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MSc programme: What students say (further information...)

Dan Ruscheinski
(Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing, Distance Learner)

I was attracted to the De Montfort University MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development program for a number of reasons. First of all, as a 41 year old distance learner, I am able to work the program around my busy schedule. Second, I have a personal interest in renewable energy and see it as an excellent way to combine my business background and education with the rapidly expanding renewable energy and sustainable development industry. Living in Canada, I believe a program based in the UK will put me at the front of the industry here in North America, since Europe, in general, is many years ahead of North America in their approach to renewable energy and sustainable development policy and acceptance. Overall, I also considered that the macro-economic trends in renewable energy and sustainable development are simply too large to ignore so I see this program as an excellent spring board into anexciting career path. De Montfort has been excellent in delivery of the program and support for students. The lessons are well paced and extremely interesting.

I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1990 and have since owned my own businesses and worked in a number of corporate marketing positions in the financial industry and software industry. Recently I accepted a position as Vice President of Sales for a company specialized in developing and selling stand alone solar lighting and solar power systems worldwide. The De Montfort MSc program fits perfectly with my new position and will help me build credibility as an industry expert.

As a father of two, I also decided that I wanted to complete the MSc program so that I might become part of the solution, helping to address and solve larger climate change issues as well as energy usage and standard of living conditions for future generations – both here in North America and around the world.

Guy Eames (BA hons, European Business Administration, full time attending)

After working in senior management positions in several European countries, I finally managed to "get off the merry-go-round" and refresh my education. The course attracted me because of its broad reach, covering everything I could imagine in the sustainable development field. Since starting, the course has surpassed my expectations in almost every way.  The professors have been knowledgeable and enthusiastic, the material interesting and the other students, with their similar interests have been great companions.

Like everything in life, one gets out of the course what one puts in. This means that enthusiastic students can supplement their learning with visits to exhibitions, conferences and sites (such as Eco-build, BedZED, Carbon Expo, Passivhaus). Otherwise one can go with the flow and complete the coursework with its numerous assignments. These ensure a depth of understanding and should not be underestimated. I gave up a part-time job in the first term due to study pressures.

Career paths open to students can be in sustainable development (green architecture), carbon/energy management (energy efficiency,renewable energy technologies) or in policy (public or private environmental or
CSR) amongst others.

I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to understand more about sustainable development and be able to see the world in a different light.

Angela Hogg (Distance Learner)


Just over two years ago, in my role as Thurrock Council's Energy Manager, I was asked to consider additional learning to develop my knowledge base.After researching the courses available, I opted for the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development, offered by DMU.  As I was to continue in full-time employment, I chose to enrol on the course as a distance learner and aimed to complete my masters in two years.Although initially I wanted to undertake the course to help with my work, I was fundamentally driven by a personal need to reach a level of education that I felt reflected my abilities.The greatest challenge has been the continual juggling of time and commitments and yes, I have had to make personal sacrifices over the last 24 months.  However, with the support of family and my employers I have now successfully reached the end of my course and will graduate in November - I can honestly say that it has all been worth it.I would like to encourage anyone like me, seeking a personal challenge, to look at the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development.  I have now not only gained a greater understanding and appreciation of this complex subject area, but perhaps as importantly, I feel a fantastic sense of achievement.  As a consequence, I have increased confidence in approaching challenges and issues and this has translated to benefit both my professional and personal life.The support provided by DMU has been unquestionably fantastic.  Whatever your circumstances, ambitions or needs they are on hand to help and encourage you throughout your studying.  So, if you have the motivation and commitment, I would strongly recommend that you look to DMU for a course that can improve the all-round you!!!!

Phil Pointer

(HNC Mechanical Engineering plus work experience,attending full time)

After spending over 15 years in the automotive industry as a design engineer I found myself looking for a new challenge. Although I still thoroughly enjoyed engineering I wanted to expand my horizons and become involved in something with a more positive environmental perspective.

