Duncan Mackenzie

Physics with Astrophysics MPhys

The course pushes you to try your hardest and to broaden your horizons.

What attracted you to studying at Kent?

Kent has an amazing astrophysics research group and that really pulled me in in terms of the sort of people who will teach you. The School has good standards and a good record and when I came to see the actual campus, I thought, this is an environment I’d like to be in.

How has the course challenged you?

There was a big step up from Stage 1 to Stage 2, but it wasn’t impossibly hard and I think it is best to embrace the challenge. The course pushes you to try your hardest in the core aspects and pushes you to broaden your horizons in terms of your skills. It’s not just a case of being good at this one thing and nothing else, you want to develop to get the most out of it.

What do you think about the level of support for your studies?

Every student has an academic adviser who can be your first port of call for pretty much anything – course related or personal – but you can always go to any of the lecturers, just knock on their door if you need help. The School also has an academic peer mentor scheme, which I am part of, and this year I am helping students on the foundation year. You walk a fine line being a peer mentor; you want to give as much help as you can but you don’t want to give them all the answers.

What are your fellow students like?

They are good fun; it’s easy to get to know the people on your course because you are all here experiencing the same thing. As time goes on, you start to take your own individual degree strands, so you see less of some people. Sometimes that’s better as you meet up and talk about different topics.

What about the campus?

I think it’s a really good campus; everything from the School building with the labs we use, to the sports facilities, to the library – there’s a lot of good stuff offered here. It’s a nice environment with places to sit outside when it’s sunny and you get to know nooks and crannies where you can find space to work without always going to the Library.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am in a lot of sports societies. I’ve been playing tennis for a long time and I do badminton as well, just recreationally, with friends. It’s good to have some physical activity that just really blows away the cobwebs. I’m also president of a martial arts society this year, which has been really good and given me experience of being on a committee and running a society rather than just being in one. That can help to build my CV. 

What do you think you have gained from university life?

I think it has helped to give me confidence in all walks of life. I am more confident in my abilities and more confident about how I approach new individuals. When you go to uni, you are away from home and you realise that you have to do some things outside your comfort zone if you are going to make the most of the experience.

What are your plans for when you graduate?

I always knew from quite early on that I wanted to do physics. I would like to do a PhD after my Master’s and go into research. It’s the astrophysics element that I would like to research more – stars, galaxies, the cosmos, that sort of thing.

Any advice for somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Make the most of everything you can. Anything you enjoy or would like to try, just grab hold of it and give it a go. In terms of the course, take a moment to actually enjoy the subject without being too bogged down with the work. Don’t leave everything to the last minute or you will always feel pressurised.