Chris Gilson

Christina Gilson

I’ve loved every minute of my course

Christina Gilson

FdA Applied Animal Management at Bridgwater College

I decided to apply for the Animal Management course at Bridgwater College as a mature student after meeting the programme director, who was incredibly friendly and passionate. That meeting, along with seeing the brilliant facilities, made the decision a no-brainer. The link with Oxford Brookes University was also a definitely a pull for me when choosing the course because it adds prestige to the qualification.

 The Animal Management Centre at Bridgwater is fantastic, and contains a huge range of animals, from mice to snakes, spiders to alpacas. We also have access to the labs, stables and dairy farm which gives us loads of hands-on experience and great talking points for discussions.

 We've been on a number of field trips, including visits to a deer sanctuary and a wild animal park and, in the second year we are given the opportunity to take a study tour abroad –  it’s likely to be to Costa Rica to study crocodiles and small primates.

 We have lectures on two days a week, which enables me to continue to work part time.  The course is really well organised and uses innovative learning techniques.  Along with the dedicated Higher Education library at the college, I also access the Oxford Brookes online library for journal articles.

 The lecturers are absolutely fantastic, and their passion, enthusiasm and energy rub off. The pastoral support is excellent. I was concerned about how I’d find studying again after such a long break - and that it would be a big step up - but I’ve really taken to it and absolutely love it.  

 Although I’m older than most of the other students, we all get on really well. We meet up regularly and share useful resources with each other. I’m the higher education representative for the course and have also taken the lead on developing the college’s Zoological Society, arranging trips to Monkey World and inviting a wide range of speakers to the college. Hopefully it will continue once I leave, and can be the legacy I leave to the college!

 As part of the course we have to do 230 hours of work experience - so I’ve worked with rhinos in a zoo, done enrichment work with raccoons, and worked at the Wolf Conservation Trust. It has helped me build some great industry contacts as well as decide exactly what I am interested in doing in the future. The job market is very competitive, so I am always looking for ways that will make me stand out and give me the edge once I graduate.

 I’ve loved every minute of my course - I can’t wait to get started on my second year and I’m also hoping to do the ‘top-up’.  My long term dream is to work on a reserve in Africa, starting with volunteering with African Conservation Experience,  to combine rescue and rehabilitation work with project management and research.

Top tips


1)      Speak to your tutors and library staff to learn about the resources available to you

2)      Read around your subject

3)      Time management is important – try to be as organised as possible!