Like many engineers I took an interest in anything to do with technology and I had become aware that there were a new breed of buildings going up which managed to achieve high levels of occupant comfort with significantly reduced energy use, and that the key to these buildings was not 'bolt-on' technology but advanced design and analysis techniques. These enable the basic physics of the building to be understood and developed appropriately, leading to functionally elegant solutions for building designs which greatly appealed to me, and I began to wonder about making a switch into this field. The MSc in Energy and Sustainable Building Design seemed to offer a good route into this industry sector which would give some continuity with my engineering background and previous experience in computer aided design and analysis, whilst also introducing a wider perspective through the modules shared with the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development course. The Sustainable Development module in particular proved very interesting, giving a strong introduction to a very wide ranging subject.

The core modules of the course cover thoroughly the theory of energy flows within buildings, and the latest techniques and tools which can be used in their simulation. They also cover the legislative framework and complimentary issues such as the human perception of thermal comfort whilst the shared modules, especially Renewable Energy and Energy Analysis Techniques, also dovetail well with the core subject area. A final project gives the opportunity to put into practice all of the various theories and techniques learned.

The course proved to be everything I was looking for, blending detailed engineering theory over a diverse background, and was well organised and superbly delivered. It has proved instrumental in securing my current job working within the simulation group of one of the UK's leading building design consultancies, where I now have the opportunity to put my new knowledge and skills into practice.

Eva Plunger 
(Dipl.-Ing. Landscape Planning and Landscape Ecology, distance learner)

After having finished my studies in landscape planning and landscape ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna I started working in a private office in Vienna dealing mainly with project management of environmental, renewable energy and infrastructure projects. After two years of working I decided to improve my knowledge in sustainable development. Studying in the UK meant not only improving my technical knowledge, but also improving my language skills and studying in an international environment.

The electronic virtual learning environment - Blackboard - makes it possible to study according to one’s own time schedule, limited only by the submission deadlines of coursework assignments.

The distance learning course has the advantage that I can continue working here in Vienna and - at the same time - study in the UK to gain technical knowledge. I can use inputs from my studies at DMU for my job and vice versa incorporate experiences gained in the job into my studies. The distance learning course in ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Development’ provides up-to-date knowledge I can directly use in practice.

Nick Macdonald Smith
(BSc Geology, attending full-time)

Since graduating from the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development I have taken a position at Atkins Group (Power Division) as an Account Manager working on behalf of the Carbon Trust, on their carbon reduction programme for businesses. I am dealing with businesses with an energy spend of £50,000 to £500,000 to provide advice and guidance for carbon savings and energy efficiency, out of their Oxford offices. I feel this is ideal for my desired career path and is an exciting opportunity.

I decided to do the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development as part of a career change. I was previously working in the oil industry and had become disillusioned. I had always been interested in climate change and renewable energy technologies and discovered this course which offers all of this and much more.

I was impressed with the wide scope the course offered, from sustainable, low energy building design to renewable technologies and from international sustainable development mechanisms to UK and international climate change policy. At first this wide range was daunting and I wondered how much watering down would take place. However the structure of the course and huge knowledge of the teaching staff (and their willingness to help) meant that we were able to cover a huge amount of information with no loss of quality.

I have acquired many new skills, but most of all a large amount of knowledge from many wide ranging fields. This has the potential to open many more career doors than I originally anticipated. Also the international feel of the course, not just in subject matter but also other MSc and PhD students is extremely enlightening.

For anyone interested in pursuing a career in the wide range of climate change and sustainable development (and it is wide!), I would recommend this course, exactly for this reason. It has certainly worked for me.

Alex Webb
(BA Hons Geography,
attending part time)

I have always had an interest in and passion for environmental issues and following my geography degree I got into a sustainable development career in local authorities. But 3 years after leaving full time study I realised that I wanted to increase my knowledge base and expertise in sustainable development and climate change issues. The broad range of modules and how these related to my current job, meant that I was able to apply to do the course with the support of my employer.

