Louise Duncan - graduate profile

Oceanographer, National Oceanography Centre

"I enrolled on the foundation year at Plymouth University after completing my A-levels in physics, chemistry and geography. At this time I did not possess the level of mathematics required to start a mathematics or engineering degree. I chose the foundation course at Plymouth due to the good reputation of the engineering departments involved with the course and the fact it provided the solid grounding in maths (and physics if necessary) required to begin a diverse range of degree courses available at Plymouth or elsewhere. 

The standard of teaching on the foundation year was excellent. All lecturers were friendly and were easily approachable when faced with times of difficulty regarding course content or personal matters effecting study. The mix of practical and theory in the engineering courses was very beneficial and all modules were paced at a level suitable for all backgrounds. Group sizes at Plymouth were just right for getting to know the whole group and for learning. 

As a place of study, Plymouth has much to offer. Surrounded by coastline and beautiful countryside, Plymouth is in a very scenic area of the UK with plenty of opportunities for outdoor sport or leisure activities. The University has a wide choice of clubs (sport and non-sport clubs) and societies open to all students at Plymouth. Important resources such as the library and computing areas are located on the main campus (within walking distance of all engineering and maths lectures). The Students' Union is very lively with a variety of entertainment on offer. There is also a mature student lounge for a quieter place to socialise. The main campus is located only a short 10 to 15 minute walk from the main shopping centre, train or coach station. 

After successfully completing the foundation year I chose to study for a degree in mathematics. I experienced no problems in the transition from foundation year to degree. The maths course provided good coverage of pure and applied mathematics, with plenty of options to choose from, including statistics modules and minor pathways. I particularly enjoyed the final year project, choosing a particular area of mathematics to explore in more detail with some independent study. This was a very rewarding part of the course. As well as the mathematics knowledge gained from the degree, other skills such as writing, presenting and researching have been particularly useful. Since completing the degree I have been required to call upon various aspects of mathematics covered by the course, including the programming skills gained through the numerical analysis modules. 

I graduated with a first class honours in mathematics. Currently I work at Southampton Oceanography Centre as a research assistant in the area of Ocean Circulation and Climate Variability. I have been in my current position for over four years and enjoy the variety and challenges that each day brings in the centre or at sea. My mathematics background has provided an excellent base required for oceanography research (maths/physics graduates are much sought after in this area of research)."