Category: Departmental Information

Feedback Feedback

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the courses that we offer and to show you how much we value your input, we are today publishing feedback from course convenors on the scores and comments that you provided through SOLE. The information covers courses that were completed in the Autumn term and are available as PDFs on Blackboard in the Second Yr Biology portal and in the Final Year portal.

Each course convenor has seen all the information gathered about their courses gathered through SOLE and composed a response, highlighting the things that students most appreciated and addressing features of the course that may have been less successful (and setting out changes that will be put in place to improve the course next year).


The first of the year’s SOLE surveys opens tomorrow, December 3rd, and I hope that as many of you as possible will participate. We find the feedback from students very useful.

The survey will be open for final year courses that have run this term and some Biology courses. There will be Spring surveys for courses that are not yet complete.

As DUGS I get to see the SOLE results for the whole department and, with the help of course convenors and lecturers, use this information to identify things that we are doing well and areas where we may need to think about improvements.

Guest Post: A Year in Industry, by Lee Sewell

Rather than spending three straight years slogging away at my BSc, I decided to trade in the pen for the pipette and take the opportunity to spend a year in industry. This was a 12-month placement at British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Hopefully this blog-post will make you consider a research-based placement year.

I get the feeling that many undergraduates question the idea of taking a year out altogether; after all you still only get a BSc for what is an extra year of your life. Well, simply put, I think you’d be making a mistake if you didn’t jump on the opportunity to explore research in the life sciences.

A new year

Welcome to all our freshers and to all students returning for their 2nd, 3rd and 4th years. A new term and a new year starts today.

In different ways, this is an important year for all of you. Freshers will be getting their first taste of university life and are no doubt wondering whether it will be to their liking — whether they will fit in or be able to cope with university life. Hopefully the staff and older students can help to allay those concerns. I’m sure you are all fit for the challenge.

The smiling faces of last years’ graduating classes in Biochemistry and Biology (and allied degrees), the vast majority of whom graduated with first class or upper second class degrees, will I hope reassure you — who are just like them — that the future is bright, however uncertain it might seem at the moment.

What I did on my Year in Industry/Research Placement

A guest post from Rui Gao sharing her impressions from a year out working at the Institute for Cancer Research

As part of my degree, I undertook a placement year between my second and final years. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement experience and highly recommend other students who are thinking seriously about pursuing postgraduate studies to do the same. My year at the Institute of Cancer Research allowed me to gain countless experiences and insights not necessarily attainable by just attending lectures and practicals.

As someone who had always been considering postgraduate studies, the year in industry/research programme was an excellent fit for me because in many ways, the placement was a “test run” which allowed me to determine if a postgraduate degree was the right choice for me.

How to email your Professor

I came across this blogpost yesterday with useful advice on how to communicate with professors and lecturers by email. Although it comes from Wellesley College which, being a US liberal arts college for women only, is a rather different institution to Imperial College, much of the advice is relevant and helpful.

It is clear from my email inbox that many students already have a clear idea of how to write a polite and effective email message, but I’ve also seen examples from students who are not so sure how to go about the task.

To the points of technique and etiquette mentioned in the blogpost, I would like to add the suggestion that students try to keep to a minimum the number of times that they email staff at weekends or during holidays, out of consideration for the fact that staff are entitled to a break from their teaching duties from time to time.

NSS Enterprise Needed from Final Year Students

Through the National Student Survey, our final year students have the opportunity now to give their views on their entire experience of being a student at Imperial College and we would very much like to encourage them to do so.

The organisation of the NSS means that unless at least 50% our our students complete the survey, the results from our department will not be included in the published report and so will be disregarded. So it’s crucial that we at least cross that threshold. But even more importantly, we would very much like to have the views of every single student in the final year.

Numbers are up

First of all – following on from the last post, many congratulations to the Imperial College team for their successes in the Grand Final of the iGEM competition in Boston, in which they were runners-up. What a fantastic achievement!

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see the team’s talk before they left of the US and was mightily impressed. Not just by the quality of the work in the project and the presentation, but also by the inclusion of some maths in their analyses, which was used to model the rate of production of plant growth hormones by their engineered bacteria.

Do Some Research

However good the lecturer, there’s only so much science you can learn through the process of being talked at in a lecture theatre. If you really want to get a sense of what research involves, you need to get into a laboratory. Some of our students have been doing just that recently, with considerable enjoyment and success.

First, as you may have heard, a team of Life Science and Bioengineering undergraduates has just won the European final of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition and will be heading to MIT next month to compete on the world stage. Their winning project aimed to re-engineer E.coli bacteria to tackle the problems of desertification and poor crop growth in dry climates.


Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

Welcome to our freshers — those of you who are brand new to the College, brand new to London and brand new to Britain.

Welcome back to our second, third and fourth years, who having already drunk deep from the well of Imperial, are returning for another swig. Cheers!

And welcome to this new Life Sciences Blog for undergraduates. In the very best scientific spirit, this is most definitely an experiment. And not a very well designed experiment at that, since I am not certain what the outcome will be.

The aim is to open up a new and more informal line of communication between students and the department.