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Quality educational standards - fantastic campus atmosphere

Posted By hnday

University : University of Essex
Course title : BA Humanities
Year of graduation : 2011

8 out of 10
Overall opinion

I would recommend Essex to any prospective students because the atmosphere is outstanding - adding to and enhancing the whole experience. Essex is a campus university, meaning that everything is all on one site - teaching rooms, accommodation, research facilities and leisure services. There are so many services onsite it would be impossible to list them all here, but I think Essex pretty much has everything covered from sport to culture and socialising to laundry. I would recommend anyone thinking of coming to Essex to come to an Open Day and check it out. If you've already accepted an offer to Essex then my advice is not to miss Freshers' Week - it is the most important and informative event you will attend in your first term. It will help you to familiarise yourself with the campus and facilities and departments; try out new things (food, drink, clubs, sports); there will be advice available on every aspect you could possibly imagine (from Student's Union to Careers advice, Student Support and financial advice); sign up for university clubs and societies; and most importantly you will be amongst great company - thousands of students in exactly the same boat as you! Not only will this help you get over the initial nerves and excitement, but will give you the opportunity to break the ice with your fellow freshers in one of the many social events happening in Freshers Week.

8 out of 10
Quality of course and lecturers

I have loved studying at Essex. I found my course very interesting and it's opened up so many avenues of interest for me both educationally and on a personal level. If you're coming to Essex to study the Arts and Humanities you will greatly benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of the modules. All of the subject areas are linked by common themes and you'll see these themes recurring from one class to another, helping you to get a broader understanding of the concepts and how they relate to other areas. The teaching is varied - there are so many different character types in the way of lecturers, they all have their own unique styles and demands, but you soon get to know them and what they're looking for in your work. If you're a flexible person then this won't affect you negatively, although it can be quite confusing and frustrating for some. But I found that having so many different characters is definitely interesting and entertaining! I can only speak of my department (Humanities and the arts) , but to give you an idea: in my first year I had four modules per term, with each one generally consisting of a one hour lecture and a one hour class each week. Therefore I only had 8-10 'contact' hours per week in my first year (this increased slightly over the following two years). But don't be disillusioned - I spent about twice this amount studying in my own time and this is normal. You have to be very self-disciplined when you don't have so many hours in the classroom - but there are plenty of facilities on campus, such as the library and quiet study areas for you to do this if you find your flat mates too much of a distraction!

7 out of 10
University facilities

To be honest I think the library could do with a bit of a modern touch and needs updating in many ways, but if you like that musty old dark atmosphere then you'll love it. They do always have newly published books and several copies of the really popular ones, but there are times, especially towards the end of term (essay time) or year (exam time) when it's pretty hard to get hold of the book you want, and the reserve lists are pretty long. I always struggled to find an available computer in the library during the day (although first thing in the morning is a good time) but there are more and more computer labs becoming available elsewhere on campus if you can figure out where they are. I found myself taking my laptop onto campus for ease, and you can get onto the uni network and Wi-Fi from practically anywhere on campus. The library also has a large study space, although this could also do with modernising. There are several bars on campus to take your pick from - the Student's Union bar is the best value (they also have a big screen for sports and host karaoke nights), but there is something for all tastes and occasions and the same goes for food - there is a grill, salad bar, pizza place (which will also deliver to your campus accommodation), burger place, noodle bar and wrap shop and the SU bar does your usual pub grub, as well as a few places to grab a sandwich, jacket potato or soup for lunch to eat-in or takeaway. There is also the famous club Sub Zero which has something going on almost every night during term time and some big-name headliners, and there are often live bands and DJ's in various venues on campus. You can grab a coffee almost anywhere on campus and other facilities include a general shop, laundrette, hairdressers, international food shop and various banks. There is a gallery and a good theatre on campus, and often during the warmer months the theatre takes to the outdoors with performances by the lakes - speaking of which, the lakes and surrounding green spaces are an important feature of the campus, which is set in natural surroundings with plenty of outdoor space - you'll get used to the sight of rabbits around the towers and ducks on the campus squares. The only thing lacking in the way of sports facilities on campus is a swimming pool. Apart from this, there are loads of sports clubs - all the usual contenders - sports pitches including tennis and football, a fully equipped gym with classes available, squash courts, and a climbing wall.

6 out of 10
Student union

The Students Union organises a lot of gigs, events and themed nights - there's something on most nights during term time. They also organise the annual Snow Ball and Summer Ball. There is always a discounted ticket price for students and often deals on drinks and food too. The students union can also provide support, advice and representation for students, although there are also student support services for advice. The students union is the biggest student employer at Essex uni and there are loads of jobs. Getting in with them is a really good idea for lots of reasons – extra cash(!), meeting new people and making more friends, networking, looks good on your CV, learning new skills. Essex students union is pretty pro-active – if there’s something really bothering the majority they will get out on the squares and organise peaceful protests. Election time is pretty full on and exciting too – they try to get everyone involved and voting, as they realise how important the student voice is. The students union also run the student radio station, the fortnightly student newspaper and a student TV station. All of these media are run by students for students and anyone can get involved – even if it’s just writing a one-off article, it’s a great opportunity to get some experience and another string to add to your bow! One thing I will say about Essex Students Union is they’re not very well organised and not as sharp as I would have liked them to be – you’ll notice out-of-date notices on the website and events aren’t always run as well as they could be, but you could take that as a challenge to get in there and help improve it.

8 out of 10
University societies and clubs

There are so many clubs and societies at Essex it would be easy to sign up to too many! There are sports clubs and arts societies of all variations, culture, religion, and some really bizarre clubs! I joined the photography society and the film society, which has weekly screenings in one of the lecture theatres. Joining clubs and societies is a great way of making friends and socialising. There is something for everyone, and if it isn’t there, you can set up your own! Fresher’s Week is the best time to check out the clubs and societies, as they’re all set up in the squares with all the info you need and you can join up right there.

6 out of 10
University life

The town centre has tons of pubs, bars and a handful of clubs, as well as live music venues. Not everything is to everyone's taste, but there are so many events on campus to keep you entertained, and London is only an hour by train...

8 out of 10

Student accommodation at Essex is reasonably priced if you get into the towers. The towers consist of six high-rise buildings built in the sixties. They're not pretty, and they're not modern, but are certainly unique. Each flat in towers has accommodation for 14 students - there is one kitchen per flat, two bathrooms, and several wc's and each student has their own bedroom. The atmosphere in the towers is something else - it's like one big 24-hour party family, and that's not just within your own flat, but between all flats. On the flip-side, the newer and more modern South Courts and Quays are much quieter, and have only four students sharing a flat, each with their own en-suite room. You get to choose your preferred options for accommodation when you apply, although you're not guaranteed to get your first choice, but you can pretty much base your decision on whether you're more of a studious, ordered quiet type or a party animal with no concept of the words 'clean' or 'organised'!

7 out of 10
Job prospects and careers service

I have applied and had an offer for postgraduate study at Essex, as it made sense to continue to study here rather than find another university, and I applied for a Masters in the same department as my undergraduate studies. I am actually going to defer my MA because I can't afford to do it, so I'm looking for full-time employment at the moment. My degree opens up a number of career opportunities and I got a good mark and I know that the Essex degree is a recognised one, so I'm not too worried even though the job market isn't looking too good at the moment. There aren't that many jobs in Colchester and surrounding area, but London is an hour away and if I wanted to I could either relocate or commute. There is a careers centre on campus and they run regular courses and workshops as well as being available for advice on employment and further study.

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