Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security MRes

Tim A

Student Profile

About me

Name: Tim
Course: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security MRes
Where I'm from: Britain
"My student blog"

"I am an agriculture postgraduate student passionate about seeing sustainable change in my industry and helping to feed the world. In my spare time I enjoy taking part in sport and I am also a keen musician."

Choosing postgraduate study

"I chose postgraduate study as the need for sustainable food production and the issues surrounding food security are becoming increasingly important around the world. After a degree in Horticulture, which covered a broad range of topics, I wanted to focus more on agriculture and food production. Postgraduate study will allow me to study these areas in greater depth and increase my understanding of the problems that we face in feeding a growing global population, without having an adverse impact on the environment. This will allow me to widen my career opportunities and progress further in a fundamental sector."

Choosing Newcastle

"I chose to study at Newcastle as it is one of the best universities for agriculture courses (1st in The Complete University Guide 2016) and has a prestigious reputation for its agriculture department. Newcastle University is also one of only four universities in the UK offering a postgraduate course in the specific area of sustainability and food security. Moreover, Newcastle offered an MRes equivalent, as well as the standard MSc, which allows me to undertake a larger piece of independent study during my postgraduate study which was an attractive option for me.
Further to this, Newcastle has a great reputation for student experience and satisfaction. So I knew that Newcastle would be an exciting place to study."

Studying at Newcastle

"My favourite feature of my course is the diversity of students who I study alongside. There are people from a range of different continents and countries, which adds much more context and experience to group discussion. The ability to compare and contrast different economies, cultures and environments across the world with people who have a real knowledge and experience of such is vital in understanding how agriculture works on a global scale.

"Furthermore, I enjoy learning in a block-module format, where we study a particular module in depth for a 2 week period, have an assessment on that topic and then move on to the next module. This means we can study something in detail without distractions of other work, but keeps the course refreshing.

"I would definitely recommend this course to anyone – there are so many openings in the agricultural sector and a great need for graduates. The course is so interesting and is appropriate for people of all academic backgrounds: scientific, engineering, political, economic and practical hands-on based.

"Postgraduate study has certainly been a step in the expectation of work quality, but not so much that it is difficult to achieve or makes the experience unenjoyable. I think when choosing to study a postgraduate course, it will be expected that the work load will be greater and you adapt to suit that. However, maintaining a work-life balance is still just as important and there is still plenty of opportunity to commit to social activities around university contact time and personal study.

"There are some differences to my expectations – block modules and the diversity of students as previously mentioned – such as the changing class size in each module. Because there are around 6 postgraduate courses in the agriculture department, there is overlap in module choices, meaning that the group can be big or small depending on the number of courses taking part in the module."

Postgraduate Community

"Postgraduate life at Newcastle is a great experience for a number of reasons. There are a variety of sports clubs and societies to be involved with and other opportunities, such as becoming a student ambassador or a course representative. Studying allows interaction with lots of new students and members of staff and you are encouraged to ask questions, participate in discussion and attend events which will all help further your knowledge and satisfy your academic interests."

Funding my studies

"The university website told me how much my postgraduate fees would be, and that I could pay them in either one or two instalments. I was also informed that the university is able to help advise on money issues, but I didn’t need to use that service. Also, the university offered a rough estimate on how much living costs for one year would be in Newcastle; however, having already been a UK student I knew that the cost would be roughly the same as my undergraduate degree.

"After spending a great deal of the summer in between my final year and postgraduate study looking at the possible funding opportunities and reading about the UK Government’s new masters loan scheme, I had applied for a few scholarships offered by the university. I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship by the Environment Agency, in return for undertaking a piece of research for them, which I am using for my dissertation. This scholarship covers only my tuition fees, and I am using my own savings I have earned from working during my undergraduate degree to cover my living costs. However, I am aware that the Postgraduate Loan can be obtained up to 9 months after starting postgraduate study, so I have that as a possible buffer."

Career aspirations

"Although I am not yet clear on exactly what I hope to pursue after graduating, I hope to have a career in scientific agricultural research or a role in the political and regulatory side of the sector. At some point during my career, I would also like to study for a PhD, but I intend to obtain to experience of working in the sector first. My ideal career aspirations are constantly changing as we learn about new areas of need for academics in agriculture, but Newcastle is helping to make me aware of these openings and provides opportunities to network with people who will influence my aspirations."


"I was lucky enough to know some friends who are studying in their fourth year of undergraduate, who I live with now. Once I knew that I had a place for postgraduate study in Newcastle, I contacted them to let them know and they were able to find accommodation for us to live in. The experience could have been stressful as I wasn’t able to see my student house until I moved in, as I was studying my undergraduate degree elsewhere, but fortunately it all went to plan."

Living in Newcastle

"Newcastle is a truly vibrant city and a great place to live as a student. With a city centre ideal for shoppers, a short commute to the fantastic Northumberland coastline and great transport links to other parts of the country, Newcastle is an attractive city to be in. I would definitely recommend Newcastle to others as it has a great student community and offers something for everyone; whether it’s the lively night life, arts and culture, sport or history."

Remembering Newcastle

"So far, the highlight of my postgraduate experience has been the initiation of the research project with external industry bodies. I have learned from past experience that working and networking with companies is a fantastic way of learning about the working world and to add to the knowledge gained from studying. I am currently working with both the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water in a collaborative project to prevent Nitrogen levels in drinking water reaching a toxic level. Although the project is a big demand on my time around my taught modules, it gives me experience of liaising with a multi-disciplinary team and managing my time most effectively."


"Newcastle University is a great place for postgraduate students due to its outstanding facilities, its focus on helping you grow as a student and the commitment of staff to giving you the best experience possible. I would encourage anyone thinking about studying at Newcastle to visit the university, get a feel for the place and to ask as many questions as possible – the choice will change your life."