The community is what makes Brackenhurst so special, you really get to know the people you learn with and it makes the experience so enjoyable. I’ve loved every minute of studying here and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
More about Savannah
Why did you choose to study BSc Zoo Biology at NTU?
I chose the Zoo Biology course at NTU for a number of reasons. After visiting on an open day I learnt a lot about the lecturers and their current research - they have so much knowledge to share with you.
What do you think about the facilities available on BSc Zoo Biology and what do you use the most?
I had already studied a BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management here so I knew how amazing the facilities such as the Animal Unit, Equestrian Centre, farm and library were.
What do you think about Brackenhurst Campus? What do you get up to in your spare time?
Being a student at NTU is like being part of a family and there is a real community at Brackenhurst. Everybody knows each other, there’s a friendly atmosphere on campus and everybody comes together on a Friday for the student union night, Fluid.
Why would you recommend BSc Zoo Biology to someone considering studying it?
Choosing to study at NTU has been the best decision I've ever made. I’ve received so much support from all the staff in finding work, placements and getting the most out of my time here. The course has enabled me to meet so many new friends and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the course takes me.
Have you been involved in any work experience or volunteering as part of BSc Zoo Biology?
I particularly enjoy getting involved in volunteering with projects at Brackenhurst. Around the Easter period I helped at the farm during lambing season, which gave me an amazing insight into something I normally wouldn’t get the chance to do.
The Animal Unit also run volunteer sessions which give you more practical experience - it can include anything from handling reptiles to making enrichment for goats.
I’m also going on a trip to Madagascar with the Zoo Biology course to look at the conservation of the Coquerel’s Sifka.
The extra volunteering and showcase of what students have gone on to do after graduating was interesting. It made me realise that there is such a wide range of options other than just zoo work.
Savannah undertook a placement year at Bristol Zoo Gardens
Tell us about your placement, what did you do and what did you achieve?
For my placement, I went to Bristol Zoo Gardens to work with the Bristol Zoological Society in their Conservation, Education and Field Science department. This meant I was working as a research assistant for a wide range of projects being undertaken by the team, as well as my own personal project.
Daily life was always varied! I’d arrive in the morning and check my emails, then start working on anything left over on my to-do list from the previous day. I’d usually work on any tasks for the team in the morning and complete them before lunchtime, and then use the afternoon to work on my own project.
Occasionally we’d have staff meetings, or do some work over at the zoo’s sister site, the Wild Place Project. Some days I also got to spend out and about within the zoo, undertaking research with visitors or observing behaviours.
My placement enabled me to get a real insight into the quality of work needed for a career within the zoo research industry, as well as how to achieve that quality from people already working in the roles I aspired to.
My academic writing improved significantly and I became much more confident when networking with professionals. Most importantly, my placement really highlighted how much I’d like to work in the roles I assisted with.
When I returned to university to complete my final year, I found I was much more engaged with lectures, my writing was of a much better standard, and I had so much motivation to work hard and achieve my goals.
My advice to students looking to do a placement would be to start researching them early to give yourself the best chance of securing the role. If it’s a practical-based placement, see what skills you can get in advance that might give you the edge in your interview, and if it’s research or education-based, see if you can work on your academic writing or communication skills.
Savannah returned to NTU and is currently completing her postgraduate degree in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation
Why did you choose to study MRes Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation at NTU?
I chose NTU as I’ve always been so impressed with how much tailored support is offered to students, they really do go above and beyond to help you achieve your potential.
I also love that the Brackenhurst campus is an amazing location to learn on, there’s a variety of environments and wildlife around which makes learning practical skills so much easier and applicable to real-life settings.
What made your mind up about studying a postgraduate course at Brackenhurst Campus?
After studying my level 3 diploma and undergraduate degree here, I really couldn’t think of a better place to do my postgraduate degree. I’d taken a few years out to work in industry but really wanted to get back into the academic side of things, and after attending a postgraduate open day, my mind was instantly made up.
What do you enjoy most about your course?
