Case study

Masters graduate — Grace Harland

Grace studied a BSc in Geography at the University of Leeds. A year after graduation, she enrolled at Cranfield University to study an MSc in Environmental Water Management

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

I made the decision to pursue a postgraduate course during my time working as an intern for Waterwise. I wanted to further my understanding in the field of environmental water management and gain transferable skills that I could apply in my future career.

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

During my year of employment after completing my undergraduate degree, I received several recommendations from others who had attended the same course at Cranfield University. The insight I gained from discussions with them and further research led me to choosing the Environmental Water Management course at Cranfield. I was particularly interested in undertaking the group project, which other universities did not seem to offer an equivalent of, and the links with industry that this offered.

Did you take up further study immediately after your first degree?

After completing my degree at the University of Leeds, I worked for nine months. I was offered a three-month research assistant post at the University of Leeds. The role progressed the research I had undertaken for my dissertation. I then worked as an intern for Waterwise for six months.

Please tell us a bit about the course and what it involved

The course was split up into modules, a group project and an individual thesis project. Each module lasted two weeks with the first week dedicated to teaching and the second week spent undertaking the module assessment. This format worked well as you could focus on one topic at a time.

The group project followed the modules and lasted for approximately three months. There were a number of projects that we could choose between and they were offered to students across three different courses, providing an opportunity to collaborate with other students on other water courses at Cranfield. The outputs of the project were a report and a poster presentation, which was provided to the client.

My individual project was on climate change modelling. This involved producing a number of greenhouse gas emission scenarios and assessing the future impact of the agriculture and forestry sector.

What have you done since you graduated?

I have been working at Affinity Water as an Asset Scientist in the Water Resources & Environment team. The MSc was an important step forward in my career and helped me secure my role at Affinity Water.

What was the highlight of your Masters degree?

My highlight was undertaking the group project. I was in a group with seven others from my course and we completed a project on diffuse pollution for Natural England, which included a field trip to Norfolk to collect the data for our report. As a group we analysed, interpreted and made recommendations from the data we had collected to produce the report.

At the end of the project, we were tasked to produce a poster and present the findings. We also had the opportunity to present the key findings to the client. Throughout the project, I drew upon and improved on a number of transferable skills.

What tips would you give to others choosing a Masters degree?

Dedicate time to exploring a variety of Masters courses and attend the open days so you can gauge whether the course is likely to be the right fit for you. I would advise using LinkedIn and other platforms to network with former students and students looking into further study. You might even come across a course or university that you had not previously considered.

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