We may have excellent facilities and a great location, but it is our students and staff that make Portsmouth stand out. Meet a few here!
MSc Coastal and Marine Resource Management
As an island nation the subject of coastal management is always going to be a concern for the United Kingdom. Although my main job is working as an Environmental Officer for Chichester District Council, my interest in coastal management developed during a summer I spent doing work experience with the Isle of Wight Centre for the Coastal Environment as part of my first degree at Portsmouth.
I decided to undertake the MSc in Coastal and Marine Resource Management whilst doing some freelance work with a coastal and geotechnical consultancy. The MSc covers many of the topics I come across in my professional work, such as how coastlines can be managed in a sustainable way.
People tend to think that our coastlines are static and enduring but you only have to look at historical pictures to see the extent of physical, environmental and social change over the last 200 years. Through my MSc at Portsmouth I had the opportunity to co-author a paper on how historical works of art can assist understanding of the changing coast; this research has helped to highlight the scale and pace of coastal change.
MSc Computer Administration and Management/PhD Computer Network Security
I came to the UK for my Master’s degree on an Iraq government sponsorship. I am now studying for a PhD in Computer Network Security for which I won University of Portsmouth funding as the top-ranking MSc student. My master’s course focused on professional practice in IT at a senior level. The coursework was probably the hardest part, simply because it aimed to develop students’ practical ability in technology.
There is so much to learn and do here – the beautiful harbour and the city fascinate me. There are a lot of job opportunities in computer networks in the UK, however, I hope to go back to Iraq and help my country to develop this area of technology once I have finished my PhD.
MBA - Master of Business Administration (executive)
The MBA is nationally recognised by the Chief Fire Officer's Association as a prerequisite to the role of chief fire officer because it delivers the knowledge, senior management skills and attributes necessary to lead a modern fire and rescue service.
The MBA integrates a range of subjects to form skills and assets that are vital for chief executives. The course is not just about acquired knowledge and understanding – it is also about the continued application of what you are learning through assignments in the workplace.
The fire service is under government pressure to deliver more for less as in a commercial environment. Service senior managers must now demonstrate the ability to perform like chief executives. I have never made any secret of the fact that I am aspiring to become a chief fire officer and, with the MBA under my belt, I am closer to achieving this long-term career goal.
MSc Forensic Accounting
I have always had a passion for accounting and investigating techniques so this course was perfect for me. The University encourages the use of technology to improve students’ learning, and the lecturers are always ready to help us. I took the English for Academic Purposes class to improve my ability to write essays and reports in accordance with my course requirements. It was one of my most enjoyable classes; interesting and exciting.
Portsmouth is a compact city with lots of students. It has an excellent student life and beautiful historic buildings. Its quiet and serene environment is conducive to study and I regularly visit the beach when I want to relax and clear my head.
Dr Janine Pforr
PhD Cosmology and Gravitation (2012)
Postdoctoral Researcher, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO)
I completed my thesis in extra-galactic astrophysics at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG). My project was supervised by astrophysicist Dr Claudia Maraston and funded by a Marie Curie Excellence Team grant of €1.5 million. I work as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory – one of the most renowned astronomical observatories in the world.
I really enjoyed my time at Portsmouth, the diversity of high-quality research carried out at the ICG provided me with a great opportunity to broaden my horizon in various areas of astrophysics and cosmology as well as specialising in my field during my PhD. Staff, postdoctoral researchers and students built a creative and fun atmosphere to work in. I also loved living by the sea.
Working at NOAO is great and I’m very excited about the possibilities and collaborations offered by such a vibrant new research environment especially for an observational astronomer like me. There are many new things I can learn here to further increase the knowledge I gained in Portsmouth and I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity. Tucson may not be close to the sea but biking past huge cacti and palm trees to work every day more than makes up for it
BA (Hons) Illustration (1999)
Children’s author and artist
I left school at 15 with no qualifications and worked in various unskilled jobs until I was 23, so when I finally made it back into the classroom I was quite driven and didn't take anything for granted. I saw my studies as an enormous opportunity and it has led me to many amazing places that I never could have imagined.
I wrote and illustrated a picture book called Broken Bird about a bird with one wing that refuses to believe that he will never fly. It got me a pile of rejection letters and eventually Puffin decided to publish it. It was a very exciting time and I have been writing ever since. The Waterstones Children's Book Prize shortlist for the first Jake Cake book was brilliant and unexpected. I had only written picture books before then and this was my first attempt at writing young fiction.
Many young people feel they have to weigh the cost of an education against future employment, which is understandable as there are no guarantees. But higher education teaches you to think and pursue your own thoughts and ideas, and that kind of personal development is priceless. It will benefit you whichever path you choose after graduation, and for the rest of your life, really.
Richard le Gros
BA (Hons) Marketing with Psychology (2012)
PR and Marketing Executive, Gandys Flip Flops
After graduating from Portsmouth I soon realised that I wanted to utilise my degree as much as possible. I had heard about Gandys Flip Flops through several friends and had previously met Rob. It sounded like exactly the sort of business I was looking to work in due to the charitable aspect and being a relatively new start up. My main focus is generating PR including working with editors from magazines and newspapers, along with arranging festivals we are going to attend, and radio/television appearances.
My degree allowed me to learn and research the theory behind marketing and the different approaches you can take in order to fulfil a marketing plan/strategy. Having been able to take a varied selection of different units throughout my course enabled me an insight into areas in which I’d like to work and helped me have a clearer idea of what I wanted to do when my degree came to an end.
