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What do GEPS students think?

Q&A with some of our students

LAURA BAMPTON, 2016-17

Before joining GEPS, Laura studied Natural Sciences, specialising in Zoology. She is from Guernsey, where she will return after GEPS to work in the island's government.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I looked at several masters’ courses on similar topics, but in the end chose Edinburgh primarily because of the huge amount of flexibility in the courses you study. Even though I didn’t go down this route in the end, the opportunity to do a work-based instead of desk-based dissertation was another appealing aspect.

How are you finding the programme?

The mix of theoretical and practical classes has been great, and I’ve had the chance to study topics I never thought I’d study, such as eco-theology. GEPS students come from an extremely diverse range of academic and personal backgrounds, which has made the whole experience so enriching, and I’ve loved having my own ideas and preconceptions challenged.

Any advice for prospective students?

I took year off to work (paid and voluntary) between my undergraduate and masters degrees, which I found hugely beneficial, and which made me so much better prepared for this year. If you’re still completing your undergraduate, don’t feel you have to rush into postgraduate study, most of us on the course didn’t.

When you are in Edinburgh, hit the ground running so you don’t miss out on all the fabulous events this university and city has to offer!

EDIANE DUTRA, 2016-17

Ediane is originally from Brazil. She is studying in the MSc GEPS as a part time student and currently completing her dissertation which will offer a quantitative analysis of food security in Malawi.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

Initially I applied for a different MSc. programme within the Social and Political Science School, however after two weeks into the MSc. course, I realized it was not what I expected. It just so happens that one of my optional courses I had chosen was "Global Environment: Key Issues" a core course for the "Global Environment, Politics and Society MSc. Programme" and I really liked it. It addressed the issues I was concerned about, climate change and its effects on so many aspects of our life, the politics involved in trying to get everyone on the same page, the challenges that we must conquer to create an equitable world not only for humans but all species.

How are you finding the programme?

The programme has been challenging in the right ways. It has been enlightening in more ways than I can convey, but particularly about the politics involved in trying to solve some of the most pressing issues worldwide and the difficulties of getting everybody on the same page be it the public, politicians, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

I also would like to mention that the director of the programme, Dr. Bomberg is phenomenal, she truly cares about the students in the programme and is always willing to  have a chat about any issues that you might want to discuss. 

Any advice for prospective students? 

Take advantage of the endless resources available at the University. I highly recommend courses offered by the Institute of Academic Development (IAD). Get involved, attend as many lectures outside the course you are taking as possible on subjects that might interest you. One of these might spark an idea for a dissertation. It is never too early to start thinking about and possibly planning your dissertation.

SIRI PANTZAR, 2016-17

Siri did her undergraduate degree in Russian Studies and Linguistics and worked in an energy recruitment agency before joining GEPS. She is currently doing her work-based dissertation in Nairobi, Kenya, on regional energy policy.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I chose the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society because I was keen on a multidisciplinary social science approach to environmental studies. I was looking for a course in environmental or energy policy; this programme combined both with a number of elective courses in energy – and generally there is scope for different focuses within the programme, which makes for a great range of people within the programme. I was also very excited about the possibility of doing my dissertation as a work-based placement to gain work experience in the field.

How are you finding the programme?

I’ve been very happy with the programme and the mix of activities involved. All the courses have been interesting and very different, ranging from environmental law to energy anthropology. There is lots going on in the field of environment and climate policy in Edinburgh, so there’s no shortage of activities to join. I am also currently doing my dissertation in Nairobi, Kenya, with a local think tank, which has been a very exciting project so far.

Any advice for prospective students? 

I think this is a “you get as much as you give” -programme; I’d recommend having as much time to devote to it as possible, and throwing yourself straight into it. There are many activities, lectures, and projects to get involved in, and that can help you get the best possible experience. I was lucky to not have to work while studying, which allowed me to get involved in various volunteer projects and really added to the value of the programme.

NICOLE DYCK, 2015-16

Nicole joined GEPS after completing a bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and International Learning from the University of Alberta in 2015. Nicole is very interested in agricultural policy and is looking to do a conventional dissertation, exploring the current state of affairs in the Canadian agricultural sector.  

