Fraser Brown

Student spotlight details

Fraser decided to undertake the MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care to reinvigorate his career and gain a masters degree whilst continuing to work full-time.

'As an undergraduate I studied materials science and engineering, which included a year’s placement in operational engineering with the old Central Electricity Generating Board. After graduation I had a stint in industrially-sponsored research before training to be a patent attorney with my firm in London, attending an intensive law course at QMUL and eventually qualifying as a Chartered and European Patent Attorney. Having progressed from assistant, to associate and then to partnership in my firm it would be fair to say that I was feeling a little stale after more than 20 years in practice. I was looking for a new challenge, and short of embarking on an entirely new career, I began to consider augmenting my technical knowledge.  

'I was aware of the online postgraduate certificate in nanotechnology at Oxford and had previously considered taking one or more of its modules, partly out of academic interest but also because it was a growing area in the field of patents. When the part-time MSc in nanotechnology course was established, with its medical and healthcare specialism, I thought the time was right to act as it opened up the possibility of a masters degree in a cutting-edge subject to aim for. The first year was taught almost entirely online, which allowed me to continue to work full time, at the expense of weekends and evenings! The second year involved attendance at intensive week-long modules in Oxford, with preparatory reading and follow-up assignments to complete and submit. In parallel with this there is a traditional masters research project. In my case this involved looking at the patenting behaviour of UK nanotech start-up companies, a subject which has direct relevance to my day job.  

'The course is rigorous and demanding, which is to be expected, but also satisfying and reassuring that it is a worthwhile undertaking. Good time management is vital. As a part time student I found that I was juggling full-time work, academic work and family commitments. This left my ideas of occasional weeks of quiet study and socialising at college in tatters. Inevitably professional work and academic work occasionally clash, but the Department recognises this and provides invaluable support and advice.

'The course cohort was international and vibrant, with a range of ages and backgrounds. I have made lasting friendships which I value immensely. For my part I have learnt an awful lot about medical and bio-nanotechnology, which coming from a physical sciences background necessitated a steep learning curve, facilitated by some excellent lectures by leaders in their fields.    

'I am still practising as a patent attorney, reinvigorated, and will now seek to market my nanotechnology specialism to potential clients, especially start-ups.  As I write this it is only a few weeks after submitting my dissertation, so I am still recovering from that concentrated effort, but I hope to submit an academic paper with the support of my supervisor.

'If you are considering undertaking a Continuing Education course then I would say, do it. Embrace it wholeheartedly and it will repay you in spades.'

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