Natural Sciences degrees


Careers Case Studies from Alumni

Natural Sciences at UCL can lead to a great many different careers after graduation, be it a more academic route with further study, something in finance, teaching in secondary school or a graduate training scheme leading on to management.  We spoke to some recent gradutes to find out where their degree in Natural Sciences took them.

Training Scheme, NHS

Ryan Nazareth

BSc Natural Sciences 2009, NHS Training Scheme

I graduated with a First Class degree in Natural Sciences in 2008. Although I knew I wanted to pursue a career in science once I finished school, I was not sure what area in science interested me the most. The Natural Sciences degree allowed me to specialise in two different areas of science and gave me the flexibility to choose subject areas and modules that interested me the most, unlike most other degrees which tend to have a rigid structure. Furthermore, I had the privilege of attending lectures delivered by world leading researchers in different departments. The interdisciplinary skills that I have gained from this degree have given me the basis to further develop my career in a professional working environment. I have since completed an MSc in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London and worked as an image analyst, at a company which is involved in the development of new medical technology. I will soon be commencing the NHS Training Scheme for Medical Physicists and Bioengineers in London this September, which I am looking forward to.

Researcher, Singapore Armed Forces

Jacqueline Neo

BSc Natural Sciences 2009, Researcher, Singapore Armed Forces

Natural Sciences offers a well-rounded scientific education to talented students who recognise that solving  many of the most challenging problem in science requires an integrative approach. What I loved most about it was that it provided me with both breadth (which allowed me to pursue my interests in the different sciences), and depth (in receiving supervision from top-flight, brilliant, and extremely dedicated academics from UCL), making an excellent, holistic undergraduate education. This makes it possible for students to change their minds about the subject they want to specialise in-especially when it's difficult to have to decide on what to specialise in at a young age. Also, the breadth of the course would well-equip students who already know they would like to specialise in with a valuable appreciation of the other sciences.

When I was deciding on which course I should go for, I always knew I wanted to go into academia in the area of Biological science research. At the same time, I had a strong passion for Chemistry and was reluctant to have to drop it. I was lucky in the sense that my very pastoral personal tutor at UCL came to know about this and recommended Natural Sciences to me. I ended up doing a major in Molecular and Cell Biology, and a minor in Organic Chemistry. At that point, I was slightly apprehensive because I was in the pioneer batch of students. Instead, in hind sight, I'm immensely grateful I was presented with the opportunity of deepening my knowledge in Biology, whilst pursuing my interest in Chemistry. Without which, I might have made the mistake of specialising in one area too soon and regretting having neglected the other.

On completion of my undergraduate degree, I went on to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge University to further my studies in the area of Molecular Biology. After which, I returned to Singapore for a work sting as a researcher in a detection and diagnostics laboratory serving the Singapore Armed Forces. I still do maintain my interest in both Chemistry and Biology, and I'm intending to return to the UK to carry on research using Chemistry to solve Biological problems.

If your interest is in any of the sciences, be it Biological, Chemical, Physical, Earth, Mathematical or Science and Technology, this course is highly recommended to you.

Teach First

Omar Gardner

MSci Natural Sciences 2010, Teach First

I studied an MSci in Natural Sciences at UCL,  specialising in astrophysics and physical chemistry. Natural Sciences is a fantastic course, which allows a degree of flexibility (I studied some Spanish) with a rigorous program of study, all at a world-class university.

I found that I was in an excellent position to enter the competitive job market after graduating. I initially took a long overdue year off: travelling to Mongolia, studying the Arabic language and working. I now have a graduate job with Teach First, teaching science in a challenging school in Liverpool for 2 years. The interviewer was impressed by the breadth of knowledge the course offered and the reputation of the university. After the 2 year program, the world really is my oyster and I look forward to using everything I learnt during my 4 highly enjoyable years at UCL!

