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Kylie Conroy - BSc (Hons) Human Biology
I am originally from Australia and after leaving school, I went on to do an apprenticeship in hospitality with a view to one day opening my own restaurant or café after I had done some travelling. My travels brought me to the UK and I spent a few years working in restaurants and bars, but I realised that I wanted to do something different. I was still interested in food, but I was keen for a more scientific career. As my previous qualifications were not science-focused, I did a one year Access course at college which gave me the qualifications to apply for the BSc (Hons) Nutrition at QMU.

The content of Years One and Two of QMU’s degrees in Nutrition, Human Biology and Applied Pharmacology is the same and provides a grounding in science. This is great as it means that you can refocus your studies if you enjoy one aspect more than the other. Enjoying lab work, I decided to change to the Human Biology degree and I’m glad that I changed: I really enjoyed it and although I found it challenging, I believe that if you put in the work you get the results and I did – a First Class Honours. The modules were very interesting and well presented and I really enjoyed the written assignments and delving deep into a particular topic. I was also able to secure a three month studentship at University of Edinburgh where I did some research into depression - which was a brilliant experience. Similar undergraduate studentships are offered in universities throughout the UK and I would highly recommend doing one. It not only gave me good experience, but it also meant that I could see first hand what was involved in laboratory work and real research. Also, through my contacts there I was able to do some further research that formed the basis of my honours project.

Towards the end Year Four, I started thinking about my future. As I had enjoyed laboratory work and researching for my honours project, I quite fancied carrying on to do a PhD. QMU were offering studentships for various topics of research, so I applied and was accepted. Between graduating and starting my PhD, I went back to work in the lab at Edinburgh University. After finishing my PhD, I’d like to work in industrial research and take a break from studying, with the hope of further study after I’ve gained some work experience. With the changing economy though, who knows what lies ahead. I am just going to finish my PhD and then take it from there. I am keeping my eye on the job market though.

 

Kirsty Maciver - BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy
I always wanted to work in healthcare and in a role where I would be able to help others. I looked at many healthcare professions, but it was physiotherapy that interested me. On leaving school, I came to QMU as I was keen to study in Edinburgh and the university had a great reputation for it’s physiotherapy degree.

I really enjoyed the course. Whilst it was very challenging at times, the high practical content made it interesting and I enjoyed working with and learning from my classmates. In Years One and Two, we focused on learning the theory, knowledge of specific conditions and developing our assessment and treatment skills. There was a good balance of lectures, tutorials and practical group-based sessions, allowing us to constantly relate the theory to the practice and improve our overall learning. The practical sessions were fun and interactive and an ideal opportunity to both practice on and learn from one another. Years Three and Four were mainly practice-based learning/clinical placements and our honours research project. For me, placements were the best aspect of the course and indeed the most enjoyable: they allowed me to directly put my skills and theory into practice and gain a greater understanding of my own professional role as a physiotherapist. I undertook six placements, including one elective placement in an area of my choice. The placements were diverse and allowed me to gain experience in both core and specialist areas of physiotherapy, in settings from critical care to the community. Each one was a steep learning curve, but I gained so much more knowledge, skills and confidence and they prepared me to assess and treat patients with a broad range of conditions and complex needs. They helped me to become a well rounded, versatile physiotherapist with the skills and abilities to work confidently across both the acute and community setting – and ultimately help me to obtain my first physiotherapy post.

I have now gained my first band 5 (junior) post working as a physiotherapist in a busy, acute hospital for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. It is a rotational post, allowing me to gain experience in a variety of different clinical specialties and continue to build upon the skills I learned as a student. It is an ideal job: I have the opportunity to work in the profession I was trained to do – in a large, acute trust with a very supportive learning environment – and continue to engage in the process of lifelong learning. On a daily basis I am using the skills and knowledge that I developed at QMU. Physiotherapy is a very rewarding career with opportunities to work in many different clinical specialties and settings. I want to continue to broaden my knowledge and experience in different clinical areas and I would not rule out further study in the future.

 

Lisa Hyslop - BA (Hons) Hospitality and Tourism Management
Before leaving school, I had spent some time working in a hotel environment. I soon realised that I wanted to pursue a career in hotel management and the course at QMU seemed to fit my needs. Being a student was challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable. Along with all the interesting modules I studied, I also completed a placement in a hotel bar in Majorca - a great opportunity to apply my knowledge and develop my skills and independence. I also got the opportunity to work at the MTV awards when they took place in Edinburgh, assisting the hospitality team in many areas. It is one of my most memorable experiences from university and I got to see lots of exciting people.

Many aspects of the course were difficult, but the friendly and approachable lecturers were on hand to help. They were particularly supportive in Year Four when I was doing my dissertation. It was about the effects of the smoking ban in Scotland – and is one of the reasons that I’m so glad I chose QMU. After I graduated, I worked for Malmaison hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the ‘front office’. I learned a lot: training was readily available and I was part of the hotel ‘voice team’, which involved travelling and meeting with the Chief Executive and directors to discuss new ideas. I now work as Reservations Manager for Firmdale Hotels in London. I have been on training courses which have benefited me greatly and I’m currently undergoing a management development programme, allowing me to progress to senior management. The knowledge and skills I learned at QMU are used in my day to day role and are also allowing me to achieve high results in my management development programme and in the weekly reports I prepare for our directors. I have and will continue to recommend QMU to friends and family: it is a great place to learn.

