Where should I study? Our subject-by-subject guide
Starting with Science, Engineering and Technology our quick guide to making the right college choice shows how not all colleges are the same
Science, Engineering and Technology
Once labelled nerds, Ireland’s scientists, engineers and technologists are now being heralded as the saviours of the economy and the world. More money than ever is being pumped into the sciences, which is great news for Ireland’s universities and IoTs; well for some departments at least. While many arts and humanities departments continue to wallow in dated prefabs from the 1970s, new science and engineering buildings are two a penny. This means that any prospective science student will undoubtedly enjoy great facilities at third level.
The best science educators are the ones with as active a research remit as they have teaching responsibilities. Therefore, it is worth looking at the institutions with healthy levels of research output.
Trinity’s undergraduate science course is common entry – allowing students to take three to four subjects for the first two years, and choose one of 16 options to specialise in for the final two years. Trinity has a worldwide reputation for many areas of science, including immunology and nanoscience.
- Where should I study music or drama?
- Where should I study architecture?
- Where should I study law?
- Where should I study health sciences?
- Where should I study business and accounting?
- Where should I study culinary and hospitality education?
- Where should I study teaching?
- Where should I study arts and humanities?
- Where should I study social sciences?
- Where should I study journalism, public relations and communications?
It also has world-class research facilities on site, such as the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN), a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET). Based in Trinity, researchers also work in partnership with University College Cork (UCC).
UCD’s common entry structure for science means that students can sample subjects in their first year before committing to a specialisation. There are a number of direct entry subjects too.
For a long time, physics was the ugly sister of biology and chemistry but the subject is back in vogue, in UCD anyway. UCD physicist Dr Ronan McNulty conducts research projects at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider as well as teaching physics to first year science students.
For marine science, your best bets are NUI Galway or UCC. The NUIG Ryan Institute is the top research centre in the country studying marine science (Dr Patrick Collins from the institute recently participated in an expedition to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to study hydrothermal vents, an adventure that was documented by the National Geographic Channel).
A budding scientist should look for mentors who are actively engaged in research as well as lecturing. And you won’t just find them in the bigger universities. Remember that many IoTs, by their very nature, are technically focused education providers: an approach that fits naturally with science, engineering and technology subjects. IoTs also frequently have strong links with local enterprises leading to direct employment opportunities upon graduation.
Galway Mayo IT (GMIT) is seeing increasing numbers of undergraduates enrolling on all their science courses. Intake for their BSc in Physics & Instrumentation doubled in the 2013/14 academic year. Likewise demand for graduates from the same degree continues to be very strong, particularly among employers in engineering and pharmaceuticals. In fact, the GMIT science department had to set up a dedicated Facebook page several years ago in response to demand from employers wishing to reach graduates to fill vacancies.
In the beautiful surrounds of Kerry, Tralee IT offers the unique BSc in Field Biology and Tourism, while Tallaght IT does one of the few BSc degrees in DNA and Forensic Analysis, two more good examples of how IoTs can offer niche courses not provided by the larger institutions.