Case study

MSc Demography and Health student — Clare Sawyer

Clare Sawyer is studying MSc Demography & Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Why did you choose this institution and course?

After studying BA Geography at The University of Nottingham, I wanted to pursue my passion for examining health inequalities and learn more about population health.

The School was recommended by my university tutor. Its MSc Demography & Health course allowed me to use my geographical knowledge while developing new skills in quantitative research methods such as statistics, demography and epidemiology.

What does the programme involve?

The School is a world-renowned institution, and one of the best for health studies such as epidemiology, public health and control of infectious diseases. MSc Demography & Health combines the fundamentals of demographic research within a health-based setting, making the course unique in Europe.

The programme is more intense than my undergraduate degree, with lectures and practical sessions running from 9:30am to 5pm. However, like my undergraduate degree, I’ll be completing a 10,000-word dissertation – in which I’ll investigate cause-specific mortality rates in HIV+ patients in Kisesa, Tanzania, taking anti-retroviral treatment.

How are you funding postgraduate study?

I am self-funding my MSc; however there are numerous postgraduate funding opportunities for home and international students. The School offers many scholarships and bursaries, and there are numerous bodies, such as the Wellcome Trust, from which funding is available – more information can be found on the School’s website.

For MSc Demography & Health specifically, the Population Investigation Committee offers scholarships.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I'm planning on working in public sector health research. I've really enjoyed learning more about the importance of data and routine data collection, and one day would love to formulate new methodologies. I also hope to undertake a PhD in the future.

What advice would you give to those considering the programme?

Thoroughly investigate the MSc by speaking with current students and the course directors - they are all incredibly friendly and can offer the best advice.

I’d also recommend brushing up on your maths skills – a lot of the modules require these, but don’t let that deter you. I’d not studied maths since school, but I've learned more than I could’ve ever imagined while at the School. The support from my peers and academic tutors couldn’t have been better, and my confidence in maths has skyrocketed.

The course would be great for anyone wanting to boost their quantitative skills, and those who maybe aren't sure which area of health they want to pursue. This course provides a fantastic overview and I couldn't recommend it enough.