Masters Student Stories
Studying for a Masters degree can allow you to change the focus of your studies. Read stories from some Lancaster students who have done just that.
From Economics to Psychology
Thanita Soonthonwipat chose Lancaster for three main reasons: the course, the University's reputation, and the campus environment. She says: "I did my research and found that Lancaster was the only university that offered a Psychology of Advertising programme. In other universities, psychology and advertising are positioned as two different kinds of disciplines, but at Lancaster, these two disciplines are intrinsically tied together. Advertising isn’t only about art; I have never seen a successful advert that didn’t utilise science in its creation. Lancaster is the only place that seriously looks at advertising from a scientific perspective and this is what appealed to my interests."
A top 10 university
"As an international student, there are limited ways to assess the quality of a university before actually going to the UK. Looking at a university’s ranking is one of the easiest ways to compare it against others, and it often reaffirms our choices. Lancaster’s position as a top 10 university in UK league tables, and an internationally recognised institute, gave me confidence that I had made the right choice.
"Finally, before coming to the UK, I used Google Maps and Street View to explore the campus and surrounding area. I caught myself saying: 'wow!' all time. I was stunned! The small rural city is very beautiful and peaceful; and now that I’m here, I feel like I can happily live here forever!
Progressing from Economics to Psychology of Advertising
"My Bachelor's degree is in economics but I had been working in an advertising agency as a strategist for a while before thinking about pursuing a Masters degree. I applied to the Psychology Department to deepen my understanding of advertising, differentiate myself from other advertising professionals, and fulfil my own curiosity as psychology has always been an area that fascinated me. Since being an undergraduate, I read many books and articles that took a psychology point of view and I was interested to know how and why people think or behave the way they do. Studying in this Department has given me the same feelings of excitement and intrigue as when I read these psychology books, but the level of intensity is much higher; the Department brings these theories and texts to life.
Interests and support
"I was most amazed by the 'Advanced Advertising Theory' module. It’s the first course that taught me how to apply psychology to advertising and how it could make it become exceedingly more powerful. It was so eye-opening! I learnt many techniques to make my future advertising more engaging, both consciously and subconsciously, to audiences. I learnt how to utilise my creativity more systematically; not just to create and differentiate, but also to create based on strategic thinking for a specific purpose by having psychological theories as guidelines.
"I’ve also found that as well as offering exciting and engaging course content, the Department and Faculty provides fantastic support. For module specific problems or if I’m ever confused, I can ask the academic staff in classes or via email. What really stands out for me is that the staff really want to help to the best of their ability, going above and beyond.
Going forward and advice to prospective students
"For me it’s like with a management point of view, you have one eye open, and with psychology you open the other one. Your understanding of business, people and everything else is not only wider but also deeper; you gain a more complete and rounded understanding. I have turned myself from a business-solution expert into an all-in-one person who can clearly interpret a business issue, understand it from a management perspective, crack the problem by analysing consumer insights, and come up with solutions that both supports business objectives and meets consumers’ needs. With these improved capabilities, I think I’ll have more bargaining power when I go back to work in the advertising/business industry.
"My advice to anyone interested in doing a Master's is to sit down and really think about what you want and where you want to be in five years’ time. Be prepared for a challenging year of assignments, high pressure, and a lot of new theories and tools to learn. Lancaster is a great university with a fantastic academic profile and a very cheerful environment. This combination is very rare, and for me, it’s just right."
From Law to Marketing
Skye King came to Lancaster University as an undergraduate to study Law: She says: "I remember looking at the university league tables with my parents and reading student forums to help decide the universities to apply for my undergraduate UCAS application. I applied to a few other top universities, in addition to Lancaster University which gave me unconditional offer to study Law. I then attended the Law School’s offer day and it affirmed my decision to study at the University."
A change of direction
"After I graduated I decided to pursue my interest in Marketing and Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) was a natural choice to further my education. This was mainly because LUMS has an excellent reputation and I had a great experience studying Law at the University. Additionally, an incentive for studying at LUMS was my eligibility for the Alumni Loyalty Scholarship.
"I still researched other universities as I thought I should explore all available options. However, I ended up only applying for the MSc Marketing programme at LUMS, as I felt it was the best for me. Fortunately, I was given a place on the programme!
Why I chose Marketing
"During my undergraduate studies, many of my extra-curricular responsibilities required me to perform marketing duties, which I really enjoyed. For instance, I was Editor of Lancaster University Law Society, so I oversaw the society's website, wrote a weekly e-newsletter, and publicised events with posters and social media. Furthermore, in the final year of my undergraduate studies I had the opportunity to do a LUMS module, Marketing Fundamentals, which sparked a desire to learn more about Marketing.
"The MSc Marketing programme is aimed at graduates that have not studied Marketing during their undergraduate degrees. Though I had studied Marketing Fundamentals in my final year, this only gave me a very basic and general understanding of Marketing. Also, the programme’s optional module choices appealed to me, namely Branding Strategy and Digital Marketing. Therefore, I decided to apply for the MSc Marketing Programme at LUMS.
What I enjoy most about my programme
"I have mainly enjoyed the opportunities to exercise my imagination - such as creating an IMC campaign and developing a repositioning strategy for a brand - which was one of the reasons why I wanted to study Marketing. Also, I have had fun working with my coursemates on many group projects and gained valuable experiences. For instance, in the Strategic Marketing module we had to develop strategies for a marketing strategy simulation game, called Markstrat. This was an intense module and initially my group made poor strategic decisions. However, we learned from our mistakes, worked smarter and eventually we finished the simulation game top of our class!
My best Lancaster moment
"This is a hard question to answer because the University has given me many awesome experiences and so it is difficult to pick just one moment!
