Case study

Stepping into Springwatch: How Kirk's passion for Zoology gained national exposure

Zoology graduate, Kirk Mason, received his first taste of fame after a short video of his was featured on BBC’s popular nature show Springwatch. He said that this, alongside speaking and creating an exhibition at the DANES (Derby and Nottingham Entomological Society) Insect Show, were his ‘proudest moments so far.’

The search

With a passion for arthropods, in particular insects, Kirk decided that the Zoology degree at Derby was the only place for him. "After countless hours of searching for Zoology degrees that cater to my specific needs, I came to the conclusion that I absolutely needed to get into the University of Derby! There simply is no other British Zoology course in the country that has such a diverse range of modules that cater to my needs with proven experts teaching them."

The drive

Teaming this fascination of arthropods with another fond hobby in photography, Kirk believes “that by combining visually enticing media and creative science communication, I can cultivate an appreciation of this incredibly important group of animals, which unfortunately receive a mere fraction of the conservation support of their mammalian and avian counterparts – despite their importance and worrying declines globally.”

With a keen interest in changing the way these often-misunderstood group of animals are perceived by the public, studying Zoology has enabled Kirk to learn more about this group and has exposed him to many situations to gain and share knowledge, such as creating an exhibition at the DANES (Derby and Nottingham Entomological Society) Insect Show. 

Also his exposure on BBC Springwatch was another highlight to support his cause in raising awareness of nature and the outdoors.

A yellow and black caterpillar eating a leaf magnified on a black background
Photograph taken by Kirk Mason of a Burnet moth caterpillar (Zygaenidae sp.)

The Discovery

And Kirk wasn't let down throughout the course. He mentions how his lecturers were a positive influence since beginning the course:

"I’m constantly inspired by the lecturers, who are all formidable scientists with a wealth of experience, multiple publications and links with local scientists/organisations. The lecturers are aware of the interests of individual students and support them in making decisions that will help the students move into their desired direction, making the experience feel bespoke and empowering at the same time. I love that the lectures whilst well organised and informative, also involve lots of laughing and a wide range of teaching methods, which makes lectures fly by!"

Kirk decided to study Zoology at the University of Derby because of "the expertise of the lecturers and excellent module choices" that the course offers, as well as the "the University of Derby being a leader of student satisfaction for biosciences, which is well deserved! Lecturers listen to student feedback and often make changes rapidly, which has led to the Zoology course being well refined and such an enjoyable experience."

Close up of a spider
Photography taken by Kirk Mason of a Nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis) carrying an egg sac

The Journey

Kirk has experienced how the course is varied in its teaching and research methods by enjoying a range of learning experiences including practical lab work, using industry-standard statistical software R and conducting research using ‘state of the art scientific equipment.’

Taking advantage of the fieldtrips the course offers, Kirk has been to Kew Gardens where he encountered some ‘incredibly old plants which have been lovingly maintained by generations of people’, and the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham where he enjoyed a behind the scenes view of the aquarium. He says:

"My overall experience was great and I would recommend anyone considering the trips to go on them! It will undoubtedly enhance your learning by seeing these plants and animals in the flesh – an absolute privilege!"

A close up of a wasp sitting on a brown leaf with a black background
Photograph taken by Kirk Mason of a European Hornet (Vespa crabro)

The Adventure Continues

Kirk encourages anyone considering studying the degree to follow in his footsteps.

"I would say to anyone considering studying Zoology at the University of Derby – do it! I’m extremely happy with my choice to come here because of the standard of teaching, the opportunities and the relaxed but supportive environment. There is nothing more satisfying than living to make a difference to an ever-changing world and learning about a subject which is infinitely interesting, diverse and constantly moving forward."

In May 2023, Kirk joined our MSc Conservation Biology fieldtrip to Costa Rica to share his knowledge about invertebrates and to take photos to help showcase the students time on the trip.

Kirk continues to develop his photography portfolio and is keen to share his passion through his photographs via his website and Instagram.

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

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