Discussion : Choosing Your University


Studying at the University of Nottingham

by marie on 22 Oct 2006 06:14 pm

Life at the University of Nottingham

Nottingham is situated in the heart of England, and is most well known to be the home of Robin Hood. It’s a great mix of old an new — you’ve got a rich history (Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forrest) as well as modern clubs and shopping centres.

The University of Nottingham has four campuses, as well as campuses in Malaysia and China. It is the most popular university in the UK in terms of applicants.

There are four campuses in the Uni.

Location-wise I think the campus is situated perfectly. It is only 10 mins away from the bustling city centre, but this distance is enough to make you forget that you are close to the city, especially when the main campus is exactly like a park. Next to the campus is a huge park with deer, a lake and an old stately home, which is great for a mid-day’s walk. If you prefer a quainter atmosphere, then a small town, Beeston, is only 15 mins walk away.

I won’t go to much into detail because you can get all of the information about the university from their website:


So I’ll try and put here things you might not find on it ie the social side aspect:

Nottingham is truly a work hard, play hard university. There is LOADS of stuff going on all the time it truly amazed me!

International Week

Being an international student you’ll be invited to an International Week that takes place a week before Fresher’s week. It’s free, and you’ll stay in University accommodation. If you wish, buses will pick you up from the airport and take you to the university on the first day.

During this week you’ll be given tours around campus, the city etc. but more enjoyably events will be organized such as salsa and clubbing night.

Fresher’s Week

See ‘Studying in the UK

The Student’s Union

Nottingham’s Student’s Union is one of the largest in the country. Check out its website to see the societies and events that are going on. It’ll give you a good idea of student life in Nottingham:


Hall Life

Hall life in Nottingham is the best! Once you’re allocated to a hall, you’ll be a part of that hall for life!

I think that it is this hall spirit makes the Nottingham experience very special. My hall, Rutland Hall, hates Sherwood Hall. Cripps Hall hates Hugh Stewart Hall. So we play pranks on each other! It’s all friendly rivalry. In addition we learn patriotic chants and songs — ‘Rutland Till I Die! I know I am and sure I am in Rutland till I die!’. I frequently compare the whole thing to the rivalry in Harry Potter.

In addition, the hall’s Junior Common Room (JCR) frequently organizes events for the residents. Barn dances, acoustic nights, pub quizzes — the list goes on. After the first exams a trip overseas is planned — usually to Amsterdam. The halls frequently have formal dinners where you dress up very smartly and have a three-course meal. A huge ball is organized at the end of the year.


Karni — this is a fund raising organization. One of the main events they hold in halls is ‘rag-raids’. Every Saturday in the first term a bus will take the hall residents to somewhere in England (from London to Edinburgh!), where you will visit the cities dressed up as anything. While looking exceedingly stupid, you ask for charity. At the end of the day the bus will drop you off in front of the University Bar/Club where you’ll party the night away! There is a competition among halls as to who can raise the most money.

Campus 14 — this was a tradition where student trudge themselves around campus drinking at every bar on a set time limit. Unfortunately some of the bars have been converted into cafes now (boohoo) so it is only possible to do Campus 7...though ppl still say you can do Campus 14 by doing two trips round the available bars!!


Location: Cambridge, UK


Studying Psychology in the UK

by marie on 22 Oct 2006 06:10 pm

Studying Psychology in the UK

Note: This was written for the students at my old high school, so apologies if you find anything specific to my school or to my country (Japan).

Psychology is the study of the mind. Typically I think people see the subject of psychology as studying therapy techniques, treating depression etc. This obviously is one tiny side of psychology. I wasn’t even aware of how broad a subject psychology was till I came to University.

Let us look at some of the areas of psychology:

It’s worth thinking vaguely about what kind of psychology you want to go into, as it will help cut down your university choices. If you still don’t know, no sweat!

What Subjects Should I Take?

This question is probably useless if you're a Junior and have chosen your classes, but you will be glad to know that universities are generally not fussy about what subjects you’ve taken. Although a lot of people in my course took psychology at A-level, there was also a considerable amount of people who did not take it because the subject wasn’t on offer in their school (like here). The classes take this into consideration, so do not worry about being behind others.

