Bonus Becoming A Master – How to choose a masters degree

Hello! So in my last bonus BAM I shared what I wish I had known before I started my masters degree. If you didn’t know I have recently finished my masters degree in Conservation at UCL which I documented with weekly posts that you can find here. So without further a do here is my 5 steps to finding your perfect masters.

Step 1: Do you really want to do a masters?

This might sound like a silly question but you need to consider it carefully. First ask yourself why you want to do a masters degree? If it’s because you don’t have anything else to do maybe consider something else like work experience or volunteering. Masters are financially expensive and will take up a huge amount of time even if it is for just a year. However, if you want to further your learning, increase your chances for a particular career path or get into academics then go for it!

Step 2: Do Your Research

It might sound silly but make sure you research the opportunities available! Masters degrees can be super specific so have a wide look at what masters are available on your topic area. And! Perhaps more importantly which universities those masters degrees are being held at. Each masters degree is going to be a little different so take your time when looking into them.

Step 3: Open Days!

Once you’ve found a few degrees that you like the look of see when there next open days are. Open days are the perfect opportunity to find out the details of the course, meet lecturers, look at the university and find out where the masters students have gone on to.

Step 4: More research

Now you’ve hopefully found the courses that you like the most, go back and do that bit more research. This time look at the opportunities available at the course for careers. I know it sounds ridiculous but knowing where you could go after your masters will really help you in the long run because that year goes quickly!

Step 5: Prepare for your application

Now when it comes to applying for the degrees, make sure you have everything you need before you begin. This includes transcripts from undergrads and your references. And of course always make sure you get your application in on time to have the best success!

Good Luck!

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ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – The Hand In!

Week 36!

Hello! So here we are in the penultimate episode of this series! This week was all about finishing and handing in my dissertation! In the end I completely finished my piece of work on Tuesday, had it bound Wednesday and then I handed it over on Thursday!

In case you were wondering my final title of my dissertation was “Hedgerow management schemes and their effect on plant biodiversity, UK” but that’s all I can share with you until it’s marked! My final document was just over 15 thousand words but in terms of words that counted towards my word count it was 10,890 words and was 60 pages long. It is such an exciting yet daunting feeling handing over a solo piece of work that I have been working on for three months to be marked.

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In between all of the work, over the past few weeks I have also been going to interviews and applying for jobs so I can move on to another exciting chapter! Of which I will be able to speak more about very soon.

There’s just one more thing I have to do and then I will have finished all of my work for my master’s degree, but I will save telling you all about that for the finale!

See you then!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – The Last Working Week

Week 35!

Sorry, there wasn’t an update for you last week! Unfortunately it’s all been much of the same of writing, writing and writing my dissertation! I hand in my dissertation next week so I had to make sure my final piece was absolutely perfect this week.

I can’t really believe we’re already here. In one way it seems like it was last week that I was in Norfolk just starting this crazy ride and in another way that seems like a lifetime a go! But I will save all this sort of talk for next week when I will have given my precious document over to be torn apart by my tutors!

I have a feeling next week could get pretty emotional! See you then!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A few of my favourite things

Week 33

Hello! So this week I have been writing. I know that’s a huge surprise to you all! However as next week I am off for a holiday, I have had a lot to get done before I can have some time off. Unfortunately that leads to a slightly boring weekly update for you. So instead I thought I would show you a few of the things that make a week of being sat at my laptop a little more bearable.

Number 1 – Breaks! – I know it might seem obvious but its so important to take breaks! I try and do 40-50 minutes work then I have 10-20 minutes off. I try and take those breaks away from my laptop (rather than just flicking over to facebook) and on my feet as I spend the majority of my time at my desk sat down! Surprisingly this has meant my flat is really clean and tidy because that is my preferred break time activity!

Number 2 – All my plants – I have a fair few plants that sit on my desk along with some fresh flowers. I think it’s important that the spot you work in is one that you like to look at! So for me that means fairy lights, pictures of my loved ones and lots of plants!

Number 3 – Reaching goals – Okay, this might sound a little bit lame but I write a to do list every day and it’ll often have word count goals. When I get there like for example on Monday I wrote over a thousand words, it feels great!

Number 4 – Tea – Specifically vats of tea in mugs that look great – I feel like this one is self explanatory!

Number 5 – Seeing people – I know that for me and a few of my other friends can go into a work bubble and not leave the desk for days at a time. So this week I have forced myself out of the house to go see other humans! This included a group screening of the first episode of game of thrones. It was sooo good!