PhD, Medical Physics, UCL

Joanna Brunker

MSci Natural Sciences 2010, PhD, UCL Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering

I have always enjoyed having my fingers in many different pies; that’s why I chose to study Natural Sciences at UCL. Within the course I selected Medical Physics and Physical Chemistry as my two “streams”, and these enabled me to explore a broad range of subjects across science - and beyond (I took an option in French!). During the summer of my second year I spent 8 weeks’ paid work in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, and here I found freedom to “invent” my own experiments under the name of biomedical research. The hands-on approach really appealed to me and my supervisor suggested that I consider starting a PhD after finishing Natural Sciences with a BSc. Even at the end of my third year I was still reluctant to specialise, but after a further 8 weeks’ work, this time in the Cambridge Department of Chemistry, I settled for Medical Physics as my major stream. The fourth year project finally convinced me beyond all doubt that, yes, research was for me. I applied to a number of different institutions, but eventually found myself starting back at UCL in September 2009 with my MSci supervisor.

The first year of my PhD in the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering has been challenging but fulfilling. My project involves pre-clinical characterisation of tumours using photoacoustic imaging, and so far I have been making Doppler velocity measurements on blood-simulating phantoms. The topic encompasses areas including optics, acoustics and cancer biology and entails activities such as computational modelling, laboratory experiments and small animal studies; this year has included a strong training component enabling me to develop skills in each of these areas. My broad Natural Sciences foundation has been invaluable in helping me to tackle a multidisciplinary programme of work among world experts in their fields. In January I was able to present some of my results at an international conference in San Francisco.

PhD, Institute of Child Health, UCL

Lisa Carter

MSci Natural Sciences, 2011, PhD, UCL Institute of Child Health

As a Natural Sciences undergraduate at UCL I studied Biomedical Sciences and Physical Chemistry.  At first it was a challenging combination, but over time the fit between them became much more prominent.  I took optional modules alongside my streams from other departments, which allowed me to slowly figure out where I wanted to go after my degree. By the end of my MSci year I had decided I wanted to work in Global Health and worked at an NGO as a research analyst on HIV prevention programs in developing countries, before starting my PhD. I am now at the Institute of Child Health, focusing on probing the T-cell receptor repertoire using next generation sequencing in paediatric HIV.  The Natural Sciences programme put me in a great position to handle the different aspects of this project, including basic science, lab work, computational skills and the experience of putting this into a developmental perspective, which in turn will help me with career progression in the future.

Graduate Management Scheme, Network Rail

Iain Martin

MSci Natural Sciences 2011, Graduate Management Scheme, Network Rail

Hello, my name is Iain, a Nat Sci MSci graduate of 2010. I majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology, which provided me with a good understanding of the biochemistry of the cell. The flexibility in the course allowed me to choose to study a wide range of modules including courses on the biochemistry of cancer and the molecular basis for evolution. Before I started, I was torn between chemistry and biology and the structure of the course allowed me to get a feel for both, before specialising enough to be able to continue in the discipline (as some of my colleagues went on to do). A degree in Natural Sciences open doors to many job sectors, providing many transferable skills; after leaving UCL I chose to leave academia and am currently on the graduate project management graduate scheme working for Network Rail. Finally, the social life at UCL (and Nat Sci in particular) is second-to-none. The Natural Sciences society is one of the most active at UCL,
creating a friendly community across all years, the events are amazing - particularly the welcome boat party on the Thames. 

Nuclear Engineering Project Manager, EDF

Jeni Liley

MSci Natural Sciences, 2011, Nuclear Engineering Project Manager, EDF Energy

I graduated from UCL Natural Sciences with an MSci 1st Class (Hons), majoring in Atomic & Particle Physics and minoring in Physical Chemistry.

The course allowed me to focus on the areas of physics and chemistry that I really enjoyed whilst ensuring I covered enough of the relevant topics to be at the same level as those who studied single sciences within my chosen areas. The course also allowed me to become involved with several committees; namely the Physics Staff Student Consultative Committee and the Physics Departmental Teaching Committee, and several societies; I was the Treasurer of the UCL Natural Sciences Society and an active member of the Dance Society.

