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Choosing your modules! (22/23)

- Fransina Beumee, September 2022

It is unfortunately that time of year where module registration opens, and chaos naturally ensues.


For a very small fraction of people, you will know exactly which modules you’re going to take. But for the majority (and yes, I mean the majority), you may have no clue which is completely and utterly normal.


Please do not feel like you have to register for modules the second it opens. You have until Monday 17th October, which is just under 3 weeks to make a choice.


If you are struggling, read on to find out some advice about how to come to an informed decision.


The Best Place to Start

Firstly, and quite simply, here are the most useful links. Below are the degree pages of all the life sciences degrees. They give a small description of the optional modules and indicate how many options you can take.



This link to the UG Student Guide describes the regulations and requirements for each year (under course information).


Beware that some modules in year 3 recommend that you have taken specific modules in year 2 (for example, to do Integrative Neuroscience in Y3, it is recommended you have already taken Neurobiology in Y2)


Secondly, whilst these links give you a starting place, you can see it doesn’t provide very detailed descriptions of the modules. Such as how the lectures run, what the course content is and how they are assessed.


To find out this information you have a few options (I recommend you do them all):

  1. Go to the Module Fair! The Module fair for every year group runs on Monday 3rd October, there you can talk to volunteers from the previous year group. Since they’ve already taken them, they can give you the best advice and describe all the elements of the course.

  2. Talk to your Mentor! Academic mentors again have previous experience with the modules or at least will have connections to people who have taken them

  3. Attend support sessions such as BioCafe - this is where a range of life sciences from first year to final year are in attendance. They meet every Monday from 6-7pm in GLT3.

I would also recommend making a pros and cons list - this is a great way to keep track of modules you are considering and how they might compare to each other


The Sneaky Things You Most Certainly Need To Know

I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about optional modules and the exam period. Module fairs are so crucial to debunking them.


A big one I was recently told was that "the examinations for third year students occur in term 3". Unfortunately, this is not true at all. Whilst you do your ‘diss’ (research project) in Term 3, your examinations are scheduled to occur in the Easter holidays (except for business studies). So, you will still have an Easter vacation BUT it will only last for two weeks until you start your exams.


Think realistically

Self-reflection is so important for everyone, but especially in third year. You could end up writing 10 essays in a 4-week period with ZERO coursework, or writing 6 essays in a 4-week period with coursework in Term 2, depending on your module choices. People who are truly passionate and happy with those modules despite needing to write 10 essays can thrive. But be as honest with yourself as you can, what would you regret more: getting a bad grade or missing out on a module? Are you going to put the work in and manage your time well to do well in your essays?


Another part of this self-reflection comes down to careers and the future. If you know you want to specialise in a specific area, choose modules that are relevant. There may be some optional modules you haven’t considered or have ruled out that could contain elements you want to specialise in.


So what if you've reached the end of this advice and still have no idea how to narrow down your choices? Well, maybe you could consider "over-catting".


What is Over-catting?

There are two registration/de-registration slots throughout the year: one in term 1 and one in term 2. If you are in first year and have to select one module but you are interested in two, why not take both? Select both modules and attend both lectures to properly grasp the content and compare. Then in the second module registration slot, you can de-register for the one you don’t like or think you won’t do as well in.


Term 1 slot (now): 28 September - 17 October 2022 Term 2 slot: 9 January 2023 - 27 January 2023

BE CAREFUL WITH OVER-CATTING! This may seem like a plausible solution but be extra-careful as once you have completed 10% of marked/assessed work in a module you are not allowed to de-register from it.


If you are considering over-catting and doing both modules for the exams, make sure you're absolutely sure. Consider it carefully as it is strongly advised against. It adds a lot of stress & time away from your other relevant modules. If you have other commitments such as a part-time job, this may not be the option for you because unfortunately it is humanly impossible to live without sleeping.


Overall, I would say the most important thing to do if you aren't sure is to take your time in making a decision and attend the module fairs. Get all the information before you rush into a decision you ultimately won't be happy with at the end of the year.

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