Careers & Employability
First Destinations of Undergraduates in the Department of Biological Sciences
In 2007, nearly 72% of University of Chester graduates were in jobs or further study six months after graduating.
Below are case studies which include examples of the type of jobs and further study entered by students who have graduated from the Department of Biological Sciences. Some students are employed in jobs directly related to their degree, others are not. Many graduate jobs ask for a degree from any discipline.
Iain Buck (Biomedical Science Graduate)
I came to the BSc Biomedical Sciences as a mature student, having gained a degree course in another subject straight after A Levels and going on to work in local government finance. However, as much as I enjoyed my work, I always knew that I had followed the wrong path and felt that the time was right to return to my original career interest.
Chester University was an ideal option as it was local, the course content was comprehensive and approved by the IBMS, and, having previous experience of a lager university, I felt that the more intimate atmosphere of the University would allow for a greater degree of staff-student support. I was right. Despite my trepidation at re-entering higher education I found that the course guided students through the subjects at the right pace, with the right level of variety, complexity and assistance. The BSc Biomedical Sciences covered all aspects of biomedical sciences with a good balance of practical and theory work.
I would definitely urge students on the course to make the most of the modules that relate to the specific disciplines in a hospital pathology department, i.e. microbiology, histology, biochemistry, and haematology, the work placement and the lectures from visiting biomedical scientists to give them an idea in which area they would like to work. The final year dissertation was also a great opportunity to get to grips with practical work and research at more depth in an area of interest. The course was well structured and delivered superbly by all the lecturing staff and support staff.
Personal Academic Tutors, lecturers and laboratory staff were always available and approachable. Essential support was also given by the Library, Work Placed Learning and IT departments. The students on the course were a good mix of ages and life experience, and morale was good with fellow students more than happy to help each other out...not to mention the occasional nights out! After graduating, I felt ready move in biomedical employment and was lucky enough to secure a job with the NHS as a Trainee Biomedical Scientist in Microbiology at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Although the initial learning curve in the laboratory was steep I was able to draw and build on the practical and theoretical work I completed at Chester University and soon completed my Trainee portfolio and am now a registered Biomedical Scientist. Changing my career, and choosing the BSc Biomedical Sciences course at Chester to do it, was the best decision I made. I cannot recommend both the course, university and the staff highly enough.
Dr Nina Dempsey-Hibbert (Biomedical Science Graduate)
I graduated from the University of Chester in 2005 with a first class honours in BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science. The programme covered a wide range of subject matter from human diseases to molecular biology. My final year dissertation project allowed me to gain hands-on experience in cell biology research and encouraged me to consider cancer research as a career option.
After graduating, I applied to study for a PhD in Biological Sciences at Chester under the supervision of Professor John Williams. My PhD involved studying the levels of heat shock proteins (HSPs) in leukaemia patients and healthy control subjects and also focused on chemotherapeutic treatment of leukaemia cells in-vitro.
Since graduating with my PhD in 2009, I have been continuing my research at the University of Chester as a post-doctoral scientist. This currently involves collaboration with Betsi Cadwalader University Hospital in Glan Clywd (North Wales) in order to obtain large numbers of leukaemia samples. The aim is to fully understand the implications of high HSP levels in leukaemia cells and determine whether drugs that target HSPs can be considered as valid treatment options for all leukaemia patients.
Since 2010, I have also been teaching part time on various modules on the Fd Healthcare Sciences, BSc Biomedical Science and MSc Biomedical Science programmes at the University of Chester.
Tracey Crofts (Biomedical Science Graduate)
I successfully completed the Biomedical Science course at Chester University in 2005. This was a vocational course and I gained experience in all areas of Biomedical Science such as Medical Microbiolgy, Haematology and Immunology which provided me with the relevant knowledge and practical skills that are needed for a successful career in this field of work.
