Case study

MSc African Studies with Health graduate — Jakob Glibstrup

Jakob studied MSc African Studies with Health at University College London (UCL), and is now a management consultant at Danish consultancy firm Valcon

Why did you choose this institution and course?

Initially, friends and family raised their eyebrows about my choice. But I wanted to gain new and complementary skills, and was interested in Africa for two reasons.

Firstly, I felt that Africa is often misunderstood and inaccurately portrayed - even though I knew very little about the continent myself. I wanted to learn more about Africa, professionally and personally.

Secondly, I saw huge potential in the continent. I believed that one of the key drivers for economic prosperity in many African countries lay within business development.

MSc African Studies with Health at UCL's Joint Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Social and Historical Sciences offered academic flexibility, an international environment, and a unique teaching quality with much attention to the individual.

How did you fund postgraduate study?

I mainly funded this degree with various scholarships and bursaries, both from Denmark and the UK.

What did the programme involve?

It was a truly interdisciplinary academic experience. With half of all my modules being solely related to Africa, I gained a substantial understanding of the continent’s past and present. This helped me to understand some of the health challenges that it faces.

The course also taught me how diverse factors such as politics, economics and urban studies affect health challenges. This again underlined the flexibility and interdisciplinary structure of the programme.

My classmates were also diverse. This is one of the true advantages of this course - I learned so much from the people sat next to me. More than 20 nationalities were present in my Corruption and Global Health module - with academic backgrounds ranging from medicine to English literature.

What have you done since graduation?

In my management consultant role, I work with various organisations, including those interested in the African market. I’m eager to drive business opportunities in a responsible way.

It’s doubtful whether I would've secured this highly competitive position had I not chosen the somewhat different path of a Masters degree in African studies.

All organisations are interested in recruiting people with diverse backgrounds and my degree allowed me to develop certain skills that are rarely seen in management consultant applicants. It doesn't make me a better applicant per se, but it helped me to stand out from the crowd.

I have a long-term ambition to either start my own, or to join, a large, international non-governmental organisation (NGO) or political organisation focused on continuous improvement of the already bright future of Africa. Local business development is a significant part of this.

What advice would you give to those considering the programme?

I'd highly recommend MSc African Studies with Health if you're passionate about broadening your academic and personal horizons on the continent.

The programme offers a steep learning curve, and you must be eager to learn and participate. I encourage students from all academic backgrounds to apply - all you need is a sincere interest in learning about Africa.

You're not closing doors with this degree. Instead, you develop new skills to complement your existing ones.