As you'd expect from such a degree programme that offers such choice, our alumni go onto a huge range of different things once they've left BASc. You can read a selection of case studies from our alumni below or watch videos here.
- Freya - Societies major, now on the Deloitte Consulting Graduate Scheme
I majored in Societies (mostly Anthropology) and minored in Health and Environment (mostly Psychology).
I am now on the consulting graduate scheme at Deloitte, in the Human Capital division (specifically I work in HR Transformation), since Sept 2019. I am also enrolled to begin a pre-masters foundation in Psychotherapy at Regent’s University (which I will study part-time alongside my grad scheme) starting this September, with the aim to completing the full MA in this (the foundation year is a compulsory pre-req for this clinical subject).
The flexibility of subject combinations I was able to take during BASc really helped me to carve out my own path and follow my own interests, as starting out at university I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise. In my final year I ended up specialising in mental health (taking psychology modules & anthropology of psychiatry, and also focusing my dissertation on this area too), which has now led me to pursue post grad clinical psychotherapy training.
I knew I wanted to work before undertaking post grad studies, as psychotherapy also takes 3-4 years to train in and I need to fund myself, so I applied for a range of grad schemes across various industries (another benefit of having quite a broad degree) and got accepted onto the civil service fast stream and also Deloitte consulting - I think the amount of teamwork projects and presentations that are compulsory during BASc prepared me exceptionally well for the interview process here, I think I had had more experience than most of my friends on other courses - so that was super helpful! (at the time, teamwork can feel challenging sometimes but it gives you these really valuable skills that are a key selection criteria for most jobs these days.)
I chose to pursue consulting at Deloitte, also because the TKE module in final year had given me some insight into what my work would involve here - and now I am on the graduate scheme here, often working on problems of an interdisciplinary nature, completing deadlines through teamwork, so BASc prepared me very well for this role.
I actually didn’t do study abroad, and although I think the internship is very useful, my ‘internship’ was just a paid role in youthwork, rather than anything corporate, but I still think having my BASc degree gave me an edge in job applications, it has often come up during interviews - also the mixture of qualitative and quantitative skills the degree provides, which is something really necessary in many jobs today too.
My Top Tips for interdisciplinary study:
- In your first year, it’s fine not to know which direction you want to go in, just try to take a wide selection of subjects that interest you - you can focus more on the ones you like as you move forward, and move away from the things you don’t like!
- As I moved through the degree, I started to cultivate a ‘theme’ of the area I was interested in, picking modules which each contributed towards that, and my dissertation was the culmination of that. There are many different routes through this programme so you don’t have to do it like I did, but I think it helped give me more structure and coherence that my dissertation pulled together a lot of other things I’d studied.
- On a practical note - pay attention towards course hours and assignment formats when choosing your modules. You want to ensure that this will play to your strengths, so if you perform much better in exams OR coursework, focus on selecting modules with these assessment formats. Regardless of which is your preference, it’s usually more manageable to have a selection of coursework throughout the year & then some exams in summer - be careful you don’t end up with 8 large essays due, or 10 exams, all within the same week. On BASc it is your responsibility to check these details of your module choices, and you have the power to make your life significantly less stressful if you plan ahead thoroughly.
- Cut yourself some slack and don’t be too hard on yourself - sometimes studying so many different topics at advanced level can be quite challenging & intense, because you are often combining breadth of subjects with depth of knowledge required to pass the assignments. So - understand that you are on a rigorous programme, and it’s supposed to feel challenging sometimes, but you will absolutely get through it and it will stand you in amazing stead for your future.
- Isabelle - Cultures major, now working as a Senior Imaging Technician at the British Library
I majored in Cultures and minored in Health and Environment.
Since graduating in 2017, I worked at The Postal Museum as a front of house host/train driver on the Mail Rail. My main draw to this job was my interest in the history of the site and its heritage. Whilst working there I was able to volunteer in the digitisation studio on my days off. This is where I developed my passion for high quality digitisation of cultural heritage, helping to digitise and post-process images of items from their archive.
I went on to do an digital archives traineeship run by The National Archives, where I was seconded to the UCL Institute of Education. I was working with the IOE archive and the UCL Special Collections, learning more about archival basics, cataloguing, digital archiving, and developing my digitisation skills. As part of this traineeship I was also given the opportunity to speak at the Archives and Records Association’s 2019 Conference about my experiences, alongside Head of UCL Special Collections, Sarah Aitchison.
