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Andrew Shenton

Career Path: Curriculum and Resource Support Officer, Monkseaton High School
Location: Whitley Bay, UK

I have always been fascinated by information, initially because I realised as a young boy that it gave me the means to find out about anything of interest, and so satisfy my natural curiosity. It was that fascination that ultimately led me to study for four degrees in information work. Over time, the degrees enabled me to specialise in different areas. As I was completing my PhD, writing for publication became important to me. That was twenty years ago now and today I have over two hundred publications to my name.

What are you doing now?Andrew Shenton

I’m still writing! In fact, as I type this, my latest book was published only a couple of weeks back. I also work part-time in my local high school, where I teach the Extended Project Qualification (or EPQ) to Sixth Formers. This helps to develop their independent learning skills in ways that will be useful to them at university. Hopefully, some will come to Northumbria!

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria is very much my local university. I have always lived in the nearby town of Whitley Bay and from being a small boy and going into Newcastle regularly with my parents, I remember seeing the University buildings, so I guess I grew up with the sight of the University always being there in my surroundings. In addition, my first degree course offered attractive elements that weren’t available anywhere else.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

There was a good mix of different teaching and learning styles. We had lectures, seminars and workshops and we were assessed via essays, reports, portfolios, examinations and presentations (both team and individual). I must admit that I tended to concern myself more with the marks I received than the lecturer’s feedback but when I did have something of a disaster, the feedback was sufficiently helpful for me to be able to understand fairly quickly where I’d gone wrong.

How connected was your course with industry? 

We had short placements on both my BA and MSc courses. It was informative to see people grappling with real information issues in their own organisations and to watch how responses to problems were formulated. Some issues seemed insoluble, though - and that was interesting, too. On both courses, there were programmes of regular guest lectures. The speakers were very diverse and, although some held more appeal to me than others, I’m sure I benefited in some way from every session, not always in ways I might have expected at the outset.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

The placements helped me to see information issues in a more “joined up” kind of way. The courses themselves were modular and I think some students don’t always make the necessary connections at university between the different units. I’m sure I didn’t! Yet, in a placement, you realise that a certain issue affects many different areas and may require a solution that draws on a range of fields. The placements helped me to develop a more integrated perspective on what I had learnt.

What was the best thing about your course?

When I began my BA course, I was delighted to have the opportunity to study topics of particular interest to me and the marks that I gained contributed to my final award. Although I'm essentially a quiet and introverted person, I also loved meeting like-minded people and making new friends. I'm still in touch with some of them.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

My PhD work equipped me with the skills I needed to conduct research that is of sufficient calibre to be published in some of the leading journals in my discipline. I also learnt much about how to write for different readerships. This is really important if one is to target practitioners as well as scholars.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

When I first came to Northumbria I was only eighteen years of age and very raw. I'd written lots of essays for A-level at school but never any reports, and the idea of structuring accounts under headings was unfamiliar to me. Fortunately, one of my first-year modules equipped me with all the skills I needed in order to write reports effectively and I still apply these today since many journals require authors to set out their work in this way.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

My happiest memories are of winning two awards, one on my BA course and the other during my MSc studies.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Go for it! You're bound to enjoy the experience!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?


Fun, challenging and satisfying.


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