 

Mark Riding - BA (Hons) Business Management
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school, but I had studied for a Higher in Business Management, enjoyed it and did very well in it. As a result, I decided to focus my further studies in that area. I knew people who had studied at QMU and it came with a glowing report, so I decided to apply as it offered the type of course I was looking for and was pretty close to home.

At first I found the course quite difficult: the structure (which has changed now) at the start was quite challenging and it took me a wee while to adjust to university life after having come straight from school. The course was great though; really interesting, and the lecturers were brilliant. The staff were all very approachable and their down-to-earth attitude and friendliness made the learning process very pleasant. The modules which I studied were all very useful and I particularly enjoyed one at the start of Year Three where I worked with a partner to design a business plan for a company. In theory, the plan could have worked and we seriously considered starting the business. It was a really exciting time, but in the end we did not progress with the idea as we did not have the time due to our studies…who knows in the future though!

Due to personal reasons, I left QMU before completing Year Three. Even with only two years of study under my belt, I had enough knowledge to get a ‘business’ job which I really enjoy and I am now working as a sales executive with a communications company called Holyrood Communications. I really enjoy it because it is politically led and covers current topics and issues surrounding the economy and various different sectors. Even although I had a great job, I still yearned to

complete my degree however and I have since returned to QMU and am currently in the process of completing Year Three. And with QMU’s flexible approach, I am also able to continue working.

On the whole, studying at QMU has been a very rewarding experience and I have learned so many new things and met so many nice people and I can’t wait to finally complete my Honours degree. I would like to become a company director some day or a successful entrepreneur. Funnily enough I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger but now I want to stay in management and progress up the career ladder.

 

Ruth George - BA (Hons) Costume Design and Construction
Being naturally creative, art was my favourite subject at school and I knew that I wanted an artistic career of some sorts. After leaving school I went on to do a one year foundation art course at my local college which introduced me to costume design. Combining my love of sewing and creativity, I soon realised that this was the career route that I wished to pursue. On completing the course, I took a year out and spent it working with local amateur dramatics groups to gain more experience in costume – but I wanted to pursue my studies further in this area. I was unsure whether I wanted to be a costume designer or a maker, but the course at QMU was unusual: it allowed me to study both design and construction together and was why I chose it.

I most enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the course. I not only worked with fellow costume students, but I also got to work with students on QMU’s other performing arts courses as you work together to put on real shows. This gave me a taste of what I would face in the real world and developed my practical and teamwork skills in ways that a paper-based course would never have done. The lecturers were enthusiastic and very knowledgeable – although I did enjoy the latter years of the course too when learning became more independent.

In Year Three I went on two placements: working as a costume trainee on a film in Ireland and working in the hire department at Angels, a large well known costumier in London. In Year Four, I costumed a musical for the ‘Bohemians Lyric Opera Company,’ which was performed at the Kings Theatre, Edinburgh. I also got myself a part-time job as a dresser at the King’s Theatre and the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh, so I managed to gain lots of useful experience.

Since graduating I have done some costume making and dressing work for theatre and worked on two films. The first one as a costume trainee and the second as an assistant maker. The backstage and teamwork skills I developed at QMU gave me the confidence and ability to work in a professional theatre environment and instantly fit in, despite being newly qualified.

During my time at QMU I decided that my ultimate job would be as a costume cutter and maker and focused my studies to help me develop skills in this area. I was exceptionally lucky in getting my dream job so soon after graduating: an assistant maker on a film, costuming principal actors! The construction methods and sewing skills I learnt during my time at QMU were invaluable in enabling me to do this work. I will soon be moving to London and hope to find some work either in theatre or film. Ideally I would love to do some further work in film and develop skills in this area.

 

Anna Trejnowska - BSc Hons Psychology
I left Poland to study Psychology and English at the University of Wolverhampton. However, psychology was my main interest and I wanted to move to Edinburgh, so I applied to QMU – and due to my previous course, I was able to enter into Year Two. I really enjoyed the course – especially the last two years; it was intellectually challenging with interesting lectures and tutorials. I enjoyed the opportunity to study with other students and share ideas. The relationship between students and staff was great and were always available to meet with students to discuss any concerns.

At the end of Year Three, I was chosen to help my lecturers carry out research on paranormal beliefs. I conducted and transcribed interviews. It was really exciting to be able to see how the academic work gets done ‘from the kitchen’. Initially my career aspiration was to become a clinical psychologist so I looked for a relevant part-time job to get some experience. I used the university’s JobShop and found a job as a nursing assistant in the Royal Edinburgh Psychiatric Hospital and worked there for the last two years of my degree. It was great being able to apply my knowledge in a work-setting. However, because of the research project I did, I decided that I wanted to pursue an academic career in psychology, rather then go down the clinical route.