I am now a Senior Imaging Technician at The British Library, working on the International Dunhuang Project. I am one of two photographers digitising Lotus Sutra scrolls as part of this large scale digitisation project. My work entails photographing the scrolls to cultural heritage imaging standards, as well as stitching the images together using Photoshop to generate complete images of the scrolls, as they have to be photographed in small sections because they are generally several metres in length.
A lot of the courses I took on BASc required working with archival material or objects, so this was a good starting point for the path I ended up taking. A key course that I took was ‘Technology in Arts and Cultural Heritage’, where we learned about handling cultural heritage objects properly and digitising them to create 3D images/models, and then 3D prints through photogrammetry. ‘Object Lessons’ was a course I took that required group work to create a virtual exhibition of objects from UCL’s various archives. This was helpful in terms of learning more about object handling and how to use archives. I also took on the role of object photographer for my group, something uncanny when you look at what I do now!
I found it quite hard to find my real passions and strongest interests in my first and second years of BASc, but I would say that for me personally, going abroad for a year (to Paris) was just what I needed to find what I was most interested in and to enter my final year with enthusiasm. I'm not sure if it was the change of scenery, as I have always lived in London, but it helped me greatly to move somewhere different and experience life and studying in a different way. I took a lot of great courses, mostly in art history, met a load of people from different backgrounds, learned differently (as they have a different system there) and would strongly recommend the year abroad to anyone. When I returned to do my final year of BASc, the most enjoyable part for me was my dissertation. I came up with a topic based around my personal interests; art, design and the London Underground. Being able to dive into the archives at the London Transport Museum and carry out research in UCL's libraries was a great experience, and I enjoyed it so much because I was already interested in the subject.
- Mathilde - Societies major, now about to embark on postgraduate study
I graduated from UCL with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) in 2019. Before that, I attended an international school in France and lived in the US when I was younger.
At first, I chose BASc because, after high school, I was unsure about what I wanted to do: I was interested in many topics and I did not want to specialize in a single discipline. I loved mathematics as much as I enjoyed history, and economics as much I wanted to learn mandarin. So, having to pick only one field for three years like in most of the other bachelor’s degree in the UK or in “classes préparatoires” in France (that many of my high school friends chose to do), did not suit my interest and goals.
However, throughout the years, I came to understand the importance of interdisciplinarity in itself. I realized that, in the context of a globalizing and interconnected world, incorporating humanities and social sciences with quantitative sciences is actually a way of thinking and learning on its own and is increasingly relevant to real-world problem-solving. Today, “connecting the dots” is even more crucial in order to embrace a wider and more global understanding of the world. Arts and Sciences gives the possibility to gain deep knowledge, and even master subjects that may turn out to be very relevant for each other.
For example, I developed a real interest for climate change, which is a perfect example of a cross-disciplinary and multi-dimensional topic. And with BASc, I got a 360° understanding of it! I was able to take climate and public policy modules, but also environmental economics, earth sciences, game theory and even philosophy of climate change. I wrote my final year dissertation on this topic, which is currently pending for publication thanks to Dr. Frank Witte, my dissertation supervisor at UCL.
The connections I made with other students in BASc is maybe what I value most. Every friend I made had a unique and fascinating story: international backgrounds, different interests and amazing achievements. My best friend had lived in 9 different countries for instance. Another one spoke German, Punjabi and English and now works for Apple. I established valuable relationships with students and found extraordinary strength in BASc’s collegiality and diversity. More generally, UCL’s global reach was an incredible opportunity to also develop my personal network.
In addition, the Arts and Sciences Community has provided great support not only during my time at UCL but also after graduating. I’ve been in contact with professors, my personal tutor and Head of Department since I graduated, and they helped me make the right decisions, gave me advice and recommendations for my future studies and career path. I’ve always felt supported and helped at UCL and after, and always had the impression that there was a real “BASc family”.
Finally, Arts and Sciences has opened incredible opportunities to me. The year following my graduation, I’ve interned in New York in a start-up specialized in Artificial Intelligence and then in a Think Tank dedicated to public policy in Paris. I’ve also been accepted to several masters: a Master of Arts at Columbia University, a Master of Public Policy at University of Chicago and a Master in Management, Programme Grande Ecole at HEC Paris.
