Laura, MSc Eco-Cities20 April 2017
Why did you choose to study a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University?
Studying geography as an undergraduate I found that it was such a broad subject, by my final year I was still struggling to figure out what I wanted to do as a career. I started to look for more specific Masters programmes that would enable me to narrow down my interests and find a focus. Once I attended the Cardiff Postgraduate Open Day, I knew that Eco-Cities (MSc) was the course for me. All staff were friendly and went out of their way to find out more information about the course for me and answered all my questions. Also, I love travelling so when I found out that the course had an international fieldtrip in the second term I couldn’t resist!
How was your experience as a postgraduate at Cardiff University, in terms of the programme?
Eco-Cities (MSc) is part of the School of Geography and Planning so I’ve had an excellent choice of modules which have all proven to be interlinked and enabled my learning to progress throughout the year. I enjoy all the modules, whether optional or core, and they’ve all been so useful in terms of applying skills in the real world. A module which has proven to be particularly useful was the Live Project fieldtrip to Jakarta for 2 weeks. The combination of group work, data analysis, and cultural awareness have helped me to stand out in job applications and it has given me the confidence and experience to search for a career similar to the work I conducted whilst there.
How was your experience of living in Cardiff, in terms of the city, social life, accommodation, again specifically as a postgraduate student?
Before I moved to Cardiff the university provided me with a list of reliable landlords who I then contacted about house viewings. I decided to live in a privately rented house in Cathays with 4 other Postgraduate students who I had never met before. Originally, I was apprehensive about living with strangers but my housemates have become friends who I hang out with all the time. I love the area because it takes me less than 10 minutes to get to my lectures, there are loads of independent coffee shops and cafes, and supermarkets spread all over so I don’t have to worry about carrying back heavy shopping.
The city of Cardiff itself is great. There’s always so much going on so you can guarantee you will never be bored and there are always plenty of opportunities to meet new people. There are loads of cocktail bars, pubs, shops, restaurants, and the odd museum or two. Coming from a small village in North Wales, I like spending time in open and green spaces. Luckily Cardiff has a lot of these so you’ll often find me either going for a run around Bute Park or enjoying an ice cream around the lake in Roath Park.
What was different about your postgraduate experience at Cardiff University compared to your previous degree?
My postgraduate degree has provided me with so many transferable skills which I can use in the workplace. I’ve been taught how to create my own GIS maps from scratch, how to conduct research abroad, and how to write professional reports. It has shown me that university doesn’t have to revolve around books and theories, it can be exciting and help you to apply the theories you have learnt in the real world.
How did you fund postgraduate degree?
Unfortunately, I am not eligible for the UK Postgraduate Loan (2016/17) because I live in Wales so I have funded the degree with help from my family and some savings I had from part-time jobs during my undergraduate degree. I thought it would be a struggle, but I signed up to the Jobshop via the university and I quickly found myself a part-time job which I have had for the past 7 months. Cardiff is such a big city, there is always the opportunity to find work, and employers are sympathetic to the fact that we are students, so some can offer flexible work to fit around your studies.
How do you think that your postgraduate degree is helping prepare you for the future – job aspirations, career development, future study etc?
The MSc has given me that extra edge against others who may be applying for the same jobs as me. Not only do I have an extra qualification, but I have more skills which I can bring to the workplace. An undergraduate degree is fantastic, but a Masters degree has truly helped me figure out what I want to do with my life once I have finished.