The University of Southampton

Developing a passion for astrophysics

Observing using the rooftop telescope on the Physics building

I’ve done so much at Southampton that I never thought I would. Before I came here, I had never done any astronomy before. I hadn’t even looked through a telescope! Southampton gave me the opportunity to really tailor my degree to suit me. I didn’t know what area of physics I wanted to do, and Southampton let me try many different fields by choosing from a range of different modules. I found that I love astrophysics.

A highlight of my time at Southampton has been the Tenerife field trip in my second year, where a group of us spent a week using research-grade telescopes on Mount Teide. I had the opportunity to set my own research question, take my own data using multi-million-euro telescopes and then analyse and write up my results. It made me feel like a real scientist!

I was also selected for the Year Abroad scheme to Harvard University. I’ll be spending my fourth year living in Boston, USA, working on a research project at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I am really looking forward to this opportunity and I know it’s something I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else!

It’s a challenging subject, but you are supported

I think the best way to describe studying here would be to say it is engaging. You never feel as though you have been left alone to learn something, lecturers and staff are always ready to support you and guide you in your studies. I’m not going to lie, the subject isn’t easy! But you have all the support you need to really excel.

Lecturers are really friendly and the staff are willing to take time to make sure you really understand the subject matter, so even though you are in a lecture with lots of other people, you still feel as though you can ask for help. Your personal tutor is also a great person to talk to for advice, whether it is personal or about your physics degree.

I would say that the teaching feels personal. Although you are taught by world-leading experts in their respective fields, you never feel as though the lecturer has better things to do than answer your question. Our lecturers are always willing to take time out of their busy days to answer your question, no matter how simple you think it is.

Sai Pandian 
MPhys Astrophysics with a Year Abroad, third year

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