How Clearing offered the opportunity to pursue a passion

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Oceanography student Annabel shares how Clearing was a second chance to pursue her ocean dream

3 min read

“After getting to grips with not getting the grades I aspired to achieve, I decided to change my career path. I have always loved the ocean and found it fascinating. I decided it was fate telling me to go study something that I would actually enjoy.”

Annabel Smith-Moorhouse

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Oceanography

At school I always liked biology, so I thought biomedical science would be a good career path. But I rushed into the making a decision to apply on a course – not even factoring in that I hate the sight of blood! 

I never looked at Plymouth when first applying through UCAS because it was out of my comfort zone, as I live in Yorkshire, and none of my friends from school were applying. 

A jump in the deep end

On results day I did not get the grades I needed and honestly thought it was the end of the world. Words can’t describe how disappointing not getting the grades you want are, especially when you have put in the work.

After getting to grips with not getting the grades I aspired to achieve, I decided to change my career path. I have always loved the ocean and found it fascinating, however, I was scared it wouldn’t lead to a good job. I decided it was fate telling me to go study something that I would actually enjoy. 

Nobody really prepares you for Clearing so it feels like you’ve been thrown in the deep end. My advice would be to make sure you are studying something you really enjoy so you can think of Clearing as more of a second chance!


A level results day

I looked all over for marine biology programmes but once I looked at Plymouth in more detail and discovered the Marine Station I knew it was the place for me. 

The next day I rang the University Clearing line straight away and begged to speak to someone about doing marine biology. I was so desperate to come to Plymouth, especially once I found out that I could do a placement year within my course. 

I had a phone interview with a lecturer and didn’t think I was going to get in. I was worried that maybe I had been a bit too honest that I had changed my mind about two days ago! 

I was offered a place to do either marine biology and oceanography or marine biology and coastal ecology. I chose oceanography as I did a physics A level and thought it would be more practical. I haven’t looked back since and definitely made the right decision.

My fears were quickly forgotten

After going through Clearing, all my previous fears – like leaving home and friends – were forgotten about. I was so relieved to be on a course that I actually wanted to do, I wasn’t scared anymore.

I got in the car with my parents and we drove seven hours down to Plymouth. I’d never even been to Devon, never mind Plymouth and knew nobody down here. Of course that’s daunting but I’ve made so many great friends here and love the city so wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have really enjoyed my course as it has allowed me to do a combination of both marine biology and ocean science modules so I could tailor my degree dependent on my interests. 

Global placements fuelled my passion

As well as a trip to Sweden, my stand out memory has to be my placement year. I spent three months at the Australian Institute of Marine Science looking at the effects of dredging on coral reefs. 

Following this, I used contacts through the University to go out to The Bahamas to get data for my dissertation. I looked at the effects of lobster discards on the surrounding marine environment. 

Both of these placements were absolutely amazing, I couldn’t have dreamed of doing anything this interesting when I first set out on my A levels. 


What next?

My placement has fuelled me to apply for a masters which will hopefully help me pursue my career goal of being a marine-based researcher.

Could Clearing be for you?

If you’re worried about your university place, you don’t have to wait until A level results day to apply for Clearing.

Whether you’re yet to apply or have already made an application to the University of Plymouth, we aim to make your next steps as easy as possible.


Achieve a September 2020 place through Clearing