I studied as a part time attending student, taking day release from work to attend the lectures. Working full time and studying for the course was certainly challenging; it taught me a lot about time management if nothing else! The course was very interesting and gave you plenty to think about in areas including energy management techniques, building design and efficiency, climate change adaptation and mitigation, application of renewable energy technologies as well as how to change peoples' behaviours and habits to engender long term change.

After the eight modules, the opportunity to undertake your own piece of research was both daunting and satisfying - it gave me the opportunity to pull together what I had learnt during the course and focus on a specific area that interested me.

The mix of students from different backgrounds - academically, culturally and career-wise, the opportunity to hear from guest speakers in the field, and the chance to learn from the PhD students at the Institute only added to the learning experience.

The flexible, helpful and friendly staff and the availability of a large number of resources on line definitely made it easier for me to complete the course while not actually living within Leicester.

The course itself was challenging, even hard at times, but definitely worthwhile. I've come back to work armed with many new ideas and lots of enthusiasm as to how to start tackling some of the challenging sustainability and climate related issues which enable me to carry out my job with greater efficiency and which will hopefully enable me to develop my career path in this direction in the future.

Colin Anderson 
(attending part-time and distance learner)

I manage the Energy & Environment Team in the Housing Department at Southwark Council. My job involves policy, strategy and project development, and marketing in its broadest sense - education, information, advice and promotion. My subject area is sustainable development, but with a particular focus on energy.

The De Montfort MSc appealed to me because of its breadth and scope. I thought it might fill the gaps in my knowledge, teach me things I didn't know I didn't know, and force me to tackle those subjects that I wasn't really interested in but which I knew would give me a more rounded knowledge of the subject.

It has done all of these things. I might even get a pay rise out of it! I could perhaps consider the option of becoming a consultant - one of that rare breed of consultants that is value for money and actually quite good…!

Seriously though, the course has already influenced the way I work for the better. For example, I find myself being more rigorous in my approach to policy development and searching out supporting evidence for ideas. I have also realised the importance of educating the public with regard to important issues like climate change, and therefore of creating the conditions for more appropriate projects that have a greater chance of success.

It hasn't only helped me with my work at Southwark; it has stimulated an even stronger personal interest in the subject.

It's hard work, but it really is worth it. You might even find yourself developing a taste for this sort of thing; once the dust has settled on this MSc I might go on to try another one - the Celtic history of Devon perhaps…?

Alexandra Bartel (attending full-time)

My name is Alexandra Bartel. I studied Civil Engineering in Germany and wanted to top up my degree in the UK as full – time student. The MSc of Climate Change and Sustainable Development seemed to be a suited aim. I really enjoyed this interesting course. It was fascinating to see how many areas are touched by sustainable development. This year really opened my mind for the different options which are available to work and to take action for environmental issues. The internationality of this course is another important element which enabled interesting and salutary discussions. The stuff is really motivated to bring the students to their best. The virtual learning environment is also a very progressive tool for studying.


Stuart Barlow 
(Diploma in Architecture; RIBA: distance learner)


I decided to do the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development after being a qualified architect for over 20 years! I thought it would give me a rigorous background of knowledge to aid my work in promoting sustainable design within Reid Architecture, a large commercial architectural practice in London. The opportunity of being a distance learner persuaded me to take the plunge as it allowed me to study in a way that fitted in with my work and lifestyle commitments.

The breadth of the course proved very useful in placing issues within their proper context. I found this very stimulating. By providing a wider vision of the issues the course has helped me place my approach towards sustainable design within the broader context of climate change and sustainable development. The content and approach of the modules meant that I had to read articles which I would not normally have come into contact with. This has given me the confidence to be able to understand arguments form from a wide range of academic disciplines which I feel will continue to be useful in my professional career.

Returning to an academic environment, after a break of over 20 years, I admit came as a bit of a shock! Overcoming my initial bemusement was made easier by the assistance and guidance of the staff at the Institute of Energy & Sustainable Development.

