Sapphire321
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I have offers for both Biochemistry (as part of Biological Sciences) at Durham and Biomolecular Science (which is in the chemistry department) at St Andrews for 2015 entry and I'm trying to decide which to make my firm choice. I have researched both courses and universities thoroughly and I have visited both universities. I have thought of the pros and cons of each and they are very similar and it's very close so it's difficult to decide which one. I was wondering does anyone know which of these courses/universities has a better reputation in terms of employability/graduate prospects etc.? I have tried to research this but the different league tables and things contradict each other so any advice would be really helpful.
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taeht
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(Original post by Sapphire321)
I have offers for both Biochemistry (as part of Biological Sciences) at Durham and Biomolecular Science (which is in the chemistry department) at St Andrews for 2015 entry and I'm trying to decide which to make my firm choice. I have researched both courses and universities thoroughly and I have visited both universities. I have thought of the pros and cons of each and they are very similar and it's very close so it's difficult to decide which one. I was wondering does anyone know which of these courses/universities has a better reputation in terms of employability/graduate prospects etc.? I have tried to research this but the different league tables and things contradict each other so any advice would be really helpful.

what are pros and cons of those universities as you said you have visited them both?

in terms of reputation I think StA wins (overseas surely) - though can't speak for your subject specifically
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by taeht)
what are pros and cons of those universities as you said you have visited them both?

in terms of reputation I think StA wins (overseas surely) - though can't speak for your subject specifically
St Andrews
Pros:
  • Don't have to pay tuition fees (I'm a Scottish student)
  • Course is more flexible - Scottish uni course structure means you can transfer courses if you change your mind so I could transfer to another Biology or Chemistry course after first year if I wanted
  • slightly better/newer labs
  • gets better student satisfaction results


Cons:

  • Would not get a bursary
  • Accommodation is more expensive
  • Not as much to do in the town (smaller place)
  • My course doesn't have an integrated masters option


Durham
Pros:


  • Can do an integrated masters MBiol
  • Would get a bursary
  • Less expensive accommodation
  • More to do in the city (also near Newcastle)
  • Love the college system


Cons:

  • Have to pay tuition fees (£9000 a year)
  • Not sure that you can transfer courses


I visited both unis for pre and post application days and I loved them both. Both departments seemed really good and all the staff and students were really friendly and welcoming at both. My college at Durham was amazing and the halls at St Andrews were really nice too. They are really similar universities: both are historic/traditional, have a good academic reputation, are very studenty cities etc.
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taeht
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Well, with the fact you are Scottish..I would not doubt.

I think there is not a huge discrepancy in accommodation costs (fully catered basic residence for 6k in StA)

You can count it easily.. if the bursary would be at least 8k a year, then you can think about both, if not..it is not worth it (from my point of view)

Also I am not pretty much sure that integrated master is a pro, as you still have to get the required grades etc. (its almost the same)


I am an EU student, deciding for psychology between StA,Glas,Ed, UCL, Dur..your thoughts?
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by taeht)
Well, with the fact you are Scottish..I would not doubt.

I think there is not a huge discrepancy in accommodation costs (fully catered basic residence for 6k in StA)

You can count it easily.. if the bursary would be at least 8k a year, then you can think about both, if not..it is not worth it (from my point of view)

Also I am not pretty much sure that integrated master is a pro, as you still have to get the required grades etc. (its almost the same)


