Don't just take our word for it – here's what students say about what it's like to study at Kingston University.
Name: Iona Baker
Course: Nutrition BSc(Hons) graduate, completed her Masters by Research in 2011
Current position: Nutritionist for the NHS
"I first began to take a real interest in nutrition after my mother became seriously ill with cancer and, later on, diabetes. When my mother had completed her treatment she also changed her diet and we found that this made a huge, positive difference to her health, which in turn made me realise how important the right nutrition is for chronically ill patients."
Although interested in nutrition, Iona's background had been in English and communications and she needed to get to grips with the scientific elements involved so completed an evening course in chemistry and biology at Kingston College. The choice to go on to study a degree at Kingston University was not a particularly difficult one as Iona's part time Nutrition course allowed her to successfully juggle family life around her studies. Dr Elizabeth Opara, Principal Lecturer in Nutrition has encouraged Iona to continue her research at a postgraduate level. Iona's research, which will expand on her previous work, will involve looking at spices and their potential to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Winning a student bursary
Iona was one of three students who won a student bursary to attend the British Science Festival. Here Iona talks about her experience:
"The British Science Festival (BSF) is an exciting event celebrating the relevance of science in society. Attendance would offer me the opportunity to learn from those outside my field of science, see ideas challenged, engage in debate, meet interesting people and learn from speakers who are able to communicate effectively. I have found that opportunities often present themselves in unexpected places and I, therefore, remain open minded about my career path.
If I had one goal in attending the festival, it was to understand what the common features of good scientific communication were. Speakers who were, in my view, most successful at engaging the audience had a clear narrative and resisted the temptation of including too much information (most talks were shorter than 20 minutes). Naturally, charisma and humour helped. Max Mosley encapsulated what he thought good communication demands when he said "You need to tell a story". I suppose communication in science is no exception.
An entirely unexpected joy was meeting the people who attended the Festival. One evening whilst walking through the halls of residence where we stayed, I remarked to a fellow attendee how I often got lost in the maze of corridors. She agreed, but what followed was a discussion on the evidence around the gender differences in spatial awareness and how males are in fact, better at finding their way around. It was, to the two of us at least, an interesting but unremarkable conversation. Later it struck me – where else could I possibly have had a casual conversation that included the phrase "Well, the evidence suggests...". Where else can you tell people about your research and rather than summing up a year in the lab in two short sentences, have the luxury of being prompted to expand to a paragraph? I met people who were interesting, witty and inspiring and made some friends I hope to keep contact with.
To all current and future Nutrition students: if the Nutrition Society runs the competition to attend the BSF next year – enter! It was an inspiring experience and fulfils the claim of 'Energising minds'!"
Name: Jessica Weston
Course: Nutrition BSc(Hons)
Level: 2nd year
"I decided to study nutrition because I feel it concerns everyone in their day-to-day life, and is becoming more of a concern with growing problems such as obesity. With the current job situation, there will always be a career at the end, and the nutrition course at Kingston complements this with the accreditation by the Nutrition Society. The diversity of a career as a nutritionist also swayed my decision, with jobs all over the world in public health nutrition or industry based.
"From the moment I stepped into the front entrance at Penrhyn Road on the open day, I immediately was made to feel welcome with a lot of helpful, friendly faces around. The newly built John Galsworthy Building as well as the nutrition kitchen and numerous equipment filled labs were very enticing. Coming from Devon I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in central London, so Kingston offered a great compromise – with quick direct trains into central London but also lots of green open space.
"I have found the teaching to be excellent in all areas. If a problem does arise, lecturers are always on hand to help, or will guide you in the right direction with textbooks and other resources. The nutrition teaching has been particularly good with all lecturers having a slightly different style, helping to add diversity to the lecture material.
