Dominique’s journey from undergrad to postgrad study
Dominique Cuthill tells about her undergraduate experience and her placement.
I chose the course because the Environment was something, I had been passionate about but I didn’t really know how to direct it (also still working this out!!!) The course at Brighton offered a variety of subjects and experiences such as overseas and local fieldwork as well as lab and other practical sessions which I knew were more geared towards my style of learning. I really enjoyed the fieldwork aspects of the course and yearlong placement in industry. As a practical learner, these trips/events were particularly useful in connecting academic and practical knowledge.
The atmosphere after visiting the introductory sessions of the course and the campus tour sold Brighton for me. Brighton just appealed to me on an adventurous scale because it was so vibrant, exciting and what feels like full of opportunity. Pre covid I had a lot of personal issues at home which were beginning to impact my studies. Ray Ward, a principle lecturer and head of Environmental Science (my course) could not have been more supportive. He took time to listen despite always being extremely busy, spent a lot of time finding solutions so that I was able to continue with my studies and finish my course successfully.
For my placement year I spent a year with a geotechnical and geo-environmental consultancy firm. I genuinely loved my placement year as it really allowed me to put into practice my academic studies in a real-world scenario. I felt useful, expanded my knowledge and learnt new material that I was able to apply to further academic development.
My role included supervision of site operatives to direct and delegate the relevant tasks and liaise with senior management and clients. This included inducting site operatives to the relevant health and safety plans, service clearance and dynamic risk assessments. Site duties involved soil/water sampling, logging, monitoring and installation of standpipes, gas/water monitoring, soakage testing and any other site work. I also had experience in low flow/low purge water sampling; and surveying/ setting out positions using GPS rover. These skills were useful during my final year undergraduate dissertation project which required soil and water sampling and logging. The most challenging by far was getting to grips with the computer programmes used by the company (I find using technology difficult!!!). Took me a while to understand how some of the systems worked and then how to actually implement them with my work.
The subject matter, fieldwork trips and report writing during the course give you an insight of what is expected of you in a real-world scenario. Having to research, present and display information allow you to visualise different aspects of the work/events that take place in the environment and how you may be able to contribute. It also allows you to develop a deeper interest in different subject areas.
My current plan is to complete my masters to be able to work in an area to do with flood management or some other water related environment.”