After graduating, I went back to QMU working as a research assistant in psychology and got lots of experience: I worked on three different projects. I am now included within the authors of the reports that came out of the work too; and I also did some teaching, which I enjoyed very much. I am now studying towards a Masters in Occupational Psychology back at Wolverhampton University.

 

Steven Braxton - BA (Hons) Film and Media
I left school at 16 and joined the Forces for five years as a Junior Officer. After I left, I travelled across Europe, but soon realised that it was time to get a career. I had always been interested in the areas of media, film and photography and would have liked to work in that industry in some shape or form. I wanted to study in Edinburgh as it’s so multi-cultural and I found that QMU had the course that I was interested in. QMU also allowed me the opportunity to study for a degree without having the traditional entry requirements.

I really enjoyed the course. Years One and Two enabled me to get a grounding in the subject area as a whole and establish what I was best at. In Years Three and Four, I concentrated on practical film production and that’s the career path I have finally taken. After I left QMU, I went on to do a

MA in Advanced Film Practice, as well as starting a freelance film business ‘Braxtonimage’- which takes on corporate work for profit-making companies and creative documentary projects. To date, I have compiled films for Edinburgh Festival, CH4’s Baby Cow Productions, T in the Park & Triptich Music Festivals. I have done presenter film work with Steven K Amos, Brit Ekland & Michael Barrymore. I’m presently working on two creative projects: a documentary with comedian Phil Kay and a documentary film on PTSD. I now want to progress my business and it would be good to nail down a substantial commission for a larger feature film project. My passion is creative documentary and presenter work but in order to pursue this you have to take on corporate projects to sustain yourself, so it’s always a juggling act between the two.

On the whole, I had a fantastic time at QMU and I have definitely used the skills that I learnt there – they are what I call upon most in my current job.

 

Japjeet Singh Sodhi - BA International Hospitality Management
Japjeet, one of our international students from India, said of his experience at Queen Margaret University.

"Studying at Queen Margaret University introduced me to new ways of thinking; how to approach a problem with an open mind and how to solve it with critical reasoning. I left not only with new knowledge, but new ways of analysing and problem solving as well.”

 

Lisa Williams - MSc Dietetics
I really enjoyed biology at school and after I left, I went to the University of Durham to do a BSc in Biology. When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to go onto study dietetics, but due to personal reasons I remained in Durham for a year where I worked in a luxury hotel as part of the food and beverage team, while applying for and waiting to begin the dietetics course.

Part of the application process for the dietetics course required getting some work shadowing experience with dietitians to ensure that you fully understand what the role of a dietitian is. I shadowed dietitians at a hospital in Durham and in Hull, which I really enjoyed and helped confirm that I wanted to apply for this course.

Having enjoyed the modules in my biology degree which looked at the biochemical changes that occur during illnesses and the mechanisms behind metabolic diseases, I was keen to progress my career in the area of dietetics. I also had a personal interest in the area as I have had type 1 diabetes since the age of 11 and have had to learn to control through diet and medication. It was clear that dieticians played a significant part in my care and I found it very fascinating. For me, I saw dietetics as a career that would allow me to combine my interest in science with a wish to help people.

QMU is one of only a few places in the UK to offer an MSc Dietetics and because I had family close by, it seemed a great choice for me. I had also heard from dietitians through my work experience that the QMU course was excellent. I really enjoyed the course, particularly the opportunity to go on clinical placements.

I went on one in Aberdeen, one in Edinburgh and one in Dundee - my favourite as it was in a large acute hospital. Module-wise, I really enjoyed ‘Therapeutic Interventions’ where we learned all about the dietetic process and how to assess and treat patients, covering a wide range of clinical conditions and working through patient scenarios.

The support at QMU was really good. All the lecturers are friendly and approachable, and a personal tutor was always on hand to help with any problems. The support that I have received during my final project has been great and my supervisors have even helped me submit abstracts of my work to the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) with a hope to possibly presenting them at a big malnutrition conference which would be a great opportunity.

I am just about to graduate with an MSc and I have already been offered a job as a dietitian at a large, acute hospital in Cambridge which I’m really looking forward to. I will be working on different wards and covering outpatient clinics within the diabetes, cardiology and obesity team. I am really pleased to have been offered this job as it offers training in a wide range of different clinical areas and I enjoyed the acute hospital work most on my placements. This course has definitely helped me get this job! In order to work as a dietitian you need to be registered with the Health Professions Council which you can only do if you have completed an accredited course, which this one is.

 

Mark Johnson - MBA
After leaving school, I worked in the operations function in a manufacturing environment, learning about production, logistics, research and development and quality control. My career progressed into financial services, providing advice to high net worth individuals and businesses. During this time I gained professional accountancy and finance qualifications which enabled me to critically review both individual and organisational business/financial plans.

Eventually I decided to take the opportunity to start my own consultancy business. Drawing on my own experience of manufacturing and finance I decided to establish a small business offering bespoke microfiltration solutions to the healthcare, petrochemical, engineering and general industrial sectors. I eventually sold the business contracts and decided to take the opportunity to attend university to consolidate my business knowledge. I had not completed an undergraduate degree, but I decided to apply to QMU after a recommendation and I was accepted onto the

MBA as mature student based on my previous business experience and the professional qualifications I’d gained in finance and accounting. I wanted to fill in the holes in my business knowledge and was interested in learning about new techniques, business theory, as well as the practical application of these techniques.

