Beth graduated with a BSc in Geology with Planetary Science in 2019 and is currently studying the MSc Geographic Information Science while living at home in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
On my learning experience
I’ve enjoyed learning new GIS skills - I only had very basic skills before I started but now I’m much more confident.
In the first semester, I have had about 11 hours in online lectures/practical sessions, then I usually do about 20 hours of private study on top, maybe more if I have a lot of deadlines.
I try to treat my studies as a full-time job, so I have my weekends free for my part-time work.
Most of my lecturers use pre-recorded lectures and use what would be the lecture time as a drop-in or discussion session.
I think this works well, as personally, I would find it very difficult to concentrate for a one/two-hour online lecture.
It also means that we don’t miss any lecture content if there are connection issues.
On the work-based aspects of my course
One of my second-semester course units involves a short work experience placement.
The placements will probably be remote-working due to local lockdowns.
I wanted to take the work experience course unit as industry-specific work experience was something I found I was lacking whilst job-hunting last year.
On maintaining a work-life balance when learning online
It’s sometimes difficult to switch off from working since your bedroom is now a library, lecture hall, and office space.
One way I’ve overcome this is by not using my desk for non-uni things, so if I want to use my laptop for watching films I’ll sit somewhere else.
I also try and go for a walk after finishing uni for the day, as something to break up the day.
On the student experience at Manchester
I don’t live in the city of Manchester at the moment but when I lived there for my undergraduate studies it was nice to be part of a large vibrant student population.
There were always lots of different things to do - I lived there for four years and I still didn’t get to do everything I wanted.
This year has been different from a 'normal' student experience in that I’ve not met any of my course mates or lecturers in person, but I’ve enjoyed online learning a lot more than I thought I would.
I joined a group chat for my course before we started, which was useful for making friends.
My lecturers also set up small 'peer support' rooms during our practical sessions, which you can join with your friends to work together, which has been really helpful.
On my extra-curricular activities
I signed up for an Introduction to Python class run through CodeFirstGirls in the first semester because one of my second-semester course units uses Python and I wanted to learn the basics before starting.
It was really useful, and I got to work with other people on my course who were also taking the class.
I am also studying German through the ULC as an evening class.
I get to meet other students and staff members from lots of different departments and it’s also a nice break from my master’s work.
On my tips for future students
I think my top tip for students starting an MSc course is to make sure you take time to get to know other students.
If you’re stuck on something it’s so much easier (and quicker) to ask other students than it is asking a lecturer, and they’re probably stuck on the same thing.