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

The interdisciplinary nature of the GEPS programme compared others was what really drew me to apply. The students in this programme come from an extremely diverse range of academic backgrounds and the array of courses that are offered through GEPS allow this diversity in perspectives to come together in a really unique way. 

How are you finding the programme?

Though it seems like I’ve only arrived yesterday, I’m really enjoying it. Being an international student, I opted for the 1-year programme which has made everything fly by just a little quicker. What I have found especially valuable about the GEPS programme, though, is the opportunity for learning and growth outside of the classroom that may not be as accessible in other programmes. Whether it was participating in the Clinton Global Initiative in San Fransisco, enjoying the vast array of interesting events hosted by the Global Environment Society Academy, or just getting to know everyone in the programme through day trips on the weekend, I feel like there are endless opportunities for learning and growth. 

Any advice for prospective students? 

Talk to and get to know as many people as you can! A year is such a short span of time to spend in such an amazing academic environment and the connections that are made possible though the university are amazing. Through getting to know your peers and lecturers, it’s amazing how easy it becomes to then get involved in more activities both in and outside of the University.

JOHANNE FREMSTAD, 2015-16

Johanne’s background is in the natural sciences. She comes from Norway where she studied life sciences and was active in environmental issues.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

Ever since I discovered the importance of politics in global environmental issues I was set on finding a masters degree that would deal with this. I realized that when all is said and done,  it is the global policy-making that has the potential of making great changes in the world. I applied for this programme because it deals with exactly this issue. With the great variety of courses the University offers on environment and politics, you can make your degree as broad or as specific as you want. I didn’t know it at the time I applied, but Edinburgh is also beautiful and a great city to study and live in!

How are you finding the programme?

I am finding the programme very interesting and I have ‘a-ha’ experiences at least once a week. My academic skills have definitely improved significantly over the months I have been here. As it is a one-year masters degree it is obviously quite intense and a lot do, but the workload is definitely manageable. I really like that it is a small and international class, we are only 11 people from countries all over the world! They are all great people and we have a great class environment.

Any advice for prospective students?

My first advice would be to get involved in all the activities taking place at the university. There are hundreds of societies and sport teams, so you are guaranteed to find something you like. In addition, there are LOTS of events, seminars, lectures, debates regarding environment and sustainability at the University organized by the Global Environment and Society Academy (GESA), amongst others. There are many opportunities to engage in environmental debates and learn more outside of the classroom. Another advice is to apply to Clinton Global Initiative, a conference taking place once a year in the USA where university students from all over share ideas on how to make the world a better place. This year 5 students from GEPS have been selected to attend.

ALASDAIR NIELSON, 2015-16

Alasdair joined GEPS after completing a bachelor degree in Sociology at the University of Aberdeen. As an undergrad, he worked with environmental groups in the U.S to help implement both state and federal policy. He was also the Managing Editor of Grounding Ancients, the undergraduate academic journal for the ancient universities of Scotland and the founder of the Elphinstone Review, an undergraduate journal for the arts, humanities and social sciences at the University of Aberdeen. He is currently formulating his dissertation proposal as well as working for the Turing Trust.   

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I had been to Edinburgh several times before for conferences and knew what a beautiful city it was. The fact that it also home to one best universities in the world made choosing Edinburgh an easy decision. The program was also a big factor for me. After doing extensive research (and I mean extensive), the GEPS course appeared unique in its multi-disciplinary nature; it just ticked all the boxes for me. In the end, it was the only program I applied to.

How are you finding the programme?

The program is fantastic. The sheer range of courses you can take can be a bit daunting at first, but it gives you a unique chance to broaden your existing knowledge, whilst engaging in disciplines that you might not have had the chance to in undergrad. The combination of theory and real-world examples is also something I have found particularly useful in developing my understanding of global environmental issues. The course coordinators are also brilliant at helping you navigate your way through MSc, so don't be scared to ask questions! The opportunity to partake in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) is also fantastic. This year the conference is at UC Berkeley, which is especially exciting. 

Any advice for prospective students?

Throw yourself into the academic life at Edinburgh. There will be numerous, almost daily, opportunities to attend talks, conferences and to get involved in a spectrum of fantastic activities. I would also strongly advise taking part in (CGI-U), so far it has been an amazing experience- and we haven't even gone to Berkeley yet! All in all, make the most of the time you have at Edinburgh because, as I am finding out, it flies by.  