The MBA course was interesting and one aspect that I greatly appreciated was the ability to access a wide range of knowledgeable staff whose door was always open. Regards course content, the most enjoyable parts of the course for me were the strategic marketing, operations management and finance and accounting modules. I found the combination of lectures, case studies, group work and presentations to be both informative and important for developing transferable business skills. I was subsequently able to draw on all aspects of the course to design and implement a real world case study, for my final dissertation.

Completing the MBA allowed me to reflect on my business career and consider how to develop further. I am able to integrate new knowledge and theories , building upon and enhancing my previous work experience. Having enjoyed the study experience, especially the research aspect I was keen to progress in this area. I am now undertaking a PhD at the Hunter centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde. I will be expanding on my MBA thesis, investigating academic entrepreneurship, value creation and its importance to the economy.

 

David Stevenson, MSc Arts and Cultural Management
I went to university straight from school, but due to personal reasons, I decided not to continue and went to work in Gap. I joined their management development project and was quickly promoted to assistant deputy and eventually store manager by the time I was 21. Over my nine years there, I worked all over the UK. I then moved on to work as Area Manager for Scotland with Caffe Nero and it was in that role that I revisited the idea of studying again. From a financial point of view, I needed to work, so decided to study with the Open University and did a degree in Art History intensively over two years. This enjoyable experience gave me the passion to go on to further study.

I wanted to undertake postgraduate study for two reasons: I was keen to work in a new field, for which I would need new qualifications; and I wanted to see how my professional experience could be transferred from one sector to another. I really wanted to combine my love of the arts with my management experience cultural management seemed like the perfect choice! There was also a great deal of personal satisfaction involved in further study too: returning to study after ten years was really motivating and I wanted to see what I could achieve personally. It has really opened my eyes to my own potential something which you can forget after you fall into the daily routine of work!

I chose QMU for a number of reasons, but most importantly, there appeared to be a real awareness that academic study had to be relevant to what was going on in the world of work. I didn’t want to spend a year doing something that would not give me skills that I could use in the workplace. Speaking to the course team before applying, it was clear that they were really aware of this, and were committed to allowing the course to be as flexible as possible in order to ensure that every student got out of it exactly what they required to develop their own career.

I have been working whilst I studied and I was employed as a project consultant with the Scottish Government working on the 2011 Census. I was primarily involved in developing a strategy for recruitment and training, as well as finding ways of communicating with a broad range of diverse audiences about what the Census was and why it was important. I also did some voluntary work at the National Museum of Scotland, looking at how they communicated with their volunteers and how that communication might be improved. This resulted in the creation of a new volunteer newsletter to keep everyone in the loop. This work also formed part of my course and I used my time at the museums to reflect on my learning in class, and inform some of my assignments, as well as counting towards 15 credits of my Masters. I have also recently taken up one of the Third Sector Internships that QMU is involved in organising and am doing this whilst I write up my dissertation. In my internship I am developing the framework for the organisation to launch an evaluation business, pulling together a toolkit, and creating a step by step approach that they can use with potential clients. This has been another great opportunity to put some of what I have been studying into practice in the field.

The course was really interesting once I got to grips with the fact that it was up to me to shape it in whatever way I wanted to. I was keen to explore the social and political factors that are affecting cultural management and shaping the policies which organisations have to work within.

I can only talk positively about this course and the learning, teaching and assessment methods are so relevant to industry. Listening to guest speakers has given me great confidence and I know that I could now go into any cultural organisation and create a marketing plan, develop a funding application, or develop a project plan for a new event. A large proportion of assessment is based on creating the sort of work which you would be required to do if you were working in the field. Additionally, the final assessment brings together all you have learnt in a way which works for you. Whilst I have chosen to undertake a research project others are developing a business plan. The flexibility of the course allows students to do this, plus providing them with the skills to do so a real selling point. There is also
plenty of opportunity to network and even though there is a real vocational quality to the course, it does not forget about its academic credentials you get a good grounding in social research and the opportunity to explore important areas of current investigation.

Having enjoyed the liberating and interesting study and research life that I’ve been used to over the past year, I was keen to stay on at QMU and contribute towards the department’s reputation, research, and teaching and I am about to embark on a PhD. PhD study seemed something that only others did, but QMU helped me gain confidence in my abilities and I knew the support would be fantastic.


Morgan Carberry - MSc Arts and Cultural Management

Originally from San Diego, California, I received one of only 40 Marshall Scholarships awarded each year by the British government for postgraduate study in the UK. As an actress, singer and musician for most of my life, I originally took a Master of Performance in Musical Theatre at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, followed by a Masters in Classical Acting at the Drama Centre London.

I received an extension of my scholarship for an additional year of study in Scotland and came to QMU to complete an MA in Arts and Cultural Management. I especially appreciated the work placements and the flexibility that the course offered and without a doubt, Douglas Brown, the course leader, was one of the most dedicated and supportive people I have ever worked with.

