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Discovering my passion for public health with a master’s at Bath: Ryan’s story

Ryan talks about continuing his studies at Bath and how moving into the field of global public health has shaped his goals for the future.

We caught up with Ryan, who is currently preparing for the final research phase of the MSc Global Public Health and Policy. Read on to find out about his experience on the course and what career options it is opening up for him.

Choosing to stay on for a master’s

I came to Bath originally in 2019 to study BSc (Hons) Health and Exercise Science. It included a professional placement where I worked in the Department for Health as a research assistant. This is when I realised that I really loved academia.

I also got on very well with the public health modules on my course, so when I came across MSc Global Public Health and Policy, I just knew it was something that I had to give a go.

During my placement and final year, I started to really enjoy the research side of things - especially writing different types of papers and conducting my own research. Actually having something tangible at the end of a project was quite a big thing for me.

This master’s does an amazing job at developing your skills for all the different types of research to take your learning to a much higher level. Once I graduate, I'll have all the skills and knowledge to go into a further academia role or another role that is heavily research-orientated.

Why Bath was the best place for me to progress

I chose to stay on for my master’s here at Bath because the research quality is amazing, and the funding and the effort they put into their students is great.

In terms of teaching, I don't think there's many other friends that I've talked to at other universities who have had as much in-depth support. This is not just from a learning perspective, but with all the other things that the university can offer you. If you ever have a query, or something that you’re struggling with, Bath has every available option to solve that; this has made my studies and the transition from my undergraduate a lot easier.

The alumni discount was of course also a factor; the 10% off makes a big difference.

Developing skills and figuring out a career path

MSc Global Public Health and Policy is interdisciplinary enough to go into a lot of directions.

For now, I am looking into either going down the academia route – undertaking a PhD and then hopefully lecturing in the long term. Or on the flip side this course has really got me interested in the public health route. I could work as a public health officer, get my training to become a specialist and then a maybe work as a consultant. That way I’d be in a role to really take my learning and research findings and apply them to real-world scenarios.

I think for anyone who's got an interest in research or working in and around public health, the course is amazing. It prepares you for very specific things you may want to do either in the private sector or as an academic.

On the practical side, even from a population level you’ll understand the background of policy briefs or the wider determinants that you may not necessarily have thought of before.

In terms of soft skills, you've got to analytically look at various types of documents, work on your presentation skills, Excel skills, Word skills... It really encourages you to not just focus in on one thing, but to get better at everything you would possibly need for a future career, which not all undergraduate degrees do as in-depth. You also get better at time management and accountability, and it's something I'm really happy that I'm developing because I know that it's going to help me transition to working life. Which is why, again, I'm very happy I've chosen this master’s.

Learning from leading researchers in the field

Hearing from the guest lecturers is always very insightful, even though we've got amazing lecturers on the course. Some of them, like Professors Harry Rutter or Anna Gilmore, are leading health consultants in the UK and further afield and are connected to major public health networks and policymakers.

You’re presented with fresh perspectives. You can see how they think and what their priorities are in this wide area that is public health – especially within the first-year unit I studied called ‘introduction to global public health’, where we talked about health determinants.

You start to realise how wide the field actually is, not just an individual living in a house – but the town, the street, the country and the influence of things like commercial determinants on that. You learn about governments’ responsibility for healthcare; you piece together so many different aspects and start to make sense of how all these factors influence a single individual, which I think is extremely valuable.

From all of my lecturers I’ve gained a sense of their range of experience and the careers they've taken. It’s exciting to know that you have all these options and all these routes that you can take to get to the point where all these decorated people are now working.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in studying global public health?

Put in the work. It's a very good system in the sense that the more effort you put in, the more you get out of it.

Yes, it is challenging, but it's also manageable and it's extremely rewarding. The course can offer you so many different learning experiences and skills, it is really worth just putting the time in and working on these because they're not only going to help you in your actual study grade, but they're also going to help you develop your professional skills. And when you leave university, you can actually show an employer what you’ve learned and how you can apply it to a good level, which I think is extremely important. So put in the time, it's worth it!

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