I have now completed all the course modules, including my dissertation (which has given a greater insight into achieving comfort for building occupants), and I have received my MSc. I found the Institute very helpful in organizing the loan of equipment that assisted greatly in the successful completion of my dissertation. I would certainly recommend the course although some designers might want to also investigate the MSc in Energy & Building Design which was introduced after I started my course.

Denise Marsdon
(distance learner)

I am aged 50 and have been employed as Energy Efficiency Officer for the Borough Council of Wellingborough for three years and am Chair of the Northamptonshire Home Energy Efficiency Partnership.

My main responsibilities are completion of the Home Energy Conservation Act annual monitoring and statutory return, general promotion of energy efficiency and implementation of the council's Affordable Warmth Strategy.

I am also trying to ensure that the proposed urban extension for Wellingborough is an exemplar of sustainable development, and am currently heading a working party to develop a countywide Climate change Strategy.

I previously worked as Project Development Manager for National Energy Services which manages the National Home Energy Rating (NHER) scheme. Here I am in action! (See picture.)

Although I am rather long in the tooth to be considering a new qualification like the MSc as a passport to employment opportunity, increasingly the work of HECA officers involves them in issues of sustainability and climate change.

The MSc has provided me with technical skills and confidence to contribute effectively to initiatives within my council to tackle these issues.

Bernard Makokha Willis 
(attending full-time)

I am Bernard Makokha Willis from Kenya, East Africa. My professional background is engineering - specifically electrical & electronic engineering. I worked previously with the Ministry of Works, Housing and Physical Planning of the Government of Kenya. For the last ten years, I have been working for the University of Nairobi as Senior Technologist in the faculty of Engineering.

I joined IESD on a one year MSc programme in Climate Change & Sustainable Development. I opted for this course while in pursuit of regularly elusive answers as to why well engineered and craftily deviced solutions to human problems often fail in implementation.

I believe this course has addressed the root cause of such scenerios: failure to consider a multidisciplinary approach. The Sustainable Development, People Society and Climate Change and Integrated Environmental Strategy modules have been the most interesting in addressing sociological approaches to engineering problems. A perfect blend was made in relation to the Renewable Energy module which, as I have now come to understand, can be viewed as a 'soft' energy path - as contrasted to heavily centralised 'hard' paths, far removed from the communities, profit oriented, heavily exploiting natural resources and therefore NOT sustainable.

From the preceding outline, the wide range of research opportunities is evident. In my research work, I plan to get deeper into 'soft' energy paths and assess its feasibility for the UK in the context of the on-going policy restructuring framework.

On completion of my studies, I will go back to my country and, in addition to my engineering profession routine, employ the newly acquired techniques to foster government policy formulation and project implementation. I will support the work of the regional non-governmental organisations that are extremely active in community-driven development projects.

Jana Cicmanova 
(BSc Chemical Technology, Slovak University of Technology, attending full-time)


I am a graduate of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Slovakia. After finishing my studies, I started to work as PR manager for an NGO focused on the implementation of projects and promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Although I enjoyed my new job, I wished to work on projects that a re more technical. Since I did not find any courses that would deal with these issues in Slovakia, I decided to apply for a course in the UK.

I was very lucky to gain a bursary from the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development that enabled me to come to England. Currently, I attend the MSc course Climate Change and Sustainable Development and I have already passed exams on Renewable Energy Sources, Energy in Buildings, Sustainable Development and Integrated Environmental Strategies.

All these modules were very relevant to the practical projects I was working on before. I especially enjoy the more technical modules since I have a technical background and improvement of technical skills was my main motivation to attend this course. At the same time, I have gained new views on the topic and learned more about the socio-psychological or economic issues of climate change and sustainable development that are very useful as well.

The last three-four months of the course we will work on the dissertation topic that we are interested in. All teaching staff were very helpful when we searched for interesting topics that would also help us to find a job we want when we finish the course. I got a chance to work on my thesis within a successful English company and gain a work experience abroad at the same time and I appreciate it a lot.

