Harry Parr – BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics

I started my degree in 2011 in Mathematics and Statistics and during that time I became chair of the maths society which organised relevant talks and fun socials for our students. The maths drop-in centre SUM:UP was also vastly helpful in my studies, as was having diligent and dedicated lecturers who had an open-door policy. I was also involved in the PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Scheme) in its first year of being rolled out to the mathematics students, this allowed more senior years to help and contribute with first year studies in a more friendly and informal environment. I also got involved with many other extracurricular activities such as participating in RAG (Raise & Give) committee to put on lots of exciting events and raise money for worthwhile causes. I have many other fond memories of my time at Plymouth, from my first Freshers’ Week to finishing my last exam which was at the time the realisation an end of an era for me and coursemates. Graduation was fantastic too with a great coastal location and weather during the latter part of the summer. 

I would really recommend the mathematics degrees, the course pathway and modules I undertook were very engaging and had a real applied element, this allowed me to hit the floor running in applying for jobs. I chose the course as it had a great reputation and encouraging lecturers. This year Maths at Plymouth is 4th in the Guardian league tables. It’s also located in a great part of Devon with nearby beaches in Cornwall and Dartmoor countryside.

The lecturers are terrific and very helpful, I found the course geared me up for the real-working commercial environment. Software and computing modules were very beneficial to this end and I was exposed to the stats programming language R from almost day one. I still use it daily and it is becoming an ever more popular language to use, particularly in data science and data visualisation. 

Also having good relationships with lecturers allowed them to suggest further future avenues, e.g. MSc suggestions, character references, and to make use of their contacts. The course prepared me very well for my future and challenges. For my final year dissertation, an element of the module is a presentation whereby I gave a talk on the work done so far during my project, to your fellow coursemates and assessors. Communicating your ideas and research to non-experts is a key skill and one which has served me well during my career so far. 

Since finishing my studies in 2014, I’ve worked in the commercial environment for a number of years within industry, working as an analyst within a media and law firm. I then decided to return to academia to undertake my MSc in Medical Statistics (at Southampton where the two institutes have good relationships) from there I’ve been accepted on to a PhD programme which I am currently undertaking my project at the Institute of Cancer Research, alongside the Royal Marsden Hospital where I’m looking at characterising the prognosis of prostate cancer patients post-radiotherapy. My PhD research involves discovering novel ways in order to characterise the prognosis of prostate cancer once patients have received their initial treatment, e.g. likelihood of a clinical recurrence. It’s very rewarding knowing your own work is going to be used to directly help clinicians and patients alike. I think more generally, finding a role that you love waking up to on the whole massively helps, and don’t settle – and I truly believe a mathematics degree here at Plymouth can help you do so.