Jaxdepox
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Hello, I'm an International Student and received conditional offers to study a Bsc Ecology at both Imperial and St Andrews. I really can't make up my mind, both choices having upsides and downsides.

St Andrews seems to have a very nice ecology program, but the fact that there's little fieldwork included throws me a bit off. I know that there are two field trips that can be taken in the last two years (the 4th year trip to Antarctica defo sounds amazing) but it doesn't seem enough to me. I would like to work in the field, and therefore would appreciate having as much field experience as I could get. I do know, however, that I could still do internships to get some.
Also, the course seems to heavily lean towards marine biology, and my field of interest in ecology would be more about tropical/terrestrial ecology, even though is still like the marine biology aspect.

The upsides to going there would probably be the amazing location for studying such degree, the presence of the Centre for Biological Diversity, that does produce some good research, niched in the very facilities of the school of biology, and the fact that i could study abroad. I don't really know if posh people represent a real problem there, I've just heard some stories.

On the other side, Imperial seems to have a program that's more oriented on the kind of ecology that I prefer, although there is very little explanation about the content of the ecology modules throughout the 3 years. The field trip in Africa really seems exciting. And the Uni seems to have lots of connections with wildlife companies and zoos. But there are lots of downsides : in the middle of London (not that good for this kind of degree I'd say), and the campus that produces the actual ecology research is based at Silwood Park, which isn't really next to South Ken. Also, the course has a HUGE amount of genetics and molecular biology in year 1 and 2 (50% in year 1 and 34% in year 2), subjects i'm not particularly fond of. Furthermore, there seems to be VERY few fieldwork offered throughout the 3 years (apart from the African field course). One thing that's interesting is the opportunity to spend a year in industry or research, as I could gather field experience in it.

I generally prefer the countryside to a big city, and I'm in love with Scottish nature, but there are lots of museums in London, so I'm even hesitating about where I'd prefer to live.

Sorry if this is getting long, but what do u think ?
Imperial or St Andrews ?

Edit : I've already asked a lot of people about this dilemma here, so sorry if I've bothered anyone who read me for the second or third time.
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skdffksn
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I think you've carefully weighed out the pros and cons. Personally I prefer St Andrews as i know a few people who went there and they loved the whole experience- not just the course
It is very beautiful too
Good luck
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by skdffksn)
I think you've carefully weighed out the pros and cons. Personally I prefer St Andrews as i know a few people who went there and they loved the whole experience- not just the course
It is very beautiful too
Good luck
thanks for the answer ! Do u know some of them who would appear to be present here, and to whom I could talk to ?
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skdffksn
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(Original post by Jaxdepox)
thanks for the answer ! Do u know some of them who would appear to be present here, and to whom I could talk to ?
i'll send them the link to this thread!
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Jaxdepox
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anyone please ??
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ohboy
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From what you've said St Andrews seems like the better option i think. I've also taken a look at their website and it doesn't seem like marine biology is actually that big a part of it? They do also have a terrestrial option in 3rd year and it's definitely a better location too and seeing that it's in scotland you'll be more likely to do more frequent fieldwork than in London and you'll be more likely to find volunteering positions too.

Hope this helped but i really just suggest you take another good luck at both their courses and facilities and try to figure out what's most important to you
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by ohboy)
From what you've said St Andrews seems like the better option i think. I've also taken a look at their website and it doesn't seem like marine biology is actually that big a part of it? They do also have a terrestrial option in 3rd year and it's definitely a better location too and seeing that it's in scotland you'll be more likely to do more frequent fieldwork than in London and you'll be more likely to find volunteering positions too.

Hope this helped but i really just suggest you take another good luck at both their courses and facilities and try to figure out what's most important to you
Hey ! Thanks for your answer
Yeah its true that i'd have more fieldwork ( I think at least). I just said that their course would be turned towards marine biology as they mostly offer postgraduate courses in this area... But yeah maybe this isn't that relevant to undergrad.
I just hope I won't feel stuck at St Andrews... Maybe if it's too cliquey, and as it is in a tiny village, I might just feel a bit lonely... ? Imperial doesn't seem to have this issue, obviously (being in London, it seems to me that its more of a uni in a city, whereas St Andrews basically revolves around the uni)... But these are just assumptions, so I'll try to make the most informed decision possible.
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EleaGR
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Hi, Jaxdepox!

Just a few tips about Imperial in general. Don't know anything about your course though or Dept. My daughter studies Medical Biosciences 2nd year.

