Graduate profile

Fien van der Graaf

"I had a fantastic time during my placement at AstraZeneca. I developed invaluable professional and scientific skills, and it inspired me to pursue a career in biopharmaceutical research and development."

Graduation year


Why I chose Surrey

When I was applying to universities back in 2019, it felt like a no-brainer to make the University of Surrey my first choice. I was immediately impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities, particularly the Innovation for Health Learning Laboratory, the lake at the Stag Hill campus and Surrey Sports Park. There was also an unmistakable feeling of safety and community on campus.  

It was also clear that Surrey runs a fantastic Biomedical Science BSc course (accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences), which gives students the opportunity to study a wide variety of modules across different topics, develop valuable laboratory skills during practical sessions in the labs and complete a fully supported external Professional Training year in scientific research or clinical practice.  

I could also see that the University has a strong commitment to supporting student wellbeing, inclusion and diversity, and overall student satisfaction in all aspects of university life. As a neurodiverse individual, the wide range of academic and wellbeing support I could access at Surrey meant I could feel confident, rather than disadvantaged, in transitioning from school to university. 

My highlights

I had a wonderful four years at Surrey. I enjoyed all aspects of my day-to-day student life, even those dreaded early morning lectures and long library days. 

I had a fantastic time during my 12-month placement in pharmaceutical research at AstraZeneca in the third year of my course. I developed invaluable professional and scientific skills, and it inspired me to pursue a career in biopharmaceutical research and development.  

I worked as a Student Ambassador, which was a very rewarding role. I got to share my experiences with prospective students and facilitate their transition to higher education, in the same way I felt supported back when I was applying to university. 

The ‘cherry on top’ was my graduation day in July 2023. I got to celebrate my achievements with my friends, family and lecturers and graduate in the stunning setting of Guildford Cathedral. It was an incredible experience and truly one of my favourite days of 2023. 

Life after Surrey

I am currently enjoying a nice break from work/studying, but I am looking forward to starting a masters in bio-pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands in 2024, with the hope of pursuing a career in pharmaceutical research and development. 

My time at Surrey definitely helped me choose my career. My Professional Training placement at AstraZeneca gave me the opportunity to work in preclinical drug discovery, meet expert scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, gain invaluable scientific research skills and develop an overall interest in drug discovery, all of which provided a great launchpad for me to pursue a career in pharmaceutical research and development. So, my best advice for students would be to do a placement!


Find out more about our Biomedical Science BSc/MSci.

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