Since leaving QMU, I have set up my own business, El Dorado Cabaret, which provides bespoke live entertainment for corporate and special events, and also facilitates creative approaches to corporate PR and personal development through the arts. My experience at QMU provided the platform, drive, and business skills that have led me to fulfil my dream of running my own company.

 

Ruth Aird - PgCert Professional and Higher Education
It was always my ambition to be a nurse so on leaving school, I went to nursing college. I studied various nursing specialties and on graduation I went to work in primary care as a practice nurse, which I have now been doing for 14 years. I work in Edinburgh, based at Inchpark Surgery.

Recently, I had worked as a visiting lecturer at QMU on the Independent and Supplementary Prescribing course and I became aware of the PgCert Professional and Higher Education. As I was now teaching QMU students and GP registrars, my colleagues at QMU thought that the course would be a real benefit to me by expanding my knowledge and make my teaching more credible. It was not something that I had ever planned to do, but as I really enjoyed my new teaching role, I decided to go for it. I knew very little about the course in advance since I didn’t seek it out myself, but I soon found out that my doing it I would have a postgraduate qualification after competing four modules in one year. I was able to continue in my job as a practice nurse, doing 27 hours a week as I studied part-time.

I initially had no idea as to how the course would impact on my job, but it allowed me to expand it into something that I could not have imagined. I developed a learning plan for teaching registrars in the practice - which the nurses are now using. It has also allowed me to progress my career and I went on to apply for a job as general practice nurse educational advisor for Lothian which required this qualification and I was delighted to be offered the job. I believe that this course has greatly benefitted my career. I have gained more knowledge and I have also discovered a reason and a real love of teaching. I am very happy with my decision to do this course. Not only am I proud of my achievements, but I have a real sense of satisfaction. I just had a feeling that it was the right thing to do.

The lecturers on the course were marvellous: very supportive and encouraging. Sometimes, however, I didn’t even know what help I needed - everything was all so new to me. I would say that one huge area of support came from other students, who all in their different ways encouraged and channelled me in the right direction, while perhaps I also offered help to them over other issues.


Hosanna Msengezi - MSc Social Development and Health
Before I went to QMU, I had worked in the marketing field for many years. My aim was to one day manage the marketing department of some multinational company and I decided to do an MBA at Edinburgh Napier University, specialising in international marketing strategy. Whilst studying for my MBA, I found out about the MSc Social Development and Health and was very interested.

I knew it was going to be tough, but I decided to embark on the MSc whilst I also continued to study for my MBA.

When I started the course, everyone in the class seemed to have a background in health except for me and I was a little nervous. My mind was focussed on the commercial world and I struggled with some of the concepts and thinking on this course.

The assignments were very daunting as the subject area was completely new to me and it was apparent that what I was being taught on the MBA conflicted with what I was being taught on the MSc health spend and business spend are two very different areas. However, at the end of the year, I realised that all things linked in very well: unless people have good health the economies will not grow and thereby remain in poverty is one aspect.

The lecturers at QMU were very patient with me and I am very grateful for their support. The lecturing staff and students made a good crowd and must say I have made friends and some I still keep in touch with.

On completion of both the MBA and the MSc, I have decided to further my career down the international health route. I am now working for Terrence Higgins Trust as HIV Health Trainer for Scotland. It has been a long journey for me but must say I now understand why so many people have died in Sub-Sahara Africa needlessly and those deaths could have been avoided.

 

Norman Todd -MSc Nursing
When I left school at 16, I wasn’t particularly interested in further study and I went to work as fisherman in the north of Scotland and also in New Zealand for 10 years but I didn’t see much of a future in fishing for me and was looking for a new challenge. I was quite keen to see what my academic potential was and try my hand at university, but as I had left school with few qualifications I had to first of all do an access course at an FE college.

The access course was a brilliant foundation for me and I applied the same work ethic that I had from fishing to my studies. I was then able to able to the BSc (Hons) Nursing degree at QMU. On completion of my degree I work in acute medicine for a coupe of years before moving to urology where I eventually got a specialist post. I worked very hard to achieve this radical career change and I am very proud of myself. I had thoroughly enjoyed my time QMU and thought that I received an excellent education and it was an ambition to go back and do a masters degree at some point. After having worked for four years, I decided to apply to study for the MSc Nursing. I studied part-time over four years as I continued to work as a urology nurse specialist at the Western General hospital in Edinburgh

The MSc was very challenging, particularly when I was having to work full-time and also having family and social commitments. It was tricky spinning so many plates at the same time, but it made me value and appreciate my qualification.

The course work was relevant to the work I was doing and by studying part-time, it allowed my practice to mature throughout the learning process. The support was not only there from lecturers when I needed it, but also from fellow colleagues who were experiencing the same challenges. My practice developed throughout the learning process and it gave me a huge amount of self confidence. It helped me become better at what I did, made me more self aware, made me a critical thinker and made me recognise the value of the nursing profession.

For me, the key to completing an MSc was being able to prioritise my workload against work, family and social commitments. It does require some sacrifice and you will need true commitment to complete it. It requires time and hard work, however the benefits make it all worthwhile. I did it for myself and I am very proud of what I have achieved. Embarking on a masters degree opens up a whole range of opportunities and your career may take another path which you never planned! I am now working as an occupational health nurse on a gas production platform for Centrica Energy in the Irish Sea. Completing a masters degree gave me the confidence to go off and try something completely different - even although I’m back at sea.