Imperial is a University that is kind of brutal towards its students. The balance between teaching hours and independent study is non existent. The deadlines are very strict, the support and feedback is very limited. Although teaching staff may be experts in their field that does not necessarily make them good in teaching and since they usually are pretty busy with their own research and other commitments, feedback is their last priority. There are exceptions definitely but that is pretty standard and this goes pretty much for most courses. My daughter has friends from engineering dept -electrical/civil/biomedical-, physics dept, medics, and they all experience pretty much the same conditions. Keep in mind also that they have a strict module structure with very limited electives. I don't know how St. Andrews compares to that, but this is something important to consider.

On the other hand, I must say that my daughter has enjoyed very much her social life at Imperial. She has made a lot of friends from all over the world and has found the social aspect of living in London pretty exciting. The location is very nice and especially for someone interested in the museums is ideal. But in general, London can provide for everyone's taste and that's a plus, as long as you can afford it. Keep in mind that accomodation/housing fees are sky high and together with living expenses you are looking at minimum of £400-500 per week.

Hope this helps a bit. I wish you all the best! 😊
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by EleaGR)
Hi, Jaxdepox!

Just a few tips about Imperial in general. Don't know anything about your course though or Dept. My daughter studies Medical Biosciences 2nd year.

Imperial is a University that is kind of brutal towards its students. The balance between teaching hours and independent study is non existent. The deadlines are very strict, the support and feedback is very limited. Although teaching staff may be experts in their field that does not necessarily make them good in teaching and since they usually are pretty busy with their own research and other commitments, feedback is their last priority. There are exceptions definitely but that is pretty standard and this goes pretty much for most courses. My daughter has friends from engineering dept -electrical/civil/biomedical-, physics dept, medics, and they all experience pretty much the same conditions. Keep in mind also that they have a strict module structure with very limited electives. I don't know how St. Andrews compares to that, but this is something important to consider.

On the other hand, I must say that my daughter has enjoyed very much her social life at Imperial. She has made a lot of friends from all over the world and has found the social aspect of living in London pretty exciting. The location is very nice and especially for someone interested in the museums is ideal. But in general, London can provide for everyone's taste and that's a plus, as long as you can afford it. Keep in mind that accomodation/housing fees are sky high and together with living expenses you are looking at minimum of £400-500 per week.

Hope this helps a bit. I wish you all the best! 😊
Thanks for the insight !! Yeah I've heard lots of stories about this side of Imperial as well. If only I could have visited both campuses, I think this is what I would have needed to get a better feeling of both unis' atmospheres. Now I'm stuck relying on statistics and stuff.
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by Mathsislove)
I’d say £500 is a bit much, if you look at Imperials website there is cheaper accommodation but a bit further away such as a tube ride.
Also for the expenses there are lots of jobs in London but since ur international I doubt money is a thing.

Imperial is open to international students whereas at st Andrews i do not know about the atmosphere.
St Andrews seems really expensive as well... Maybe not as much as London, but I'd stay there 4 yrs, vs 3 for Imperial.
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username4867806
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(Original post by Mathsislove)
No but that’s because often St Andrews is full of wealthy kids who couldn’t get to Oxbridge. Despite London unis being a league better, Durham and St Andrews are seen as a place where Oxbridge rejects go just so they can feel that Oxbridge lifestyle. They are not for the education but the feeling of being at a place like Oxbridge when in fact the teaching is nothing like that. Just look at the World rankings if you ever question why East Asian students apply for Imperial UCL and LSE.
If you're going to bring rankings into it, St Andrews was 2nd in the Guadian university rankings.

However, rankings would make very little difference between 2 good universities like St Andrews and Imperial.
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username4867806
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(Original post by Mathsislove)
I’d say £500 is a bit much, if you look at Imperials website there is cheaper accommodation but a bit further away such as a tube ride.
Also for the expenses there are lots of jobs in London but since ur international I doubt money is a thing.

Imperial is open to international students whereas at st Andrews i do not know about the atmosphere.
A large proportion of St Andrews' students are international. According to a booklet that was sent to me, 39% of students aren't from the UK.
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by Treetop321)
If you're going to bring rankings into it, St Andrews was 2nd in the Guadian university rankings.