I recommend this course to everybody who wants to know more about climate change and gain a wide view on this topic.

Best wishes,

Jana, Slovakia

Kierson Wise 
(BA Geography and Development Studies, attending full- time)

I joined the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) MSc after initially moving to the East Midlands to do an MSc in Renewable Energy at another university. After the first term I realised that the course was not for me. My first degree was a BA in Geography and Development Studies and had not prepared me for the very technical and laboratory based nature of the course.

Luckily I was told of the course at De Montfort University and approached them about joining late. In the typical flexible and adaptable approach of the IESD I was accepted on the course in mid November.

Modules in Sustainable Development, Energy in Buildings and People, Society and Climate Change introduced interesting and complex topics such as carbon emissions trading, community participation in energy projects and sustainable resource use in a challenging yet accessible manner. I felt that I gained a broad understanding of the current energy policy and latest software relating to energy, transport and other sustainability issues.

In particular I found the DMU course to be very suitable as a follow on from my BA degree.

The range of dissertations on offer was extensive with the possibility of tailoring subjects to individual needs. I established a link with Sustainable Energy Ireland (who gave a presentation during the course) and spent a three week placement working on a ground source heat pump project with them in County Cork..

This experience proved invaluable when I went forward for a job with the Severn Wye Energy Agency for the post of co-ordinating a community renewable energy and energy efficiency project called Lydney Local Power (LLP). I was successful in my application and am now in post despite, due to my late start, still having one MSc module to finish!!

Lydney Local Power is a two year program funded by the Energy Saving Trust Innovations Program and is designed to stimulate community participation in local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Tom Lock 
(BSc Geography, distance learner)

Hi there, my name's Tom, I'm 25 and I live in Cambridge. By day I work for the Energy Saving Trust, in their TransportEnergy programme, and by night I study for my M.Sc. in Climate Change. I have been on the course for over 2 years now.

Career - Straight after gaining my B.Sc. in Geography from Swansea, I moved further down the West Wales coast into Pembrokeshire where I won a year's contract researching for a Science Festival in Pembrokeshire. Following relocation to Cambridge at the end of the year, I got involved in the local environmental conservation and sustainability sector. This experience coupled with the strong focus in my bachelor's degree on climate change and my enrolment onto the MSc at DMU, culminated with a job at the Energy Saving Trust, where I have been since December 2002. Based in the accreditation and evaluation department, I test vehicles for their environmental credentials and make recommendations for funding, under TransportEnergy's PowerShift programme.

Why DMU? - After taking all the Climate / Energy related modules I could during my B.Sc. I knew I wanted to take academic study in this field a step further. In Spring 2002 I enrolled on the DMU MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development via distance learning. It offered the right mix for me - further academic study, whilst pursuing my employment ambitions (the cost was right too!).

The Course - I've completed 5 out of 8 modules: Sustainable Development (excellent - the most thought provoking module thus far) Renewable Energy (good on technical content) Energy in Buildings (good on energy efficiency) Integrated Environmental Strategies (GHG emissions reduction strategies) and Research Methods (useful dissertation preparation). I am currently embarked on the Energy Analysis Techniques module (which is very appropriate as I work in the Evaluation Department of EST!) and my dissertation examining the carbon footprint of the electric vehicle.

Eoin Hurley
(BA Geography and Archaeology, distance learner)

I decided to apply for the MSc after contacting Sustainable Energy Ireland about courses in Renewable Energy that were available in Cork where I'm from. Sadly, there was nothing really suitable near me and being in full-time employment meant I couldn't go back to college.

I'm 35 years of age. I have a BA in Geography & Archaeology from University College, Cork. Since leaving college I have worked in industry but found myself working in areas and jobs that I had no real passion for. To overcome this I decided to do the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development by distance learning.

