Calan excels at university gaining the top award for a direct entry student

By Press office

Calan McCuish, from Ochiltree in East Ayrshire, graduated this summer with a BA (Hons) Media and Communications from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. 

Calan, aged 21, not only graduated with a first-class honours degree, the University presented him with the Bruce Thomson Access Award for his top performance. The award is presented to the ‘Best Direct Entrant’ - that is the student with the best graduation results who entered into 2nd or 3rd year at Queen Margaret University from a further education college.  

On the day of graduation, Calan celebrated with his family and classmates at an impressive ceremony held in Edinburgh’s beautiful Usher Hall. During his ceremony he was joined by 400 graduates and their families, as well as QMU’s Chancellor and TV presenter Dame Prue Leith CBE, best known as an entrepreneur and judge on the hit TV show ‘The Great British Bake-off'.  Calan was one of 1200 students who graduated from Queen Margaret University across three ceremonies in July.  

Calan attended Auchinleck Academy, but, with an interest in film, he moved on during 5th year to Ayrshire College to study Film and Broadcasting and then Media Analysis and Production. Discovering he had a real passion for the subject, he excelled over the next two years achieving an NQ and then Higher National Certificate (HNC).  

Following successful completion of his Higher National Certificate (HNC), Calan secured a place on the BA (Hons) Media and Communication at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh where he moved directly into the 2nd year of the degree programme.  

Never one to shy away from hard work and a challenge, Calan threw himself into university work and was determined to learn and experience as much as possible. In his final year he conducted his dissertation as a documentary film titled ‘Housing for the Future’. The film, which was screened the night before graduation as part of the Queen Margaret University Film and Media Showcase at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema, demonstrated how the architecture behind social housing can change the stigma surrounding it. Calan said:

"This is an area I feel passionately about, and which was inspired by my own observations growing up in a council house in Ochiltree."
Calan McCuish

 As if final year at university isn’t difficult enough, Calan took his personal learning journey to the next level when he began studying a foundation architecture course (RIBA Studio Foundation Course) with Oxford Brookes University during his final semester at QMU.

"I love making video, and anything to do with the creative process, so while I was studying for both my degree and the architecture course, I was also working as a freelancer doing video editing, photography and graphic design for a few different companies. Working for companies, and putting everything you learn at university in practice, is a great way to develop skills working with commercial clients."
Calan McCuish

Calan was so inspired by the topic of his dissertation that he has decided to further progress his interest in the subject by studying architecture full time. In March, he will begin an architecture course - Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Certificate in Architecture - with Oxford Brooke University.

"I’m looking forward to applying all the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from my time at Queen Margaret University to a distinctly different kind of industry."
Calan McCuish

After a very impressive few years at Queen Margaret University, the academic staff were delighted to reward Calan with a £100 cheque and a certificate to mark his achievement of the 2023 Bruce Thomson Access Award.  

Mark Gillham, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at Queen Margaret University, said:

"Calan’s work ethic and focus throughout his course have been second to none. He is an inspiration to everyone at QMU and a great role model, particularly to college students who are thinking about studying towards a degree course."


"Calan produced a dissertation with a social slant which really connected with audiences and made an impact. It also aligns with Queen Margaret University’s values of social justice."


"Developing his dissertation in an area which really interested him has given him the insight, drive, and skills to carve a career which maximises his creative talents and could blend the use of film with architecture. As a multi-skilled young man, we are excited to see how Calan moves forward with building a unique career in an area which he so clearly loves."
Mark Gillham, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at Queen Margaret University.


Notes to Editor

For further media information contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E:; copy to:; M: 07711 011239.  

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries or to access one of our experts.

Show Contacts