A Biology Dissertation Proposal

One of the compulsory modules in third year on any biological sciences undergraduate degree is the dissertation. This module is worth twice the amount of a single third-year module – and with third-year being weighed more than second, this amounts to a hefty percentage overall!

Perhaps some books from the new library in The Catalyst will help with your references!

The first part of the dissertation that is currently due in late June is the proposal. Worth 15% of the overall dissertation grade, this piece of work is focused on designing a scientific project that suitably addresses an identified knowledge gap within a field, whether it be ecology, human biology, or microbiology. The proposal for the biology dissertations is very similar to the proposal made for the research projects in the second year module Research Methods.

Part A of the proposal is an overview including context – does this project build on previous works; why is it important; how does it fit into our current understanding? Included in this section must be the project aims and a list of references used in Part A. It’s very similar to an introduction of a scientific paper, which starts out broad then narrows its focus until it is focused on a concise issue.

The Gantt chart I used in my second-year Research Methods proposal

The following part of the dissertation proposal, Part B, is all about the implementation of the project. This includes a clear indication of the research questions being asked; the methodology; timescale; and data analysis. Things to think about for the methodology include the basic experimental design – what kind of sampling and measurements are being taken, how many replicates, etc – sampling strategy, and sites. The timescale is an obvious one, but it might be an idea to include a Gantt chart to illustrate this clearly. Data analysis and management cover the statistical tests that will feature in the project and the tables used to record the data. This section should also feature difficulties that might be faced along the way, for example, the problems I think I might face are identifying sampling sites with my target organism and learning new programs related to genetic analysis.

 

The final parts, D and E, are all about health, safety, and ethics. As well as completing these parts in the proposal, it’s vital that the separate ethics form is filled in to be assessed by the Biology Department Research Ethics Committee (BDREC)! Other additional forms that need to be attached to the proposal are, for example, an equipment list, lone working, and risk assessment.

There are a fair few documents that need submitting, but they’re all important and make sure you’re ready to really begin work on this big project. You need to be prepared for a module that makes up a third of your final year grade after all!

Let The Catalysing Begin

On the 10th July 2018 at noon, The Catalyst opened its doors to the public. Although some parts are still off-limits and under construction, the library shelves seem to be fully stocked and kiosks up and running, with reservations standing by for collection! Despite being freshly opened to all, it appears that staff have set up shop in some of the new offices already – there’s a very open atmosphere to The Catalyst, with many walls being made of glass, allowing you to see who’s around and if private study rooms are available at a quick glance.

The middle floors of The Catalyst house the library portion of the building and seem like a lovely space to work, with walls of windows that let in natural light (and offer some nice views of campus), plenty of desk space, and an exquisite helical staircase that definitely needs a “please mind your head” sign stuck on it!

The top floor has a large private room, access to the not-quite-finished rooftop garden and walkway, and many, many computers and single desks. I really like the personal space offered by these rows of desks and feel like they might be the ones to go first during crunch time before deadlines!

Back on the ground floor, there’s also a work-in-progress space with a large desk, presumably for group work, as well as some adorable study nooks shaped like houses! Also, there’s a whole corridor of single-stall bathrooms, similar to some over in Creative Edge. I was very happy to find accessible toilets for people of any gender in such an important new building on campus.

If you haven’t made your way over to The Catalyst yet, I hope these pictures do it justice because it’s an amazingly spacious new building. I can’t wait to get some work done there!

Computing at Edge Hill – Turning Education into Cash

education to cash


First year at university is great. You get to meet new people, do new things and have a real sense of freedom. But what if I told you, and brace yourself for this, that your education can make you some extra cash even if you’re only in first year. In this blog I will focus on my own course, computing. So here are 3 ways you can turn your 1st year at EHU into cold hard cash.


Website Design

In your first year of EHU computing you will be exposed to several modules. Everything from Networking to Security. But a module that you can take and turn into real world cash with little to no previous experience is Web Design. Everyone needs a website. If you have the ambition and drive you can very easily start designing websites for local companies and enterprises for cash. Not only will this make you richer but it will build on your knowledge. It’s like getting paid to study.


