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Meet Your Academic - Julie Clarke

The programme lead for our Surveying MSc courses tells us more about her passion for online learning, and how this particular distance learning course could transform your career.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your professional background?

Before joining Northumbria University as a member of staff, I worked in the social housing sector, holding senior level roles within a number of organisations. In fact, until recently, I was a non-executive director of a large housing association. I was particularly interested in understanding the impact that the external environment had on these organisations, and translating these into strategic decisions. It is this practical experience that I apply during my teaching of The Business Environment – one of the core modules on this MSc. This industry experience has also informed by academic research; my most recent publication explored housing association strategic decision-making around investment in private rented housing, and was funded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Research Trust.

What about your educational background?

I studied my first degree – in Geography – here at Northumbria, when it was Newcastle Polytechnic, so I have a strong personal connection to the University. I’m currently undertaking a PhD in Technology Enhanced Learning, which feeds into my involvement in the development of this, and other, distance learning courses. I would say online learning is a real passion, and I’m particularly interested in looking at it from the students’ perspective. My PhD has given me the chance to explore in detail, through academic literature and my own research, how students approach their studies – specifically collaborative learning and the co-creation of knowledge.

What excites you most about teaching on the Surveying MSc courses?

I love the variety that comes with being an academic, especially one involved in the development and delivery of distance learning programmes. There are opportunities to do research and add to knowledge, to influence how we develop and deliver our distance learning and, of course, to interact with students. As I said, I love the variety.

Why should people choose to study Surveying at Northumbria?

People should choose Northumbria University because we are investing heavily in creating an excellent online student experience. Our investment in technology is coupled with years of experience in delivering RICS accredited Surveying programmes; our courses have been online and accredited by RICS since 2007. In addition, we have committed and experienced teaching staff, whose research informs their teaching.

What can distance learning students expect when they join Northumbria University?

As you would expect, students sit at the heart of everything we do here at Northumbria. That is no different for our online students. From the moment you enrol, we want you to feel that you are an important part of our academic community. Our modules have been designed to facilitate this. You can expect interactive learning materials developed by academic experts, live webinars and student-focused discussion forums. In addition, we have Student Success Advisors offering support – you will always have a named contact to answer your queries.

How will this distance learning course transform students’ lives?

No matter which pathway you choose, successful graduation from our accredited Surveying MSc courses will demonstrate to employers that you meet the academic requirements for membership of RICS. You’ll also have developed the skills and understanding that is essential for a successful career as a surveyor. However, we aim for you to leave Northumbria with postgraduate knowledge that helps you beyond your role as a surveyor, which is why the themes of sustainability and ethics runs throughout our programmes. You’ll also leave here with a lifelong connection to us, and a network of contacts in your chosen sector, which you’ll develop over the duration of the programme.

Aside from being able to meet the academic entry requirements, what makes a perfect candidate for this course?

Most people undertaking a distance learning Masters work full time, so they need to be able to manage both commitments. Being able to look ahead, identify key milestones and plan accordingly is key. We structure your learning to support this but, ultimately, it is having the ability to balance your time and responsibilities that will lead you to success.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching?

In my spare time, I have an allotment and grow lots of my own fruit and veg, as well as flowers. It also has a wildlife area – it is full of wildlife and a great place to relax after work.


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