Why is UCL ranked so low in Natural Sciences?

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alicia_cuber
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Hi!

I'm a student from Spain who decided to apply to study in Britain, and having received offers from both UCL and Imperial (my top choices), I am now having some trouble deciding.

One of the main reasons why I am having trouble is that I chose different courses. The way UCL offered NatSci wowed me and I applied because the whole idea of the course interested me a lot (I have always loved astrophysics and this meant that I could do it while specialising in biology). On the other hand, I was more conservative in Imperial and chose the course I had been thinking from the beginning: Biological Sciences.

Both of the courses are an MSci, and I would be more than happy to go to any. I have a slight inclination towards UCL because although the course is probably more demanding, it would mean a broad education while being surrounded by students that may take humanities or even arts (I really like the idea of diversity). However, I recently discovered that in the ranking-by-subject UCL appears number 62 in Natural Sciences, which is considerably low bearing in mind that UCL is ranked 7th in the world.

I would like to know the honest reason for it being so low. Studying in the UK is not at all cheap, and I would like to make a decision knowingly.

I do know that rankings are not THAT important, and that UCL is a great place to study, but having also Imperial (with Biological Sciences), Manchester University (with Life Sciences) and waiting on Edinburgh (with Biological Sciences), I would like to have the best possible education.

Here's the link to the ranking: https://www.topuniversities.com/univ...tural-sciences

Thank you very much,

Alicia
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Trinculo
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Who knows? A lot of people do NatSci at UCL - especially as undergrad. A ranking of 62 does sound low relative to the general ranking - but then if you compare something like Life Scienes, it jumps right up. It's a very complicated thng to measure.

Maybe it's an anomaly, maybe it's something else. Those QS rankings have a range of metrics and I have no idea how they arrive at the final rankings - one of the metrics is number of citations per paper, and I'm not sure how reliable an indicator that is. Surely that's as much an indicator of how popular the fields of research are.
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rmik
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Hola Alicia,

I'm in my second year NatSci, here's how it is:

Physics and Biology is pretty much the only thing NatSci at UCL good for. It is a course that is quite poorly organised and while the selling point is the broad range of courses you can take, you are only able to take a small fraction of courses from each area of science due to clashes, if you choose to do multiple. It is quite restrictive and unless you know for a fact that you want to follow through with both Biology and Astrophysics for your entire time at UCL, then you should try to change to a degree that is straight Physics/Biology when you get here.

NatSci is a department that shouldn't really exist as it is wedged between the Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Neuroscience departments, which means that timetabling anything that strictly NatSci doesn't offer is a nightmare, as the departments wouldn't need to interact normally.

You can see what modules you can take and which are prerequisites for 2nd and 3rd year modules on the NatSci page so look through those carefully and email the department asking for the document which has the streams for all years and their pathways, as that's more detailed and I can't share it with you without giving away my UCL password.

UCL is great for Philosophy and Neuroscience, especially research, but this degree really isn't taught very well UNLESS you know you want to do that combination.

The social life is good and the workload isn't that heavy, whereas Imperial will be worse social life and harder modules, but I'm sure they'll be better structured.

Hope this makes it to you in time for your decision!
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Pivoine1
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Hi! I don't know if you'll see this in time because I have to set my firm and insurance choices today, but I'll try anyway. I have offers from UCL - Natural Sciences and Imperial - Biochemistry and I was leaning towards UCL just for the breadth of choice that this degree leaves me with (even though I pretty much know that I want to study Organic Chemistry and Molecular&Cell Biology/Biomedical Science). But now your answer really conflicted me as I wouldn't want my degree to be unstructured and disorganised. Do you think I should choose Imperial just for the fact that the course is more putt-together? Do you find that these modules that UCL offers are taught in a cohesive way, leading towards common points and offering therefore a better understanding of science or are they just all over the place? Thank you very much for your help!
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username4036268
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(Original post by rmik)
Hola Alicia,

I'm in my second year NatSci, here's how it is:

Physics and Biology is pretty much the only thing NatSci at UCL good for. It is a course that is quite poorly organised and while the selling point is the broad range of courses you can take, you are only able to take a small fraction of courses from each area of science due to clashes, if you choose to do multiple. It is quite restrictive and unless you know for a fact that you want to follow through with both Biology and Astrophysics for your entire time at UCL, then you should try to change to a degree that is straight Physics/Biology when you get here.

NatSci is a department that shouldn't really exist as it is wedged between the Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Neuroscience departments, which means that timetabling anything that strictly NatSci doesn't offer is a nightmare, as the departments wouldn't need to interact normally.

You can see what modules you can take and which are prerequisites for 2nd and 3rd year modules on the NatSci page so look through those carefully and email the department asking for the document which has the streams for all years and their pathways, as that's more detailed and I can't share it with you without giving away my UCL password.

UCL is great for Philosophy and Neuroscience, especially research, but this degree really isn't taught very well UNLESS you know you want to do that combination.

The social life is good and the workload isn't that heavy, whereas Imperial will be worse social life and harder modules, but I'm sure they'll be better structured.

Hope this makes it to you in time for your decision!

Is the UCL natural sciences course super hard?
I'm not a naturally smart person and I have to put a lot of effort in to do well.
I have an offer for UCL and Lancaster but I'm worried the UCL course will be too intense and all the kids will be a lot brighter than me so I wont do very well on it.
In comparison to a degree like medicine is it harder?
How are you examined?
Is it mainly just exam papers or is there also coursework?
Are you helped out very much, like during practicals or does everyone like keep their heads down and do things independently?