I am an EU student, deciding for psychology between StA,Glas,Ed, UCL, Dur..your thoughts?
So you would say St Andrews has a better reputation internationally? I probably agree but I would say Durham had a better reputation in the UK so it's hard to choose. It is a bit more expensive than that for me because I have medical requirements which mean I have to have a single ensuite room. It is hard to decide because the tuition fees are obviously for more money but you only pay them back a small amount at a time when you have a job once you've graduated and you are earning over a certain amount of money whereas the with the bursary I'd have £3000 more a year while I was at uni. Yeah but at St Andrews for my course you can't do one - they don't offer one for that course no matter how high your grades are and at Durham I have an offer for the integrated masters but you do have to do well while you are there to do it. It is a good thing to do for science subjects because there is little/no funding for doing a postgraduate masters and it's better for getting in to do PhDs. Let me get back to you on that. I'll look at some websites and things since I'm not sure how they are for psychology specifically!
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dufus
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I know Open Days are not all that representative, by Durham's Open Day was shambolic, whereas St Andrews' was great. I was really, really disappointed with Durham. And they come second only to KCL in terms of being disorganised.
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unclebulgaria
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(Original post by Sapphire321)
So you would say St Andrews has a better reputation internationally? I probably agree but I would say Durham had a better reputation in the UK so it's hard to choose. It is a bit more expensive than that for me because I have medical requirements which mean I have to have a single ensuite room. It is hard to decide because the tuition fees are obviously for more money but you only pay them back a small amount at a time when you have a job once you've graduated and you are earning over a certain amount of money whereas the with the bursary I'd have £3000 more a year while I was at uni. Yeah but at St Andrews for my course you can't do one - they don't offer one for that course no matter how high your grades are and at Durham I have an offer for the integrated masters but you do have to do well while you are there to do it. It is a good thing to do for science subjects because there is little/no funding for doing a postgraduate masters and it's better for getting in to do PhDs. Let me get back to you on that. I'll look at some websites and things since I'm not sure how they are for psychology specifically!
IMO, neither Durham or St Andrews shine on the international stage, research is not their strength. They are seen as good teaching universities, but they are not up there with MIT and UCL academically.
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by unclebulgaria)
IMO, neither Durham or St Andrews shine on the international stage, research is not their strength. They are seen as good teaching universities, but they are not up there with MIT and UCL academically.
I was asking for an opinion between those two universities. I did not apply to either MIT or UCL since I don't want to study in America or London. I would disagree that research is not their strength; the reason they are not higher in the world rankings (they are both still in the top 100) is because they are smaller universities in cities that are less well known for international students. For my subjects, Durham has the same research score as UCL and St Andrews has a higher research score than UCL.
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by dufus)
I know Open Days are not all that representative, by Durham's Open Day was shambolic, whereas St Andrews' was great. I was really, really disappointed with Durham. And they come second only to KCL in terms of being disorganised.
Really? My Durham open day was great too! What happened at yours?
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unclebulgaria
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(Original post by Sapphire321)
I was asking for an opinion between those two universities. I did not apply to either MIT or UCL since I don't want to study in America or London. I would disagree that research is not their strength; the reason they are not higher in the world rankings (they are both still in the top 100) is because they are smaller universities in cities that are less well known for international students. For my subjects, Durham has the same research score as UCL and St Andrews has a higher research score than UCL.
St Andrews does not engage in a critically high level mass of research across a wide range of subjects like UCL. It is about both quality and quantity of research carried out which makes the difference in World rankings.
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Neostigmine
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Please keep on topic.

Neostigmine
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by unclebulgaria)
St Andrews does not engage in a critically high level mass of research across a wide range of subjects like UCL. It is about both quality and quantity of research carried out which makes the difference in World rankings.
UCL is a significantly larger university than either Durham or St Andrews so obviously it can offer more courses. That doesn't mean that it is a better university. UCL can obviously produce a greater quantity of research but Durham and St Andrews produce equally good if not better quality research. I personally like the smaller size of Durham and St Andrews and would not want to study in a large university in London. Durham, St Andrews and UCL are all very prestigious universities and it depends on the person what kind of university experience they want. St Andrews and Durham offer an equally good quality of education but with a smaller size of student population which suits many people better. With reference to your other thread, Durham and St Andrews offer all the traditional academic subjects to a very high quality both in arts and STEM subjects. They are in the top ten in the UK for almost every subject and the top five for many. Durham does offer medicine, law and pharmacy and St Andrews offers medicine; the fact that they don't offer all of Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Dentistry etc. does not make them less good universities it just means that they are smaller.
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Sapphire321
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(Original post by taeht)
Well, with the fact you are Scottish..I would not doubt.

I think there is not a huge discrepancy in accommodation costs (fully catered basic residence for 6k in StA)

You can count it easily.. if the bursary would be at least 8k a year, then you can think about both, if not..it is not worth it (from my point of view)

Also I am not pretty much sure that integrated master is a pro, as you still have to get the required grades etc. (its almost the same)


I am an EU student, deciding for psychology between StA,Glas,Ed, UCL, Dur..your thoughts?
They are all very good universities really. I think it depends on what kind of university experience you want. Obviously Glasgow, Edinburgh and UCL are larger cities so they will have more shops, theatres, nightlife etc. Durham and St Andrews are smaller more student orientated cities and have more of a community feel. For psychology, they are all in the top ten in the UK. UCL has the best research quality. Durham has the best graduate prospects. Glasgow has the best Student Satisfaction. Since you are an EU Student, you might want to consider the world rankings more carefully. In that case, UCL and Edinburgh are the most well known internationally.
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la_banane_verte
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(Original post by Sapphire321)
St Andrews


Cons:

  • Would not get a bursary
  • Accommodation is more expensive
  • Not as much to do in the town (smaller place)
  • My course doesn't have an integrated masters option


Did you apply for the Accomodation Award? That would have helped you out with your first two points.

