Jo studied Urban Design and International Planning part-time next to her work as Town Planning Consultant.
On studying Urban Design and International Planning MSc
Since graduating as a town planner I had always wanted to go back and complete a masters in urban design. The course at Manchester seemed to have a really practical and realistic approach to urban design that I felt would be really helpful for then transferring those skills into the world of work.
I completed the course over two years, so I had two modules per term. That equated to two or three lectures a week then I would work in the evenings and weekends when not at work.
Managing my time whilst working and studying part time was a challenge. Over time I was able to get the balance right to avoid too many late nights. The dissertation was a big undertaking and pushed me on everything I had learnt over the whole course. I really enjoyed it and as a result worked really hard on it so didn’t sleep much over that period!
On my highlights
Overall, the highlight has been growing in skill and confidence in an area of work and study that I really enjoy. The design-based modules which took place in the studio were my favourite as I got to put into practice what I had learnt in lectures. I also enjoyed having optional modules, I chose some from the global development department and they gave me a broader understanding of development based issues which I otherwise wouldn’t have gained and which have helped shape me as a professional.
On my fieldtrip experience
I went to Vienna in 2019. It was a fantastic trip because we were able to go and see real life examples of good practice with people who really understood the theories, strengths and weaknesses behind each case study. The trip was also really fun and helped me to make some great friends.
On my work placement
Our project work was always directly related to the real world in terms of what a client would want to focus on or how they would view certain issues or priorities. That was great in terms of knowing that what I was learning would be directly translatable into the world of work.
On my student experience
I’ve loved studying at Manchester, the lecturers were friendly and always happy to discuss ideas and issues with. My student experience was very different as a postgraduate studying part time compared to my time as an undergraduate. Managing work and study was a challenge but I loved going to lectures and learning in that way again.
Manchester is a fantastic city as a student, the University is really central to the culture of the city and very conveniently located. There is always something to do or explore and importantly always somewhere good to eat with course mates.
I lived at home in Macclesfield and commuted into Manchester. The commute was really easy and I didn’t feel like I missed out on social things by living a bit further away.
My advice for prospective students
Make the most of your lecturers, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek their views on your work. I found them so willing to help and enthusiastic about their teaching.
I feel the course has hugely enhanced my skills and understanding and made me much more versatile and confident at work. What I’ve learnt is much wider than urban design. I’ve been able to work on a much wider range of skills such as presentation and different ways to communicate my ideas. My IT skills and knowledge of certain software has really improved too.