MSc River Environments and their Management

Jenny, a recent graduate talks about her time on the MSc River Environmental Management course and the opportunities it has given her for her career progression.

TitleMSc River Environments and their Management (click to view video)

Duration: 4.05 mins

Speaker Names (if given): S1 Jenny Mercer, MSc River Environmental Management (REM) student

S1 My name's Jenny and I studied River Environmental Management Msc, which we call REM.

I studied here at Birmingham for my BSc in Environmental Science so, when I was looking at MSc courses the REM course here at Birmingham stood out to me mainly because I knew all of the lecturers, knew all of the facilities, the campus. The course had such a wide spectrum of modules so I knew really that there was no reason to go anywhere else and I loved it here already so that why I stayed.

Having completed Environmental Science, I was very much a river ecologist, an aquatic biologist really. I knew that there were river ecology modules within REM and thought that would be a fantastic course to study, especially since it had such a wide spectrum of other modules, and going into a career that would encompass ecology I thought maybe I should about other things such as, hydrology, geomorphology, river management and river restoration. The REM course really does cover everything to do with it and people have noticed that when I have spoken to them and they've all commented, not only about how great that was but, that they didn't even know a degree like that even existed. So I think, in terms of career progression, it's a very, very positive degree to have hold of.

I'm actually starting a job on Monday as a Wetland Habitat Consultant. The MSc has helped me to realise that there's a lot of choice within river and environment, and managing wetlands and rivers is now exactly what I've realised is what I want to do. I think it's noticeable when I've been applying for jobs, reading what they want from a candidate because they say BSc but what they really want now is an MSc. It's almost like it's not good enough just to have a BSc any more. So to have the MSc just gives you that edge.

The field work component of the course covers a very wide spectrum. The course is very practical so it's all well and good learning things in lectures and in seminars but with a lot of these things it's better to go out and see them. So we go on a lot of fieldtrips to see river restoration projects - ones that have worked, some that need improvements and we also do a lot of water sampling, phosphate testing, nitrate testing, pulling on the old waders and taking out the nets. We also, obviously, take those samples back to the lab and we learn a lot of lab skills and translate those into projects. So, across the year we accumulated a lot of transferable skills which we can obviously take through to our careers.

I was lucky enough during my dissertation to spend nine weeks in Lyon, in France. This was really interesting actually because obviously throughout my degrees, undergraduate and postgraduate, I have spent a lot of time working in wetland habitats and river habitats but to do this work in another country and on on rivers that behave differently and organisms that are completely different to here in Britain, was really interesting.

The University itself is an amazing university, the campus is beautiful and the Geography, Earth and Environmental Science department is a great department in terms of support and in terms of facilities. I think it's a brilliant place to do an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree.