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My MSc has helped kick-start my career

Thomas, MSc Transport Planning student

Thomas, MSc Transport Planning

Thomas tells us about his Master’s in MSc Transport Planning and how it has equipped him with the skills employers are looking for in today’s competitive jobs market.

Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?

“The Master’s focuses on teaching you the skills and knowledge for a career in transport planning. Having started my full-time job, everything I have learnt on my course has helped me with the work I am now doing. In this respect, it is very vocationally orientated, but still refers to a lot to theory. For example, understanding about the economics of transport and how to do effective research, which is naturally really important for your thesis.

“We occasionally had guest lecturers, but as part of one of the modules, we had a trip to the Netherlands that involved a lot of lectures from professional Dutch bodies. All the staff are very friendly and you get to know them well. The same was true of all my coursemates. The Glamorgan building, where the course is taught, offers a lot of teaching rooms, including several computer rooms to do both practical lessons and private study.”

Can you tell us a little bit about your graduate job and how that ties in with your programme of study.

“Towards the end of the Master’s, the department will contact you explaining various job offers from public and private bodies who have contacted the school advertising the positions available (and there are many!). I managed to secure a full-time job directly relevant to my course before even finishing my thesis. My job title is Graduate Transport Planner with Parsons Brinckerhoff. The course has given me a firm understanding of the field, giving me the confidence when starting out in the world of work.”

What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?

“I did a Master’s because I knew it would help my career and help me develop more specialist skills. My undergraduate was in planning and, although it gave me a good knowledge of planning, it did not especially focus on transport. Transport planning has always been the area in which I wanted to work, so the Master’s was a perfect way to continue my learning and progress in my chosen career.”

Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?

“Cardiff is one of the few places in the UK to offer a dedicated Master’s in Transport Planning. Having already done my undergraduate in Cardiff, it made sense to stay here as I knew people here and felt comfortable in the university and the city as a whole.”

What have your experiences been of funding your studies?

“I am fortunate because my parents loaned me the money to complete the Master’s. However, I know of people who have been awarded scholarships, do part-time work or have secured other forms of funding, e.g. funded through work to complete a part-time degree, so there are many different avenues of funding available.”

Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?

“For me, I would say that the quality of the teaching has stood out. The lecturers I have had have not only been good at what they do, but they take the time to get to know you and help you when you need it. They also provide excellent support when it comes to job-hunting at the end of the programme. This makes it easier to approach them should you have any concerns or difficulties.”

What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?

“Cardiff is quite a compact city, but has everything you would want. Everything is close by and in walking distance. For this reason, it makes it a lot easier to see friends and go to socials, events and meet up with other students. I would definitely recommend going to the Societies Fair at the start of the year and try out as many different things as you can. The University has so many societies and groups to join so you’ll be sure to find the right thing for you.”

How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?

“As well as the obvious transport planning skills needed for a career in this field, the Master’s gives you strong skills in report writing, which is essential in the professional world. You start to develop a technical and concise way of writing that is more attractive to employers. During my interview with Parsons Brinckerhoff, they specifically asked me about my writing skills, so I was able to give a good solid answer.

“There are very few universities that offer such a specific masters as this, so studying in what is already a highly respected university adds to the uniqueness of doing this particular postgraduate degree. For this reason, the School is well known with many companies and businesses. Many employers are familiar with the high standard of teaching available.”

Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?

“Yes, I would say they have. Having done my undergraduate here in Cardiff also, I knew what the school was like, so knew what to expect and it didn’t let me down!”

What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?

“My biggest achievement I feel is knowing I have the knowledge and skills to complete a Master’s degree. Before I started, I didn’t personally believe that I would be capable, but the university has instilled confidence in me to know I can achieve great things!”

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