I have a feeling this turned into a how to survive a dissertation post but I’m okay with that! If you’re working on a big project I hope my tips will help you too! Just a quick reminder that there will be no blogs next week and I won’t be on the internet as I’m heading to the wonderful land of Wales!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A Week In The Life

Week 31

Hello everyone, this week has been a busy one and instead of writing this on a Sunday and reflecting on the week just gone I’ve written a little each day. Hopefully this will show you that in my life currently there is no daily routine and every day is a little different.

Monday: Today I’ve been running a few errands, getting the shopping in and such as well as catching up on the emails I missed from being at home. I also spent a lot of today researching and writing for The Woodland Trust. I really love the volunteering I do for them as I just learn so much! If you’d like to see the work I do for them here are a few links:

Wild Orchids in the UK

Why Do Nettles Sting?

How to forage wild garlic!

Tuesday: Today I’ve been running through my statistics focusing on finding statistically significant results. These are important as when something is statistically significant you can say with more confidence that one thing is affecting another. This can be difficult to show in ecology as there are lots of variables out in the outside world!

Wednesday: Today I’ve been continuing with my work on Tuesday but also developing my reasons why I’m finding certain results. Stats can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers! I’ve been developing theories and working out what I want to say with my dissertation. This has somewhat left me with a few moments of yelling into a pillow when I don’t know which way is best! – All the fun of a masters I guess!

Thursday: The statistics continued today and I managed to answer some questions that I had from yesterday. I also collated all the work I’ve done so far for my meeting tomorrow.

Friday: Today I had a meeting with my supervisor for my dissertation. He gave me lots of ideas about how to use all the data analysis I’ve doing to create a succinct and convincing story. Which is great because I have a lot of editing to do!

After my meeting I went to go and give blood for the first time! I’ve always wanted to do this because I have no reason why I cant do it and every time someone gives blood they can save three different lives. It’s an incredible thing to do so go and do it if you can. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as how I’d built it up in my head and the nurses were totally lovely!

Saturday: So today I wrote up everything from my meeting and got to some planning. Although I did spend the afternoon on the sims… everyone needs a break!

Sunday:  I’m currently writing this just before I’m about to head out to spend some time with friends and my wonderful other half. We’re heading to the pottermore pop up shop in London and I am so excited! If you are also a potter fan let me know in the comments!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this update!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming a Master – Desk Work and Podcasts

Week 28

Hello!

So this week I am now back in London to begin all things statistics. However most of this week has been spent reading papers and actually sorting out my data. For each of my hedgerows I had a different piece of paper with the data on it as well as a notebook with different notes and ideas. So this week all of these notes have needed to go into my computer. It sounds just as dull as it is. That being said it has to be done so as a way to stop myself going insane I have been listening to a lot of podcasts.

I find that I almost work better to podcasts than music as they can be less distracting. They are also a great way to learn a lot about science! Here are my two current favourites.

Science Brunch – These two amazing ladies post podcasts discussing amazing scientists. Hearing the stories of these inspiring people has been keeping me going through the piles of paperwork.

Level Up Human – This podcast is a really interesting concept. What would you add to humans to improve human kind as a whole? Its hosted by Simon Watt alongside lots of other great guest hosts. The ideas that come out of these podcasts are insane and weird and I love it!

I’m building up my repertoire of podcasts thanks to a lot of lovely suggestions on twitter. They are literally saving me from the boredom of paper work. Please tweet me or drop a comment on your favourite podcasts and I will check them out!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Deadlines, Deadlines Everywhere!

Hello!

So it has not been a great week for BEDA. Mainly because my deadlines came and tapped me on the shoulder and then I went into a little bit of hibernation. I am nearing the end and next week I’m free. But for now I better get back to it because I’ll be honest I’m at the green stage of this beautiful diagram.

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I’ll be back next week!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – GIS: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

Week 21

Good Morning folks, as I start writing this it is 8:50am on Tuesday and I am sitting down for a day with my good friend ArcMap. That if you did not know is a piece of Geographical Information Software, otherwise known as GIS. I’ve taken a module this term in Environmental GIS which has been my favourite out of the four I’ve had this term. That however does not mean I don’t occasionally fall out with it. So I thought for this weeks BAM I’d talk about the pros and cons of GIS. I’m also spending this week finishing my assignment for this class. I’ll let you know at the end of this blog if I’ve done it by the time you read this.

