Case study

Masters student — Emily O'Sullivan

Emily was keen to deepen her knowledge of socio-economic issues with a Masters in international development. The online, flexible nature of the course also made balancing her personal responsibilities much easier

Why did you choose a Masters in international development?

After being a lawyer for several years, I wanted to do a Masters to build on my experience of working on projects in various jurisdictions, and to deepen my understanding of issues related to shared prosperity, sustainability, inclusion, equity, and diversity. I was drawn to international development because of its multidisciplinary nature, and how the course confronts contemporary global issues.

Why did you choose to study at SOAS?

First, I chose SOAS for its reputation as an intellectually prestigious university with a focus on global socio-economic challenges. Secondly, the well-established, flexible, and online structure of the course suits my personal needs. 

How did you apply for the course?

I applied online using the straightforward SOAS application form which included a CV and personal statement.

Tell us about what your course involves

The MSc International Development online course involves four modules (one core module, and three electives) plus a dissertation. Each module is assessed by various online activities and a final essay. There are weekly readings and videos, which are discussed with tutors and peers using an online forum. There are also 'live' seminars.

What has been the most interesting topic?

The breadth and depth of the course content has been fascinating. My academic focus is on gender issues, and I have enjoyed learning from various perspectives in each of my modules. The intellectual questioning of feminisms, together with exploring decolonial legacies, continues to be incredibly thought-provoking.

What are the challenges in your course?

The challenge is to keep on top of the amount of compelling literature and the ongoing assessments. But the structure of the course is designed to fit around other commitments i.e. work/caring responsibilities etc. A key challenge for me was preparing an exam essay at the same time as doing lockdown-induced home-schooling for my two children.

How will the course aid your career?

The course has taught me to think in different ways. Developing skills of deep, critical thinking is transferable to any career. I have also enjoyed learning from my peers, who have experience working in various sectors, and live all around the world. Although it wasn't my plan when I started my Masters, I am enjoying studying so much that I am now looking into PhD opportunities.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing a Masters?

My advice would be to find a course that both inspires you and also fits with your personal circumstances. Ultimately, if you have the opportunity to do a Masters, I highly recommend it for broadening your perspective, developing your analytical skills, and for meeting fascinating people.

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