Computer skills also were taught and this was particularly helpful. The University also had an excellent intranet service enabling online learning too. We had access to great resources and the library contained a range of relevant books to help successful studying. The lecturers were very experienced and enthusiastic about their subjects this made learning enjoyable. Each lecture was backed up with a practical investigation allowing us to put our knowledge into practice.
Although this is a specialist degree I still gained lots of skills and knowledge that were transferable to a completely different career pathway and after graduating I trained as a Science teacher. However, after a couple of years decided that Biomedical Science was my real passion and now work as a Biomedical Scientist (as a Medical Microbiologist). I work for the North East Wales NHS Trust and my job involves diagnosing and treating infectious diseases. The course really prepared me for the workplace because of the application of many of the methods used in a laboratory.
The job I do now is both motivating and rewarding. Current trends in Microbiology are often changing so there is plenty to keep your interest and many of the topics covered on the course were so up to date that they still have great relevance in my job today. Choosing to do this course at Chester University was definitely the right move for me. I would not have had such excellent career prospects had I not completed this course. I would urge anybody who wants a fulfilling career in science to do the Biomedical Science degree course. I am thankful to the lecturers for their time, effort and patients and their constant support throughout my three year course.
Louise Robinson, BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology
I chose to undertake the Forensic Biology course at the University of Chester after I went to a Higher Education fair at Derby University and came away with about 50 different prospectuses for various Universities. Chester kept attracting my attention and, as soon as I visited, I knew this was where I wanted to go. I was so convinced that I only applied to one University. The course was a perfect mix for me. It had elements of Biology which I enjoyed, such as genetics, but also focused on forensic aspects where I have a personal interest.
I organised my own Work Based Learning placement at Cheshire Constabulary. I was offered a placement within the forensic submissions department, home of the DNA bureau. The role was computer based. I wrote a report on the forensic financial systems. Whilst I was there I took advantage of my surroundings and asked to view other departments. I spent time with Chester CSI, the scientific support lab, the fingerprinting department and learnt more information on a lot of techniques I had previously only read about. After I completed my placement I was able to spend a week with Chester CSI. The experience was invaluable and I cannot think of a better place to do a work placement.
The course prepared me for a scientific career without it being too defined so that it enables you to have a forensic focused career or a more wide ranging biological direction. I also gained many transferable skills during my degree including team work, public speaking and presentation skills.
During my time at University I was a peer and core mentor. I enjoyed meeting new people and welcoming them to Chester. I was also a Student Academic Representative for my course and a member of the rowing club.
I was offered a job with the Forensic Science Service in Huntingdon as a DNA analyst however I decided instead to return to education and following on from my undergraduate dissertation, I have just begun an MPhil/PhD at Chester analysing avian mitochondrial DNA in endangered species.
Ann Fennell BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour
I chose to study BSc Animal Behaviour at Chester following an Open Day at the University. I immediately loved the campus and the city of Chester. The friendly atmosphere and ideal size of the university really appealed to me. I gained many transferable skills during my degree such as team working and presentation skills. As a specialised degree I would say that Animal Behaviour is much broader than it sounds and although I gained invaluable knowledge of the theory of animal training, physiology and welfare, the transferable skills were equally important in helping me to succeed in gaining my current role. It's not until it is put into practice that the theory really comes to life; being able to demonstrate flexibility, problem solving, enthusiasm and a hard-working attitude is probably more important than any theory when it comes to the world of work, particularly when it is something as specialised as my job now.
A highlight of my course was my Work Based Learning placement in the second year. I went to Cotswold Wildlife Park and participated in all aspects of animal care and welfare at the park. I was able to work on all the different animal sections and recorded vital observations of new animals and those in new enclosures. I found it very useful to the degree I studied and it gave me insight into animal care in practice.
When I was applying for jobs, I researched into assistance dog charities and wrote speculative letters to the different organisations to gain knowledge of the skills I needed to develop in order to be successful in this field of work. Careers were very helpful in proof reading and giving valuable feedback for these letters and they also helped me with my CV.