Server hosting

Servers run the internet and much more beside it that we use every day. In your first year of university you will learn how they are used and networked to provide services like file storage, websites and even game hosting. It may seem daunting but to get started you can use any computer and install some basic software. If you want to host a website check out Apache. If you want to try a file server google “FTP Server”. Before long you could be hosting servers for websites across the globe.


Admin and office work

Office work can be a pain but small businesses are always looking out for someone with a keen eye for detail and style. In my first year at university I have worked with many small companies who cannot find anyone to draft and create documents like invoices and receipts and even type out emails. It might be boring work but it usually pays well and anybody can do it. So get out there and do it.


That’s all for this weeks blog. If you want to find out more about EHU computing and more information on different courses you can check out here!

And if you want more free and great information on any topic email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

How to Apply for Your Dream Job!

With many students graduating this month, including myself, the time to apply for jobs is now! However, this may seem like a daunting task if you’ve never applied for a job or even made a cv before. That is why today I will be giving advice to help you get a job!


When it comes to writing a CV there are many great websites and resources that can help walk you through this process to make sure you are writing it correctly. A few tips that may help you are:

  • Keep it short, two sides of A4 at most.
  • Choose a clear, professional font to use throughout to ensure that your CV can be easily read.
  • Lay it out in a logical order, with Work experience first and things like  Education after.
  • Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent experience and achievements
  • And triple check that your grammar and spelling is correct throughout.
    Using these tips and more will guarantee you a great looking cv.


    Another important element you will need to apply for jobs is, of course, a cover letter. While writing a cover letter you must remember to keep it personalised for the company you are applying for as it is directly addressed to them, unlike your cv. Tips for writing a cover letter that I think are particularly important are:

  • Don’t repeat your CV throughout your cover letter.
  • Give examples of what you can bring to the company you are applying for.
  • Don’t highlight skills you do not have, instead focus on the positive.
  • Start with a template, but customise your letter throughout.
    With these tips, hopefully writing a cover letter will be easier!


    Make sure you try a variety of different job websites, for example: Totaljobs, reed, etc. This is important because an employer may post your dream job you haven’t tried yet. Alternatively, just type what you’re looking for straight into google as you never know what job opportunities may pop up.


    Finally, the last thing you should consider is your social media footprint. When you apply for jobs, the employer might want to check your social media accounts, which could make or break if you get the job or not. I did a whole blog post on this topic which you can see by clicking here, however, to summarise: make sure all your public information is professional. If you use Facebook there is a button on your profile which will let you see what strangers can see on your wall, so start hiding or deleting those old and cringe posts!


    Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it somewhat useful when it comes to applying for jobs. Just remember to stay calm, keep applying, never give up.
    Until next time!

    Film/Show of the day: Heathers (1988)

Living Independently

Hey all, I hope you’re having a fantastic Summer so far and are making use of this beautiful (if overly-exotic!) weather!

One of the things about University that can be nerve-wracking, dependent on whether you’re moving in to Halls/a student house or if you’re moving far from home, is living independently. There are a few reasons this might be; shopping for groceries and necessities, cooking, cleaning and being away from your family and home-based friends. If we went down that list and focus on my life experience before University, I helped with the shopping at home but didn’t have to make sure I had everything on my list considering my dad did that, I had only ever cooked pancakes and egg bread, I didn’t do much cleaning and as I never travelled much I had my family and friends near me. So, the idea of having to look after myself and being away from the people I loved terrified me, especially since I’d also have to travel independently and I’d never done that either!

Now, there’ll be some of you who have just read that and thought ‘how did this girl not do any of the stuff I’ve been doing for years before uni?’, but there’ll also be people reading it and relating. Everyone has different life experiences. The main thing is, though, it’s a life change.

There are ways of dealing with these things though! The independence you get can really help you grow as a person, and it really did for me! The best thing to do is try methods to help with those things, such as writing down things you need as you need them for shopping, cooking with the people you’ll be living with so that you can both help each other and learn things off each other, making sure you don’t isolate yourself and travelling with the friends you make if they’re going in the same direction.

If you start to feel homesick or just need someone to talk to, the University also offer some great wellbeing services. You can speak to one of the Wellbeing team at any time, but they also offer a Counselling service at Milton House, a small student GP just off campus. Milton House offers one to one counselling appointments, both regular and walk-in, and also do things such as Stress-Control courses.