After my second year I undertook in internship in the Chemistry Department of Heysham 2 Power Station, for EDF Energy. I was responsible for taking, analysing and reporting on samples from around the plant. This was my first taste of working in an industrial setting, and I loved it, so I went back for two more internships before successfully interviewing for the EDF Energy Graduate Scheme during my Masters year.

I completed a one-year graduate scheme, made up of training and placements on four different nuclear power station and two offices, and now I have a permanent position within the Nuclear New Build branch of EDF Energy, and as such, have relocated to France in order to complete a two-year ex-patriate assignment within EDF France. As part of my job I am responsible for project managing parts of the construction of the UK's first new nuclear power station in over 20 years. 

My UCL degree has helped me tremendously with my career; the organisational skills I learnt from juggling two subjects and various other university activities has allowed me to work in an organised an efficient manner in my job, and through studying several different areas I broadened my scientific knowledge and apply different parts of my university studies in my day-to-day work.


Sian Culley

MSci Natural Sciences 2011, PhD, UCL CoMPLEX

I graduated from the UCL Natural Sciences program with a major stream in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor stream in Atomic and Particle Physics. Yes, it sounds like a weird combination. However, UCL is one of the very few places I could have done these subjects together, and I'm very glad that I did – I am now studying for a PhD at UCL CoMPLEX (a centre dedicated to combining Physical Sciences with Biological Sciences).

My first two years of Natural Sciences gave me a solid grounding in both of my streams, giving a wide choice of option modules in my third and fourth years. For example, through the Particle Physics stream I could choose a third year module in lasers and optics, whilst also studying cellular anatomy and physiology. My current research is focused on developing new types of laser-based microscopy so that I can observe cellular structures and processes at very high resolution, so the variety of topics I was able to study has proved invaluable!

Procurement Graduate Programme, GSK

Ashni Shah

BSc Natural Sciences 2012, Procurement Graduate Programme, GlaxoSmithKline

Studying Natural Sciences enabled me to develop my interests in Molecular Biology, Maths and Statistics without truly knowing what career path I wanted to pursue. Be it research, academia or medicine; or finance, banking and procurement, the nature of the degree is such that you are able to strengthen your knowledge of the natural sciences and develop the skills required in a broad spectrum of careers.

In my second year on the BSc course I applied to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for an internship in Procurement. I was responsible for managing spend in Biopharmaceutical research. I started to develop an understanding of Procurement whilst using material from my degree to relate to and manage relationships with the scientists at GSK. I found I enjoyed the demands of Procurement, the flexibility and responsibility, and so my internship led me to accept a role on the Procurement Graduate Programme at GSK in September 2011. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and have since managed Media Services, eSourcing and a wealth of services across our European markets. I have travelled to many of the markets in my remit, and in March 2013 will be moving to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to support the Procurement function for Latin America.

The Natural Sciences course really allows you to pursue your interests and gives you limitless opportunities for your career – I will always recommend the course and UCL!”

Business Management Scheme, BT

Robert Rickard

BSc Natural Sciences, 2012, Business Management Scheme, BT

Hi my name is Robert Rickard; I graduated from UCL in 2012. I majored in Condensed matter physics and minored in history and philosophy of science. Natural Sciences at UCL has allowed me to study a rather specialised area of physics whist still being able to pursue my interest in history of science. The flexibility of the course was the main reason that I chose to it and I cannot recommend it highly enough to those of you who have not yet decided what area of science you wish to specialise in. Since leaving UCL I started work with BT on a Business Management graduate scheme, the support and information available to me whilst at UCL really helped me when applying for this job, and the skills I picked up at UCL continue to be of use. There are many societies at UCL that can help you to develop a whole range of business skills, being treasure of the NatSci Soc and project managing a project within UCL SIFE were both great experiences. I was also the senior mentor within the Natural science department which was good fun, there is a real community among the natural scientists, the common room has a really relaxed atmosphere and people are always on hand to help you with anything, ranging from coursework to suggesting a fun night out!

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