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Ben Wood

BSc (Hons) Forensic Science and MSc Criminal Investigation

Ben studied his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Teesside and hopes to go on to become an expert witness in a courtroom.

Teesside University has been an amazing place to study - the facilities are second to none and the support systems are fabulous.

Ben  Wood

Why did you decide to go to university?

I chose to go to university to develop my academic skills after studying A-levels. I wasn’t sure what course I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to gain a degree. I researched a range of institutions and contacted a number of people who I knew were studying at different universities. The general consensus, as well as online recommendations from Unistats and What Uni, was Teesside – it had the best reputation for science.

Why forensic science?

Science was always my strong subject in school and during my A-levels, but I was unsure how I wanted to apply my skills to a specific career. Choosing forensics was a stroke of luck – a recommendation from a friend led me to look at the subject in more detail.

Best thing about your course?

Forensics is particularly challenging but the most rewarding aspect for me was the variety of modules as you are quickly introduced to the many aspects of forensics and individual disciplines within the subject. The range of information and expertise available meant that there was never any need to struggle or fall behind in any given module; everybody helped each other to reach their goals.

Favourite module?

I thoroughly enjoyed the scientific theory in the first year, particularly in biochemistry. As the course became more forensics-focused in the second and third year, Forensic Medicine became my favourite module, mainly because the knowledge you gain is directly applicable to case scenarios.

Tell us about the University campus

I was always in the Library and I can’t speak highly enough of it, the facilities are brilliant. It's the perfect place to feel comfortable while you are studying, and it caters to everyone’s needs, whether you want silent study or purpose-built areas for group work.

The careers service is invaluable. They offer great advice and have a range of contacts to help you enter your chosen profession. I plan on completing a PhD at Teesside next, but when I’m looking for full-time work I’ll be sure to make use of their support.

The Students’ Union is something I regret not engaging with more. I ate there now and again but I didn’t really take part in the clubs and societies which I wish I had done.

Have you gained any industry experience?

As part of my MSc project I’m working with West Yorkshire Police on a study that suggests colour blind people see more shades of grey than individuals with ordinary colour vision. I have developed a number of tests to hopefully prove this, using forensic scientists and the general public as voluntary participants. If the project provides more evidence to support this claim, then there could be major implications for the forensic world, and it’s possible that the International Organisation for Standardisation may have to factor the outcome of my research when producing their accreditation for forensic work. My personal tutor helped to secure this for me – it’s really exciting as I get to work alongside some of the country's most skilled professionals.

What skills have you developed?

I’ve developed so many skills that will help me in the future – practical skills from the range of lab work, knowledge and application of modern and developing techniques, professionalism when liaising with multiple areas of expertise, dealing with pressure and meeting deadlines, and independent and team-based skills.

What are your future ambitions?

I want to become a specialist in my area of work and I’d like to be part of a research team to benefit forensic science in any capacity. I thoroughly enjoy researching new areas and exploring new ideas so I am confident that this will suit me. Assisting the criminal justice system is the overarching aim of forensics – I want to develop my ability as an expert witness in a courtroom, something we’ve had the opportunity to do at Teesside.

Would you recommend Teesside University?

Without a doubt. I was previously at a loose end when it came to my career, but Teesside University has been an amazing place to study and I wouldn't want to do so anywhere else. From personal experience so few universities make their students feel valued as individuals and not just a number. The facilities are second to none and the support systems are fabulous. So many students have struggles and need support while at university and I’ve always felt like I’m in safe hands.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of coming to study here?

I would say that the best way to get the feel of a university is to visit. Have a look round, talk to as many people as you can and try to get a balanced view. I made a huge mistake not doing so the first time around at a different university on a different course, but thankfully ended up in good hands.

Get a feel for the facilities and use help websites like Unistats, they are a valuable gauge of how suitable a university or course is for you. University is not for everyone and neither are some courses, but if there is somewhere that makes you feel welcome and caters for your academic needs then it's certainly the place you want to spend your university years.