Katie Breach

Student spotlight details

A desire to develop her career as an Ecological Consultant led Katie Breach to success with the Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques.

'My background is in zoology and wildlife conservation, before embarking on the Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques I was working in Thailand with the Elephant Conservation Network and Zoological Society of London, concentrating on a wild elephant conservation programme and carrying out camera trapping research.

'After working in several far-flung places, I wanted to come back to the UK and pursue a career that focused on surveying our native wildlife. I was interested in working as an Ecological Consultant, and this course seemed an ideal opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge I would need to get into this sector.

'Although my previous studies had been in related fields with a BSc in Zoology and MSc in Conservation Science, I felt that they had not provided me with the practical skills to design and carry out ecological research in the field with confidence. This is what really attracted me to this course, as well as the fact that I could fit my studies around other commitments as it is a part-time distance learning course, and it is accredited by a world-class institution.

'I would say I found all parts of the course both engaging and challenging in equal measures! I very much enjoyed all practical aspects; the week in Oxford, carrying out surveys as part of my field project as well as practical activities associated with some of the modules (such as setting up insect light traps).

'When it came to home-based study, I enjoyed learning and developing my knowledge, and was surprised about how satisfying it was to finally get to grips with statistics! Admittedly I did find the workload and the pace of the one year course challenging, but this has been beneficial as it’s prepared me for the real world challenges that come with a fast paced role in Ecological Consultancy. However, as a result of student feedback a new variable intensity option has now been developed aimed at new students who have a lot of other commitments, allowing them to take the PGCert over two years at a reduced pace of study.

'I was at first a little surprised about the fast-paced nature of the one-year course and the workload, but looking back I can see that this was needed to cover the range of topics in the depth that we did within the time frame, while at the same time helping students develop good time management skills! I feel that the course met if not exceeded my expectations, and with the fantastic support of my course tutors I was able to exceed my personal goals for the course.

'Whilst studying for the PGCert I began taking up some field work opportunities with ecological consultancies, and very soon after finishing the course I was offered a job as an Ecological Consultant for a sustainable engineering firm in London. I feel the PGCert was instrumental in helping me to achieve my goal of securing a consultancy job, and provided me with the skills, experience and qualification to enter this sector.

'I found studying online really good, as it allowed me to study at times and places that suited me. I also thought that the level of support from both staff and fellow students was very high as a result of studying online, created by frequent communications and the sense of community in course forums, as well as tutorials with tutors via Skype. I feel that the same level of support is not so readily available on a face-to-face course once everyone has left the lecture theatre!'

'I would recommend this course to anyone else who is serious about pursuing a career in Ecological Consultancy or a career involving ecological surveying. I would even recommend it to dedicated people who just want to brush up on their knowledge of field surveying techniques.'

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