Course: MSc Rural Social Science Research
Why did you choose to study at Newcastle University?
While studying for my Geography undergraduate degree at Swansea I became interested in Rural Geography. Lecturers in the Geography department encouraged further study and suggested the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University, which offers an excellent Masters course. So I guess the main reason was for the course and to be part of leading institution in the field. The other reasons I chose Newcastle were; because I am from the South and wanted to experience the 'North', the surfing is pretty good in the Winter (if a bit cold).
What were the best aspects of your degree programme?
A number of factors were good about the course but I would say the work experience module I completed with Durham Rural Community Council was crucial for my personal development and employability. Conducting the data collection for my Dissertation on the development of a successful community shop was also fun and rewarding.
My Masters dissertation titled ‘Humshaugh Community Shop: A case study of a successful community shop‘ employed theories of Social Capital to understand what makes a successful and sustainable community shop. (http://www.northernruralnetwork.co.uk/uploads/articles/files/Humshaugh.pdf)
What jobs have you had since graduating?
Immediately after I finished I worked part time for Durham Rural Community Council for a few months. I then had a spell of unemployment and moved down to Cornwall near Newquay. I then started working at Retorrick Mill where I was a handyman; looking after the animals, building stuff, working the bar and looking after holiday makers. After numerous interviews I managed to get ESRC funding for a PhD to study at Exeter University Falmouth.
What job are you currently doing or pursuing?
I am currently working on my PhD looking into climate change and vulnerable rural communities.
My degree was absolutely crucial for me being eligible for the ESRC funding, so yes. The Rural Social Science Masters is ESRC recognised because of its accredited research modules which enabled me +3 funding. Something to definitely consider if you might want to continue after a Masters.
My current PhD project is investigating the processes involved in the communicating climate change science to a non-scientific community. The understanding and communication of climate change are of interest because of their particular role in creating sustainable rural communities.
Finally do you have a favorite memory of your whole postgraduate student experience?
My favourite memory was certainly not the computer exam on SPSS I can tell you that! Getting to explore the North East in the Winter was pretty good.