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Emily Colfer

MSc International Development

MSc International Development _Student _Emily ColferWhere are you from?

 United States, Maine

What undergraduate course did you study and where?

I was a double major in Developmental Psychology and International Affairs at the University of Maine at Orono (Maine, United States).

Why did you decide to study a masters?

In my third year of undergraduate study, I became involved with the organisation CISV International, a peace education organisation that educates children for active global citizenship. I became extremely interested in the the world of International Development by working with this organisation, and came to realise how important it is to be aware of our collective global future. I wanted the chance to study this idea further, and decided the best way to do this was to pursue a Master's degree.

Why did you choose Northumbria University? Why did you choose your specific course?

I attended a University Fair and discussed my interests with the educational entities present. Northumbria University very quickly became my first choice. They were very interested in discussing my educational goals and the opportunity to do a placement while studying. In a professional world that values experience just as much as education, participating in a placement provides a huge advantage! I met with the Programme Leader for International Development the following week, and decided Northumbria was the best place for me.

What makes your specific course challenging/inspiring/different? How would you sum up the difference between Undergraduate and Postgraduate study?

Although I come from an American University, I spent one year of my undergraduate career at an English University and became quite familiar with the system. I find that the biggest difference in undergraduate and postgraduate education within the United Kingdom is the self-directed learning. I spent a short amount of time in classes, and was expected to speak out if I needed additional contact or help- which tutors are more than willing to provide. Whether other students find this challenging or not, I believe it is an extremely effective way to prepare individuals for a future in any profession.

What was it like studying at Northumbria? What are the different ways that you learn on your course?

I thoroughly enjoyed my modules, and found them all extremely educational and engaging. My modules were a mix of lecture and seminar; students are lectured about a specific topic and then provided the opportunity to apply the concepts through group work. Additionally, our tutors provided a mix of guest lecturers, from professionals to Ph.D student,s willing to discuss their work at length. I found this one of the most beneficial aspects of the course, as it allowed me to gain a real world perspective of the various sectors within International Development.

How connected is your course with industry? Do you have the opportunity of placement, work on projects?

I began a placement with the organisation CISV International, working in their International Office with their Training and Quality Assurance Manager, as well as their Risk Manager. My academic supervisor helped facilitate this placement, as well as facilitate the exchange of information to be used for my dissertation. I think this is one of the greatest strengths of Northumbria's International Development MSc programme: they are willing to provide their students the opportunity to gain real world experience within the field they are most interested in. 

I also find my tutors to be extremely connected within the modern world of International Development- connections of which were always willing to share!

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

I am very impressed with the level to which my tutors are interested in my learning. I am also impressed how progressive my tutors are; all of them are involved with current, global issues, and are continually broadening my horizons.

How accessible do you find our staff? Do you feel at ease?

I find the staff I have interacted with on this course to be easily accessible. They are always reachable through email, and are often available at short notice.

As a postgraduate student, what aspects of university life are important to you?

I find that having engaging academic content, and tutors who are truly interested in the topic of the modules to be of most importance to me.

What doors do you think this course will open for you? How will your course help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

I believe this course has provided me the tools and skills to break into the industry, and the opportunity to gain experience in the sector of my choice. My course focuses on current theory but also on practical application, which is where I believe I have gained an edge over the future competition.

Have you changed as a person?

Absolutely. I feel that the more I have learned, the more I am motivated to learn. Covering so many topics has allowed me to gain greater knowledge of what exists within the field of International Development, as well as hone in on my specific interests. I came in unsure of exactly where my interests lay, and came out with a keen focus for the future.

How would you describe yourself in 3 words before coming to Northumbria? What are the 3 key skills and attributes you have gained since being here?

I would have described myself as driven and eager, yet largely unaware. 

How would you describe Northumbria in 3 words?

Engaging, Supportive, Progressive.

Do you feel that your course has been a worthwhile investment in your future?

My time at Northumbria University has been nothing but beneficial to my future. 


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