- Nico - Sciences and Engineering major, completed a PhD in January 2020
I started my undergrad at UCL in 2012, just in time to be part of the initial BASc cohort. My major was in Sciences and Engineering and my minor was in Cultures. I initially chose BASc because I couldn't make my mind up between studying physics or philosophy. I was accepted to do physics at UCL and was lucky to be accepted onto the BASc degree after talking with Carl and Amanda. After my first term, I realised that neither physics or philosophy really interested me. I had made friends who studied neuroscience, computer science and linguistics - topics I had never really considered, but fascinated me. The BASc degree allowed me to adapt my modules to my interests. I took courses in philosophy of science throughout my three years, in computer science (I ended up taking two Msc level machine learning modules in my final year), anthropology and philosophy of language alongside the BASc core modules and Mandarin.
I applied to do my 2nd year internship in the Causal Cognition Lab led by Dave Lagnado on Bedford way, which is where I was able to combine all of these interests together, specifically computational models and the mind. My project was on models of blame and praise attribution judgements - how do we assign who is responsible for what when we witness an event? In my case I was looking at football goals - when someone scores, how much responsibility do we give to different players?
I enjoyed doing independent research, and was extremely excited about the idea of using computational models to better understand how the mind learns. In my final year dissertation I tried to better understand the history of Bayesian Cognitive Science, and particularly how normative (e.g. like in philosophy of science) and descriptive accounts of rationality (e.g. psychology, cognitive science) interacted through their respective developments. What we deem to be rational or irrational decision making really depends on our models of what we think rationality should be..
Following my work with Dave, he suggested I apply for a PhD in Edinburgh in that field, and I was lucky enough to be accepted, despite not really having any background in computational modelling, statistics or experimental psychology. There, I was supervised by Chris Lucas, and my research focused on human active learning where I tried to answer questions such as: How do people select actions that enable them to learn efficiently about the world? One of the things people are very good at, and machine learning algorithms not so much yet, is learning from very few examples. One of the reasons why is that people actively select information to guide their own learning, whereas machines still mostly learn from the data they're directly fed. It was a tough 4 years as I had a lot to learn, but I felt that my interdisciplinary background gave me the tools to approach new topics with curiosity. During that time, I also had the chance to collaborate with friends on projects in linguistics and human computer interaction. So far, working at the intersection of different fields is what I've found most exciting!
I finished my PhD in January this year (2020) and felt like I needed a break from research. I've since started working for a start up called Pedal Me that does e-cargo bike logistics. I joined not long before the lockdown started and found myself as a key worker assisting with home deliveries in the middle of the crisis - it was difficult at times but very rewarding. I've recently switched to riding part time and am now also working as a data scientist to help with operations.
Since finishing BASc, I've been a strong advocate of interdisciplinary studies and think it's an ideal framework for undergraduate studies - it definitely gave me the freedom to explore different themes that I wouldn't have been able to, had I done physics or philosophy instead. I feel that picking subjects according to what I thought I’d learn most from and trying to connect my interests across different disciplines helped me a lot with finding what I enjoyed the most in the end. Being surrounded by people who are interested in many different things, and working with them on projects was also a very valuable experience and it's amazing to see the diversity of paths people have taken since. I should probably say, a big part of my time at university was being part of the respective fencing clubs. I was team captain at UCL and president in Edinburgh as well. Clubs and societies have been a great way to meet people of different backgrounds and interests and helped me find a good balance with my studies - I'd definitely encourage people taking the benefit of that!
- Noura - Societies major, now working as a Senior Analyst in Saudia Arabia
I did the BASc in Arts and Sciences between 2015 and 2018, with a major in Societies and a minor in Health and the Environment. Upon graduating from BASc, I completed an MSc in Comparative Politics from the LSE, focusing on nationalism and ethnic conflicts. I currently work as a Senior Analyst at a semi-government firm in Saudi Arabia, specialising in labour markets. I am also working as policy support for the Saudi presidency, in the G20 Employment Working Group.
BASc largely helped me conceptualise, in both a theoretical and practical manner, the interdisciplinary nature of the world of work. In The Knowledge Economy module of our final year of study, we worked on a consulting project for an external client in interdisciplinary teams. My project was for a marketing company that wanted us to explore the ‘skills of the future’, through the construction of possible ‘profiles’ outlining the skills and competencies of future workers. This is synonymous with some of the work I am currently doing at the G20 level, in terms of the emergence and expansion of new forms of work and the opportunities, demands, and challenges that accompany these trends. From a policy perspective, we seek to build consensus amongst G20 countries on labour market policies to be agreed upon by G20 Ministers. BASc gave me the interdisciplinary and future-oriented thinking to be able to gain an edge in this industry.
