Based in London, Tom Barnes is a Policy Advisor in HM Treasury. He recently graduated with an MSc in Public Policy from the University of Bath and spoke to us about his career and experience on the programme.
After completing a BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Hull, I was keen to broaden my skillset and build some experience in a range of different areas. I’ve always had a strong connection to the charity sector from a young age, and building on my experiences as an adult volunteer, I worked in safe practice at Girlguiding before moving to the NHS.
In these organisations I was able to see the real-world impact of policy, at both an institutional policy and public policy level. I then moved to HM Treasury a few years ago where I’ve since worked on international financial services policies.
Choosing to study
When looking at options for postgraduate studies, I was looking for a course that would have significant breadth to really expand my personal knowledge and understanding of a range of areas.
I was particularly conscious that coming from a Biochemistry background, studying a postgraduate course in a different subject could be challenging. However, looking at the materials online, I felt confident that the MSc in Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Bath would be accessible to me - given my academic and professional skills - and provide the breadth I was looking for.
I was also motivated to apply for the MPP because of the content of the course. In particular, the modules that looked at public policy and economics, and the politics, theory and practice modules, which would help provide an academic theoretical basis for my professional career.
A rewarding experience
I would describe my experience on the MPP as very rewarding. Having used this as an opportunity to stretch myself professionally and academically, the course exceeded my expectations.
Despite the challenges of two national lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions in place, it was a great opportunity to network, and meet and build relationships with others on the course - not just students from the UK, but from around the world. Personally, I found that this added even more value to the workshops and seminars, as we were able to hear international perspectives. It has helped me think about public policy in different ways.
I also really enjoyed the delivery and flexibility of the course. As it’s designed for working professionals, it is fast-paced and can be demanding at times, but the support from the team was excellent in terms of extensions or reasonable adjustments. It was really well run, and flexible enough to fit around my busy working schedule.
I feel that the MPP has positively contributed to my professional development, as well as expanding my professional network. Looking ahead, I plan to regularly apply theory and practice I learnt from the MPP into my work and hope to continue to work in a range of policy roles in the future. I am looking forward to a break from studying, but feel that the academic skills developed on the MPP will make other studying opportunities available.