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Alumni profile: Catherine de Lange
Freelance Science Journalist and Multimedia Producer, London
Human Sciences BSc (2004)
Why did you choose UCL and your degree programme?
At the time when I was applying for university, UCL was one of the only universities (if not the only one) to offer a BSc in Human Sciences. When I came to visit the university, I immediately fell in love with the laid back and diverse atmosphere, and the fact it was based in the heart of London. I didn’t want to be on a campus, but at a university which felt immersed in the real world. After my first visit, I was adamant that’s where I wanted to go.
What did you enjoy most about your degree programme?
What really attracted me to the Human Sciences BSc was the range of subjects on offer. After a rigorous first year getting to grips with the fundamentals, we were able to choose the direction of our own programme – with courses ranging from genetics to zoology. As someone who is pretty indecisive, and who is interested in all sorts of different things, it was perfect. I also loved the fact we could chose one course each term in a different department, which meant I could carry on studying art (which I had done at A level) at the Slade, one of the best art schools in the world!
How has your UCL degree assisted you in your working life?
The fact that Human Sciences students can choose their own modules in the second and third years means they have to sit in lectures with people who are studying that subject full time, but you still have to be at their level. That teaches you to work independently and get up to speed pretty fast with often unfamiliar subjects. That skill proved invaluable in journalism, where you have a short time to get your head around a subject. The dissertation also had to be interdisciplinary, which really taught me to look at a subject from different angles, again, a crucial skill in journalism. I also took modules in science communication in the Science and Technology Studies department which taught me how to take complex scientific ideas and make them accessible to a lay audience.
Please give details of any study abroad experiences and/or industry/work placements you undertook as part of your studies at UCL. If these assisted your career, please explain how.
After my degree, I went to Brazil as part of the British Council’s IAESTE programme. It wasn’t strictly part of my studies, but it’s a programme open to science graduates during the summers of their degree (or the summer directly afterwards). They match students with appropriate placements. I now return regularly to Brazil and speak Portuguese.
What contacts did you make or networks did you access through UCL that have assisted your career?
Probably the most important contact I made was my dissertation supervisor, Steve Miller, who told me about an MSc at Imperial College in Science Media Production, which I went on to study.