Postgrad Lives: 'Distance learning gives me a much broader perspective'


Mary-Joy Albutt is doing a distance-learning MSc in public health, specialising in health promotion, through the University of London External System. She fits this in with her full-time job working for Dudley Primary Care Trust (PCT) as a health promotion adviser for young people.

Why are you doing this course?

My interest in public health was sparked when I was a lecturer in health and social care at Stourbridge Further Education College. It was while discussing a range of health promotion materials that I realised that the vast majority were considered ineffective by my students. This was a big factor in me deciding to do the MSc, which I started in 2007 and should complete next year. In 2008, I got my current job at the PCT.

How's the course organised?

There are six core modules, including epidemiology, health promotion theory and statistics. These are completely exam-based, although you have the option of doing an assignment, for which you can get feedback. Then you have to do nine advanced modules, for which you have to write an assignment and sit an exam. The ones I'm doing include globalisation, communicable disease control and managing health services.

How do you get on with the distance-learning system?

I really like it, because my co-students come from all over the world, and when I'm doing a unit on HIV, for example, I can email a student in a remote village in Africa. So I get a much broader perspective than if I'd done a course at a local university, where I'd probably be with students from my own area working in my locality. The university sends you all the books and materials in the post, but there's also a really brilliant student web page where every single module has its own site, and you can ask questions about the module and have discussions with other students. And after these discussions have been going for a couple of days, a tutor will give feedback on the site, which is really useful.

How do you work it around your job?

The coursework takes up most Saturdays, and, when I'm writing assignments, Sundays as well. The hardest thing is physically sitting down to do the study, but I find it really stimulating: it's subject matter that I'm interested in and I'm learning a lot of new things.

What next?

Part of me loves studying and the intellectual challenge of it, but there comes a point when you have to practise what you've learnt, and I think when I finish that'll be it as far as my own qualifications are concerned. But I might try to see if I can become a tutor for the OU.

What has it cost you?

The whole thing cost me £9,000, which I took out a personal loan for. But I think it's money well spent because it certainly contributed to [my] getting my current job, so it'll pay for itself within three or four years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before