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Rhiannon Thompson


BSc (Hons) Medicinal Chemistry with Integrated Foundation Year

After seeing the laboratory facilities and learning about the University’s supportive community network, Rhiannon knew the University of Sunderland is where she wanted to pursue her new passion of science.

Before university, I had just finished an extended diploma in fine art and design and had a confirmed place to continue studying this at degree level. After having a fairly dramatic change of heart, I decided I wanted to return to science and push myself to study a subject I hadn’t touched on since GCSE level. When I found the Integrated Foundation Year for medicinal chemistry, I knew this was what I wanted to study, and the entry level requirements allowed me to gain a place on the course.

The degree is exciting but also inclusive – lecturers are very informed and are always willing to provide extra help and offer guidance when needed, making the more difficult aspects of the degree a lot easier to approach. The laboratory sessions are enriching and fun, and the university community is great too – staff are always friendly and approachable.

Studying the foundation year was extremely beneficial as it gave me the knowledge I needed to start my degree, and not feel disadvantaged compared to those who completed relevant A Levels. The lecturers also made the transition to higher education seamless and much less scary than it initially feels.

The one piece of advice I would give to others looking to study here is don’t be afraid to ask questions! At first it feels quite daunting approaching lecturers, but I find that being able to talk to your lecturers and peers is the best way to understand things. It also helps to consolidate concepts and have a good understanding of the topic you’re learning, as some future topics will build on concepts you’ve already learned. Keeping on top of assignments is beneficial too – working consistently over a longer period of time really lightens the workload, and it means you don’t get overwhelmed when completing multiple assignments with similar deadlines.

If I could sum up my experience of studying at Sunderland in one word, it would be fulfilling. Before attending university, I felt a little bit lost in what to do and what direction to go in with my studies. The foundation year resolved this and gave me a direction to follow, and I found the right degree for me through it. So, if you’re wanting to go into the pharmaceutical field but you’re not sure which sector, or you can’t access the degree through A Levels or grades, the foundation year is excellent for this!

At the moment, I am aiming to gain as much experience in the pharmaceutical sector as possible throughout my degree, including a placement year after my second year of study, where I’ll be able to get hands-on experience working in the field. After this, I will be looking at postgraduate courses, or alternatively looking at a job in the drug discovery and development sector.”

Published 8 April 2022

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