Volunteering alongside my degree for a homeless charity (Two Saints) reinforced that I wanted a role in the future that was going to help less fortunate individuals as well as giving me 'on the job' experience. Being able to join a new, growing business with the long-term goal of building orphanages across the world really motivates me. Everything I do at work actually makes a difference.
BA (Hons) Geography (2000)
Merchandise Manager, Net-a-Porter Group
I work for the Net-a-Porter group, a luxury online retailer, working for their womenswear site net-a-porter.com. I am now the Merchandise Manager, having been promoted twice since starting there in 2009 as a Merchandiser.
After graduating I travelled for a year and when I came back I saw a Merchandise Admin Assistant position at Burton's. I'd temped at Fat Face during university holidays so had some experience of the type of role, so I thought I would try it. I got the job at Burton's and moved to London in January 2002. I was at Burton's for two years and I then went to Etam for a year and a half as an assistant merchandiser. Following that I was lucky enough to be approached for a Merchandiser role at Liberty. After three and a half years at Liberty I was approached by Net-a-Porter and couldn't resist the move to one of the best, fastest growing retailers. I've now been here for three and a half years.
Obviously my degree is quite different to what I now do but I feel it definitely helps me in my role. I did not know what I wanted to do when I left school, so chose a degree that interested me rather than one that led to a particular career. As a result I loved my degree, worked very hard and gained a good mark. Geography taught me how to think through a problem, analyse it and come up with a solution - something I now do every day. I also believe the confidence, team work and social skills gained at university have benefited me throughout my career.
MA Translation Studies (2002)
I work as a freelance translator through my own translation bureau established in 2005. I mainly work with technical texts of almost any kind and I periodically accept deals for translation of literature. I started my own business directly after completing my military service and agreed on my first literary translation deal after two years.
I particularly enjoy translating challenging technical texts and literature. I also like the fact that my working hours can be distributed according to my needs. I don’t like extremely tight deadlines and income instability. I respect every text, and don’t agree on requirements that I can’t fulfil in terms of time or skills.
My course was very interesting and flexible, the tutors were really experienced and approachable and Portsmouth’s a student-friendly city.
BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies
We get a mixture of seminars and lectures. Seminars are more hands on and you can interact, whereas lectures are more formal. The course is really practical too - recently we made a game. My lecturers are really approachable. If you’ve got a problem it’s just 'email me, it’s fine'. Or you can talk to them at end of a class so any worries are sorted quickly.
Along with my knowledge, my social skills have really improved. I was never that good at talking to new people and the course has brought me out of myself. We’re like a close-knit family on our course, which sounds cheesy but we all feel really comfortable with each other.
My course offers a lot of placements and currently I’m in a primary school which I absolutely love. It gives me the chance to use my initiative and learn how to deal with different situations. I’m a hands-on person so this is perfect for me as I’m able to learn whilst doing the type of job I’d like when I graduate.
BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering
My course is partly theory with a lot of hands-on work and group projects. In the 3rd and 4th years there are commercial project opportunities. A main reason why I enjoy studying here is the lecturers. You can ask for their help whenever - they have a real passion for their subject and industrial experience you can draw on to solve engineering challenges.
Fund raising for Formula Student involved creating a sponsorship pack and a case for support. It was effectively like running a real racing team. Before I came to Portsmouth and joined Formula Student, I was quite timid but I made connections through the project and lots of friends on the course. Now I’ve got a lot more confidence.
I love motor sport and I chose Portsmouth because you can take part in Formula Student from your first year. It involved designing and building a racing car to compete at Silverstone against other universities from all over the world. It’s a massive engineering challenge and I’m gaining so many skills from team working and leadership as well as putting my learning into practice.
BA (Hons) Photography
I would definitely recommend the course. I could’ve gone to other universities but I am so glad I came here. The facilities are great and the lecturers are fantastic, they’re all really enthusiastic. They talk to you about photography all the time as soon as you come in the door. Daniel and Julie (two of my lecturers) came to our exhibition and they had smiles on their faces the whole time they were walking around so I’m sure they’re very passionate about what they do.
I’ve learned so many skills: technical photography skills, how to mount photos and hang an exhibition, plus a lot of people skills. When you organise an exhibition, you’ve got to be quite confident to approach important people and to manage the event, especially when there’s alcohol involved and anyone off the street can walk in.
My favourite units so far have been Documentary Practices which looked at documentary photography and Professional Promotion, for which a group of us had to put on an exhibition, fundraise for the night and host it for two days. We had to use our own images and it was so awesome to put something on and watch people turn up to see your work on the walls.
BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography
We undertake placements at three different clinical sites, both trauma and non-trauma hospitals, which really gives you a good overview of the different environments you can work in. The course has really prepared me for the workplace in the sense that I’ve realised that I’m not just a university student, but also a health professional. When you are out in a hospital you have to be professional; patients look up to you and they listen to your answer and listen to your advice and we know how to act, how to compose ourselves and how we can fit into a team in a hospital situation. Once I qualify at the end of the degree, I’ll be registered and be able to go out into the workplace as a qualified radiographer.
My lecturers are lovely, they have a complete open door policy. If you have any questions, any problems, anything to do with hospitals, or the university, the academic side, the clinical side, you can just knock on the door and say 'can I please speak to you for five minutes'. I’m currently undertaking my dissertation and my dissertation manager was always emailing me, always replying, you just have a proper one-to-one interaction with them.