- Vendela - Cultures major, now a Senior Urban Planner for Southwark Council
My major was in Cultures and my minor was in Science in Engineering.
I graduated from BASc in 2016 and did some volunteering and two Masters degrees since graduating and in between starting work. I currently work at Southwark Council as a Senior Urban Planner, and I am starting a PhD in Architecture in the fall.
During my first summer at UCL I was awarded funding from UCL Advances to spend eight weeks in Kenya with a social enterprise called Balloon Kenya. I found out about both UCL Advances and the programme through friends I met at BASc and involvement in the UCL Entrepreneurs Society. I am entirely certain that I was selected for the programme due to my interdisciplinary degree and having a well-rounded understanding of the complex problems we were going to Kenya to work on. Having both design-based problem-solving skills from my Majors pathway and analytical skills from taking Maths and Economics as a minor put me at an advantage from other candidates. In my third year I was also able to take a module on entrepreneurship as part of my Minor pathway.
After my first year at UCL, I was really torn between dropping out of the BASc programme and reapplying for a RIBA - qualified undergraduate degree. I had by chance taken an Architecture module and fell very much head-over-heals with the subject. On the other-hand I had also seen the benefit of studying BASc and how unique you were placed in the marketplace for jobs. In my second year, I secured a three month long internship during my summer holidays with a small-sized Architecture firm in Spitalfields. I had the job of an Architectural Assistant and was able to work alongside architecture graduates with Part 1 and Part 2 RIBA degrees. Even in a specialised profession such as architecture, there was a clear desire to hire more interdisciplinary graduates who could view the profession critically and bring diverse and thereby creative value to the company. This positive response towards my undergraduate degree, from both employers and academics, is something I’ve experienced time and time again, which is a strong interest to hire people with diverse passions and who are therefore able to understand and approach problems in different ways, which identifies them as having a strong ability to both add value.
The BASc community is very strong, while everyone is exploring their own interests in different departments, BAScers feel an even stronger commitment to support each other during their free time, therefore creating a fantastic support network. In a similar way, staff are incredibly available and supportive of you as individual students, with unique interests. There is no feeling of hierarchy and they are both friends and mentors during your time there. Each students is known personally and individually supported to tailor the degree to be the most beneficial to your interests.
There is such an abundance of resources and support provided from staff and colleagues alike. I found this to be a hugely important springboard to develop my confidence to immerse myself into whatever field I wanted to after graduating from my undergraduate degree, removing any feelings of “not-belonging” due to not have taken a conventional path towards my career. BASc teaches you that learning never stops throughout your lifetime, and the most important ingredient to success is a fundamental passion for your subject.
- Helena - Societies major, now working for the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
I graduated from BASc in 2017, after a four-year degree majoring in Societies and minoring in Engineering, with a focus on energy and environmental issues and a year abroad in Santiago, Chile.
After graduation, I joined the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), where I still work now, although with a few detours along the way! My first role was working on energy innovation, managing some of the UK’s energy R&D projects while also having the fun job of trying to work out what to do about the UK’s joint research with the EU on nuclear energy after Brexit. It was a baptism of fire, but one which BASc had prepared me well for, given my background in both policy and engineering, but also by teaching me how to make sense out of incredibly complex and sometimes chaotic situations!
After a year or so, I moved to work on international climate change policy, working on climate finance negotiations and strategy. It was a role that really opened by eyes to how some of the theory that I had studied on BASc (in courses like “Global Environmental Politics” or “Clean Energy and Development”) applies in practice.
It was while in this role that the opportunity came up to apply for a scholarship from the Civil Service to pursue a Master’s degree at the College of Europe- a small institution based in Belgium and Poland that focuses on EU studies. I had been struggling with the idea of staying in the Civil Service long-term, so this was an amazing opportunity to take a year out to think, to study and to pursue other interests. I went to Warsaw for a year, where I was living on a small but beautiful campus with 130 other students from over 30 nationalities. My studies focused on EU energy and climate policy, but for my thesis I researched water scarcity from an environmental philosophy perspective- an interest I would never have discovered had it not been for my time on BASc, through courses on environmental sociology and environmental ethics.
