Rachel Meunier

Student spotlight details

With a background in geography and urban planning, Rachel Meunier chose the part-time MSc in Sustainable Urban Development to inform her day-to-day work.

'I work in the affordable housing sector in London, UK, where I focus on development and regeneration projects aiming to build successful, affordable and well-designed places and homes for all. With a background in geography and urban planning, I was already familiar with some aspects of sustainable urban development but was keen to further my understanding of this vast field and also better reflect on, and further inform my day-to-day work.

'The most challenging aspect of the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development was, predictably, having to balance full-time work with part-time study over two years. If having the space and time to learn and engage with so many different ideas and speakers during the teaching weeks felt like a real privilege, the return to work with an essay deadline looming required real commitment and discipline. I was very grateful to my employers for supporting me on this journey by allowing me to attend the teaching weeks and generally looking favourably on me undertaking this course.

'The teaching weeks were undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of the master's, even if my cohort had to start fully online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By the time we could all attend the first week in person in Oxford, the experience was all the more stimulating! Each week was carefully crafted by the course staff and took us on a journey of knowledge and discovery, often introducing us to fields we had no prior experience of. This was greatly enriched by the students themselves, who each brought their own experience and perspectives. The dissertation was also very rewarding as it allowed me to connect with a number of professionals in my field, who ordinarily I may not have had the opportunity to interact with, and provided me with a huge sense of achievement when I completed my final manuscript.

'I have recently started working for the UK’s largest Housing Association where I will be leading a number of estate regeneration projects across London. Such projects involve complex economic, social, technical and environmental considerations which I feel more confident in analysing and responding to following this master's.

'To anyone thinking of applying for the course, I would say that it is a rewarding opportunity to gather a fresh perspective on professional practice and to engage with a wealth of urgent issues and topics in sustainable urban development. The course gives you lots of flexibility in pursuing your own interests and I made invaluable connections with my fellow class students. I was also immensely grateful to the Department for awarding me the Programme Scholarship which covered my course fees in full and without which I could not have attended the programme. It is an amazing opportunity so if you are thinking of applying for the programme, do it early to be considered for scholarships!'

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