Assessing the value of an MSc Watch

ferus89
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Hello all, I write this post with the hope of getting some different viewpoints on the decision I'm currently weighing up.

I graduated a few years ago with a 2:1 in conservation and countryside management at UWE, prior to this (and indeed a few years into my degree) I had no clear idea as to what I wished to do afterwards. It was only in my 3rd and final year that I decided ecological consultancy was the career path for me, however whilst not completely unrelated, the course content was basic and a little general with regards to ecology. Since graduating I have worked hard to better myself through volunteering with relevant local wildlife groups, putting time in to improve my knowledge of UK flora and fauna and working as a seasonal ecological subcontractor for a regional consultancy, with whom I have gradually been entrusted with a greater and more varied workload.

Despite this I still feel as though a full time position within a consultancy is out of my reach, and so I decided to apply for a part time MSc in biodiversity conservation at Leeds university last year. After eventually deciding I wasn't quite ready last year I deferred it to this year and find myself weighing up the decision again. I feel the course would improve my employability through more focused ecological content and it is also something I know I would enjoy greatly, giving me the chance to study a subject which I am extremely passionate about. On the flip side, it's a substantial investment financially, which is the cause of my other concern, I'm unsure about the prospect of working alongside studying, a necessity due to the lack of funds available and my failure to secure funding. Has anyone else faced a similar scenario?
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lobloblob
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im not sure how much i can contribute to your problem, but i've been going through the same thing (and i am actually considering the exact same course at leeds, haha) and its down to personal choice. that course seems to set people up for decent jobs, judging by the careers on the website and from talking to ex students, but are you willing to make that fiscal commitment? no-one can tell you but yourself...i think that year will probably end up costing me around £16,000 or more (including costs of living in leeds) but as i luckily have family to support me and those are the type of careers i really want - and i dont feel i could get without a masters degree - im going for it. im sure you know ecology is a crazy competitive field, and a msc will give you an advantage, but the choice is down to you! personally ive been agonising over making the right decision over which msc to go for because it could potentially be a £9000 mistake, so i know what you're going through!
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lobloblob
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oh sorry i completely overlooked where you said that stuff about ecological consultancy - although the msc will help you with that could you definitely not just advance to that level? maybe take a paid course in bat consulting or something?
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redferry
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(Original post by ferus89)
Hello all, I write this post with the hope of getting some different viewpoints on the decision I'm currently weighing up.

I graduated a few years ago with a 2:1 in conservation and countryside management at UWE, prior to this (and indeed a few years into my degree) I had no clear idea as to what I wished to do afterwards. It was only in my 3rd and final year that I decided ecological consultancy was the career path for me, however whilst not completely unrelated, the course content was basic and a little general with regards to ecology. Since graduating I have worked hard to better myself through volunteering with relevant local wildlife groups, putting time in to improve my knowledge of UK flora and fauna and working as a seasonal ecological subcontractor for a regional consultancy, with whom I have gradually been entrusted with a greater and more varied workload.

Despite this I still feel as though a full time position within a consultancy is out of my reach, and so I decided to apply for a part time MSc in biodiversity conservation at Leeds university last year. After eventually deciding I wasn't quite ready last year I deferred it to this year and find myself weighing up the decision again. I feel the course would improve my employability through more focused ecological content and it is also something I know I would enjoy greatly, giving me the chance to study a subject which I am extremely passionate about. On the flip side, it's a substantial investment financially, which is the cause of my other concern, I'm unsure about the prospect of working alongside studying, a necessity due to the lack of funds available and my failure to secure funding. Has anyone else faced a similar scenario?
If you want to be an ecological consultant I really don't think a Masters in biodiversity and conservation will be particularly helpful. What you need: experience doing bat and newt surveys, plant ID (really important) and insect ID (really desirable)

I took that very Masters, they do plant and insect basic ID but to be honest I don't think it is the best or cheapest way to learn. I have also worked for around d 4 years now as a casual ecological consultant.

I got into it by volunteering at a local ecological consultancy during my undergraduate, who then started employing me.

What I would recommend is: contact all local consultancies to see if they're willing to take you on or need help
Go on plant and insect ID courses and try teaching yourself with a guide in the field
Get a bat detector and learn how to use it
Get in touch with your local bat groups and see if they will take you out with them
Work towards getting a protected species licence

For ecological consultancy interviews generally you get ID tests and they want to know you can write. If you have your own licence you pretty much have the job.

If you really want to do a masters I'd suggest one in ecological consultancy specifically as they will be much better geared towards the industry. Hope that helps.
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