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Sarah Frodsham

MSc Structural and Molecular Biology (distance-learning)

After studying full-time for her undergraduate degree, Sarah Frodsham wanted to continue studying but at a slower pace.  She says: 'I didn’t want to stop studying completely, but after four years of intensive study I was looking for a course that would allow me to take some time, absorb the information properly, and combine it with some paid work.'

Her undergraduate careers service recommended the website Prospects and there she found out about Birkbeck’s part-time, distance-learning MSc Structural and Molecular Biology.  Sarah says: 'Not only was Birkbeck the only place I found which offered the flexibility that I was looking for, they also offered a course where I would be able to study the specific protein that I was interested in. It sounded perfect.'

As a distance-learning student, Sarah was able to access databases and library journals and says that the online access was 'brilliant'. She says: 'I was also able to access other HEI’s library as a Birkbeck student which worked out really well for me.'

'The tutors were also fantastic and incredibly easy to contact. I never had to wait more than 48 hours for a response from them, and they were happy to help with technical or practical queries. The students had a group chat every 6 weeks or so, and also emailed each other with support.'

'I developed a lot of new skills on the course: from learning to use databases, to building web pages and even how to read literature, which sounds basic, but there is a real technique which can help you to get through it because there is so much.'

'Although there is a lot of reading, I didn’t find it difficult to fit in because I was so interested in the subject that it never felt like work. I set aside Thursday afternoons as a regular study period, but I usually ended up doing lots of reading and studying during the week anyway because it was so fascinating.'

Sarah’s research interest when she started the MSc was a protein within an enzyme complex, which is linked to conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. Sarah explains: 'When I enrolled for the Master’s I envisaged a future as a research scientist. While I was studying I undertook some work as a teaching assistant in Oxford, where I live, and became very interested in how science is taught and assessed at primary level. This has led to a deviation from the path I thought I would take and I have now won a scholarship to study a PhD about science assessments in primary school.'

Sarah concludes: 'If you’re looking for flexibility then I’d definitely recommend Birkbeck.'

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'The tutors were also fantastic and incredibly easy to contact.'