I'm worried about going onto the natural sciences course at UCL and finding it too hard to keep up with everyone else.
I don't want to be surrounded by like all these child geniuses.
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username3941996
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(Original post by NatSciences)
Is the UCL natural sciences course super hard?
I'm not a naturally smart person and I have to put a lot of effort in to do well.
I have an offer for UCL and Lancaster but I'm worried the UCL course will be too intense and all the kids will be a lot brighter than me so I wont do very well on it.
In comparison to a degree like medicine is it harder?
How are you examined?
Is it mainly just exam papers or is there also coursework?
Are you helped out very much, like during practicals or does everyone like keep their heads down and do things independently?

I'm worried about going onto the natural sciences course at UCL and finding it too hard to keep up with everyone else.
I don't want to be surrounded by like all these child geniuses.
If u can get an offer, then you’re ready for UCL. Just remember that other students will be in the same position as well.
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rmik
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(Original post by NatSciences)
Is the UCL natural sciences course super hard?
I'm not a naturally smart person and I have to put a lot of effort in to do well.
I have an offer for UCL and Lancaster but I'm worried the UCL course will be too intense and all the kids will be a lot brighter than me so I wont do very well on it.
In comparison to a degree like medicine is it harder?
How are you examined?
Is it mainly just exam papers or is there also coursework?
Are you helped out very much, like during practicals or does everyone like keep their heads down and do things independently?

I'm worried about going onto the natural sciences course at UCL and finding it too hard to keep up with everyone else.
I don't want to be surrounded by like all these child geniuses.


You'll be fine, it is genuinely difficult to fail the degree and I haven't met anyone who says that the workload is unreasonable/obscenely hard. Don't worry, I'd choose UCL over Lancaster on this one.
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rmik
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(Original post by Pivoine1)
Hi! I don't know if you'll see this in time because I have to set my firm and insurance choices today, but I'll try anyway. I have offers from UCL - Natural Sciences and Imperial - Biochemistry and I was leaning towards UCL just for the breadth of choice that this degree leaves me with (even though I pretty much know that I want to study Organic Chemistry and Molecular&Cell Biology/Biomedical Science). But now your answer really conflicted me as I wouldn't want my degree to be unstructured and disorganised. Do you think I should choose Imperial just for the fact that the course is more putt-together? Do you find that these modules that UCL offers are taught in a cohesive way, leading towards common points and offering therefore a better understanding of science or are they just all over the place? Thank you very much for your help!


Hey, if you still want this answered then send me a private message
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undecided2019
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(Original post by rmik)
Hola Alicia,

I'm in my second year NatSci, here's how it is:

Physics and Biology is pretty much the only thing NatSci at UCL good for. It is a course that is quite poorly organised and while the selling point is the broad range of courses you can take, you are only able to take a small fraction of courses from each area of science due to clashes, if you choose to do multiple. It is quite restrictive and unless you know for a fact that you want to follow through with both Biology and Astrophysics for your entire time at UCL, then you should try to change to a degree that is straight Physics/Biology when you get here.

NatSci is a department that shouldn't really exist as it is wedged between the Statistics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Neuroscience departments, which means that timetabling anything that strictly NatSci doesn't offer is a nightmare, as the departments wouldn't need to interact normally.

You can see what modules you can take and which are prerequisites for 2nd and 3rd year modules on the NatSci page so look through those carefully and email the department asking for the document which has the streams for all years and their pathways, as that's more detailed and I can't share it with you without giving away my UCL password.

UCL is great for Philosophy and Neuroscience, especially research, but this degree really isn't taught very well UNLESS you know you want to do that combination.

The social life is good and the workload isn't that heavy, whereas Imperial will be worse social life and harder modules, but I'm sure they'll be better structured.

Hope this makes it to you in time for your decision!
Hi I don't know if you will see this but I am really hoping! I have an offer from UCL for Nat Sci and assumed it would be my firm. I visited on an offer holder day and got worried because the course didn't seem well organised. I am really confused now - my other offers are Southampton and Exeter, so I realise UCL is way up there in the rankings, but still concerned.......thinking about astrophysics and earth sciences btw........
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pangolin22
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(Original post by undecided2019)
Hi I don't know if you will see this but I am really hoping! I have an offer from UCL for Nat Sci and assumed it would be my firm. I visited on an offer holder day and got worried because the course didn't seem well organised. I am really confused now - my other offers are Southampton and Exeter, so I realise UCL is way up there in the rankings, but still concerned.......thinking about astrophysics and earth sciences btw........
Hi undecided2019. Did you go to the offer holder day this Wednesday? I was there as well and felt similarly. I also have offers from Southampton, Exeter and Leicester. For me, the only things that are in UCL's favour is its prestige which might be helpful when applying for a PHD, location and high quality research. Do you think a first from Exeter/Southampton would be better than an average grade from UCL? I'm going to try to get in touch with some NatSci students and I'll let you know if I get any good advice.
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happyastrodude
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(Original post by pangolin22)
Hi undecided2019. Did you go to the offer holder day this Wednesday? I was there as well and felt similarly. I also have offers from Southampton, Exeter and Leicester. For me, the only things that are in UCL's favour is its prestige which might be helpful when applying for a PHD, location and high quality research. Do you think a first from Exeter/Southampton would be better than an average grade from UCL? I'm going to try to get in touch with some NatSci students and I'll let you know if I get any good advice.
Hi, I'm thinking of applying to Nat Sci this year and liked the look of UCL and bath. Did you only apply to natural sciences courses or did you apply to others as well?
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Anonymous #1
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Oh wow. I went through the same thing as you. Got an offer from both UCL and Imperial. Applied for Biological Sciences at both unis. Chose imperial. In my third (final) year and I have loved every single experience!
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