I returned to BEIS a couple of months ago, still working on climate change but this time leading on the UK’s climate partnership with Colombia, through which we work with Colombia to increase climate action. Again, BASc played a big role in that- on my year abroad, I went to study in Chile and became interested in questions of environmental sustainability in Latin America- and my Spanish has come in handy too! On the side, I’m continuing to do research in the area of environmental ethics, while also working on few other projects.
What drew me to studying BASc was the possibility of not having to choose- of being able to be interested in many things, as far ranging as philosophy and engineering, and to pursue those all alongside one another. It is the same thing that drew me to the Civil Service- the possibility of changing roles regularly, of pursuing different (and new) interests, of continuously learning, as well as the flexibility to be able to do other things at the same time. I cannot think of a degree that would have prepared me better for my work, not only in terms of academic content and skills, but also in terms of developing a genuine curiosity and desire to learn and to adapt even in challenging and unknown situations.
- Maria - Sciences and Engineering major, now studying a MRes in Neuroscience
When I started BASc I thought I had a very clear path ahead of me - I was planning on studying clearly-predefined topics in my major (Sciences & Engineering), and others in my minor (Societies). The plan was to work in my family’s business after graduation, which lied at the intersection of these chosen subjects. BASc felt like the perfect path to construct my degree the way I needed.
As years went by, I felt more drawn to psychology and neuroscience. Despite being able to study them within BASc, I stuck to my original plan and explored these topics extracurricularly (seminars, conferences etc.) instead.
Fast forward, I graduate and I move to Switzerland to work in the family business I was so keen on only a few years back. I didn’t like it at all, I felt confused, conflicted, and above all, I was lost. What now?? Fortunately, the BASc Staff was unbelievably helpful when I reached for help. I turned to my tutor - Prof. Steve Price, and to Prof. Vin Walsh who is in the field of Neuroscience. Talking to them guided me through the confusions and questions I had, and above all they offered me invaluable reassurance that it’s ok to experience this and confidence that it’s possible to change my path!
Deciding to remain in Switzerland, I researched my options and found a Master’s in Neuroscience in Geneva. I loved their curriculum, but was worried that my non-related Bachelor’s was a barrier. Regardless, I still applied, and to my surprise, my BASc profile caught the attention of many labs who contacted me for interviews. It’s worth mentioning that being part of Neuroscience Societies and having done an internship in UCL Experimental Psychology helped. However, they were most drawn to the research methods knowledge I had (shoutout to Interdisciplinary Research Methods, Quantitative Methods I & II, and the Interdisciplinary Dissertation). So that’s where I am now, pursuing an MRes in Neuroscience and enjoying it loads.
Overall, BASc equipped me with many skills - from the “hard” skills such as research methods, academic and business writing, data analysis, to the “soft” yet very valuable skills: systems thinking, an interdisciplinary cross-boundary approach to problem solving (which is exactly the point of BASc), and critical thinking (& they’ve all been useful so far). It’s also a form of security knowing that with the skills and exposure to diversity I acquired in BASc, I always have a transition into the job market if I quit academia.
Some more BASc points:
(1) Offers flexible options for what you can do afterwards i.e. it trains transferable skills to both industry (e.g. consultancy) or academia. (2) The Knowledge Economy cultivates genuine job skills. Besides knowing how to do market/consumer research or having specific industry knowledge, as highschool grads, we really underestimate how important skills such as really good powerpoint presentations, storytelling skills, communication, and good teamwork are. They really matter and BASc refines you for all. You would be surprised, but it does so considerably more than other degrees. As a management student you might acquire these skills, but neglect the scientific method & thinking, whereas as a life sciences student you would acquire the latter but might not be exposed to enough groupwork and presentations. BASc does both, extensively. (3) BASc’s philosophy is also a way to think, learn, adapt, and it teaches you to be responsible for yourself early on, since crafting your own degree is a great power and freedom of choice, but also a great responsibility and a critical analysis quest of what to best choose! (p.s. don’t forget choice paralysis exists). You’re not following a pre-set road, you are responsible for crafting your own educational path. That takes work, thought, and discipline.
Choose BASc if:
(1) You’re an effervescent / creative person; (2) You have an undying curiosity for many topics; (3) You like to explore; (4) You don’t know what suits you best and need to discover; (5) You know exactly what you like and want to craft your own degree.
(1) It’s ok to not know what you want to do with your life at 18; (2) It’s ok to think you know exactly what you wanna do and then change your mind; (3) BASc is good for both.