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Subject choices for next year. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

on Thu, 03/10/2016 - 12:51
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-By Niamh Leonard & Mentors

As second semester is moving on by many of you may be wondering about what the next year of your course will entail. In some courses you will also have to make subject/module choices for next year. So we asked some of the mentors to give some tips about picking subjects for second year of your course and some general pieces of information they think would be handy to know about college next year.


The first thing you should do is try have an idea in what direction you want to continue your study. I was in undenominated science so I had a large choice to pick from. I knew I wanted to either go biology of chemistry so I dropped all physics and math modules. I also looked up what the modules were worth and what the marking criteria were such as if continuous assessment was involved and that helped me make my choices.

Think carefully about the choices you make now. The subjects you choose now will be the ones you choose from for your third and fourth year in the course, so make sure you really enjoy them

I know some subjects are very hard to get into such as anatomy and physiology so it is important that you focus on your exams this summer so you have the best possibly chance to get all of the choices you want.

Another thing to look out for are the general modules that can help you with all your subjects such as scientific writing skills which I found to be a massive help later on. These modules are usually an easy way to build up to the 60 credits you need and are not often difficult to get a good grade in.

Read over the pathway selection manual for 2nd year Undenominated Science very carefully and don't be afraid to approach lecturers with queries about next year’s subjects.

If you wish to take subjects like anatomy, biochemistry, physiology or pharmacology you will need to have taken the Group C subjects (Biology, chemistry and physics) in 1st year. If you did not you must look at the subjects that did not require these in the manual.

Think carefully about the choices you make now. The subjects you choose now will be the ones you choose from for your third and fourth year in the course, so make sure you really enjoy them.

Go meet lecturers personally with the topics you’re unsure about. The college’s youtube vids, and module info on their website actually turned me off the topic I mentioned above.

Go to the information day if you can, pick up every leaflet you can, if by sheer luck you find a lecturer that’s free go to them. The day tends to be busy, have your questions ready to rock

Ask a second year like me, or even a third year. We are the best source of information to tell you EXACTLY what some subjects are like. Especially at this time of year as they are all finishing up.



Pick two subjects you enjoy. It is important to choose two subjects which you find particularly interesting. As you have already narrowed that choice down to four when you first started university, now it is time to consider which subjects you have progressed most in, you enjoy studying and how it fits into your career path.

Are you thinking of spending time studying abroad? Of course no matter what subjects you study at N.U.I.G you will nearly always have the option of spending time abroad. For those of you who are considering choosing a language remember that it is compulsory to spend at least 3 months abroad. So for those of you that are home birds this might be something to consider. Participating in the Erasmus programme is a great opportunity and a life changing experience however it might not be for everyone.

What career path would you like to pursue when you finish college? Do you have a goal? Are there particular subjects which you require for your dream job? Perhaps some of you may want to branch into primary teaching once you finish your arts degree and therefore it’s a good idea to continue your degree in Irish. There are numerous opportunities out there so I would do some research before making a concrete decision on your subject choices. I would think long and hard about your choices and ensure that they are the right ones for you.

            Time-wise: It’s important to remember that you’ll have to do independent study as well as attending you’re lectures and tutorials especially if you are studying a language as you will have to practice it outside of class.

            Your friends may not be doing the same subjects that you have chosen, but it does not matter, as you’ll still have your friends as well as making you new ones. The question needs to be answered; would you be happy doing a subject that you hated, just because some of your friends are doing it?



In 2nd year medicine you don't have to pick subjects like a lot of other courses. One thing you will get to choose, though, is your SSM (special study module). Like in 1st year, you are given options in the 1st semester and then the SSMs are run in the 2nd semester. The options are different to the ones you had before. Make sure you think carefully about your options and try to pick one you will enjoy!

Other than that there is not much choosing required in 2nd year medicine. The schedule will be very different to 1st year with 2.1 not being as full as other semesters. Don't let that fool you though! It's still a tough semester and you'll have a hard time of it if you put off studying until close to exams. At the same time, you should enjoy the lighter schedule and make the most of it!

Medicine 2.2 is back to the hectic schedule with some presentation assignments to do. These can be a bit daunting at the start but within a few weeks you'll find yourself getting used to it. It's only in front of small groups of your classmates and usually 1 lecturer so it's not high pressure! Also you'll find it's a really good way of studying the various topics.



As a first year, it's likely that you're living in a student village like Corrib Village, Gort na Coiribe, Cúirt na Coiribe or Dúnáras. A lot of people live in these villages in second year and beyond also, but many others decide to delve into the intimidating world of house-hunting and renting privately. The big advantage of this is that renting privately usually works out as cheaper than student accommodation. However, there's also additional responsibility in that you have to pay bills yourself rather than as part of a deposit, so someone needs to be designated for each bill e.g. electricity, internet, TV, and most recently water charges. It's a good idea to designate one person for each bill and to keep track of who has paid what. 

First Year is usually a great time to get involved in things and make friends and generally have fun, as it's generally the least academically-demanding year of the lot. In my experience, things do ramp up quite a bit in Second Year, especially in some courses where it counts towards your degree, so it is important to dedicate a bit more time than previously to college work. However, there's no need to be overwhelmed, and it's still very important to set aside plenty of time for your own hobbies and activities!

As a Second Year, you'll no longer be part of the newest cohort of students on campus. I think it's really worthwhile to remember how intimidating it was to be a First Year, especially at the very beginning of the year, so if a very lost and confused first year stumbles across you in the first week after summer asking for directions, make sure to take the time to point them in the right direction and have a friendly face, a little friendliness goes a long way in a new place!

Go to the career development centre and get the information leaflets on the subjects you're interested in. They explain what jobs these subjects may lead to.

 If you have a Masters/ Post-Graduate course in mind, research which subjects they require and be sure that the subjects you choose leave your options open!

Pick the subjects you want to do, not what you think you will get.

If you have a particular career you want to pursue after college remember there are many ways of getting there.

            Pick subjects you’re actually interested in, not just because your friend is picking it or you find it easy, so that you know you will have enough motivation to do the work for it.

            In addition, some professions require certain subjects, e.g. teaching. Be sure to check this out so you know what your options are before you make your choices!

            The pace is definitely increased but you won't find it difficult if you keep up with lecture attendance. Seriously you'll surprise yourself at times with how well you are managing. For me second year was a lot more fun too, I got more involved in extracurricular activities in the college (CV building) and just enjoyed it.


I hope that there is some information in this post that will help you make a good start in second year. If there are no tips above for your specific course have a look at the general points and drop your mentor an email to see if they have anything else they would like to add. Best of luck with those of you who have subject choices to make over the next few weeks, I hope you are looking forward to what the rest of your chosen course has to offer.