Case study

Masters graduate — Marta Sanzo Miró

Marta studied BSc Food Science and Technology at Universitat de Lleida, Catalonia, Spain. After completing an MSc at Cranfield University she's now studying for a PhD

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

After finishing my undergraduate studies I felt that I wanted to continue to broaden my knowledge, as I still did not know which field I was interested in. I thought that by doing an MSc I would have more opportunities to decide if I would like to continue in academia and research or work in industry. This is because during the MSc, apart from attending lectures and having practical sessions in the lab, I would have the chance to collaborate with the food industry.

What postgraduate course did you study and where?

I studied MSc Food Systems and Management at Cranfield University. Before coming to the UK, I carried out another MSc in Innovation and Management of the food industry, at Universitat de Lleida.

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

Cranfield University is known to have a strong link between academia and industry, so when I first read about the course, it really drew my attention. I then read more about the structure of the MSc and attended a webinar run by the course directors of the Agrifood programme (where MSc in Food Systems and Management belongs). After the webinar, I chose the course at Cranfield.  

Another strong reason was that I always wanted to study, at least for one year, outside my country - not only to improve my English but also to meet new people around the world. I knew from former students at Cranfield that I would meet people from all nationalities and that was appealing to me.  

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

Yes, after my BSc I pursued another MSc at the same university back in Spain and right after I came to the UK to study for my second MSc.

How did you fund your postgraduate study?

I was granted an Erasmus scholarship for my MSc course (2019-20).

What did the course teach you that your first degree did not?

I learned a little bit more in areas I already knew (such as food safety, microbiology or postharvest technology). Also, it gave an insight into the food supply chain. That was really useful for me, since it wasn't my background area and it made me aware of the main sustainability challenges faced by the food industry. Exploring how companies create business strategies to face these challenges, to promote responsible and sustainable products, made me think a lot and motivated me in my studies. In general, I would say during the course, I changed my way of thinking and my work. I developed new and enhanced skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving.

Tell us about the course and what it involved.

The course was structured in three parts: taught modules, group project and individual research project.

In the first part of the course, we studied different subjects providing us with a better understanding of the whole food chain system (food quality, food safety, postharvest technology, supply chain management, etc.). The group project focused on solving a challenge in a real workplace setting. Then, we spent four months with the individual research project that can be done within an industry or academia. In my case, I chose academia and due to COVID-19, the thesis was a desk-based project, but normally you would spend time in the laboratory designing an experiment and carrying it out. In my thesis, I investigated the mechanisms behind ethylene-induced dormancy delay in onion bulbs.

What was the highlight of your Masters degree?

At Cranfield University I had the chance to build relationships with my classmates, lecturers, and other students from other courses. I strongly believe that the links and networks you create are crucially important for your future.

During the year we also had the chance to visit some big companies in the food industry, like field trips McDonald's headquarters in London. This is the best way to learn and is effective as it gives you a first-hand insight into experiences from people working.

What have you done since you graduated?

Currently, I am a PhD student in Agrifood at Cranfield University. During my MSc individual thesis, I realised that I wanted to continue in research, but I didn't want to close the doors to the industry either. For this reason, I think I was lucky that at the last stage of the MSc, I found out about a PhD project sponsored by the food industry and Cranfield University.

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

  • Check out the subjects and the outline of the course to probe first if it is suitable for you or if it would meet your demands.
  • Ask for opinions from former students and hear about their experience.
  • Pursue a Masters degree because you want to do it and not because you feel pressured to do one.  

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