Heidi Benjaminson, MSc Education 2011
'Being able to tailor almost all my classes to my specific field. Every single class I took could be moulded to fit around my interests, so I got what I was seeking. The flexibility to converge my area of interest with the topic of the class was, by far, the best thing about my degree.'
Why did you choose the University of Edinburgh and the programme you studied?
My partner and I were looking for a university in the UK where I could study international education and he could study international business. With the University of Edinburgh ranked so highly in the league tables, in addition to being a fun place to live, Edinburgh was a no brainer for the two of us.
What did you enjoy most about your degree?
Being able to tailor almost all my classes to my specific field. Every single class I took could be moulded to fit around my interests, so I got what I was seeking. The flexibility to converge my area of interest with the topic of the class was, by far, the best thing about my degree.
What specific skills did you develop whilst studying with us?
I've always been a strong writer, but with my assessments was able to build on my writing skills further. Never before did I have to structure my thoughts and arguments to such a degree, so I think my ability to build an argument and back it up with facts grew exponentially.
Why would you recommend the degree to other students?
Anybody semi-related to the field of education will find the MSc Education useful and applicable to them. In my cohort, we had teachers, philosophers, government workers and administrators. We took classes together but everyone got something different out of the programme. You will get out 100% what you put into the programme. Your destiny is squarely in your hands, so it's up to you how in-depth you want to get with the material. You'll be exposed to ideas and people you've never come across before, so if nothing else your eyes will be opened to a world you've never seen before.
What did you enjoy most about your time at the University of Edinburgh?
It's hard to pinpoint just one thing after such an incredible year, but half a decade out I can safely say the friendships and connections I made have stood the test of time. I was in my late 20's when I started the degree but I really think I matured a fair bit in 12 short months.
How did your experience at Edinburgh help you get where you are today?
I believe my MSc made me more competitive in the job market. I returned to the same field after my studies, with 3 years of work experience prior to studying, but I know I stood out more and was viewed as dedicated to the field thanks to my degree. Years later I feel it gives me a legitimacy in the field that not everybody possesses.
If you could offer any advice to new or current students what would it be?
Don't be intimidated by your dissertation! Or, more accurately, find a supervisor who makes it less intimidating for you. They will guide you through it step-by-step and be your lifeline throughout the process (but won't coddle you; you're doing this largely on your own). I spent a lot of the year pre-dissertation worrying about it, but in retrospect, it wasn't that bad. My supervisor acted as a mentor, guide and calmer of nerves. It was challenging, yes, but not insurmountable and one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
Also, write your assignments on topics that interest you and are relevant to your area. There is a direct correlation in how closely my assignments aligned with my area and the grades I received. If your heart isn't in the topic it will show, and be reflected in your grade. I would have done some assignments differently had I known this.
Most students will have to be more independent than they've ever been before. There's no professor checking up on you to make sure you're doing the required readings, or on track with your assignments. You will need to find your motivation and time management skills on your own.