Anne Dawson

MSc Development Studies (part-time)

Why did you choose Birkbeck?

I was drawn to Birkbeck because of its location, staff, diverse studentship, coursework assessment and reputation, but mainly because it allowed me to continue full-time work since the classes are in the evenings. The benefits of this, in terms of complimenting the theory with practical application, funding my studies and ensuring job security, were invaluable to me.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I appreciated being given a broad range of knowledge in combination with the freedom to focus in on specific areas. I think this provides the best of both worlds, particularly with regard to future job applications as I can be both generally qualified with specific expertise.

In my case, I took a gender perspective throughout my assessments, particularly during my dissertation. I really enjoyed delving in depth into a subject and the intellectual stimulation this brought, and I also think I will be able to use the knowledge and skills I have acquired in my career.

I valued the combination of taught lessons and smaller group seminars, which recognised that each of us brought some knowledge, with many students with experience in developing countries or at humanitarian organisations.

I liked the way that the course was designed for part-time students, with each module building on the last. I especially enjoyed the second year when we were able to choose the subjects that most interested us.

The assessments were fair and fitted my way of learning. In recognising that most of us had been out of education for some years and had a lot going on outside of the course, the assignments trained us gradually in critical thinking and academic writing. The markers were constructive in their feedback.

Over my two years in the course, I enjoyed working with a range of interesting and inspiring academics, especially being given the opportunity to collaborate and draw from their expertise during dissertation supervisions.

Is there anything on the course that inspired you?

The course has fundamentally changed my perspective, and I find myself far more informed and impassioned than before. Through engaging with development, which represents my personal interest as well as my professional field, at this theoretical, critical level as well as through practical research during my dissertation, I now have much more to contribute to discussions and debates at work and beyond.

My research and writing skills have also improved. Through studying this course, my options have broadened, and I'm looking at jobs that I never would have considered before. Now with some distance from the course, I am even thinking that one day I might venture into further study which I would not have thought possible before.

Has doing the course made a difference to your career?

Prior to starting the course, I was a support officer for an advisory team at Christian Aid. A few months in, most probably aided by my studies, I was promoted to our Africa team to work with programmes.

Having finished the Master's, I'm now looking to apply my learning more directly and move to a smaller organisation abroad working on feminist issues/women's rights. I do not think that I would be able to progress without this Master's in this field, and my specific gender focus throughout the course and particularly in my dissertation will give me plenty to talk about in job applications and interviews, and to draw from in future roles.

Find out about our courses