I now work as Assistant Dog Trainer for Canine Partners for Independence. I train dogs to assist people with disabilities, mainly people with mobility problems. The dogs can perform a whole range of tasks upon completion of training including retrieving items, opening doors and even getting the washing out of the machine. I help to train the dogs, assess the puppies prior to training, assist with puppy training classes when the dogs are with their "puppy parents" and matching and training the dog with the recipient.
I hope to become a fully qualified dog trainer in six months time and stay with the charity for some time, I would like to get involved with multiple training assistance dogs, for example a dog that can assist somebody who is in a wheelchair who also has a hearing impediment.
Jim Bannister (Biomedical Science Graduate & IBMS Presidents Prize winner 2012)
After completing an IT degree I worked in software development for twenty years until I decided that I wanted to work in cancer research, which was a real shock for my wife since I hadn’t previously expressed any interest in science. Initially, I completed several Open University foundation type science courses before starting the Biomedical Sciences undergraduate programme at Chester in 2009. At the beginning I felt at a disadvantage when compared with younger students who had Biology and Chemistry A levels. However, the Biological Sciences department staff at the University gave me a great deal of support and encouragement; for example, the microbiology practical sessions during the first year provided a gentle introduction to laboratory work, which helped me to gain much needed confidence.
After my second year I had a placement in the summer holidays at a local hospital - I had the opportunity to gain experience of working in a pathology department, and this gave me an excellent insight into the methods employed in immunology and histology. In my final year, I examined the expression levels of an inflammatory factor in oesophageal tissue samples at a hospital in Liverpool. This was an extremely worthwhile project, which investigated the link between inflammation and cancer. I’ve been encouraged to submit my findings to a scientific journal, and have been requested to present my research at an IBMS regional meeting!
I was really pleased to be awarded a first class honours degree and the IBMS President’s Prize at the end of my final year in 2012. I am now looking forward to continuing my studies on a postgraduate programme. My life ambition is to help improve cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, and the Biomedical Sciences degree programme has provided me with an excellent platform to pursue my goals.
Samantha Thomas-Wright (Biomedical Science Graduate & IBMS Presidents Prize winner 2011)
Working as a Biomedical support worker for 10 years at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and seeing the Biomedical Scientists at work, I decided to undertake a degree in science. Following this I successfully completed the BSc Biomedical Science as a mature student at the University of Chester in 2011.
Chester University was an ideal option as it was local, the course content was comprehensive and approved by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). The BSc Biomedical Science covered all aspects of biomedical sciences with a good balance of practical and theory work. I would definitely urge students on the course to make the most of the modules that relate to the specific disciplines in a hospital Pathology Department, i.e. Transfusion, Microbiology, Histology, Biochemistry, and Haematology. The information in these modules provided a good structure to the understanding required within the working environment. The lectures from visiting biomedical scientists also help provide an idea of what to expect within the discipline they would like to work.
The final year dissertation was also a great opportunity to get to grips with practical work and research in an area of interest. The course was well structured and delivered superbly by all the lecturing and support staff.
Tutors, lecturers and laboratory staff were always available and approachable and the support from them was brilliant. This made my experience at the university enjoyable and made the whole process of working and studying easier. Essential support was also given by the Library, Work Placed Learning and IT departments.
The career I have now achieved from Chester is both motivating and rewarding. I enjoy working within the Haematology and Transfusion departments and I have chosen this area to continue to work as a Biomedical Scientist. Trends within this area are often changing. Many new and interesting haematological disorders are being diagnosed and much of the topics being taught on the course at Chester University have helped me understand these disorders.
I can highly recommend the university, course and lecturers. I would also encourage any who want a fulfilling career in science to study a Biomedical Science degree course at Chester. I will be enrolling this year to study the MSc Biomedical Science degree at Chester on a part time basis.