Taking the IB, the classes I found useful were biology, maths (statistics), and ToK, so consider taking those notes to your university.

What Kind of Psychology To Study?

BA vs BSc

Nowadays most universities offer psychology as a BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree. However, you may notice that some universities offer psychology as a BA (Bachelor of Arts) — I’m aware that Durham does. Very crudely speaking, BA degrees focus more on the ‘artsy’, philosophical psychology, whilst BSc degrees focus more on the ‘sciency’, experimental psychology, but make sure you check the courses they offer to be sure.

Looking at the Course

One important aspect to remember, just like any university, is that each school has very different courses. To look at the course structure of each university in detail, I recommend that you go to the website of the department of psychology of each university, and click on the ‘current students’ section (as opposed to the ‘prospective students’ section). Here you can usually find detailed information of what kind of classes they offer.

I knew that I wanted to study more experimental, neuroscience-based psychology, and when I looked at my University’s website I found that a lot of the classes they had on offer were biology based, which certainly influenced my decision.

Also, looking at the research interests of the professors can also help your decision, though it’s nothing to be fussy about. In your final year in university you’ll have to write a major research project and it’ll be useful to have a professor about who knows a lot about what you are interested in to supervise your dissertation.

Is the University BPS Accredited?

BPS stands for the British Psychological Society, and it is where most psychologists register with after they get their undergraduate degree. Joining has various benefits — first of all it looks good (teehee). More importantly, it means that you can have access to other BPS accredited postgraduate courses that you need to take before you can call yourself a chartered psychologist, and become eligible for the Society’s Register of Chartered Psychologists. This will boost your employment prospects by a mile.

Most universities are BPS accredited which means that the course has been approved by the society and in graduating you automatically become a member. However, it’s good to be sure so check the departmental website.

Their website offers loads of information not only on their society but on careers etc. so it’s definitely worth looking at:


Work Experience

This is one thing I wish someone had told me in high school. In Britain they are big on work experience. Ideally it would be great to get hands on experience with some psychologists, but this is obviously very difficult, if not impossible if you're a high school student in Japan. Being IB students you’re also time limited!

Still, there are little things you can do to make your CV look better that you can perhaps do over the summer holidays when you have more time. For example, doing some volunteer work at a primary school or at a centre for autistics or disabled people would look great. I saw some posters around school about ‘Peer Helpers’ — that would definitely be a good thing to do. Tutoring is also considered relevant ‘work experience’.

There’s no need to stress about this yet (focus on your studies by all means!!), but if you see an opportunity, go for it!

Psychology in Nottingham

Here are the reasons why I chose Nottingham to study psychology:

  1. It’s ranked in the top 5 in the country (was #1 when I applied but….grrrr rankings always change).
  2. It’s a very science-based course.
  3. You get a 2000 pound scholarship automatically in your first year, and it continues for the rest of your degree so long as you get a 55% average.

In your first year you have the following modules:

In addition to the lectures you have three 2000 word essays to write every three months. You are also allowed to select 40 credits worth of modules in other subjects out of the department. I took Human Physiology and Pharmacology (basically human biology), which was very difficult but proved to be very useful for my course.

In the second year you have no choice in modules, but in your third year you can mix and match different classes to suit what you want to do in the future. In addition you’ll have a big 10,000 word research project to submit at the end of the year.

Here is the departmental website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/psychology/


Location: Cambridge, UK


Studying in the UK

by marie on 22 Oct 2006 06:04 pm

Studying and Applying for Universities in the UK

Note: I wrote this for students at my old highschool, so apologies if you find anything specific relating to my school or my country (Japan).

Applying to University

Which University?

Choosing which 6 universities to apply to can be quite a tedious process. However there are a couple of factors that will help you cut down your choices:

Your course

Unlike the USA, instead of selecting your university on the basis of overall university rankings, it is recommended that you select the university with the best ranking for your course. Each university has their strengths and weaknesses, and although a university may have a high overall ranking, it may be terrible for your subject.

However, rankings vary depending on each evaluating group. This is because different assessments weigh up different factors in order to rank the university. For this reason it is important to look at the specific items that contributed to the ranking (eg. A-level results, teaching quality). You may find that one university shot up to the top only because their students had good A-level grades and not necessarily because the teaching was good.

