Sheffield's student-centred approach confirmed it was the university I wanted to study at

Lauren Lewis
Lauren Lewis
Undergraduate student
Physics and Astrophysics BSc
Lauren expanded her passion for physics during her degree, studying topics that range from stellar structure to galaxy formation and evolution, and from special relativity to astronomical spectroscopy.

What made you want to study your course?

I've never been someone who's had a clear idea of what they wanted to do or who they wanted to be when they grew up. So many of my friends at school knew they wanted to go into teaching, medicine, finance, tech... and thus picked their degrees accordingly, to allow them to enter that field. I, however, had absolutely no idea what I wanted my professional career to look like! Therefore, when picking my degree, I honestly just chose a course that really interested me. That course ended up being Physics and Astrophysics, and I am so glad it did, because in studying this discipline at Sheffield, I've found my passion (big time!).

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

I visited several universities before deciding that Sheffield was the right place for me. I am a person of great indecision and so it was really daunting picking a place I was going to call my home for the next few years of my life! I think for me though, it was Sheffield's truly student-centred approach that confirmed in my mind that it was the university I wanted to study at for my undergraduate degree. For example: when I applied, Sheffield guaranteed university-run accommodation whether you put it first place or second place on your UCAS form, or even if you applied through clearing. I loved how green the city is too, and the fact you can get about almost entirely on foot.

What have you enjoyed most about your course so far?

This is an impossible question! I have loved so much of what I've studied, from stellar structure to galaxy formation and evolution, and from special relativity to astronomical spectroscopy. I've also loved being able to use the university telescopes as part of my studies. Finally, I have really enjoyed building meaningful relationships with the university staff, and my lecturers and supervisors. I finish my degree feeling like a valued member of the department, even as just an undergraduate student!

What skills have you developed during your course?

Sheffield has helped me to develop so many skills along the way during my studies! If I had to choose one in particular to speak about though: I am now a coding whizz in Python! During my degree I was taught Python, and have applied it to analyse astronomical data, decompose the musical harmonics in my own voice, and build a neural network from scratch! I new nothing about coding before university, and couldn't even use Excel. So for Sheffield to turn me from tech-phobic into a programming lover is quite an achievement! Studying physics and astrophysics at Sheffield has also increased my ability in mathematics, my team-working and communication skills, my problem solving abilities, and my ability to reflect on mine and other's work. There are so many other things to list here, but I think that's enough for now!

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

If you wait until you're 100% sure before doing something, you'll never do anything. If Physics and Astrophysics at Sheffield is something you like the look of, I'd honestly say go for it. The degree is fascinating, you'll learn so much about the discipline, so much more about yourself, and the skills you'll take away at the end of the process are so applicable to so many industries.

What are you planning to do after your degree?

Currently I've got a few things on the go! Three days a week I tutor physics and maths online, for students ranging from KS3 all the way up to A Level. I am also partaking in a web development coding course, to see if front-end web development might be a career I'd be interested in. Finally, I am posting educational videos online to the video sharing platform TikTok, and using this as a chance to investigate whether science communication might be a viable career for me! I'm excited to see what my future holds, but right now I'm all about exploring my options and getting stuck into some new adventures. I also quite fancy a masters degree in astrophysics too, but want to give myself a little bit of time away from formal education before I return, possibly in September 2023!

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