"I really appreciate the international community at the University; as I am half Chinese and half English, was born in Malaysia, and raised in New Zealand and the UK. My best moments have been with the diverse people here, students and staff members. I have learned lots about different cultures and it has been a fun celebrating different traditions with my friends.
"A recent amazing moment for me was Easter this year, when I travelled to China on an all-expenses paid study trip, with the Confucius Institute at Lancaster University. This was because I had been attending a Chinese Business Language Support course which LUMS subsidised. I got to visit many tourist attractions in Beijing, such as the Great Wall and study Chinese culture in Guangzhou. This trip was an unforgettable experience!
Plans for the future
"Hopefully, I will have a job that I love! My favourite modules from the programme have been Branding Strategy, Digital Marketing, and Marketing Communications; thus, a career which involves any of these areas would be great. Ultimately, I know that whatever the future holds, I will be equipped with the skills to succeed when it is time to graduate from LUMS.
From Economics to Data Science
Sofia Boutsouki chose Lancaster primarily for its MSc Data Science programme. She says: "I found that very few UK universities actually offered a course like this. My decision was then backed up by the University’s international reputation. As Lancaster is a highly-ranked, world-leader in the provision of teaching and research, I felt that studying here would help me get a job later on."
A well-structured programme
"Data Science at Lancaster is a well-structured programme and gives you a wide range of knowledge and skills, with expertise coming from both the Mathematics and Statistics Department, and the School of Computing and Communications. Moreover, it offers great flexibility because there are four pathways that each focus on a specific area of expertise, which students can choose from to suit their interests and background knowledge.
"Also, the programme offers a placement in industry, which is based around your dissertation. It’s a huge advantage as you can put the theory you’ve studied into practice, solve real-world problems and build a professional network in industry.
Progressing from Economics to Data Science
"I wanted to study data science because statistics, and more specifically data analysis, is a field that has been of great interest to me from the very first year of my university studies. I was familiar with the topic as my Bachelor's degree is in Economics, but it was never explored or discussed in great detail.
"I also felt that my undergraduate degree helped me to develop my soft skills rather than technical skills, such as programming. I felt that by studying a Masters in a different discipline I’d develop a balanced range of soft and technical skills, allowing me to take a well-rounded approach to issues and challenges, and therefore make me more employable.
"For me, the most important reason for studying a different subject is to gain a new perspective and way of thinking, through a new specialism. Each discipline approaches a problem in a different way and it’s interesting to understand the reasons behind why they approach things as they do.
"Moreover, by changing discipline you gain valuable expertise from multiple departments, develop new specialist skills and cultivate a new attitude towards work.
Interests and support
"My favourite module so far has been Data Mining. What I’ve really enjoyed is that I’ve learnt the entire procedure I should apply to analyse data, draw inferences and make predictions that can be helpful to managers when making decisions.
"By studying Data Science at Lancaster, I’ve also developed a working knowledge of specialist software and programming, using Python, R and Java. I think it’s important to have a good grasp of these programming languages, particularly if you want to follow a career in data analysis.
"However, it’s not just the academic and technical skills and knowledge gained that make this course great. The support and community of the Department are also very important to the whole Lancaster experience. I’ve found that both teaching and support staff are friendly and approachable, and always willing to help.
Going forward and advice to prospective students
"My short-term goals include working in the business sector, in a business analysis department. Ideally, I’d like to specialise as a market analyst in a multinational organisation. One of the main reasons I was interested in Lancaster’s Data Science programme was because I believed it would lay the foundations and prepare me for the challenges of the business sector.
"For anyone planning to study data science, I would recommend they gain some familiarity with programming and read about the basics first. The course can be very demanding and tough if you know nothing about it. But I highly recommend the course!
"For people who are generally considering applying to a different department for their Master's, be prepared for a challenge. It isn’t easy and you’ll need perseverance and patience to overcome the obstacles you’ll encounter on your way to success. But it is worth it."
Beginning a career in data science
Having studied at Lancaster University for his undergraduate degree, Dom Clarke decided to continue his studies at our School of Computing and Communications due to the excellent environment and the support provided from the close relationship with lecturers and other staff. With aspirations of becoming a data scientist, Dom feels that the industrial experience and wealth of valuable skills provided by his MSc is laying the groundwork for his future career progression.
MSc Data Science
Dom's MSc Data Science programme has been designed with industry partners and guarantees each student the opportunity to undertake a paid internship. Dom said: “I worked for 12 weeks at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, using the skills developed by my modules to predict admissions from A&E. This achieved results which were implemented within the organisation. I was exposed to a working environment, where I developed further technical skills and gained invaluable experience in industry”.
Dom has also found his optional module choices fascinating and highly useful, giving him a strong set of skills to be applied during his career. “My favourite topic so far has been Programming for Data Scientists. This provides exposure to multiple new programming languages, and successfully guides you through the process. There is also huge flexibility between module choices, and the course teaches the skills allowing instant movement into industry. This degree provides a large stepping stone into becoming a Data Scientist.
“I’ve also found the small class sizes and friendly and helpful nature of staff at the School have made the experience enjoyable, interesting and valuable.”
Support and facilities
Dom has found the University’s array of state-of-the-art facilities indispensable during his time here, along with the level of excellent support that he and his fellow students in the School receive. “During my studies, I used the course-dedicated room for personal study with fast computers. I also found the library invaluable for finding books relevant to the subject,” he explains. “I am familiar and confident with the lecturers, campus and facilities, since I studied my undergraduate degree here. Whenever queries arise regarding my studies, I can contact many different people, from course representatives to tutors.”
Finally, the social aspect of studying at Lancaster is something that Dom feels should not be undervalued. “I love my time at Lancaster because of the diversity of new friends to be made,” he says.