‘The Edinburgh Festival is my case study’

Sandra Goh, 33, is an overseas student from Singapore doing the MSc in international event and festival management at Napier University, Edinburgh

Why did you choose this course?
I had already spent 10 years in the field in Singapore, managing and organising events. I wanted to get a different perspective on the subject, and discover what people were doing somewhere else. I came here in 2001 to do an internship at the Edinburgh Festival, and fell in love with the city. There are also projects to do in small groups, which is important because in the industry you often have to work as a team.

How much time does it take up?
I found that, even after 10 years, there’s still so much to learn! The course is very intensive and the workload is heavy; we’ve been churning out an essay almost every week since October. There are also a lot of mini projects to do, for which you have to be in groups, which is very interesting because learning how to work in a team in this industry is important. I’m very focused on the work a lot of the time, but it’s an interesting and independent area so I never consider it to be a burden.

What do you like best about the course?
What I really enjoy about it is that there’s a lot of research to do. It’s a lot about independent learning, reading things to find out more about what the subject involves. But we’re also learning how big events can affect the environment, and all about security and risk assessment, which is something we take for granted. It helps you to analyse something you are already familiar with, and how it feeds into society – and of course it’s a great opportunity to be in Edinburgh during the festival.

Is there a dissertation?
Yes – it’s 15,000 words. I’m interested in how you sustain a festival for it to be permanently successful, so I’m using Edinburgh’s as a case study. It’s a very big event and has a very successful format, so I was interested in seeing how the organisers manage it.

How much does it cost?
I would have had to pay £8,825 as I’m an international student, but fortunately I received funding from the Scottish International Scholarship programme. For UK students, it’s £4,860 for the year.

Would you recommend the course to others?
Yes, if you want to find out more about how festivals relate to management, and why they exist in the first place. The course is not just about learning how to run an event: it’s much more than that. It’s about the bigger picture surrounding festivals: the social impact they can have, and even things like how they relate to the environment.