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Student perspective: first impressions of the BASc

7 November 2012

Avy Tennison, a student on UCL's flagship Bachelor in Arts and Sciences (BASc) programme, discusses why she chose the course and what it's been like so far.

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Avy Tennison, a first-year student on UCL's BASc course

It is essentially a fluke that I ended up on the BASc course. After applying to study English Literature at four Russell Group universities, I thought I had better pick a back-up in case I flunked, got the flu or just flipped out come exam day. So I decided to pester my personal tutor for a good alternative choice and instead she waxed enthusiastic on the subject of a new degree programme at UCL she’d just been to a meeting about.

As I didn’t really have a career plan (and was applying for English Literature on the basis of my love of reading) I immediately added UCL and the intriguing Bachelor in Arts and Sciences course to my UCAS application – and was really happy about my decision until I got home to tell my parents.

“You’ve applied for what?”

“What is it even a degree in?”

“Oh great – you’re going to be a guinea pig and be left with a worthless degree and no job!”

Gee, thanks for the support folks!

I dutifully asked my tutor to email Carl Gombrich, the Director of the course, to explain more eloquently than I could the reasons why the BASc was a worthwhile programme. That calmed them down until I mentioned that I had selected it as my firm choice.

“But I thought you wanted to do Literature!”

I patiently explained that the Arts and Sciences programme meant I could still take Literature along with a plethora of other disciplines, as I had chosen to major in Cultures with a minor in Health and Environment.

Finally I played the stroppy teenager role with a defiant “It’s my life! I’ll take the risk and deal with the consequences.” A tad melodramatic, yes, but I had exams to focus on...

I was a little dubious as to whether I could meet the A-level requirements, so I dropped all thought of UCL until results day when, finding I was indeed headed for London, I suddenly had to read the mountain of books I had been studiously ignoring…

It was daunting meeting the 85 other students on the course – though it was nice that we had our own BASc common room in which to meet and get to know each other – and I felt incredibly boring announcing myself as a native of England when there are people from all around the world who speak any number of languages on this course. Happily we have all banded together and there’s a nice community feeling, both in person and online, with our BASc Facebook group keeping us up-to-date and connected.

This term I don’t actually have too much to do as I only have one module and my Mandarin lessons (I’m dreading next term, although I can’t wait to start all my other modules!). However, the ‘Approaches to Knowledge’ module has presented its own kind of challenge as we have been learning using the ‘flipped lectures’ system. This means that, living as I currently am with my grandparents in Barking, I have to try and focus on Mr Gombrich (or guest lecturers) speaking from my laptop while my Nan leans over me making such ponderous comments as, “I wonder if he’s wearing any trousers.”

Our actual lecture slots are more for answering the questions we have submitted on the flipped lectures and discussing the issues raised: the BASc requires us to drive our own learning, which, while a little daunting, is exciting after years of being spoon-fed knowledge.

The Approaches to Knowledge module has also made me face up to my fear of technology, as so far I’ve had to submit a podcast and more recently a blog article as part of my assessment. While I personally may prefer the tried-and-tested method of writing essays and handing them in, this modern element has opened up a new world of digital media to old-fashioned students like me!

Being on the BASc course sometimes singles us out a little bit – in my Mandarin course I’ve been told the BASc-ers have to relate the essay part of our assessment to our main subject pathway – but I’m enjoying it so far and hopefully if I work hard I’ll prove to Mam and Dad that this wasn’t such a crazy plan after all!

Page last modified on 07 nov 12 12:19

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