Alumni Services

Andrew Symon

Andrew Symon explores how the broad range of experiences at Edinburgh has shaped his future career as a lecturer and fiction writer.

Name Andrew Symon
Degree Course

MA Social Policy and Law &  PhD Social Sciences

Year of Graduation 1992 & 1997
Andrew Symon

Your time at the University

I was 26 when I started and was deemed a ‘mature student’. I’d already been working as a nurse and a midwife at home and abroad, including a year in Kenya. I chose Edinburgh because the combined degree programme (Social Policy and Law) was attractive, and because I knew the city well – my grandmother was still alive then, and stayed in the Colinton Road area.

The combined degree programme was good. I was based in the Social Policy department, which was a friendly place. I enjoyed being involved in student politics. The late 1980s was an exciting time, when the constitutional debate was really gaining momentum.

I spent most of my holidays working in the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion, where I’d been just before starting the course. I earned more there than most students were able to earn, which made the grant go further (remember grants?).

I’m grateful to Edinburgh for encouraging its students to explore a broad range of experiences.

Andrew Symon

Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University

I left in 1992 but was back a year later to start my PhD. I’m still not sure how my senior tutor talked me into it, but I really enjoyed that time, and it’s helped me to pursue a career in teaching and research, which has in turn allowed me to travel extensively. I’m currently a senior lecturer at the University of Dundee involved with various maternity-related projects. I’ve just been to Brazil for the second time, linking with a university there.

I’m grateful to Edinburgh for encouraging its students to explore a broad range of experiences.

I’ve taken to writing fantasy fiction for children: this started with my sons in mind, but they’ve grown past the target age range for my books (one is at university, the other is working as an apprentice service engineer). My third book was published in 2014 (Jack Shian and the Destiny Stone). Writing fiction is a helpful counterpoint to writing academic papers – although some skills are common to both, a different part of the brain is used, and this is a useful way to switch off from work.

Alumni wisdom

After you leave university you’re unlikely to have the time or access to facilities that the university’s extra-curricular activities can offer you, so take advantage of them. They can enrich your experience, and may open up avenues that would otherwise never feature in your life. Oh yes, and do the reading you’re told to do.

Related links

Shian Quest website