 

Carole Clarke - MSc Music Therapy (Nordoff-Robbins)
Before I started studying at QMU, I was working in fundraising for a musical charity, but my working life had also encompassed care work as well as being a professional musician. When I began to investigate what music therapists do, I was delighted to find that there was indeed a job which seemed to demand my eclectic mix of skills! I talked to the Course Director initially, who was so helpful with suggestions for exploring it more.

I chose QMU because I live in Edinburgh and needed a place of study which was going to fit with my family life. Biting the bullet, I decided to do the Masters course full-time. Along with my supportive group of course peers, I found the Music Therapy staff hugely encouraging. The library was a dream, and I loved jumping back into academic life. The Course lecturers are practising music therapists themselves, and so there was a strong sense of 'real world' knowledge as well as guidance through assignments and research. Great role models!

What I loved about the course was that it taught such a blend of musical skills as well as clinical and therapeutic theory. The lecturers, visiting lecturers, and placement supervisors made it very much a two-way, interactive process.

It was a huge thrill when I was awarded the Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester Scholarship to present my research paper at the 12th World Congress of Music Therapy in Argentina a great research experience!

I'm now a self-employed music therapist, based in Edinburgh, and I work in various clinical settings, both health and education-based. My clients range from pre-schoolers with special needs to adults who suffer from dementia. I love the job, it fits round my family, and I don't think the learning will ever stop my time at QMU was the starting point for joining a great community of Scottish arts therapists, and the beginning of a commitment to lifelong learning, which I hope to formalise in the future with possible further study.

 

Thavapriya Shanmuga Sundaram - MSc Physiotherapy (Post-Registration) (full-time)
I am from India and after leaving school, I did a BPT (Bachelor of Physiotherapy), which is similar to a BSc in the UK. My interest was in the academic and teaching side of physiotherapy, however I wanted to gain some clinical experience before continuing onto postgraduate study and worked as a physiotherapist / tutor in India for three years before looking at masters degree options.

Initially, my plan was to further my studies in India, however, on browsing I became interested in UK courses and through a detailed search, I found out about Queen Margaret University. With an interest in the academic side, the course description sounded perfect: a focus on evidence-based practice and research methodologies.

Furthermore, I also felt that research would be an interesting area for me to explore. So, with that, and a great recommendation from previous lecturers and friends, I decided to do an MSc Physiotherapy at QMU. I was impressed with the support I received from QMU during the admission phase of the course: studying overseas is a big step which I was anxious about and the university answered all my queries in an effective manner and gave me the confidence to come to study in a new country. Similarly, my classmates and I received great support during our course. The study system was different to what I had been used to and the staff made sure that we were all comfortable with it.

As I've already mentioned, the course concentrated on research and evidence based practice and since research methodology was a new area, emphasis was given to it. I found this very interesting and useful. The course had bits of everything in it - research knowledge, group work, independent study, group presentations, data collection, formal and informal assignments. Therefore, it gave us experience in a variety of areas. We were the first batch of students undertaking a systematic review for our dissertation. Although, it was a difficult journey with the systematic review, it gave us a rich experience and a great sense of achievement once we completed it. The Masters course showed me new things and made me look into different aspects of my profession.

The course sparked my interest in research and I decided that I wanted to focus on it a bit more by doing a PhD. I worked as a physiotherapist in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh as I looked at PhD opportunities and after six months, I left to commence a PhD back at QMU. My PhD is on evaluating the effects and experiences of goal setting for exercise after a stroke. We are hoping that setting personal goals will help people who have had a stroke to take on physical activity and remain physically active. I am hoping to enter the field of academia after I finish. I am also hoping to look at more research opportunities as well.

The University exceeded all my expectations and would definitely recommend the course. Choosing QMU to do my PhD after completing my MSc there corroborates my belief in the excellence of the university.

 

Muhammad Asadullah Siddiqui - MSc Diabetes
Before coming to QMU, I had studied and worked in my home country of Pakistan. I went to the University of Karachi, where I did a MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). My first job on graduation was as House Officer (Medicine/Surgery) at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi. After that, I worked as a
Medical Officer at Sheheryar Hospital, then as a Resident Medical Officer at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. In September 2006, I moved to the UK and studied for a PgDip Health Care Management at the College of Professional and Management Studies, Essex. I came to QMU in October 2007 to begin a MSc Diabetes.

Throughout my clinical experience at the tertiary centre, I was fortunate to be able to provide for many needs and I have continually experienced the fulfilment that comes from working to help others improve in their understanding and skill.

My experience of working in a hospital convinced me of the fundamental importance of achieving optimal congruence between what clinicians must do in practice and the learning that must be fostered in their clinical practice. To this end,I have attempted to become involved as a learner at every level of health science education and to continually strive through educational innovation to improve the clinical practice. I kept up-to-date with the latest research and work in medicine, especially diabetes and cardiology, by reading online versions of different journals and also attending different seminars and workshops. I realised that, as a clinician, I could provide services to the limited population but, in contrast as a researcher, I could serve for a wider population. Due to my lack of research knowledge and skills, I decided to get advanced research-based knowledge in the field of medicine and I decided to go to QMU.

