Document Actions

Isabelle Pugh

MSc Development Studies

Isabelle Pugh wanted to begin a career in international development and that was why she turned to Birkbeck. Her decision to study for a postgraduate qualification even paid off during her course as she changed jobs and moved into the international development sector. Today she is '100 per cent' convinced she would not be in her current role at the Department for International Development (DfID) without having studied Birkbeck’s MSc in Development Studies.

Pugh, 29, and from Crystal Palace, was attracted to Birkbeck because of its reputation, the opportunity to gain a University of London qualification, and the ability to combine full-time work with part-time evening study. She attended one of Birkbeck’s Open Evenings to find out more and spoke to course tutor Dr Karen Wells. Pugh said: 'I am glad that I went along to the Open Evening to understand the course better. It was really useful to be able to speak to the course tutor. Do everything you can to have a dialogue at Open Evening. That extra understanding of the course content is invaluable.'

She was pleased she waited a few years between studying her first degree in French and Linguistics at Manchester University and her postgraduate studies at Birkbeck. This period enabled her to develop her interests and gain professional experience. The wide-ranging content of her Birkbeck course and the in-depth critical analysis of international development theory and practice greatly appealed to her.

Thanks partly to enrolling on the MSc in Development Studies, Pugh was able to pursue her ambition of working in international development. While on the course, she moved jobs from a UK homeless charity to Every Child – an international development charity committed to protecting the rights of the world's most vulnerable and marginalised children. She then went onto work at a leading academic institution working in the field of international development before getting a job at DFID. Pugh says 'I will soon be moving abroad to work in the DFID Rwanda office. This is an amazing job opportunity for me that I could not have got without my Birkbeck MSc.'

Her family and friends were very supportive of her return to study and she said the staff at Birkbeck were really understanding  of the competing demands faced by students. Pugh added: 'Combining work and study was tough, and gaining my degree from Birkbeck is one of the key achievements in my life.'

Pugh also greatly valued the opportunity to network and socialise with her fellow classmates. She said: 'I now know people across the world and in London in my professional network. The Master’s has led to making new friends and professional development.'

'I am 100 per cent convinced that I would not be in my present role if it were not for the Master’s. Studying at Birkbeck has changed me as a person. There are so many things I have done that I would not have done otherwise. I would definitely recommend it.'

Learn more about our development studies courses.

'Gaining my degree from Birkbeck is one of the key achievements in my life.'