Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Tell us about yourself

I have a BSc Psychology and Sociology from QMU in 2005 and for the past 16 years worked in the food and drink hospitality industry. After University I travelled for about four years. Recently, for the last three years, I have been the manager of a successful bar restaurant in the Shore area of Leith.

How did you come to choose this course and why QMU?

I enjoyed doing my undergraduate degree at QMU but never committed to it as much as I would have liked. Always felt like I wasn’t finished or could have done better. When I decided to return to education and started looking into different courses, QMU seemed to be the first logical place to look. The MSc Gastronomy really stood out as I could apply my years of experience in food and drink with my previous education in psychology and sociology.

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?

Familiarity with my hometown and the university I had once attended.

 

"The teaching staff, course leaders and my fellow class mates were always supportive. No question was a bad or stupid one and I always felt I could go to them if I needed, which I did often."
David McVey

The Course

What did you hope the course would give you? Career change/progression? Continuing personal development?

Focus: a reason to care about doing something again. I’ve worked in hospitality for 16 years and wanted to change direction. I wasn’t sure what direction I would go in but the uncertainty was more promising than the mediocrity at that time. I wanted to learn more about the interests that I had and the industry that I have spent years in.

How did you find the work load? Could you comment on the support available to you?

It was a lot of work. I had to work part time, which is 30 hours if you work in hospitality. Sometimes the reading got on top of me. I mostly managed to read everything I was given but I felt like it never really went in properly before we moved on to the next subject. Often I would have liked to explore certain subjects further and in more detail but I understood the nature of the one year master’s and the limits on time and content. I never really needed a lot of technical or learning support although I believe it was available. The teaching staff, course leaders and my fellow class mates were always supportive. No question was a bad or stupid one and I always felt I could go to them if I needed, which I did often.

Did you work during the course? If you had a scholarship or bursary how did it help you with your studies?

I had no funding, and worked between 20 and 30 hours a week part time. making it 10 months into the course without getting into debt which I thought was good going. In retrospect, work was a way to take my mind of my studies, even though that wasn’t always the case. At the time the thought of working those hours through the weeks while having to do the amount of work I was doing at university was pretty hard. There was panic, often. Probably best not to work if you can.

How do you think your QMU degree has equipped you with the skills/knowledge to development your career?

The year gave me focus, gave me something to care about and, most of all, gave me a second chance at something bigger and better. Along with the others on the course, I felt inspired. The course didn’t just teach us, it made us a part of it, put us at the centre of it, and fully engaged us.

What top tips would you give prospective PG students based on your own personal experience?

Don’t work while studying, if you can.

What obstacles did you encounter (if any) during your studies and how did you overcome them?

Working part time while studying. It was a struggle.

Life after graduation

What happened immediately after you completed the course in terms of career/volunteer work/ travel?

I returned to bar and restaurant management for the last time to help pay back some of the debt before becoming a business owner myself. I now run my own successful business, which marries my experience in hospitality with my gastronomical approach to food.

Where are you now? Do you have any further future plans?

Along with other graduates, we started, and are continuing the first Food Assembly in Scotland – a means by which members of the public can buy local produce directly from small suppliers and producers. I am also in the process of owning and running my own food business – a cafe, restaurant and bar in Leith. The knowledge I have gained from doing the course at QMU has helped to develop my creativity and understanding in the food and drink industry but also helped me to develop a network of support that will help me progress to the next stage of my career.

Anything that you might have done differently?

I would have applied earlier so I could have prepared myself more. I had been out of education for so long I had forgotten how to learn, read, write and understand. This was as hard as learning the subject and topics in the actual modules during the year. I was academically out of shape and that became very obvious quite early in.

Gastronomy

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Course Information