"The facilities at Kingston are perfect for finding exactly what your need. The library contains a wide range of journals and books, and I quickly found my way around. Introductory lectures in first year also help to familiarise you with all the facilities that Kingston has to offer, including how to use StudySpace (the student intranet) where you can find lecture material and additional resources. Using the nutrition kitchens have been a lot of fun, whilst the various nutrition modules have built on my knowledge in the field. I have especially enjoyed the more practical approach to the subject, such as looking at food packaging and different types of dietary assessment methods. I am looking forward to the modules in third year, as the course is focused a lot more on nutrition.
"My ambition for the near future is to see how I find my summer placement [within Sainsbury's] and, if successful, definitely apply for the graduate schemes being offered by the larger food companies. Although I am still not completely sure which area I want to go into, I am definitely interested in product development from a nutrition point of view, and possibly something along the lines of public health nutrition. My time at Kingston has helped with this, as we have been offered work experience opportunities as well as speaking to lecturers and having guest speakers discussing the many choices available.
"I have really enjoyed how the different areas within the Faculty of Science clearly work together to deliver a huge range of different modules, which have all built on my knowledge. I seem to have learnt areas of science which I never thought I'd touch on, but at the same time all seem to complement each other."
Name: Susan Westland
Course: Nutrition BSc(Hons)
Level: 1st year
Route to University: Mature student
Accommodation: Own home
"Having been made redundant from the company I had been with for 15 years, I found myself, for the first time, without a job. I took a year out to think about what I really wanted to do and decided that nutrition was the right thing for me. I had enjoyed learning about it during my Home Economics A-level. At the time, career prospects within the field were limited so I went in a different direction. My interest has always stayed with me and now job opportunities for nutritionists are much wider.
"Initially I thought I would have to take a distance learning course as I have two small children. However, when I found that Kingston offered a course that seemed to be one of the best available in the UK, I knew I wouldn't be happy doing a distance learning course when a local university offered a superior alternative.
"I have now completed my first semester and the sensory analysis and food microbiology practical sessions have been fantastic. I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the labs. I hadn't expected to be doing anything so hands-on so early in the course.
"The lecturers and laboratory assistants I have met have all been incredibly helpful. I know that if I have problems, I will be able to get the support I need. I can really see how all the subjects I am taking fit together, the timing seems to be perfect – we might learn about something in physiology one week, having learnt something else about the same subject the week before in nutrition.
"I was apprehensive about returning to full-time education, not necessarily because of the course work or lectures, but because of the exams. Fortunately we are eased gently into this with first year assessment being based on assignments, in-course tests and short multiple choice questions.
"I have found it very easy to settle at Kingston. I feel totally comfortable with my mature student status and have never been made to feel any different to anyone else on the course.
"My ambition at the minute is to find a career that will allow me to use my degree and to develop my skills. The lecturers all seem very keen to help students find placements and work, which is very different from my first experience at university, and this helps to keep me feeling positive and motivated."
Name: Emma Hikal
Course: Nutrition BSc(Hons)
Level: 1st year
Route to University: A-levels
Accommodation: Halls of residence
"I decided to study nutrition because I think it is a useful subject, not only for yourself but also for the whole population. It is a good time to get into this field as the topic has a lot of public interest.
I was attracted to the modern buildings at Kingston and the good facilities such as the course labs, library and teaching rooms. It is also only two hours from my home and close enough to travel to central London, but not too close.
So far, the highlight of the course has been using the information I have learned to benefit myself. I enjoy planning diets using equations and other information that I had not known before. I have found the course has good teaching with approachable tutors and lecturers and, if any problem arises, they are easy to contact for help.
I also like the atmosphere at Kingston. The multicultural diversity makes it very easy to integrate and meet new people. It's a sociable place – making friends has been really easy and enjoyable.
I have found university so much better than college! You are much more independent... in a good way. Living on your own is a new experience. The workload in the first semester is a good transitional stage from college to university work. It does become harder as the course progresses, but there is a lot of help available.
I have struggled with the chemistry element of the course. This was not one of my A-levels so I have taken out books on A-level chemistry and looked up the relevant information in them, which has helped me.
"My ambition now is to graduate with high grades and then go on to do another course in dietetics to become a dietitian. I want to use my degree to build a successful career."