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Richard Dowling student

Richard
Dowling

United Kingdom
I visited the Brackenhurst Campus for an open day before joining NTU in 2017, and was immediately struck by the facilities – they are of a very high calibre, and aesthetically impressive.

More about Richard

I visited the Brackenhurst Campus for an open day and was immediately struck by the facilities – they are of a very high calibre, and aesthetically impressive. I was so inclined to join NTU after my first visit, that I didn’t bother visiting any other university open days!

Modules from my first year that were particularly enjoyable include Conservation in Practice, Ecological Census Techniques, and Introduction to Plant Ecology. From my second year of the degree, the Experimental Design module was invaluable for learning statistics, which are essential for many assignments that students will carry out while on the course, including the final year dissertation.

The final year modules have been the most enjoyable, largely because they are the ones that culminate the knowledge that you develop on the course. In Global Agriculture and Food Security, I have enjoyed learning about agricultural systems, agricultural policy, and precision agriculture, while with Introduction to Ecological Consultancy I have learnt a substantial amount about environmental impact assessments and species legislation. For my dissertation research project, I am looking into the preservation of farmland bird and arable weed diversity in arable land.

Before attending NTU, I studied Biology, Chemistry and Sociology at A Level. I used the UCAS points, which I accumulated from these to obtain my place on the Ecology and Conservation course. NTU was my first choice university on my UCAS application.

In the second year of my degree, I visited RSPB Langford Lowfield’s Nature Reserve, and Syngenta as part of the Land Use Ecology module. The most notable field trip from second year was a five-night trip to Somiedo, in Northern Spain, which was very enjoyable. Various surveying techniques, which have been developed on the course, were put into practice on this trip.

As part of the optional African Ecosystems module, I was fortunate enough to visit Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa, for two weeks. Here, I carried out a camera trapping project for carnivores, alongside various other activities including small mammal trapping, large mammal transects, tree browsing surveys, bird surveys and grassland composition and condition surveys, amongst many more.

Personally, I chose not to do a placement, although several others on my course have done them. Instead, I opted to volunteer with Dorset Wildlife Trust on their Brownsea Island Nature Reserve for a couple of months over the summer of 2018.

My favourite building is the library, which offers an abundance of material relevant to the course, and is a very relaxed environment in which to work. The lecture rooms in the Bramley building are also very modern and well designed.

Brackenhurst is a very warm, welcoming environment. When I moved into campus at the start of my first year, I very quickly made several close friends. In this sense, new students are made to feel comfortable very early on if they choose to study at NTU.

Regarding the BSc Ecology and Conservation course, it is a very wide-ranging, in-depth, enjoyable degree, for those who possess a strong interest in ecology – it has exceeded my expectations.

My immediate plans once I have finished my degree are to take a year out from education, in order to combine part-time work alongside further nature reserve volunteering. Following this, I plan to apply for a MSc degree in Ecological Economics, at either Leeds or Edinburgh.

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