Skip to main content

"My supervisor supported me greatly throughout my degree"

Double take: Wasif Sajjad, MSc Climate Change student received invaluable help and support from his dissertation supervisor, Dr Becky Briant, Reader in Quaternary Science, during his Master’s degree. Here, both share their sides of the story.

Wasif Sajjad


I was aged 40 when I opted to start a Master’s in Climate Change. Birkbeck gave me the opportunity to study whilst working full time in a bank. Returning to study after a 20-year gap in a totally different education system in a new subject was not an easy task.

I am glad I took the initiative to study at this stage of life where it was solely for the sake of knowledge rather than for building a career. Studying at Birkbeck not only taught me research and data analysis skills, but it also broadened my horizons.

Unfortunately, studying became quite challenging for me when it coincided with a series of unfortunate events in my personal life, including loss of loved ones and health issues. However, my supervisor, Dr Becky Briant, understood my situation and provided invaluable support. In fact, I couldn't have completed my degree without Becky’s help and guidance.

The most important lesson I learnt in this journey is that if you want to attain something, just take the initiative and start. The journey might not be easy but if you are determined - you will succeed eventually.


I first met Wasif when he was a student on the Climate Change module I was directing. Wasif came to me asking for support, and I helped him on a variety of aspects he was finding challenging, including note taking, constructing an argument, using references correctly and citing properly. We have an open-door policy at Birkbeck, and really encourage students to approach us when they need help or have questions.

A few months later, Wasif was planning his dissertation topic on changes in amounts of freshwater going into the Arctic from rivers, which happened to be in my field of expertise, so I became his dissertation supervisor. We discussed what data was available together and Wasif learnt complicated statistics – throughout his studies he really impressed me with his work ethic.

Wasif made a lot of progress throughout his Master’s degree, despite several setbacks. He successfully transitioned back into university-level study in another country, having done his undergraduate degree in Pakistan. Wasif’s perseverance, enthusiasm, and desire to learn was really admirable and I thoroughly enjoyed supporting him throughout his journey at Birkbeck.