UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Satoshi Takemoto

Meet Satoshi - he's originally from Japan. He progressed to Security & Crime Science BSc at UCL following the UPC. Read more about his experience of the UCL foundation year and his undergraduate.

Satoshi Takemoto, Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate (international foundation) student
Nationality: Japanese
Previous course at UCL CLIE: UPCSE (2017)
Current course: Security & Crime Science BSc
Current university: UCL


Why did you choose to study at UCL?

I was inspired to study at UCL after listening to Professor Ohnuma – ambassador for UK universities, and teacher at UCL. I was already thinking about taking other courses like A-Levels, but then he introduced the idea of taking a preparatory course at UCL.

The UPC was much more of an academic course; it was a part of the university. I had access to all the facilities and fantastic tutors. It was different to other independent colleges and preparation courses. The UPC course is one year, it’s intensive, I like that kind of challenging academic environment.

What course do you study now and what is it like?

Security and Crime Science BSc.

It’s a bit of everything really: sociology, statistics, policy making, psychology, technology, urban planning and forensic science; it’s quite different to criminology. There is a lot of fresh information and research methodology in this subject.

While criminology focuses more on the criminals themselves, SCS regards crimes as a phenomenon and focuses on the environments that let people commit crimes.

It’s a new department, all the classes are very small – around 20 students, and all the modules are compulsory in the first year. It is a nice, small community, very close to each other.

I personally like the theoretical things very much; in crime science they are considered in combination with statistical and scientific approaches. It’s a mixture of humanities and science, which is reflected in the background of the students: half are from each discipline. It’s great to get a mix of different perspectives.

How has an international foundation course helped you in your undergraduate degree?

My essay writing skills –I already had the experience to write with proper academic convention and proper structure – so I had an advantage even over British students.

I became very familiar with the UCL facilities and it gave me a lot of confidence as I felt more a part of UCL.

What was the most enjoyable part of the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate?

I enjoyed the discussions about different topics: politics, philosophy and science. There were various kinds of students from different backgrounds and countries, with different opinions, so we were able to share alternative views.

I cherish the relationships I made with former UPC students; I still stay in contact with them. I teach Japanese to one of them and he teaches me Korean. 

What was the most challenging part of the course and how did you overcome it?

The lab experiments. For short lab reports, there wasn’t sufficient time for me so I learnt the importance of preparation and efficient performance in the practical works. The EAP course was also tough because there was a lot of rigorous academic convention, such as the referencing system and writing style.

I gained a lot of support from my tutor, who helped me overcome these problems. She cared about my fluctuating scores and suggested ways to improve. The advice I received helped me to get better final grades and I eventually secured my place at UCL.

What did you do when you were not studying on the UPC?

There was less time on the UPC than I have now, it’s such an intensive course!

I tried some clubs and societies at the beginning of the course. I tried archery – but in the end, I found it wasn’t for me. Not quite what I expected. Instead, I joined a volunteering group called UCL-Japan Youth Challenge led by Professor Ohnuma. I’m working as a volunteer leader in the group and helping it organise the summer school for high school students in Britain and Japan to provide them with opportunities to expand their horizons.

What advice would you give to a prospective foundation course student?

I recommend doing the UPC – there are lots of opportunities, very different to what I experienced in Japan and what can be expected in other independent colleges and A-level courses.

Have some background knowledge before going into some departments. I recommend you should read some introductory texts during the summer holiday as most of the departments have reading lists on the Internet that are open to the public.

How is the UK education system different to your home country?

Bachelor’s degrees in Japan are 4 years and the degrees are more general as the first two years are for general studies. There is a higher degree of specificity in the UK. There’s a stronger bond to academic circles here, between departments and academic circles, and with governments and close links between universities – so there are more opportunities to develop links and work.

For example, I’ve visited training facilities for the Met police and CAST (Centre for Applied Science and Technology). I also visited the courts in the Old Bailey – I’d never seen the judges wearing a wig, it was the first time I’d visited a court! It gave me an insight into what’s happening.

Classes are smaller here, and more intensive and there is the tutorial system - we didn’t experience that in Japan. Theoretical things are introduced in lectures, and then you discuss the concept and do some practice in smaller groups in tutorials.