When I am asked what programme I am studying I always get a blank look when I answer “Environmental Protection and Management”. The blank look of ‘what is that? What do you study? What does that mean?’ is apparent. Because of this, many of us in the program have come up with a short few sentences of what we think it means which run along the equivalent of “I’m studying a wide variety of environmental issues to better be equipped to address the management and design of these problems/issues”. While this quick definition isn’t wrong, it’s not quite right either.
The website states: The Environmental Protection and Management programme aims to provide you with the skills to devise and enact strategies to protect and conserve various environments.
- Develop a scientific understanding of some of the major processes which influence the quality of land, air and water resources
- Improve knowledge of the most effective methods of environmental protection
- Develop expertise in the design and implementation of programmes of environmental protection
- Provide the opportunity to study the integrated protection and management of particular ecosystems or resources
This year, there are 32 students in the programme and we all have different end goals. So although we all do want to know how to be able to manage and better prepare or design environmental issues, the overall goals are different. It ranges from wanting to work with waste water, off-shore renewables, wanting to reintroduce or save endangered species, to commenting on environmental policies, helping in food production and research, or even continuing to further research and PhDs. Yes, we are all in the same programme, but we all have different career aims.
I finished my undergraduate degree (BSc Environmental Science) in 2013 and then worked in coastal southern California for the last 4 years. It was great, I loved my job, I had fantastic co-workers, but I knew that my career goals were not going to be reached any time soon if I didn’t move jobs or get a master’s degree. In 2016 I decided to take a month from work and visit Europe as I had never been. Long trip short, I fell in love with everything Scottish and was looking at master’s programmes while sitting in the airport waiting for my next flight.
After looking at several different universities and even several different programmes within the University of Edinburgh, I decided on EPM because:
- It was run in conjuncture with SRUC who I believed would give me experiences I wouldn’t with another programme
- The programme was taught based, not research based which I wanted as I didn’t have a strong desire to do research on any one specific topic for an entire year
- I liked the variety of optional courses along with the mandated courses
- Not having many final exams (I only had 1 all year) and instead having assessments sounded great
- A week long field tour to a country that I had never thought of travelling to sounded amazing (I leave in a few weeks for Morocco and will blog about it again when I return)
- Leaving the USA to gain a different outlook on ecology and environmental factors was important to me
- I had reached out to past students on LinkedIn* and received glowing feedback and someone even gave me an introduction to the Programme Director who was very responsive and answered all of my questions- of which I had many over several months
*Editors note: this was a great starting point for me to find out more about the programme and I would be happy to answer any questions you have, feel free to contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn- Chelsea Fletcher)
MY EXPERIENCE SO FAR
I love it here. The city is magical and easy to get around, the courses are varied, and the people in the courses bring so much more dimension to the course and subjects than I could have hoped for. We do study a wide variety of environmental issues, but our assignments are broad enough that you pick the subject you are interested in (mine have included peat bogs, forests on the isles off the west coast of Scotland, and neonicotinoids just to name a few) and off you go. Presentations happen in most of the courses which have helped my public speaking skills but have also allowed me to learn about subjects that I never would have researched, or would have thought about (e.g. one classmate is currently researching the environmental impacts of artificial snow). So yes, people still don’t understand what I’m studying. Yes, I spend a lot of time working on group projects, or by myself writing papers as is typical for most degrees. And yes, the programme does cover a very wide range of topics. However, I’ve found that I get to pick the subjects that I am interested in and I tend to choose ones that will help me explore a possible career or current environmental issue. What I study is relevant to today and the future. I get to participate in site visits with a variety of land-uses, and I’m expanding and delving deeper into the knowledge that I already possess. I wouldn’t change courses. As with most degrees, the effort you put in is the amount of knowledge you will take away.