The thing I love most about my course is the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the subject area! My undergraduate degree was in a similar area but much broader, so getting to learn about endangered species recovery at a higher level and exploring the different facets of the subject has been so interesting and has even led to me discovering some new topics that I’d like to research further.
I’ve been able to really get stuck in and think about the real-life applications of my knowledge, and with each lecture comes a new way to think about my own interests within the field.
How do you find your modules and what have you most enjoyed studying/ researching?
So far, my modules have been really informative and I’ve loved the breadth of knowledge from the different lecturers. I’ve learnt a whole new way of researching and analysing data using the same software and techniques used in industry, something that built upon the statistics I learnt at undergraduate level.
I’ve learnt so much about how species recovery is undertaken in the field through both my lecturers here at NTU and externally through a field trip to the Durrell Conservation Academy, based at Jersey Zoo.
I’ve even taken part in mock funding grant proposals as a group, not only improving my team working skills but teaching me valuable skills that I’d need for a career in the research and conservation sectors.
What do you think about the facilities available on your course and what do you use the most?
The entire campus has been one of the greatest assets so far for this course – for example, I’ve been able to set up camera traps on the estate to learn about species abundance and how to research with as little impact on the environment as possible, and I’ve been able to practice my radio telemetry skills by tracking the transmitters from one end of the estate to the other.
What do you think about Brackenhurst Campus? What do you get up to in your spare time?
Outside of studying, I spend a lot of time walking about the campus, there’s a lot of wildlife to find and some really lovely walks. The local town is only a short walk away too, it can be really nice to pop in for a coffee with my friends.
I also spend a lot of time in the Orangery, the campus café – I can’t resist a hot chocolate on a cold day!
What is your top tip for someone considering studying/ living at Brackenhurst Campus?
As Brackenhurst is a rural campus, I’d definitely recommend a good pair of walking boots – you’ll get good use out of them! There’s so much to explore here so setting yourself up for the elements will mean you can get the most out of the campus and stay warm and dry whilst doing it.
I’d also recommend taking part in as much as you can whilst you’re here – I particularly love Wellbeing Wednesdays, they’re nice easy activities organised by the Student Union to help you chill out and socialise. The local leisure centre is also a really good place to spend your time, there’s a gym and a swimming pool to help you keep active.
Have you been involved in any placements, work experience or volunteering as part of your course? If so, what did you do and what did you achieve?
While I’ve been studying, I’ve volunteered my time as a Course Rep, something that I’ve really enjoyed as I’ve been able to practice my communication skills and learn a bit more about how Postgraduate courses are designed and how the students can be supported.
It’s been really rewarding so far, I’ve been able to talk to my peers and help get helpful changes put into place that really benefit them on a day to day basis.
I haven’t been on any placements, but I have been on a field trip to the Durrell Conservation Academy in Jersey, which is run by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
We got to spend a few days there learning from people actively working in the field on species recovery programmes, and we even got to visit a release site for Red-Billed Choughs, a bird that was previously extinct in Jersey but now thriving thanks to a captive breeding program, land management and post-release support. It was a really nice experience to see a success story of conservation in action.
Why would you recommend your course to someone considering studying it?
The course has allowed me to refocus on my goals and really understand the practical and theoretical ways that endangered species can be conserved.
I’ve had so much support from both the teaching team and the supporting teams, with particular emphasis on the Employability team. They’ve been there to help me work on personal confidence and helped with realising my strengths and working on my weaknesses, so I really feel that this course has helped me to grow both academically and personally.
I’d recommend the course for the vast range of opportunities and people to learn from, you can gain so much insight into the subject from people who have worked in the field and it really does make all the difference.
What are your plans for after the course and how do you feel your course has/ will help you to achieve that goal?
As I’ve been enjoying the research side of conservation, I’d like to progress to a PhD when I finish this course. I’ve loved being able to explore topics that I’m interested in at a deeper level, so being able to go even further and really apply and grow my knowledge is an exciting way forward for me.
Any additional comments?
I really feel like the community is what makes Brackenhurst so special, you really do get to know the people you learn with and from and it makes the experience so enjoyable. I’ve loved every minute of studying here and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.