For those considering postgraduate study in England, the uncertainties of taking a year out of ‘normal’ life may be worrying. We’ve asked some of our recent students at the Institute of Development Studies to talk us through their experience of studying on the MA Science Society and Development.
For the second of our student profiles we tracked down Katie Roche, who was a secondary school biology teacher in Switzerland before she came to the MA looking for career change.
Q: What attracted you to this course in particular?
A: This course had the combination of science, which I have always been interested in, public policy – an area where I already had an MA- and development. So seemed a perfect fit.
Q: You had to move to the UK to take the course, what prompted you to take that decision?
A: I was living in Switzerland and quit my job there to go back to full-time study. I moved to the UK because the course was in English (my mother tongue) and also because I liked Brighton. It was all last minute and spur of the moment but I loved it.
Q: What do you feel you got out of the course?
A: The luxury of a year off work to concentrate on studying was just so free and liberating. The course opened my eyes to a myriad of new literature, new ideas, and new discussions that I never realised I was interested in.
I thoroughly enjoyed it but could spent another ten years studying this and never get to the bottom of the issues, they are so complex and huge – but my eyes have been opened which is a start!
Q:What was the best thing about the course?
A: I loved the IDS family. Being surrounded by practical academics- those who walk the talk- was inspiring. I also enjoyed studying in a place where the questioning the status quo was not only encouraged but expected. It felt great to be part of a group who valued your opinions.
Q: What do you feel was the most important issue you tackled on the course?
A: I loved the real world practicalities of the course and seeing how the academic literature was relevant to every day work in development. The academic staff were doing the work rather than just researching the work. I get the impression this isn’t particularly usual and a very real strength for IDS.
Q: Which piece of work are you most proud of?
A: An essay I wrote on the science policy and how to better bridge the gap between policy makers, who may not have the in depth scientific knowledge to really fully grasp the nuances of the science, and the expert scientists who may not have the full understanding of the policy processes.
Q: What were the other students like?
A: We were so lucky in the 2010 intake to have a group of disparate people from very different geographical and employment backgrounds who were so encouraging and accepting but also brought a wide range of views, expertise and opinions to the discussions. My relationships with my peers really opened my mind.
Q What are you thinking of doing now that you’ve finished the course?
A: I am looking for work in public policy with the New Zealand government, either working locally on education or social issues – more social development and poverty alleviation in NZ – or working on agricultural and climate change mitigation issues in the Pacific Islands where NZ has a major presence.
I would most definitely not be moving in this direction career wise without this MA.
Want to find out more about moving for study? Read about the experience of Shweta Srinivasan who moved to the UK from New Delhi.