However, rankings would make very little difference between 2 good universities like St Andrews and Imperial.
Yes, I would agree. Do u have any opinion about what would be a better pick in my case ? (putting rankings aside )
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(Original post by Jaxdepox)
Yes, I would agree. Do u have any opinion about what would be a better pick in my case ? (putting rankings aside )
The 2 major things to consider are the course structure and university life. Do you want a 4-year course or 3 years? Do you want to take other subjects in your first 2 years or just take ecology? Do you want to life in a massive city or small town on the coast?
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Jaxdepox
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(Original post by Treetop321)
The 2 major things to consider are the course structure and university life. Do you want a 4-year course or 3 years? Do you want to take other subjects in your first 2 years or just take ecology? Do you want to life in a massive city or small town on the coast?
I really don't wanna seem dumb or anything, but it seems impossible to me to answer any of your questions...
I have no idea wether i would prefer a 4 years bachelor vs a 3 yrs one.
I love ecology, but I also like geography, litterature... But my main main interest is in biological sciences.
I don't really like living in a city, I love the countryside. But then again, the city where I live, Beirut, is absolutely horrible. Nothing to compare with London. Very few museums, no green spaces at all, pollution spoiling the air you breath 24/7... All there is to see is cars, grey buildings, and dull people. I often enjoyed staying in nice cities, as long as they are a minimum bearable.
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(Original post by Jaxdepox)
I really don't wanna seem dumb or anything, but it seems impossible to me to answer any of your questions...
I have no idea wether i would prefer a 4 years bachelor vs a 3 yrs one.
I love ecology, but I also like geography, litterature... But my main main interest is in biological sciences.
I don't really like living in a city, I love the countryside. But then again, the city where I live, Beirut, is absolutely horrible. Nothing to compare with London. Very few museums, no green spaces at all, pollution spoiling the air you breath 24/7... All there is to see is cars, grey buildings, and dull people. I often enjoyed staying in nice cities, as long as they are a minimum bearable.
Only you can know which university you'd prefer. Try coming up with a pros and cons list for each university and then compare these 2 lists
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EleaGR
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(Original post by Mathsislove)
I’d say £500 is a bit much, if you look at Imperials website there is cheaper accommodation but a bit further away such as a tube ride.
Also for the expenses there are lots of jobs in London but since ur international I doubt money is a thing.

Imperial is open to international students whereas at st Andrews i do not know about the atmosphere.
500ppw may sound a lot but you need to consider a couple of things. First of all, accomodation is allocated at Imperial in a rather peculiar way. You may opt for the cheaper option but not get it. You only find out which room you got around the 6th of September and you got one week to accept or decline it. You are not entitled to a second offer or change. Having said that, there are a lot of people who gave their 5 preferences during summer, but ended up with an option they could not afford in early September and during that time other London accomodation that suits your budget and taste is very hard to find.

Cheaper accomodation of Imperial in North Acton (Woodward) is really beautiful and new but very far from the South Ken campus. My daughter had quite a few friends living their, and the main issue is that the area is not very nice or safe, and it is far from everything. So you need to add a lot to the budget for commuting. And of course having to commute for 40min each way for at least 3-4 days can be really tiresome. I know everyone's lifestyle is different, but I'm sure you will need to go out with friends, for food and drinks and sometimes clubbing, and that will not be very easy if you're living in North Acton. Keep in mind that for transportation apart from the Oyster card that does not come cheap at all (it all depends on the travel routes you do and you may find yourself easily with a cost of 80ppm), you should add Uber and the likes of it, because the tube is not safe or available during certain hours.

When you are in your 2nd or 3rd year, you can't get Uni accomodation, so that is certainly a bigger issue. Apartments in London are very very expensive and of very low quality even when you pay 250ppw. In any way, it all depends on your budget, your lifestyle, and the student experience you are looking for, and sure there are people that get by with 300ppw, but they miss a lot of what London has to offer.
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EleaGR
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(Original post by Jaxdepox)
I really don't wanna seem dumb or anything, but it seems impossible to me to answer any of your questions...
I have no idea wether i would prefer a 4 years bachelor vs a 3 yrs one.
I love ecology, but I also like geography, litterature... But my main main interest is in biological sciences.
I don't really like living in a city, I love the countryside. But then again, the city where I live, Beirut, is absolutely horrible. Nothing to compare with London. Very few museums, no green spaces at all, pollution spoiling the air you breath 24/7... All there is to see is cars, grey buildings, and dull people. I often enjoyed staying in nice cities, as long as they are a minimum bearable.
I just saw that you are living in Beirut. I'm sure you will enjoy London a lot. I don't know what budget you have, but if you have the stomach for Imperial and you can afford it, go for it.

About rankings, I should say that Guardian's is totally unreliable, and since you are an international student, you can't ignore the international reputation of the University you attend. And Imperial is definitely top of the top worldwide.
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username4867806
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(Original post by EleaGR)
I just saw that you are living in Beirut. I'm sure you will enjoy London a lot. I don't know what budget you have, but if you have the stomach for Imperial and you can afford it, go for it.

About rankings, I should say that Guardian's is totally unreliable, and since you are an international student, you can't ignore the international reputation of the University you attend. And Imperial is definitely top of the top worldwide.
Can I ask why it's totally unreliable?
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EleaGR
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(Original post by Treetop321)
Can I ask why it's totally unreliable?
According to Guardian's league tables Nottingham Trent is no. 12, Coventry is no. 15, Portsmouth no. 21. Need to say more???
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