I decided to come to Edinburgh as it is one of the most beautiful, exciting and developed cities which is famous for postgraduate medical education all over the world, especially at QMU. And, after getting a qualification from QMU, I believe that many jobs and career opportunities will open for me.

Quarterly planned workshops and lectures from NHS consultants and management care personnel was an excellent part of the course and enabled me to get involved in latest practice and developments in the healthcare system.

On the course I gained advanced research-based knowledge from a variety of modules: diabetes health psychology, research methods, health care management, evaluation of diabetes and developing practice and complication of diabetes. I also used Excel 2007, SPSS v. 16.1 and Revman 5.0 for statistical analysis of data in trials and meta-analysis. After the completion of research modules and meta-analysis, I had a greater understanding of randomised control trials, ICH-GCP requirements, ethical approval and protocol requirements for conducting trials.

Queen Margaret University was very supportive and encouraging and I owe a great deal to my supervisor and the programme leader, for his support and advice.

I am now studying for a PhD at QMU my research title is The Role of Haematological Markers and Factors in Predicting Fistula Maturation in Diabetic Patients with Renal Failure: An Exploratory Study.

 

Jan Gjerdevik - MSc Public Relations
I had done an undergraduate degree in journalism at Napier University and decided that an MSc in Public Relations was a natural progression: I hoped to explore a new perspective of human communication. Information is a resource and one step towards leaning how to manage it, is examining the theoretical underpinnings.

I did lots of research into PR courses and the one at QMU came highly recommended to me - it also meant that I didn't have to leave Edinburgh, where I had already built up a network of good friends and colleagues.

It is fair to say that the course is a challenge. I worked full-time (as a communication advisor in the public affairs department in an international integrated energy company) whilst studying full-time and found the workload challenging at times, but managed thanks to a very flexible employer and understandable programme leader at QMU.

The course has its strength in that the lecturers teaching on the course all come from different backgrounds ranging from those with an academic background to those with experience from the public relations industry. The diversity adds interesting perspectives to the curriculum and has also contributed to close the gap between theory and practice.

My first employer after leaving QMU me on principally due to my MSc PR - they especially appreciated that I had undergone a programme that, in depth, applied theoretic approaches to practical challenges in the field of PR. I was soon put in charge of developing a new communication strategy for the organisation and then promoted to lead the entire implementation process as communication director. I've now moved into the consultancy sector and advise mainly oil and gas companies on internal communications around risk management. Again I was taken on much because of my academic background.

 

Malcolm Farnan - PgDip/ MSc Radiotherapy and Oncology
I graduated with Honours in Physics from the University of Dundee at the age of 21. As a student, I had worked in a hotel in various roles and continued to do so for about a year as I applied for jobs in physics. Getting a job in the area was proving tough as I didn’t arrange any proper workplace experience as a student - in hindsight, something I regret. Whilst looking for a job though, I came across an advert for the Radiotherapy and Oncology course at QMU. I didn't really know what the course would involve but I found out that therapeutic radiographers were highly in demand and job prospects were very good. The course is designed to allow science graduates to change career in two years and with my Physics job search proving unsuccessful, I decided that I had nothing to lose and applied to the course. I was offered an interview for the course, so decided to find out more about therapeutic radiography by visiting a radiotherapy department in a local hospital. There was lots of physics involved and I was impressed by the equipment. My mother had also been through successful cancer treatment, which at the time I didn't know much about, but then realized that I would be learning about treatments that she herself had gone through. This obviously made me eager to learn about it and help other people as my mother had been helped.

On successfully getting a place on the course, I had an enjoyable time. Class sizes were small and the group interacted well. We had a range of backgrounds, skills and experience and it really helped the learning experience as we were able to share our knowledge and help one another in the early stages before we moved onto more in-depth oncology topics. We would study a specific topic to get a grip on it before moving on to the next, and in that way the knowledge built itself up from a sound base. Along with book work and assessments, we carried out many varied group tasks such as designing posters, performing experiments with x-ray film, doing presentations etc. These all helped to make the course more interesting and kept you on your toes. Support from lectures and other staff was always available. Everyone was approachable and I never felt nervous about emailing or knocking on someone’s door if I needed help in any area. You always got the feeling that they were behind you and wanted you to succeed.

Aside from the classroom set up, there was a strong emphasis on actually getting out there and doing the job and I completed several placements in radiotherapy centres throughout the summer months. It was quite full on, but this was the way in which you really learned how to do the job, working alongside those who were doing it for real. Most of the staff were very welcoming to students and if you were keen to learn, they were keen to teach.

I initially applied to only study for the PgDip and went onto work as a therapeutic radiographer for three years at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, but I was keen to learn more and decided to go back to QMU to study for the MSc. To attain an MSc required a further study which I carried out part-time over two years. I completed this whilst working full-time, but it was delivered by distance learning and all of the materials were on-line for easy access. At MSc level, the onus was on me to take responsibility for my learning, but help was always available by email if required.

