Sabrina Spagnoli

Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?

Sociology, Business, Information Communication Technology and Literature at Godalming College, Surrey.

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

Oxford is an amazing place to study any course in the Built Environment, there is so much history to the place and the architecture here is beautiful. Real Estate Management is RICS accredited at Brookes and that was very important when I came to decide the university I wanted to go to. A friend of mine had been to Brookes and told me what to expect and showed me round the campus, he helped me decide on Brookes.

I unfortunately did not receive high enough grades at A level to get an automatic place on the course and although I had been offered places in other universities, Brookes was where I wanted to go. I was then contacted by Oxford Brookes about doing Foundation Built Environment which was perfect because I could prove that I was able succeed in Real Estate Management in that year and join the degree course after successfully completing the foundation course.

How did you become interested in construction and project management?

My parents who work in this particular field advised me that the accreditation is a massive benefit in the industry and my course is accredited. I have moved on to the construction module which is two accreditations. Added to this is the fact the course is well known within the industry.

Did you come to an open day and how did you find it?

Yes it was really good even though it was raining. I liked the university which is quite modern inside with lots of computers available and ample staff available to help, making me feel really welcome. Now I help on the open days within the Deparment of Planning. My main role is to man the BE stall as well as a talk about the foundation degree.

What do you think of the course now you're here?

There is lots of information to take in but it's a really good course, the modules are mostly compulsory so it's structured really well to focus on what I really want to learn about. The work is explained well and if any help is needed there are people to help, if not your peers, then a tutor is available. By having a personal tutor who is involved in most of the modules I do, it is easy for me to ask questions about my course.

I like the fact that we do practical work where we are outside wearing high visibility jackets which is a nice change from learning indoors. We focus on many subjects such as drawing and surveying. This gives us a broad range of accredited skills and provides insights into future careers. If you don't understand certain aspects you can get help from class mates and tutors. I am currently working on my Drawing module where we are taught both pen to paper and on the computer. Although work in the industry is done on the computer it is a good to have a base in hand drawing.

What do you think of the learning facilities here?

We have the reinvention centre (now known as the student hub) which is brilliant; it is great for group work because of the big tables and the amount of computers. I believe it is solely for the use of built environment students meaning it is never crowded, allowing you to work effectively. The fact that tutors are always about is another great asset. The library is open till late.

How do you feel about the support?

I can always email my various tutors and they will get back to me in a couple of days. I was working on an important essay emailing my tutor and it was returned back to me straight away highlighting where I could improve on, instead of just handing it in and hoping for the best. I find that a lot of tutors are ready to answer your questions. I am also a student representative so I get a lot of people telling me things which I then pass on to the module leader.

Is there a particular tutor/lecture that you find inspiring?

Law was a subject that really excited me in my first and second year. It is something I would have never believed I would be interested in but was pleasantly surprised how interesting it was. Nick Spencer Chapman is a really good tutor he gives us a weekly draft with questions and relays the answers so we have opportunity to learn from them. Each week we will receive two questions and after we complete them he will then give us the answers. So when we come to do the real work we already know where we need to improve.

This year you say your modules are compulsory do you get any options in the future?

Next Semester I am doing a non-compulsory module. The module is called green buildings and is more essay based - it is nice to do something different.

Do you have to complete a dissertation next year?

I have my placement year next year. I haven't picked my placement yet but have attended the careers fair which was really helpful. The tutors have been very proactive in ensuring we all get placements but it does all rely on the students pursuing these. We have the support if we need it.

Are the work placements compulsory?

Yes, unless you have done one before. It is a good thing it answers the question - education versus experience – this way you have both.

Do you think your course is preparing you for employment?

The course being accredited means you are learning core modules that are essential in my field.

What are your plans for when you've completed your course, for work or further study?

I hope to go straight to work when I have finished my degree. I'm thinking that in my placement I will gain some contacts or be asked to stay with the company. A lot of companies that I have spoken to state that they like to keep on their graduate interns and maybe even sponsor them for their final year.

What sort of jobs would you be interested in?

I ultimately would like to go into project management but am not 100% sure. That is why I am so happy with the opportunity to do a placement, owing to the fact that a lot of the companies allow you to work in different departments. This will help me get a feel for it and help me make the right decision in choosing the job that best suits me.

Do you think Oxford helps you learn?

I have always found that Oxford's architecture is amazing and its good to go and see how things have been built even though it is not directly linked to my course. In terms of my course we have had a couple of trips into Oxford where we commented on how we would attempt to reconstruct the various buildings. Both modern and old.

What's it like living in Oxford?

I love living in Oxford, for my placement I want to make sure I am in Oxford. Everything is so close it's great for students, everything being a bus ride away. We found a really nice house which is quite near the university - I love it.

What about the culture and entertainment?

Where I used to live was quiet and isolated, it's nice coming to somewhere where there are many different things to do; bowling alleys, cinemas, clubs, bars - everything you need.

Are you living in a shared house right now and did you live in halls to begin with?

I lived in Cheney student village. It was really good with the 50 week contract allowing me to work in Oxford over the summer. Everyone was in the same boat so it was really friendly. The rooms were nice and big and loads of places to put everything as well as a massive desk area.

Are you involved in any sports or clubs?

Last year I was a member of the Cheerleading squad where I met a lot of great people who I remain quite close with. We were cheering for the Cavaliers which is Brookes' American football team and we travelled with them to various matches. We practiced three times a week and were coached by a student with previous experience.

Have you had any scholarships or bursaries?

I have the Brookes bursary as well as the student loan bursary, having the application online is so easy - just a few forms to fill in. It would be near impossible to do the course without the additional financial support, plus I have job as well.

What are the best bits of studying at Brookes?

The best bits would be being able to do the course I wanted to do. I didn't think I would be able to gain a place on the course but I did after completing the foundation year. I found the work difficult at times, however the tutors at Brookes are always available to help. Oxford is one of the best places for my course with the vast amount of historical buildings in the centre. For a lot of the projects we are set we have to visit sites and actually go and see what's happening in real life instead of learning everything from a book. It is the best and easiest way to learn but also to gain experience by going out and seeing for yourself.

What advice do you have for students wanting to come to Oxford Brookes?

Take a course which actually interests you and enjoy the experience. I would recommend Brookes, it's one of the best places to do my course so there is no reason not to come here. A few people may have a bleak view of Oxford Brookes from other friends who don't study here based only on the fact that it is not a red brick, but I don't mind that - I love Brookes.