Case study

Masters student — Jessica Maxwell

Jessica recognised that if she was to secure a job in ecological consultancy she would need practical experience as well as academic knowledge, so opted to study an MSc in Conservation Management at Edge Hill University

Why did you choose this Masters degree and Edge Hill University?

I was looking for a Masters that offered me a theoretical background combined with practical experience. A lot of the courses I had considered didn't offer much hands-on activity or field trips, whereas the Edge Hill course was very field-based, enabling me to put into practice what I had studied in the classroom, which is how I learn best.

As well as this, I liked the feel of the campus as it is open and welcoming with lots of great learning facilities on site.

What did you most enjoy about your course?

The field trips, especially on the vertebrate monitoring and management module. We got to go out and study many species in their natural environment and learn different surveying methods, for example small mammal trapping and newt habitat surveys.

I also did a 20-day placement with Atkins, quite a large consultancy firm, as an assistant ecologist, helping with habitat, plant, bat and newt surveys which was brilliant. Through this I gained lots of experience in the office with report writing, which was a real insight as it's not something I'd ever done before. 

Has this course helped you find a job in your chosen field?

Absolutely. I'm about to begin a job as an assistant consultant ornithologist with a firm in Newcastle. They wanted someone with a degree but who also had skills and experience within the industry, which is what this MSc has given me. The course really is second to none in terms of skills preparation and real-world experience. It is brilliant.

What advice would you give to others considering this Masters?

There are lots of interesting optional opportunities such as seminars and lectures and I would say to go to as many as possible. I found them invaluable in providing a real insight into current research. The tutors are brilliant and all have their own areas of research expertise. They are always happy to help and give feedback if you are struggling or want extra information, so make use of them.

I would recommend the course as it was so enjoyable. It far exceeded my expectations, particularly with regards to the hands-on experience, and without that opportunity I don't feel I would have got my job.

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