The MSc gave me the opportunity to learn outside of the workplace environment and meet up again with friends and lectures from the PgDip. It also gave me the opportunity to complete a dissertation on a topic of my choice. I carried out a study on the use of patient clothing in the radiotherapy department. The results from the study allowed me to improve efficiency in my work environment and ensure patients maintained their dignity while they were with us. The extra qualification will always be a benefit in my career progression and I am at the moment in the process of submitting the study for publication in the Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice.

I am glad that I opted to become a therapeutic radiographer - it's an enjoyable and rewarding career. The initial PgDip did exactly as described, it gave me excellent job prospects in the field of radiotherapy and oncology as it has for my classmates. The placement aspect gave you the opportunity to visit all of the radiotherapy departments in Scotland and so gave a good base of knowledge to begin my career with in any department that I would choose to work in. I also met a large proportion of the therapeutic radiography staff in Scotland and so have contacts in other departments if they are ever needed.

 

Emma Saunders - MSc Audiology (Pre-Registration)
I always wanted to work directly with people and to provide support, empathy and encouragement to them. I knew that I wanted to work within a hospital setting, yet I was unsure what speciality. I decided to do some work experience in various areas of a hospital to get a better insight and developed an interest in audiology, especially as I have two elderly family members who are hard of hearing.

When looking at going to university after I finished school, unfortunately there was no audiology degree courses running in Northern Ireland (I wasn’t keen on moving away from home when I was 18 years old). I looked into all my options and decided to do a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy at Queens University Belfast, with the hope of progressing onto this pre-registration course at QMU to enable me to become an audiologist.

In my final year at Queens, I completed a dissertation on 'Deaf awareness training in medical schools within the United Kingdom and Ireland', which involved working with RNID (now known as Action on Hearing Loss). Additionally, following graduation I went to a local hospital to shadow an audiologist to give me a greater understanding of what they did every day within the clinic, and the work they carry out. These both reinforced my decision that audiology was a suitable career for me.

I have just completed my first year of this course and I have found it very interesting and enjoyable. It involves attending lectures, seminars, clinical skills sessions, hearing aid manufacturer days, and 34 weeks of clinical placement over the two years - a real good mix of theory and practical work. The support I receive is very good at QMU as well as on clinical placement. Each student has a personal academic tutor to turn to for advice over any personal concerns or worries that they may have and all staff are very friendly and approachable. Lecturers also keep in touch when I’m on placement to ensure that it’s going well.

I am really enjoying my days on placement: they include varied appointments and have really helped me build up confidence and my abilities. The appointments have included performing diagnostic tests at a busy ENT clinic (ears nose and throat), seeing patients who have been referred from their GP or ENT consultant for hearing aid provision, issuing and fitting hearing aids, repairing hearing aids and testing young children, as well as babies who have been referred for hearing tests from the newborn hearing screening program. This can be challenging working with a wide range of people from newborn babies to the elderly, but extremely rewarding and fulfilling work. There are 3 x 11-12 week placements throughout the two years and this provides great opportunity to put theory into practice. Within the university there is a good range of audiology equipment to practice with, and a number of sound proof booths.

When I graduate, I hope to get a job as an audiologist in an NHS trust with the aim to have a positive impact on the life of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and enhance the quality of their lives.



Dermot Fitzsimons - MSc/PgDip Speech and Language Therapy
When I left school, I went to the University of Strathclyde to study Psychology. In my first year, I studied Russian, along with a few other subjects, and I had a real affinity for it so decided to continue it into a joint Honours degree in Russian and Psychology. After completing that, I stayed on to do an MRes, in a paid postgraduate/teaching role, where I taught Russian language to undergraduate students. After completing the MRes, I began working at the BBC writing subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I did this for 8 years until I was accepted to start the MSc/PgDip course.

Having had a deep personal and academic interest in language and linguistics previously, my move to the BBC provided access to people with disabilities and it made me want to pursue both elements more deeply than that job would allow. I have experience of social care and volunteering with the Children's Panel and also at the Speech and Language Therapy department of Erskine Care Home near Glasgow – all of these experiences led me to want to try something brand new and challenging but also to use the skills I'd developed in a productive way. This led me to investigate speech and language therapy courses around the country and QMU's two-year MSc/PgDip was ideal, as I didn't want to go back to undergraduate level to study.

I have completed Year One and just about to embark on Year Two. So far, the course has been intensive, varied, rigorous and very enjoyable. It's hard work, but that's to be expected. The staff are always happy to support you in any aspect of the course you’re not sure about or need further work on, are very flexible in terms of the method of teaching they provide, they’ve offered revision classes and are quick to respond when there’s an issue you need to discuss. I'd say so far the best things have been the placements, both clinical and non-clinical. Being able to start applying and amassing more knowledge and experience out in the community almost immediately is daunting at first but the therapists I've met so far have been completely supportive and sympathetic to someone coming in to a new field. You learn so much on placement - it's a really valuable and necessary aspect of the course. I would definitely recommend this course to someone who is looking for a career change and I can't wait to begin my career as a speech and language therapist.



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