IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Marie Legrain

Marie is a Social Sciences with Quantitative Methods* BSc student, class of 2019. She talks to us about data and exploring London life.

* From the 2020/21 academic year onwards, this degree has been renamed as the Social Sciences with Data Science BSc.

Tell us about your journey into UCL and university study.

My parents are French but I grew up all over the world, I lived in Russia and grew up in the US for most of my life. When I came back to France I attended international school so I knew that I didn’t really want to pursue further education in French. I wanted to be in an English speaking country. The UK was the best option for me.

I applied to UCL because there is such a big student body and a very diverse set of students. People come from all around the world, so lots of people have lived experiences that I have lived as well, and it is nice to relate to a group of people and a community even if it is a really big community. 

Another aspect that was really important for me when choosing UCL was its location - I really liked that it was in London as I have always lived in cities and I wanted to be able to discover another city whilst studying. I think London is a great place to be a student!

What were your first impressions of UCL?

My first impression of UCL was that it was huge! Such big universities are a universe of their own. You have to understand how it works and that can take some time. It was tough at first but I guess that is why I became a Transition Mentor in my second year because I wanted to help incoming students adjust to life at UCL.

What have you found most valuable about your degree programme?

I really like the quantitative methods aspect of my degree; I think it is the most important bit because it helps you understand how actual social sciences studies are made and you get this whole quantitative approach to it so this whole understanding of how people conduct an analysis. Overcoming the challenge of data is hard but when you actually do it and you know you did it yourself that is the most rewarding feeling I have ever had. 

I did an internship last year with L’Oréal and I definitely thought the way we are taught about data was useful. The thought process and the rigour needed to analyse the data that (my placement) asked me to do was there so I had an advantage on that front.

What has your experience of moving to London and living here been like?

I have always lived in cities so it was not something I had to really adapt to. I think the main thing is distinguishing between work time and leisure time because there are always distractions – there is always something to do! It can sometimes be overwhelming to choose what to do with so much choice. That is why, with my friends who are also new to London, we created the UCL Discover London Society. There are so many people who come to London without exploring it, they study here for three or four years and haven’t made the most of the wonderful places it has to offer. First year is the time to explore!

Our society organises trips to places which aren’t very touristy, so people get to feel like they actually live in London; they are not just visitors. For example, we arranged a riverside walk in Hammersmith and a trip to Richmond Park to see the deer. It is a great way to meet new people that are similar to you and don’t know the city but want to discover it.

I also like going to the Science Museum Lates - they are really interesting and related to my area of study as well. You have widely available resources in London, for example, you can go to the British Library. I think it is a great place to constantly learn.

Which academic facilities do you find useful here?

I have to work on R Studio which is the software we use to code. You can get a VPN so you can access the software from anywhere but I find it easier to work on the computers in the library. During exam season I work a lot in the library - there is this common mentality of everybody working hard and I find it easier to study in a group.

Have you found the support you needed during your time at UCL?

I had some mental health problems in my second year so I went to see my personal tutor quite a bit and the Student Psychological Services as well. They definitely supported me and still are useful but I am feeling better now. 

What would you say to somebody thinking of applying to the IOE to study your course?

Even if you find the data aspect of the course difficult, keep it! It makes you so much more employable and your degree so much more interesting. 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences at the IOE?

If you are confused about any aspect of your course, just ask! I would create a relationship with the programme administrator and your personal tutor early on. There are always people to help you.