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Case Study

Claire Sowerby

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK

BSc (Hons) Sociology with Integrated Foundation Year


Claire Sowerby has worked as a hotel receptionist, psychiatric nurse and in various temporary and voluntary jobs over the years, but had always wanted to go to university. Eventually the chance presented itself and she applied to study BSc (Hons) Sociology with Integrated Foundation Year at Sunderland. She is about to progress into the first year of the BSc (Hons) Sociology course, having built up her confidence academically.

I started my working life as a hotel receptionist, before entering nursing training and qualifying as a psychiatric nurse. My career in nursing lasted 13 years until I had a family. For approximately 17 years I worked in a variety of temporary and voluntary jobs. I always wanted to go to university, but I was not confident about my academic abilities and my life circumstances precluded this opportunity. However, when I realised I had a chance to get funding and had the time to go to university, I applied to University of Sunderland and was accepted.

I chose to study here because I found the website very informative and welcoming. It showed comprehensive details about the course I was interested in, including what areas of study would be included, and what potential careers this course would lead to. Another reason was that Sunderland offered the opportunity to study an Integrated Foundation Year. This year is valuable for a student who has been out of academic study for a long time and is an opportunity to gain the academic qualifications needed to advance to the first year of the degree course.

I have gradually built up my confidence in learning to write academically, through learning specific skills, receiving feedback and putting the skills into practice. I received a really good grounding in maths, study skills, law and social sciences and human rights.

I am about to embark on my first year in Sociology and I feel excited, more confident and ready to embark on this journey, having completed the Integrated Foundation Year first.

The University of Sunderland is a very inclusive, friendly and supportive university, so I would definitely recommend it. If you are considering studying here I would advise that you attend the open days and get the chance to speak to lecturers and current students about the course you are interested in. I found the staff and students very enthusiastic and this was important in my choice.

So far, my time at Sunderland has been exciting, challenging, confidence-building and informative.”

Published 19 May 2020

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