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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental SciencePostgraduate study

Joss Watson High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

MSc Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 2013

Joss Watson's Photo

Without my masters, I wouldn’t have got my job offer with HS2 Ltd, they wouldn’t even have considered me if I didn’t have the skills I developed at Southampton.

What did you find most useful about your course?

The lecturers at Southampton combined theoretical knowledge and vocational training over the year and that set up up well for the world of work. I hadn’t experienced this during my undergraduate degree at another university and found it really helped me in my career. The masters gave me the skills I needed but also supported me to develop my personality.

My dissertation formed the basis of an article in a leading academic journal, my tutor and I worked on it after I graduated and I was delighted when it was accepted.

What was distinctive about your masters course?

The biggest difference was the time requirement and personal commitment required. I was in the library until late at night for several months but it was definitely worth all the hard work. As I often had to make presentations to my fellow students and the lecturers, I very quickly became confident in talking to large groups of people. Generally, universities don’t teach soft skills for the workplace but Southampton set me up very well for this.

How has your masters helped you in your career?

Without my masters, I wouldn’t have got my job offer with HS2 Ltd, they wouldn’t even have considered me if I didn’t have the skills I developed at Southampton. Working in the environmental sector has become more and more popular over the last ten years and, you need to stand out from the other candidates.

For me the masters was the stepping stone I needed. Alongside the essential theory and principles of environmental monitoring and assessment, I learned a great deal during field work about how to carry out environmental impact assessments, which are vital in my job at HS2.

Tell us more about the research paper you wrote during your degree?

My dissertation was all about wind farm and solar farm developments and the environmental constraints on where they are best sited around the UK. After my course ended, my supervisor Professor Malcolm Hudson asked me to continue developing this research and we co-authored an academic paper for the Journal of Urban and Landscape Planning. My employers at HS2 have valued the technical learning behind the research, particularly because my dissertation was based on environmental impact assessments. Through the research, I was able to further develop my technical skills, and in the future it will help my CV to stand out amongst my peers.

Why did you choose the University of Southampton?

Only a very select number of universities teach environmental impact assessment at masters level and fewer still have Southampton’s reputation. It is one of the best for Environmental Science in the country. These factors, combined with the other modules that were on offer, meant that it was definitely a good option for me. Looking back it was a fantastic choice. It was a real challenge but I got an amazing job out of it, loved every minute of the learning and made lots of good friends; I was very happy with the decision to choose Southampton.

Why are you back at the University today?

Along with a colleague, I’m giving a presentation to Environmental Science students about high speed rail and the environmental impact assessments HS2 had to undertake while preparing design and planning applications. We’ll also be giving some careers advice, about what kind of careers you can go into with a masters in Environmental Science. When I was at university, there were very few examples of graduates coming back, only a few years later, and talking about what it’s like to work in Environmental Science, and what the possibilities are when you’ve finished studying. There are so many opportunities out there in the UK and across the world for graduates with the practical knowledge and skills that are taught at Southampton.

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