Dr Dawn Davies

We interviewed Dawn Davies in 2017. At that time, she was the unit director for the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences unit of the International Foundation Programme.

Staff members and course content can change from year to year. For detailed information about the academic year 2018-19, please visit our unit catalogue.

What is your role at the University of Bristol?

I’m a teaching fellow on our undergraduate programmes in physiology and neuroscience, and I also teach on our professional programmes – dentistry, veterinary science and medicine. I come from a research background, with a focus on the development of the inner ear and hearing.

How are you involved with the International Foundation Programme?

I’m the unit director for the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences unit on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics pathway. I co-ordinate the academics who contribute to the unit and I teach on it myself as well.

I worked along with colleagues on designing the unit. We thought a lot about how to condense all of biomedical sciences into one unit. We wanted to give students a taster of the undergraduate programmes available in our faculty and introduce them to relevant skills.

The students get lectures on a wide variety of topics, the majority from research-active members of our community. They also have practical classes, very similar to those on a first-year undergraduate programme, and learn transferable skills like writing reports and presenting information.

What’s it like teaching on the International Foundation Programme?

I’ve found teaching on the International Foundation Programme very rewarding. The students are from diverse backgrounds, all with different levels of knowledge. It’s a challenge finding a way to appeal to them all, but they are so good at asking questions and interacting in lectures.

Do you see a difference in students who have done the International Foundation Programme?

Over the course of the year, we definitely see a change in the way the students interact – the levels of questions and the discussions they can take part in.

Undergraduate students who have come through the International Foundation Programme have more confidence – I think that’s to do with knowing their environment and what’s expected of them.

Is the International Foundation Programme integrated into the University?

Yes, it definitely works for us in biomedical sciences. We have regular progress testing and discuss the results with the Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies. This helps us keep a close eye on students’ progress.

The unit is all taught by academics who teach undergraduates too. A large proportion is taught by internationally recognised researchers, talking about their research – for instance, antibiotic resistance or control of blood pressure – and how that filters into undergraduate studies.

Just today, we had a get-together for our undergraduate students, and had the International Foundation Programme students come along. We want International Foundation Programme students to feel part of the faculty, as well as part of the University.

What would you say to a prospective student?

The International Foundation Programme is a really good opportunity to get a taste of biomedical sciences and the disciplines it is made up of. You will be introduced to new skills and cutting-edge scientific research, all delivered by incredibly skilled, research-active academics. And Bristol is just a lovely place to live – that’s what the students always say.

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