I’ll start with the cons…

  1. The dreaded X – Now I’ll admit I am still learning how to use the software, so I do on occasion come across this X in my results field after running some analysis. Thats all well and good if you know how to fix it. I often don’t and sometimes the error messages are not helpful at all. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s saved me so many times from the X.
  2. Waiting – My biggest flaw is arguably that I can be a very impatient person, particularly when I have a lot on my plate. Arc Map can at times be impossibly slow (right now I’m waiting for some raster calculation results). I can therefore get a little annoyed by this, particularly if my results come back with an X.

Now on to the pros

  1. Pretty Maps – You can create some really amazing stuff with GIS, not to mention the amount of maps online. I even found a GIS map of Westeros!
  2. The sheer joy when it works –  Getting the little tick of approval is just marvelous! Its such a sense of achievement when it all goes the right way!

Hopefully some of you who work with GIS can appreciate my snuggles. Hope you’re enjoying BEDA so far you can catch up with any episodes missed on the extras page!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A Chat About Big Game Hunting

Week 20

Hello! Welcome to another update of how my process of becoming a master of science is going. I am technically on my Easter break at the moment and generally any period classed as a break means I’m just working harder than ever. This week I’ve been working on my assignments due at the end of April. I have four to do totaling in at a maximum word count of 8000 words. Unfortunately that does tend to make me a little bit of a hermit to the outside world so I don’t have that much to report in terms of what I actually did this week. I sat at my laptop for a good 8 hours every day! I’m not complaining though, its really interesting work!

That being said I want to talk about a documentary I watched this week! It was a part of the series called Brainwashing Stacey. I am a huge fan of Stacey Dooleys documentaries so whenever I see one pop up on iplayer I tend to give it a watch immediately. This one was about big game hunting. That if you don’t know is when very rich people buy at auction opportunities to go to places like Africa to hunt big animals like wildebeest, zebra and lions. An example that hit the news big time was Cecil the Lion who was killed by a dentist. Stacey had the opportunity to follow one of these hunts and yes the show does get a little gruesome at times. Here’s where this hit me though is that the hunters said they were doing this for the conservation of the animals….

My first reaction went a little like this…

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There side of the argument was that by killing a few animals for a very high price (we’re talking millions of dollars for one hunt) they could feed that money back into the care of the other animals. This meant using the money to pay for rangers to protect the land and stop illegal poaching. The other side of the argument was that the meat from the animals that were killed was then given for free to an orphanage and that the kids would go hungry if it wasn’t for that meat. On the other side of things the animals were often not killed cleanly and after they were shot the man who owned the ranch had to track the animals for several hours to put the animal out of its misery.

Personally I couldn’t get past the idea that the hunters were doing this for the fun of killing animals and nothing more. They often take pictures with these dead animals (which I’ve deliberately not included in this blog its far too disgusting to me) and there method of killing them and the heads of these animals often end up on their walls as a trophy. Killing animals is a part of life for many people and I eat meat so maybe this is hypocritical for me to say. However, if they have all this money and want to see it put to protecting animals and conservation purposes why not just give the money to the ranch directly and not go hunting.

If you are interested I think the documentary is on the BBCs iPlayer for a little while longer and it’s well worth a watch. This topic certainly makes for an interesting conversation and one I’d love to continue. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments or on twitter. Do you think big game hunting is a good thing if it gives millions of dollars for the conservation of not just the animals but the ecosystem they live in? Do you think its just a bit of a con to let people kill beautiful animals? Please let me know!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – “Like I’m on an episode of time team”

Week 18

Hello! I can’t really believe this but next week is my last week of teaching at UCL. Thats not to say that the work stops not one bit! I’m not a master of science quite yet! Anyway thats next weeks problem to deal with I’m here to tell you about what I’ve been up to this week.

This week has been similar to the rest this term with lectures and assignment and what not. I got to find some macrofossils which was so cool on Monday. I found a part of a fish scale which to me was just amazing. That tiny piece of scale can tell us a lot about the type of lake that fish was living in. For example the fish species that I found does well in lakes that are going through eutrophication. This is a process when you get excessive nutrients going into the lake which causes an algal bloom. From this we can infer along with other resources what life was like surrounding the lake. All really cool and makes me feel a little like I’m on an episode of time team.

This weekend I also went to one of my favourite places in London, of course its Kew Gardens. So I will leave you with a few pictures of Kew in bloom!

 

See you soon!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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