Case study

Masters student — Henry Biggs

Henry is studying MSc Biotechnology & Enterpise at The University of Manchester. Here he shares his experience of studying online during the COVID-19 pandemic and what he has learned over the last few months

Why did you choose this particular course and institution?

I chose The University of Manchester as it's renowned for research and its scientific contribution to the world. Also, having previously studied at the university I was familiar with the faculty, school and its academics.

I was interested in biotechnology and enterprise as it further explores my interests in the life sciences, where ultimately you complete an impactful research project on an area of science you are passionate about. The course is unique as you study life science away from the laboratory, covering modules on intellectual property, as well as an enterprise-based group project where you produce a business pitch, business plan, and learn about clinical translation of science to commercialisation. The course has provided me with valuable skills that I am able to discuss in job interviews and applications.

How are you funding postgraduate study?

I have funded my studies through the government Masters loan, as well as through working part-time at a bar.

Working mainly evenings and weekends has allowed me to get into a proficient work/study routine. Additionally, the summer before beginning my Masters I worked nearly full-time hours so I was able to save money.

How does online learning differ to face-to-face, on-campus study?

Online learning is a lot more independent, and consists of online seminars, Zoom meetings and keeping up to date with emails. The university uses an online interface called Blackboard collaborate, which is similar to other platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom and facilitates group or individual meetings.

How is the course assessed?

It's assessed using a mixture of coursework, examinations and presentations. Typically, each module consists of an exam and some form of coursework (a presentation or report), where your individual research project is also marked on your practical ability.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of studying online?

Studying online can be a lot more efficient as you save time by not having to travel to and from the university and its buildings. While in-person socialising is limited, virtual platforms and social media can help you stay in touch with course friends.

How are you balancing your study and home life?

Adapting to an online work platform has been challenging. Previously I was a library-goer and kept my study and home life separate. I have found it important to keep track of work progress throughout the day, using a daily list of tasks I have to complete and keeping it flexible in case I don’t complete it. As I study in my bedroom, I have found it vital that I leave the bedroom and house as often as I can - as sitting, eating and sleeping in the same room can lead to discouragement and lack of motivation to study.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I wish to pursue a career in medical communications, as either a scientific writer or account executive. These are client-facing roles, where you work around the latest scientific discoveries and innovations in a non-laboratory setting, exploring my interests in writing or project management.

What tips would you give to others who are learning online?

Make sure you have a dedicated study space, preferably away from your bedroom and free from distractions such as family or housemates. Also, don't be afraid to ask for guidance or help when you need it. You can easily drop a tutor an email or set up a ten minute Zoom call to ask some questions.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page