CLAIRE ROBERTSON, 2015-16

Claire joined us from Oxford where she completed a BSc honours (1st class) in Biological Sciences

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I applied for this programme because it was the only one I could find that was looking at environmental issues holistically. So many other environmental masters are quite narrow in scope, focussing on environmental issues from one disciplinary perspective e.g. sustainability, 'management' or ecological economics, but this one encompasses so many different perspectives. And, of course, because Edinburgh is a magical city and in Scotland people are doing so many exciting 'green' things, for example with land reform, renewable energy and sharing economies. 

How are you finding the programme?

I'm really enjoying the range of courses on offer, and the ability to hop between disciplines. Coming from a natural sciences background, the leap into social sciences can be challenging but is also really exciting! I love how insights from different courses compliment each other. I'm also enjoying how it has taken me to unexpected places, for example, anthropology and environmental theology! 

Any advice for prospective students?

It is quite full-on, so I would advise doing it part time if you can. This is also a good idea as I expect you'll want to spend as much time as possible in beautiful Edinburgh! Also, if you're looking for a great place to live, with cheap accommodation and a great community of people who are interested in environmental and social issues, join the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative. 

KARL VIKAT, 2015-16

Karl joined GEPS after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester. There he co-created a society campaigning for indigenous peoples’ rights and worked as a refugee advocate for Refugee Action Manchester. He is currently working for the Turing Trust and will be doing a work-based placement with Practical Action in Zimbabwe.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

In my final year at university, I decided that I wanted to gear my knowledge towards understanding what I considered the core issue and key international political challenge with the potential to bring humanity closer together, i.e. humanity’s relationship with its environment and climate change. Once I started looking for programmes that could help me understand these issues better, the interdisciplinary character of this programme and the opportunities for involvement outside of the classroom that it offers clearly stood out. I was keen to gain practical experience as part of my degree and thus the opportunity to do a work-based placement further set this programme apart.

How are you finding the programme?

The programme is great since it offers a choice among a wide range of topics from many different and some rapidly expanding new areas, as well as substantial room to design the degree according to one’s interests. It is dense, as the material is complemented by a great range of events with experts and inspirational speakers. Your peers are probably going to be an eclectic, motivated and international group, offering great insights across areas, a positive atmosphere and shared concern for our common future. The teaching is motivational and conducted by experienced and engaged researchers, who are at the forefront of research. Edinburgh is also a wonderful city to live in and once you learn to bear the cold, then the crisp Scottish air, seamless transitions to large green spaces as well as its location next to sea can be sources of inspiration and revitalisation throughout the year.

Any advice for prospective students? 

The year passes by in the blink of an eye. So dive into it, find out where you want to get involved in early and make sure to enjoy the impressive range of informative and inspiring events. There is great support for you if you have an idea to bring forward, and I can only recommend you apply for CGI. Enjoy the fantastic Edinburgh atmosphere, as time flies, so be engaged from the get go and you’re sure to get a lot out of it.

2014-15

Agusmantono, 2014/15

Before starting his GEPS degree, Agus worked for the Environment Division of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which he plans to return afterwards. He did a conventional dissertation and is now heads a regional environmental and energy organisation Hivos.org in Indonesia

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I like the wide coverage of the programme in the first semester, and the ability to focus on certain issues in the second one.

How are you finding the programme?

I enjoy the programme and find it meets my expectations. 

Any advice for prospective students?

Plan ahead the topics you want to focus on during your period of study. Don't hesitate to ask to take courses other than the ones mentioned in the course guidebook.

Sarah Bebb, 2014/15

Sarah joined GEPS after completing a bachelor degree in Politics at the University of Nottingham in 2013 , followed by a year out in which she took online courses on environmental politics and earth sciences and completed an internship in environmental reporting and sustainability communications before coming to Edinburgh. She is doing a work-based placement with the Stockholm Environment Institute in Oxford.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I’d been to Edinburgh before and really enjoyed the city. The university has a great reputation which attracts students from all over the world, providing a very international environment to study in. The GEPS programme sounded especially appealing because it gives students a lot of freedom to pick and choose from a great variety of interesting modules.

How are you finding the programme?

