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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Sarah Holiday

MSc European and Comparative Public Policy (2006-2007)

Sarah Holiday

What were you doing before you applied to the MSc in Policy Studies?

I had taken a year out after graduating from an undergraduate degree in philosophy. During that time I had volunteered in an eco-centre in Croatia and worked as an executive officer for Defra in York.

Why did you apply to the programme?

I had always planned to return to higher education after graduating. The Comparative Public Policy course appealed to me as it offered an attractive combination of the practical and the theoretical. I felt that the focus on comparative methodology, research skills and policy analysis would provide a useful practical training whilst the sociological elements meant I could continue with my philosophical interests in how we see the world, how we conceive of the ‘good life’ and how, through rational  planning, we attempt to bring about its existence.

What are your best memories from your time studying here?

There are so many! There were some fantastic seminars and stimulating debate. As well as benefiting from the knowledge and experience of the lecturers, I learnt so much from other students from all over the world.  The comparative public policy group was relatively small and so there was a very inclusive and supportive feel to the course.  I made some great friends and have happy memories of our continued discussions and debates over cocktails in the evening.

What are you doing now? Did the degree help you to get where you are?

After the degree, having developed in particular interest in global health policy, I wanted to gain first hand experience in the health policy arena and to experience the view from those seeking to implement policies on the ground. I was accepted onto the NHS management training scheme and worked as a development manager in a Community Health Partnership and also spent 3 months in Malawi working with an NGO seeking to reduce maternal and neonatal death.

I am now back in Edinburgh and have a strategic post with the Health and Social Care Department in the City of Edinburgh Council. I am particularly involved with the implementation of the personalisation policy agenda, as well as being involved with an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Project on engagement with involuntary service users. My degree has certainly helped me get where I am today. Learning from the policies and practices of other localities and countries is a key part of my job and the skills from my MSc have proved invaluable.

What's it like being a student in Edinburgh?

Being a student in Edinburgh is a wonderful experience.  It is a big enough city to accommodate a range of interests and tastes and there is always something new to try. But it is not so big that it feels impersonal. I love that you can be in the heart of a historic city but that the sea is just a short bus ride away and that you are never far from a green space or rugged landscape. The many old book shops, once familiar haunts of literary minds and philosophers passed, and the many winding lanes and hidden closes make Edinburgh a truly inspiring place for a student to be.

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