Esmé Flegg completed MSc Marine Resource Management at the University of Southampton and is now studying for a PhD…

Why did you decide to pursue a Masters degree?

I joined a small environmental consultancy firm after completing BSc Oceanography with Physical Geography at the University of Southampton in 2011. I learned skills including working with the public and writing professional reports, but I wanted to further my education and develop my knowledge. I found that many employers in the industry preferred or only hired Masters graduates.

Why did you choose this institution and course?

Southampton offers high-quality teaching and performs impressively in the employability rankings and university reviews. The course matched the skills and experiences that I wanted to develop. It was also taught at the National Oceanography Centre and provided access to industry leaders.

How did you fund your Masters study?

My study was completely self-funded. I only applied once I had enough money to support myself for the full year. I also fitted part-time work with the university around my studies, mainly working on open days and giving campus tours.

What did your course involve?

The first semester included introductory modules that filled knowledge gaps. The second semester challenged understanding, with each course taken separately over a three-week period and assessed through coursework and practical sessions. These modules helped me build new skills quickly, as theoretical knowledge was applied almost immediately. The third semester was my favourite. The three-month independent Masters project went into much more detail than at undergraduate level. The work gave me the satisfaction that I was researching something new and exciting.

How did postgraduate study differ to undergraduate?

Masters life isn't too different. There were fewer students than at undergraduate level, so we developed a really friendly community and often hung out together after class, or when we needed a break from our projects. A Masters is also much more time-intensive - you'll be in the library for hours.

In terms of skills, I got the opportunity to do computer modelling and developed my coding abilities immensely. During my project, I even worked with the National Environment Research Council (NERC).

What were the advantages and disadvantages of Masters study?

The main advantages were the skills I developed, the confidence I built and the connections I made. A Masters degree offers much more than lectures and a qualification - you can make as much of it as you want.

The main disadvantage was financial. It cost a lot. This made things more challenging when I finished the course.

What did you do after you graduated?

I started a PhD at the University of Southampton two days after finishing my Masters. I'm investigating the effects of climate change on ports.

Although the Masters opened up numerous career doors, I intend to undertake a postdoctorate when I finish my PhD and become a university lecturer. I can then pass on the enthusiasm and interest that my supervisors instilled into me.

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