What’s it like to study Forensic Biology and Toxicology?

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Thinking of a degree in forensics? Hear from a current student about what it’s like to study the course at Murdoch.

Are you interested in solving crimes? Do you want to be part of a team that contributes to public safety? If so a career forensics might be for you.

We spoke to Murdoch student Georgia Cottnam about why she chose to study Forensic Biology and Toxicology at Murdoch, what it’s like and her advice for anyone looking to study at Murdoch. 

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Georgia Cottnam and I am currently 24. I moved to Perth just over 5 years ago, where I balance my time between my studies and work. When I am not doing either of these, I can usually be found hiking, fishing, relaxing at home painting or playing computer games.

Why did you choose to study forensics at Murdoch?

I was living in Tasmania and had been considering relocating to another city to pursue a degree in forensics. I ended up deciding to study the Bachelor of Science majoring in Forensic Biology and Toxicology at Murdoch as I’d heard a lot of positive comments about the forensic academics and I liked the look of Perth’s lifestyle.

What got you interested in forensic biology and toxicology?

Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a forensic scientist. It’s hard to say where the passion truly started! It may have been my love for finding answers, or simply one too many episodes of C.S.I.

One of the main draw cards to the Bachelor of Science at Murdoch was the ability to personalise the course by choosing from a wide range of major and minor listings. I completed a double major in Forensic Biology/Toxicology and Biomedical Science, and a minor in Molecular Biology.

I also had the opportunity to undertake Criminology and Law units during my early years of study.

These units helped further my understanding of the role of a forensic scientist and gave me an appreciation for the ‘other side’ of my chosen field.

My degree has left me with a broad knowledge set and highly employable skills valuable for when I start applying for jobs in forensics.

What was your experience like on campus?

I loved my undergraduate studies at Murdoch, so much so, that I stayed on for post-graduate studies and have just begun my second post-graduate qualification.

I think the biggest thing with any experience is that you get out what you put in. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to really make Murdoch feel like home, if you’re willing to put yourself out there and work for it.

These opportunities can arise across Murdoch’s social clubs, the Murdoch guild or student ambassador work and volunteering. While the campus is one of the largest university campuses in Perth, by the time I finished I could find a familiar face just about anywhere.

How does Murdoch compare to other unis?

Having experienced study at another university, I found Murdoch to be very different – but in a good way!

One really big surprise at Murdoch is the sense of community I’ve come across in my time here. Almost everyone I meet who has studied, or is studying, at Murdoch has great experiences with friendly teachers who are willing to help you out.

The great relationships I have with staff have led to more and more opportunities at uni.

Did you do any practical experience as part of your course?

Murdoch forensic teachers use ‘mock forensic scenes’ to give students the chance to experience what working in the real world might be like.

The realistic practice really helped me to decide what areas of study I wanted to pursue further. It also helped me understand what kind of roles I might be suited to.

Were there any Murdoch staff members that supported you through your Murdoch journey?

There has been a collection of fantastic teaching, future students and outreach staff who have supported me throughout my Murdoch journey.

In particular I wish to thank Garth Maker, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry, who provided support even before I officially started my degree! I remember emailing Garth with questions about the forensic course before I started, and he sent me such considerate and thorough responses. Garth provided this level of care and nurturing throughout my whole degree.

Another teaching staff member who’s supported my Murdoch journey is Brendan Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science. For many years I never had any classes with him, but he was always so willing to assist me in gathering further knowledge or opportunities to engage with my peers in post-graduate studies. I am now lucky enough to be undertaking a project with him and a few other staff at the Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) this year.

Did you experience any international opportunities?

One of my greatest achievements at Murdoch was being selected for a New Colombo Plan Scholarship . I travelled across to Singapore where I, along with four students from within the forensic and education disciplines, delivered an educational forensics program in the form of a mock murder investigation. The experience was run by Paola Magni and ran over two weeks at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore. The program allowed me to strengthen my collaborative and communication skills and build national and international connections in my field.

What advice would you offer future Murdoch students?

I think the best piece of advice I could offer is that you are never alone. Most of the time if you have a question, then so will other students. The only bad question is the one you don’t ask! Murdoch also has a range of support options available to students so be sure to know the facilities available to you.

Interested in a crime fighting career? Find out more about  Forensic Science and Toxicology and how to apply.

Posted on:

18 Mar 2021



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