Things are moving fast, but I am loving my time in Edinburgh (especially now that winter has passed!). The course is made up of 11 people from 10 different countries, so I am more than pleased with the international nature of the programme. My modules have been very interesting and I have had the opportunity to choose several options from the School of Geoscience. My personal highlight of the programme was undoubtedly a trip to the Clinton Global Initiative University Network in Miami for which four of us were selected after coming up with projects that will hopefully be making Edinburgh a more sustainable city in the future.

Any advice for prospective students?

Get involved with the university’s many activities, especially those of the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability. They’re a great team and offer volunteering opportunities, lectures, a sustainability forum and career events. And, of course, apply to the Clinton Global Initiative University Network. The university is very supportive throughout the application process, so make the most of these resources.

2013-14

Lauren Bellevaux, 2013/14

Lauren started her MSc in GEPS following a Bachelor in International Relations at University of Geneva. After leaving Edinburgh, she did a six-month internship for the United Nations Environmental Programme in Geneva. Lauren did her work-based project with environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Scotland.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?
I first applied for the MSc in GEPS as the programme offers the possibility to complete a work-based project instead of writing a formal research dissertation. I believe that such an experience would allow me to develop practical skills, which are essential for my future career. In addition, working for a host organisation during your Master's is a great impetus for finding a job straight after graduating.

Also, the GEPS Masters programme is multi-disciplinary. This structure is very interesting and I think it would allow me to develop my knowledge on environmental issues through political, social and moral perspectives. It would also provide me with the necessary tools to understand environmental problems and solutions in all their dimensions; and this is even more important given the cross-disciplinary nature of global environmental challenges

How are you finding the programme?

The programme went far beyond my expectations. Not only did it allow me to gain a deep understanding in issues tied with climate change and environmental security, but it also offered me the possibility to get involved in many extra curricular activities such as the Clinton Global Initiative. This experience was amazing and I would recommend anyone to take part in it.

Any advice for prospective students?

If anyone were interested in doing a work-based project, I would recommend starting thinking about it as soon as possible. Most importantly, make the most of your Master's experience in Edinburgh and take every opportunity that comes your way!

Anna Brand, 2013/14

Anna joined the GEPS programme following an MA in English Literature and History at Edinburgh. She did her work-based project with the World Resources Institute, exploring where and how conservation principles can best be put into practice. After her GEPS degree, she became a Green Graduates for Sustainable Futures Intern at Viborg Kommune.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

While my undergrad was quite different from the Master's, I had worked for a few NGOs and environmental organisations and was leaning towards working with environmental issues in the future. This MSc provided a good mix of environmental studies and social science which allowed me to use the skills I had learned in my first degree. I also found the possibility of doing a work-based placement really exciting! It gave me exactly the kind of flexibility that I wanted.

How are you finding the programme?

Very rewarding. It is great that you can take classes from lots of different departments, including the ones from both Social and Political Science and Geosciences, which makes for a good mix! There is also so much going on all the time outside of classes; there is always something to get involved in.

Any advice for prospective students?

Take advantage of everything Edinburgh has to offer!

Emily Gubbini, 2013/14

Emily did her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of Essex where she was involved in various local environmental initiatives, including the University of Essex Food Co-op and the local Transition group. Her work-based project was with the World Development Movement. Following the MSc, she joined the United Nation’s ESCAP office in Thailand.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

Both the University and the city of Edinburgh provide a stimulating environment for me to pursue my interests. Both students and staff actively engage in environmental issues. NGOs and local groups are also very active in organising stimulating events, talks and festivals.

How are you finding the programme?

I feel like the programme is enabling me to gain valuable and in depth knowledge of the social and political spheres of environmental issues. It has also provided me with fantastic opportunities, such as participating in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and doing a work-based placement. I have felt supported throughout the whole process. I would strongly recommend it.

Any advice for prospective students?

I would recommend attending as many classes as possible in the first week of term, and then realistically evaluating whether specific courses are suited to your interests/capabilities. Take full advantage of the stimulating environment that surrounds you!

Shana Hirsch, 2013/14

Shana came to Edinburgh with a BA in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and an MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle. She did her work-based project with Friends of the Clearwater, a wilderness advocacy organization in Idaho. Shana moved from the MSc to a PhD in water resources policy.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

I wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of global environmental policy, yet I wanted a program with a strong social and political perspective.

