Chemistry provides a strong pathway into the scientific world and offers flexibility

Thomas Duddles
Thomas Duddles
Undergraduate student
Chemistry BSc
Thomas was driven to study chemistry by a desire to understand 'why'.

What made you want to study your course?

In the earlier stages of my education I was frequently told how things were but often could never be given an explanation as to why. I think those who go into the sciences have that drive to always question what they are being told and seek some sort of explanation. Chemistry, which sits nicely between the subject areas of biology and physics, provides a strong pathway into the scientific world and offers flexibility if you want to later gravitate toward the aforementioned subjects.

What made you decide to study at the University of Sheffield?

Sheffield is a comfortable distance from my home town located in Nottinghamshire. It is a city I had heard about as many people from my local area chose it as a place of study. Sheffield I knew had a historic reputation for being a place of technological innovation and scientific discovery. The University, of course, has had a key role in this. The city really is a wonderful place and I am glad I chose to come here.

What have you enjoyed most about your course so far?

The short research project we did in our final year is my fondest memory. Working as a small team we were tasked with optimising a chemical catalyst using computational methods. This was a challenging experience and took me and the team into some unfamiliar territory. Despite this, we together worked the problem and came out with useful data that we presented in a scientific report. This is all good practice for those who wish to do any kind of research later on. By the end of the project, you felt you had really achieved something.

What skills have you developed during your course?

I think the course teaches one to really develop their own inquiry skills. You don't just learn facts about the subject content, you learn how to solve problems and think scientifically. There is plenty of practical work to complement the theory so you will learn how to "do chemistry" alongside understanding it. Along the way, you will meet a lot of really interesting people with unique mindsets. By engaging with them you will see alternative perspectives as to how to solve the same questions, allowing you to mature your own skills further.

What would you say to a student thinking about studying your course at Sheffield?

If you are prepared to commit yourself, put the effort in, and take it seriously you will leave with a strong scientific mindset and valuable skillset. The experience you will have and the way in which you will develop over the time you are in Sheffield is priceless and will change you as a person in many different ways. The course can be difficult and there will be moments where you will be frustrated, however, the help and support are there from the department. That is not to say there won’t be many an occasion you will look back on with a smile on your face. The memories I have made and the fun I have had I will cherish for the rest of my life.

What are you planning to do after your degree?

I am going to complete my MSc in Chemistry at Sheffield next academic year.

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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