Case study

MSc Public Health Nutrition — Sarah Norburn

Having completed both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Edge Hill University, Sara Norburn talks about how her Masters in particular helped her secure and thrive in her dream job

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

I wanted to go into nutrition but thought that the public health angle of this course would give me a broader overview of health conditions, as well as how nutrition can impact on them. I went back to Edge Hill because my undergraduate degree was really high quality with a great standard of teaching, so I felt confident that I'd experience the same with my postgraduate degree. Also, I knew that it's a really nice campus with a good community vibe.

Tell us a little about your current job and how your MSc helped you

I'm working as a life coach at an occupational health company. Nutrition is the main focus of my job, so my Masters is really relevant - I wouldn't have got this job without it.  

As part of the course we looked closely at public health campaigns. We had to research an area, decide how the evidence we found applied to our particular catchment area and then plan how we could make changes. We worked through the entire planning process, just as you would in a public health-related role, before presenting our campaigns and being critiqued by tutors. These were really useful exercises which put theory into practice and encouraged you to think how you would improve next time - just as you do in the real world.

Consequently, when I went for my job interview and was asked to produce and present a weight management intervention, something I'd already done at Edge Hill, I was fully prepared. My interview and presentation exceeded their expectations, so despite tough competition I was successful. Health and nutrition jobs are quite competitive but this is a really good course which prepares you for life in the sector.

What did you most enjoy about your course?

The tutors. The course wouldn't have been the same without them. They adapted modules, changed their teaching styles and went faster and slower through the content, all to suit the needs and strengths of the students. For example, you do quite a lot of practical work in the laboratory and none of my cohort had been in the lab before, but the tutors were prepared to start from scratch and give the support we needed. The guest lecturers were also amazing.

You've gone into nutrition but which other career paths would benefit from this course?

Because it is such a broad course and you look at international as well as UK perspectives, you have the opportunity to go into so many different sectors. When I was looking for a job I initially focused on becoming a nutritionist, but I soon realised that the skills I'd developed on the course meant that I could go into public health campaigning, weight management, diabetes prevention, even health and lifestyle journalism.

What advice would you give to others considering a postgraduate degree?

Don't be afraid if you're going into a new area. My undergraduate degree was in early years teaching, and I was worried that I would be out of my depth on this course. But that wasn't the case at all. Postgraduate study is a lot of work, but if you study hard and ask lots of questions the tutors will always give you the help you need.  

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