For your last point, I see that you applied for Biochemistry at Durham. Why didn't you go for the same at St Andrews? There's an integrated MBiochem in Biochemistry (http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk/unde...r.aspx?pc=C701). You can probably still swtich over to this when you enter honours if it's important to you to get an integrated masters, so I would remove that point from your pro/con list at least.
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unclebulgaria
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Durham and St Andrews are very good universities, attracting top students, and having a posh reputation, but they are still a million miles behind Oxbridge in many areas. As an Oxbridge reject I would simply not be able to see these two as good enough to banish the demons. Had I not applied to Oxbridge at all, then that would be a different debate altogether. LSE, Imperial and UCL come closest in rivalling Oxbridge, and UCL was actually ranked number 1 for research power in the latest REF exercise.
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Chellecharity
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(Original post by unclebulgaria)
Durham and St Andrews are very good universities, attracting top students, and having a posh reputation, but they are still a million miles behind Oxbridge in many areas. As an Oxbridge reject I would simply not be able to see these two as good enough to banish the demons. Had I not applied to Oxbridge at all, then that would be a different debate altogether. LSE, Imperial and UCL come closest in rivalling Oxbridge, and UCL was actually ranked number 1 for research power in the latest REF exercise.
Did OP get an offer from Imperial though /: relax
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unclebulgaria
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(Original post by Chellecharity)
Did OP get an offer from Imperial though /: relax
As a matter of fact, I'd probably prefer Durham or St Andrews to Imperial, the latter seems too serious for me, a very different student culture. Imperial may well offer better employment prospects though.
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taeht
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(Original post by unclebulgaria)
Durham and St Andrews are very good universities, attracting top students, and having a posh reputation, but they are still a million miles behind Oxbridge in many areas. As an Oxbridge reject I would simply not be able to see these two as good enough to banish the demons. Had I not applied to Oxbridge at all, then that would be a different debate altogether. LSE, Imperial and UCL come closest in rivalling Oxbridge, and UCL was actually ranked number 1 for research power in the latest REF exercise.

I am sorry again, but it seems to me, that you just took league tables in your head and can't be objective

''million miles behind Oxbridge'' well in some but definitely not that far, in fact I know many people who left offer from Oxbridge and went either Durham or StA as they have some specifically strong subjects (IR,Compsci, Phy, Psy, Math)

Personally I think Imperial is above LSE and UCL, but it is just preference how you want to spend your student life (London x small community)

Obviously UCL has research power, that is obvious...you know why? Because they are 50k university, whereas StA is 10k. (not sure in this ciphers tho) plus research tables are not as important for undergrads (the courses are very similar therefore the content is also)

for example you think PPE at UCL is better than at StA?
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oldlady
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(Original post by unclebulgaria)
Durham and St Andrews are very good universities, attracting top students, and having a posh reputation, but they are still a million miles behind Oxbridge in many areas. As an Oxbridge reject I would simply not be able to see these two as good enough to banish the demons. Had I not applied to Oxbridge at all, then that would be a different debate altogether. LSE, Imperial and UCL come closest in rivalling Oxbridge, and UCL was actually ranked number 1 for research power in the latest REF exercise.
Each to their own - Durham and St Andrews both come closer to the Oxbridge experience in many ways, because they are small, university-focused towns, so maybe for some people that helps to banish the demons better than a big, anonymous city like London. I would really strongly caution people against assuming that REF is any kind of a guide to where you will have a good undergraduate experience. Top researchers in prestigious institutions are so busy chasing the grants and the publications and applying for research leave they may barely feature in most undergraduate lives. Oxbridge is pretty unique in having the tutorial system which means you are still more likely to get taught directly by top people. Basically everywhere else is 'a million miles behind' and the low student satisfaction scores at many London universities are an important consideration to weight up, alongside their prestige.
So as far as the OP is concerned and the choice BETWEEN St Andrews and Durham, I'd say you've clearly done your research well and decided you think both offer you a good course, so go where you feel you'd be happiest rather than worrying too much about employability. For what it's worth the complete university guide suggests Durham has slightly better graduate prospects than St Andrews, especially in biology, but we're talking small margins here.
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la_banane_verte
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(Original post by oldlady)
I would really strongly caution people against assuming that REF is any kind of a guide to where you will have a good undergraduate experience. Top researchers in prestigious institutions are so busy chasing the grants and the publications and applying for research leave they may barely feature in most undergraduate lives. Oxbridge is pretty unique in having the tutorial system which means you are still more likely to get taught directly by top people.
This is a great point, but apparently I'm not allowed to click the thumbs up on your post otherwise I would have done!

OP, for what it's worth, if you are interested in being taught by active research staff, most of the research staff at St Andrews are very involved in teaching (unlike some of the larger London unis for example). I don't know whether it's the same at Durham or not, that's something you'd have to ask people there.
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