Spotlight on: University of Exeter

Katie Thorpe, 20, is a second-year history student at the University of Exeter. Originally from Cardiff, Katie tells us about her university experience so far.


I’m happy with where and what I chose to study, not least because I have the freedom to pick topics of interest to me. The diverse course has really helped broaden my knowledge and love of history, but there have been some big adjustments. I struggled initially with the minimal contact hours of my course, but this has led to me becoming more independent and self-driven which are skills that I’m sure will be useful later in life.

I chose Exeter because it was a campus university, so I knew that it would have a small, friendly community, and it has a particularly good reputation for history. It also has a good reputation and facilities for sport, and I have been a part of the netball club since I started.

Looking back at my first few days of university it is fair to say I was a little nervous and I worried whether I would get on well with my flat mates. During my first year I was in halls of residence – the same as JK Rowling was when she was at Exeter.

My flat mates were all lovely which helped me to settle in and I ended up living with four of them again in my second year. Like lots of students there were times when I was a little home sick, however having friends around helped me through those time and. I loved the independence of living in halls.

My course consists of four modules a year; two compulsory and two optional. The compulsory modules were perhaps less enjoyable, as they were more about the mechanics of studying history rather than the history itself.  My favourite modules so far have been China 1500-1800 and Science, Technology and Medicine in the Cold War. These took a more global approach to history which I had not done as much throughout school. I have a mixture of seminars and lectures for each module. There are, obviously, a lot of essays, along with source commentaries, posters, wikis and group presentations.

Exeter has to a large extent met my expectations. As well as developing as a person, I have found friends who hopefully will be friends for life.

During my second year I have been living in a house in a student part of town which has had a more homely feel than halls. I have also become more active in other societies such as the Welsh society which is particularly active in Exeter. Perhaps the highlight was our trip to Edinburgh for the six nations. I also recently celebrated finishing my second-year exams with a boat party on the River Exe where some of my friends from home came and joined me.


Seren has helped with my journey to university because it showed me that every experience is different. There is no right or wrong way to do university. It helped me make friends with peers; sharing our experiences and thoughts gave me increased confidence with the choices I was making.

My advice for anyone applying to university is to find a course and university that will make you happy. Join as many societies as possible. Go to university with the right attitude and an open mind. There will be lows as well as highs but battle through the lows and everything will fall into place. Good luck to all those applying.

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