So, there are many different things you can do to help with easing yourself in to living independently. It seems worrying until you actually move there, trust me, you’ll be getting to know your way around and enjoying the Uni life sooner than you think!

Why Having Guide Dogs on Campus Help Students with Their Mental Health

Dogs are amazing animals, they cheer us up when we are down, and keep us company through hard times. However, when living away from home you become separated from your four-legged friend. Luckily, Edge Hill have teamed up with a local guide dog charity to allow students to sit and pet their dogs, which surprisingly can help people who suffer from mental health issues. That is why in today’s blog post I will be telling you why you should visit the guide dogs on campus and highlighting the importance of having them around. Enjoy!


The number one benefit of having these dogs on campus that everyone notices is the reduction of anxiety and stress they provide. As you sit with the dogs they provide comfort just by being there. Additionally, from stroking the dog, “oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.” (helpguide.org) This is incredibly beneficial if you find yourself regularly stressed out by uni coursework as they provide a way for you to relax and destress.


Having the guide dogs available on campus also allows you to meet new people, whether that is the staff members who look after the dogs or fellow stressed-out students who attend the events. Meeting and talking to new people can help with feelings such as homesickness and loneliness.  


Another reason you could benefit from visiting the guide dogs is the fact that they are great listeners.  You could sit and talk about anything that is worrying you and they will sit and listen to you without judging or interrupting you. And just from that act of talking to the dog, it can validate your feelings and instantly make you feel happier as you know someone cares and is listening to how you feel.


And finally, the guide dogs love you unconditionally and can cheer you up if you are sad. Dogs are enthusiastic creatures who love to be treated and rewarded, as they seek praise. So no matter how you’re feeling, these dogs can be an instant mood boost. Just playing and petting the dogs could make you smile, which would make the session worth it just for that.


Thank you for reading this post, I hope you found it somewhat useful, if you wish to find out more about the guide dogs, or wish to enquire when they’ll be visiting the campus again, please contact the student union using this emailsuadvice@edgehill.ac.uk
Until next time!

Film/Show of the day: Hidden Figures (2016)

 

Driving to Edge Hill University – 400 miles in 8 hours [Part 4]


Its time for the final part of this 4 part blog. In this final part I will sum up the journey and answer 3 of the most asked questions I received about the drive itself. I hope these blogs have been genuine help to those of you who are thinking about making the drive to university from afar.


Is it worth it?

Yes, and no. Driving back to collect my things was more for the fun of it rather than anything else. I really enjoy driving so I knew I wanted to make this long drive. But the truth of the fact is I could have posted my stuff back home for a fraction of the cost.

At the same time, living in Ormskirk next year, I am considering keeping my car there permanently. It makes live easy to get shopping and whatnot and gives a real sense of freedom.


How much does it cost

TL;DR – £350

It really depends on the type of car that you drive and how you drive it. First thing first, fuel. It cost me £80 in fuel overall and when I got home I had a little to spare. That was in my 1.4L Citroen C3. Roughly it runs 100 miles to £10.  Alongside that the ferry cost around £225. That was for both of us back and forth.

You need to factor in food and other costs, but you can make it on about £350 or so.


What if something happens

It can be troubling to think that you car could break down or something could happen but its important to think positive. Make sure you plan for the worst possible outcome in any scenario. That could be breaking down, or running out of fuel. Remember that if you do end up breaking down on the motorway its not the end of the world. Check the basics before you start and as you drive.

If the worst happens keep a recovery companies number handy. It is also worth paying for a flexi ticket on the ferry so you can travel whenever you want.


You can read PART 3 here:

Driving to Edge Hill University – 400 miles in 8 hours [Part 3]


That its everything for the last part of this blog. Please leave any questions you have for me below. You will get a personal response, fast.

And if you want more free and great information on any topic email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

Summer Biology Internship

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s been over 12 months since I’ve been properly on campus – with an ERASMUS+ internship in Sweden and a placement year in the USA, it’s weird to be back! However, there’s no rest for the wicked so I’m back on another internship, this time a lot closer to home. The biosciences department offer a number of summer internships aimed at second years who are progressing into third year. This year, 6 lecturers offered internships, in disciplines such as genetics, ecology, microbiology, covering organisms including plants, invertebrates and humans. I was lucky enough to receive a place on Paul Ashton’s internship, after applying for two of them (you can apply for two internships maximum) with a CV and cover letter. Being abroad at the time of application, I participated in a Skype interview – a strange experience!