Here are websites that you can look at:

Guardian University Guide

Good University Guide: Times Online

This one gives an amazingly detailed report:


One great place to go to is www.thestudentroom.co.uk. This is a forum where prospective students can ask current university students about their universities. I found a great friend on this forum who told me everything about Nottingham!

Also, I know people in the following universities so I can pass on questions if you e-mail them to me:

Filling Out Your UCAS Form

The great thing about applying to universities in the UK is that you only have one form to fill out. Filling out your UCAS form is not too difficult. You can apply online or submit a handwritten form.

In the first part of the form you’ll need to fill in your personal details and your grades (IGCSEs, IB predicted scores). You’ll also need a recommendation letter from a teacher. The part that perhaps isn’t the most straightforward is your personal statement. It’s the only part where you can tell the admissions officers about all your achievements and interests, yet you’re only given a tiny little space!

In the books I read on filling out the UCAS form they recommended that you emphasize why you want to study the subject that you are applying for. What part of the subject fascinates you? What do you want to do with your degree? Do you have any experiences that will aid you in your studies? Our emersion in Japanese culture is seen as a positive point. In addition it wouldn’t be a bad idea to list your extracurricular activities and any positions of responsibility you have experienced (eg field hockey captain).

Of course, there are many ways of tackling the personal statement so I recommend you read some books on writing it (when I was in highschool there were books in the library). If you wish I do not mind sending mine.


Oxford and Cambridge have separate application forms, and they’re due early — in October. They also require a separate application fee.

Oxford and Cambridge are a collegiate system. You’re accepted into one of the many colleges in the university, each college having its own separate system. One note for the girls — on the application form you’re allowed to specify a college, and you’re allowed to put ‘any college’ if you’re not sure. If you are a girl you have a high chance of being put in the all-girls colleges of the universities (because it’s unpopular) so I recommend you put a college down!

Receiving Offers

So you’ve filled out the UCAS form, sent it, and now you’ve just got to wait in eager anticipation for your offer.

You can track your progress online. I applied in October, and I think my first offer came the next month. My last offer came in February, so just because you haven’t gotten an offer for a long time doesn't mean you’ve been rejected!

Offers generally range from IB 30 points to around 36 (if you apply to Oxbridge typically you’re asked for a 40). In addition you may be asked for some specific requirements, such as a 6 in maths or a 766 in your highers.

Choosing Your Firm and Insurance

Once your offers are in you are allowed to choose two universities. Your firm choice is your first choice, and your insurance is the university you want to go to if you do not meet the conditions of your first choice. Naturally you’ll pick a university that has lower requirements for your insurance.

Now you just have to work hard and look forward (or dread) for your exam results!

Life in the UK

So now for the more interesting bit — how is life in the UK?

In one word I’ve found the whole UK experience phenomenal. Yes, the infamous weather maybe dull, but that does not cloud over the spirits of the British!

Great things come in small packages!

One thing that is great about living in the UK is that unlike the USA it is small. This means that you can travel around the country visiting famous landmarks without much hassle. Not to mention that UK has such an amazing history that you’ll always find places to visit. How cool is it to be able to readily access Shakespeare’s hometown or the birthplace of the Beatles?

It is also next to mainland Europe. One of my friends once told me — ‘Yea, I needed a break so me and my friends went to Budapest in Hungary for the weekend’. For my hall trip we went to Amsterdam, Holland ?

Fresher’s Week

One thing you can definitely look forward to is Fresher’s Week. This is a crazy, drunken week before classes start. It allows you to make new friends and settle in. During the day there is a Fresher’s Fair where all the societies will try and recruit you, and you’ll find by the end of the day you’ll have joined pointless societies that you have absolutely no intention of going to such as the ‘Tibet Society’. In addition there will be events going on like bowling or having a big bouncy castle around (weee).

But it is at night when the fun really starts. There’ll be loads of parties organized by the university that you can go to. In my university they were themed, such as having a toga party and a back-to-school party. It’s a great way to get to know people!

Halls and Accommodation

Living in halls will definitely be an experience you will not forget. Unlike the USA where usually you are required to live in a halls for four years, in the UK students live their first years in halls, and move out with their friends into a house for their second and final year.