I have found the modules interesting and very wide ranging. I found the Sustainable Development & Renewable Energy modules the most interesting although all the modules cover a great variety of topics and subjects. It certainly gets you thinking! And also worried for our planet.

Because the course covers so many topics that are coming more and more into the political and public arena it offers students and graduates many rewards in both a professional and academic context.

Outside of the course my main interests are football and cinema. I also enjoy travelling and have visited such locations as Leicester, France, Spain, Chile, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Estonia.

Rob Wall
(BA Hons English & Philosophy, distance learner)

Having developed an interest in environmental issues towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I found myself taking small steps toward the career that I wanted. I took MA in Environmental Philosophy, but this was very theoretical and didn't really qualify me for any kind of environmental work. So I ended up in an administrative job at a (vaguely) environmental organisation; thinking that at least this was another step in the right direction.

Fortunately that organisation had links with IESD and I came across the MSc in Energy and Sustainable Development (as it was then). I completed three modules before realising that what I really wanted was to return to full-time academic work; looking at some of the issues that I'd been learning about. The Sustainable Development module, in particular, was a real eye opener. It made me realise just how much there is to think about besides 'environmentalism'.

I was lucky enough to be offered a PhD place at IESD and spent three years researching influences on people's commuting behaviour, with a view to understanding what can be done to reduce car use. Since finishing my PhD I've been working as IESD's e-Learning Co-ordinator and as a Research Fellow looking at social aspects of sustainable development.

Working in a multi-disciplinary environment at IESD enabled me to learn about aspects of sustainable development that I had no idea of before starting the MSc. Although my own research is in social science, I work alongside physicists, engineers and others and I have (I hope) developed a much broader understanding of the issues that we need to tackle in achieving sustainability. The MSc is a microcosm of the department. The modules cover a real range of subjects and you also learn a lot from the other students, many of whom have years of experience to share.

Passant Awad
(BA Economic and Political Science, Cairo University, attending full-time)

The program was very interesting to me as I am working in the environment field.

It gave me a lot of information and knowledge about different topics such as climate change, sustainable development and different environmental topics both technically and theoretically. There is information about policies and theories and also on technical calculations for monitoring CO2 for example.

Moreover, it gives me understanding about people's attitudes, behaviour and norms, and the different ways to influence their behaviour so as to contribute to environment solutions.

The program was interesting and useful and all the staff were very helpful, they do their best to help us and provide us with all the information and advice we need. This masters degree is very useful to me and will help me in my career.

Ian Mordant
(distance learner)

I came to the course at DMU as a so-called mature student: I am 55 and originally went to university to study engineering, but decided after a couple of years to change to mathematics. This was in South Africa, the country of my birth. I obtained degrees in mathematics, and because I was not prepared to live under apartheid, I emigrated to the UK.

Since being here I have taught mathematics, but I have never forgotten my upbringing in a country where a large fraction of the population so obviously lacked the most fundamental aids to a long life, such as adequate food, clothing and shelter. I got involved in health work, via the anti-apartheid movement, as a result of this perspective.

More recently I have reflected that the way in which the fifth of humanity that does have adequate food, clothing and shelter came to have these is by having sources of energy other than their own hands and animals. They acquired energy from coal, oil and gas. It is clear that these fossil fuel sources of energy cannot be easily transported to the world's rural areas where a half of humanity or 3000 million people still live.

That is why cheap reliable energy from wind or sun is vital: only when these people have an adequate source of cheap reliable electricity will they too be able to do what other people who don't live in poverty have done, and that is to produce their way out of poverty.

And for that, those people need cheap reliable sources of energy. And what better than wind and sun which occurs everywhere? So I recommend the course at DMU to anyone who wants to work on abolishing world poverty, and reduce the destruction of the world's resources.

The modules of the course are based on excellent textbooks, which they summarise, but which you the student can read extremely deeply, as the books on the course have in my experience been well chosen to make you as knowledgeable about all these matters as you are prepared to become. So come and join the wave of the future, it's fun and challenging.

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