The subject area of my internship is titled, “Does meadow restoration conserve genetic variation?”, although I haven’t actually got to that part of the work yet! Before I start on that project (being worked on by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and PhD student, Elizabeth Sullivan), I’m assisting on a different project to do with lime trees. This project is Carl Baker’s (a Postdoc Researcher). Right now I’ve been assisting in the final steps of DNA extraction, cleaning up the extracted DNA to try and get rid of any impurities in the samples. This process involves inverting and emptying a tube of liquid whilst keeping a pellet of DNA precariously stuck to the bottom – quite nerve-wracking to see your sample hanging by a thread!

Another unexpected aspect of this internship was setting up and running a session for the 2018 Edge Hill Biology Olympiad. The Olympiad is a series of challenges completed by teams from various sixth forms and colleges that come to Edge Hill University for the day. Each activity is graded and the scores released in a ceremony at the end of the day. I didn’t expect to be doing this kind of work but thoroughly embraced it – it was a great opportunity to push myself and see what it felt like to run a teaching exercise of sorts.

Driving to Edge Hill University – 400 miles in 8 hours [Part 3]


We’re coming to the end of the 4 part blog series on driving from Ireland to England and its been fun sharing my experience with you over the last 4 weeks. I think before I sum up everything that happened in the few days of driving between here and there I should give you 3 more practical tips for driving itself. Just like last week they pretty much apply to any long drive that you undertake.


Related image1. Check your car

Long trips can be hard on a cars engine. Make sure you take spare fluids with you. Water, oil, windscreen fluid etc. When you stop off take a few moments to pop the bonnet and take a look. If you don’t know how to check, read your cars handbook.


Image result for traffic report2. Listen to the Traffic Reports

Traffic reports on the radio will give you a good idea on what is up ahead. You can use this knowledge to pick times to stop and have a break while letting the traffic clear ahead. Make sure you also have a look at roadworks and road closures on your route. Google Maps is good for this.


3. Use a good sat navImage result for sat nav

It might be your phone or a classic Sat Nav. Make sure you have something that is going to give you good, reliable and constant directions to where you need to go. I use my phone paired with Android Auto. It works well.


You can read PART 2 of this blog here:

Driving to Edge Hill University – 400 miles in 8 hours [Part 2]


That its everything for part three of this blog. I’ll post more on my trip with in depth photos and advice tonight in the last part of my blog. And please leave any questions you have for me below. You will get a personal response, fast.

And if you want more free and great information on any topic email think@edgehill.ac.uk or leave a comment below and I will get back to you. If you want to suggest something to write about or want to be interviewed leave a comment below also and I will get back to you personally!

A-Level Results Day

Receiving your A-level results can be a stressful day for anybody. I remember that day for me a couple of years ago and nerves were flying everywhere! It might work differently for different courses or colleges, however I will share my experiences and try to give any advice that might help! If you have any questions/worries, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to answer!

1. Check UCAS before going into your college/sixth form.

I have always liked to have a good lie-in… so when people were waking up in the early hours of the morning I decided just to wake up a little bit later! Unless I happened to wake up earlier, I didn’t feel the need to rush to sixth form immediately to collect the results, as this would make me even more nervous. But obviously, this is a personal thing and going to collect your results as soon as you can may be the best thing for you! The main point however, is to check your UCAS account first. This is where you can see if you have gotten into your first choice university. This will put less pressure on you (hopefully) when you come to opening your results!

2. Think about where you want to open your results.

Do you mind if you find out your grades in the middle of rush and panic? Or do you prefer to find a quieter space with a family member? Maybe consider opening them once you have gotten back to the car! Whatever you do… stay calm and focus on yourself.

3. Life goes on.

If you do not receive what you expected or what you would have liked, that is OKAY. How can we celebrate achievements if we never get drawbacks right? Wherever your university or career path leads you, you will realise the importance of focusing on your next steps rather than dwelling on the past. Be resilient and be proud of your grades without comparing yourself to others.

I hope these few tips will make you feel more at ease. Don’t let anything or anyone dishearten you – you are brilliant! Most of all… GOOD LUCK!

Anna 🙂