How are you finding the programme?

It is preparing me well for the next steps in my career by allowing me to focus on issues that are going to be relevant to my career path while also giving me a broad overview of global environmental politics. The faculty are the real strength of Edinburgh.

Any advice for prospective students?

It goes by so fast, so make sure you have a plan and get all of the courses in that you want to.

Kaisa Pietila, 2013/14

Kaisa joined GEPS after an undergraduate degree in International Politics with the Third World at Aberystwyth University, Wales. She did a conventional dissertation. On leaving Edinburgh, she moved to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre at Cambridge University.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

It was one of a kind. I had been looking for a Master's in environmental politics all over Europe and Edinburgh was the only to offer what I was after.

How are you finding the programme?

I have enjoyed the wide variety of modules available. The flexibility has really suited my needs in terms of what I want to study.

Any advice for prospective students?

Edinburgh is a fantastic city to live in, as most places are within walking distance which I personally really like.

Ross Pirie, 2013/14 & 2014/15 (part time)

Ross is a civil servant with a first degree from Edinburgh in English Language and Literature. He is doing a conventional dissertation, considering the economic and environmental tensions in the construction of a golf course partly built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Ross is looking to remain in the Scottish civil service, but become more involved in policy making.

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

Since graduating I've become more politically engaged and increasingly concerned by environmental crises. Although for a while I was relieved to be finished studying and happy just to be in full-time employment, I decided that it was time to return to university part-time so that I could work towards a postgraduate qualification while formalising my political and environmental interests. I considered other options and other institutions but I felt drawn back to Edinburgh University on account of the quality of teaching. I chose this course in particular because  it ticked all the boxes: a) political, b) environmental,  c) excellent university, d) opportunity for on-the-job work experience.

How are you finding the programme?

I'm so glad that I returned to university and I'm particularly glad that I chose this programme. I get less sleep than I used to and I'm constantly juggling university and paid work responsibilities but the rewards of studying far outweigh the negative aspects. Moreover, because I decided to complete two thirds of the required coursework in year one, the workload has been more manageable in year two.
 I've enjoyed exploring an academic discipline that's new to me while being able to tailor my studies to suit my particular academic interests. The quality of teaching has been outstanding and I've had the pleasure of getting to know so many fantastic students and staff members. I would recommend GEPS to anybody.

Any additional advice for prospective students?

There are significant sacrifices involved in studying for a postgraduate qualification but if you decide that despite the challenges (or because of them) you want to further your studies then consider applying to be on this course. You would be a part of something new and exciting within an ancient and world-renowned university. I only regret that I didn't return to university sooner.

I would also advise prospective students to consider the benefits of studying part-time. Even though GEPS students are immersed in all aspects of environmental politics for an intense year, one year is still a very short period.  Studying part-time will allow you to contemplate new ideas raised from your studies at a more leisurely pace. I have also found that working and studying simultaneously has allowed me the means to pay my tuition fees, gain work experience and earn an MSc simultaneously.

                      

Katherine Pollard, 2013/14

Katherine started the GEPS programme as a graduate of Edinburgh University, where she completed an MA in Politics. She did a work-based placement with the University of Edinburgh's Sustainability Office. On leaving Edinburgh, she became a policy and networks adviser with the Royal Town Planning Institute, London

What made you apply for the MSc in Global Environment, Politics and Society at Edinburgh?

GEPS stands out from other environment course because of the flexibility it offers. Being able to select courses in the schools of geoscience and business for example, meant I was able to tailor the programme to my own interest which I quickly developed in the first semester. It allowed me to develop a well-rounded understanding of specific challenges such as sustainability and climate change. The placement element also attracted me to the course. Finally, having already spent four years in the School of Social and Political Science I knew that I would have excellent teaching, much support and would make the most of out of my Master's year in a vibrant community.

How are you finding the programme?

I am constantly challenged and fascinated by my courses. I was not aware to what extent the debates and concepts would affect how I view global politics, economy and even technology. It really has affected the way I think about not just the environment but also in day-to-day life.

Any advice for prospective students?

Get engaged with the whole Edinburgh Master's experience, there is so much going on!

students at CGI