Universities usually offer both catered and self-catered halls. As far as I know, most people from YIS have opted for self-catered, as this means you can cook Japanese food if you so wish. It is definitely healthier. I went for catered halls and found the food no problem. Then again, this depends on the university of course. Personally, I would recommend staying in catered halls. After listening to a lot of people's accounts of halls, it seems like it's a better way of making friends as you all get together during meal times.


There will be a myriad of societies in your university that you can join. In my university you can join from Thai Kick Boxing to the Chocolate Society, from the Model United Nations to the Revival Gospel Choir.


If sports are your thing, then you have a choice of either trying out for the university team (competitive), or going for the more easy-going intramural games between halls and societies. You can look up in books the university’s sports ranking if it is one of your priorities.

Wednesday afternoons in universities do not have any lectures to allow sports practice.


The amount of lectures you have will strongly depend on your course. Generally arts subjects have few lectures (around 9 in your first year in my university) but more reading, and science subjects have loads of lectures (more than 15) but hardly any reading.


Location: Cambridge, UK


Useful Links

by marie on 18 Aug 2004 08:03 am

US Universities

Study USA: http://www.studyusa.com/

List of US Universities: http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/state/

Info on US Universities: http://www.usuniversities.com/search.cfm

Campus Dirt - Log-in required: http://www.usuniversities.com/

Collegeboard.com http://www.collegeboard.com/

UK Universities

UCAS: http://www.ucas.com/

Map of UK Universities: http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/index.php

List of UK Universities: http://www.webmaster.bham.ac.uk/ukuwww.html

Times University Guide: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/good_university_guide/

Guardian University Guide: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/universityguide

UK-Learning: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/

Irish Universities: http://www.cao.ie

Canadian Universities

List of Canadian Universities: http://www.uwaterloo.ca/canu/

Rankings of Canadian Universities: http://www.macleans.ca/universities/art ... 33202_2948

Rankings of Canadian Universities 2: http://studywonder.com/canada_uni.htm

Australian Universities

Info on Australian Universities: http://www.australian-universities.com/

Rankings of Australian Universities: http://www.australian-universities.com/rankings.php

New Zealand Universities

List of New Zealand Universities: http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/cdemello/nz.html

Know any good websites? Please share!


Location: Cambridge, UK

by Levi on 19 Aug 2004 01:45 am

Perhaps the most followed set of rankings for Canadian universities, with a few accompanying articles, is provided by Maclean's at



Location: Cambridge

by alia on 19 Aug 2004 08:50 pm


is a great source for information on american colleges/universities.


by kildare on 19 Aug 2004 08:57 pm


For anyone interested in Irish universites.


Location: Geneva/Ireland/Oxford

by Quidam on 15 Sep 2004 11:27 am

Any univercity's known for parties?


by marie on 17 Sep 2004 06:57 pm

Quidam wrote:

Any univercity's known for parties?

The University I'm currently attending, University of Nottingham is actually known for being quite a hard-core party school. I believe Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds would also be so? Correct me if I'm wrong anyone.


Location: Cambridge, UK

by Levi on 22 Sep 2004 01:49 am

Quidam wrote:

Any univercity's known for parties?

In the UK Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield and Hull all have reputations for having great parties. That said, in almost any university you will find a good night life so long as you life in residence for at least your first year.


Location: Cambridge

by hey-kee on 30 Sep 2004 03:51 pm

I'm wondering, which place is considered the best for medical education?



Applying to a university!!

by vmorari on 24 Aug 2007 10:35 am

I am getting 24 as my predicted grades, ye i know it suks, and i dont know what universities will accpet my grades, and i am going for Business, but my Business HL test i got a 6 and in Economics HL i got a 4. So I was wondering if they look at your majors or what?


Location: India

by marie on 25 Aug 2007 07:01 pm

vmorari wrote:

I am getting 24 as my predicted grades, ye i know it suks, and i dont know what universities will accpet my grades, and i am going for Business, but my Business HL test i got a 6 and in Economics HL i got a 4. So I was wondering if they look at your majors or what?

Some universities will require you to have taken certain subjects at the IB. If you want to do business, then having done business and economics will look good to the places you're applying to. Check out the requirements of each uni in their prospectuses, or if they don't have any information, write an e-mail to the department.


Location: Cambridge, UK