisions on what you’re interested in. Do you like immunology? Do you find ageing interesting? It’s really important to select modules that you are interested in, because your in-course and final assessments will depend heavily on how well you’ve studied them, and we all know the dread of studying a topic you dislike. Teaching in Newcastle University is done very well, and if you already are interested in a topic, learning about it from experts and researchers will only lead you to enjoy them more. There really isn’t a point in choosing modules because your friends are doing them, but you won’t be lonely! Speaking to students in your new classes is one way to meet new people and make new friends.
Tip: watch Ted Talks on YouTube on different topics to find what may interest you, and don’t forget to attend those research talks on campus! You will be provided with the Module Study Guide for each module, so have a look at those.
2. Don’t based options on experience
One of the first modules we did back in first year was Genetics, and if I’m completely honest, I didn’t like it. I scored the lowest on Genetics back then, and wanted nothing to do with it. But I chose to study Genetics in third year anyways, and this was because my understanding of genetics completely changed when I wrote an extended essay on ‘junk DNA’ back in second year, and when I submitted an essay to Nature’s Essay Competition in the summer of 2019. Since then (and after watching endless videos on CRISPR and the ethics of gene editing), I’ve found an appreciation for genetics, and as I study Cancer now, I still believe genetics is where I want to pursue my future career in.
What I’m trying to say is, yes, your past experience with a topic or module may have been negative, but it’s important to allow yourself to be open to all module choices, and to give yourself time to develop before deciding on what you like or dislike. That being said, immunology was something I struggled with since first year, and I didn’t have to think twice about excluding that module!
Tip: challenge yourself to learn new modules or re-visit older ones you dislike to really cement how you feel about them. Don’t be afraid of change; we all evolve as we grow, after all (I sense a new post about change coming soon)
3. Be creative
Especially with the choice of your vocational module. These selections are very special since some of them are a broader way of applying your biomedical knowledge (like the business or science communication modules). Take this chance to really push your limits and be creative with your degree. Would you be keen on starting your own business or working in the strategic departments of a company? Maybe you have a passion for writing and presenting, and would like to work more on sharing science to the masses? Does the grey area of bioethics intrigue you? These are modules that are there to excite you, so choose a vocational module that will allow you to be expressive and have fun, even if that’s Bioinformatics.
(Again, I’ll have a separate post up comparing and contrasting the 5 modules, to give you a better idea on which to choose)
The only wrong choice you could make with a module is choosing a module you dislike. I promise, if you follow these tips, you’ll enjoy every second of learning at Newcastle. Thank you for reading.