MSc Planetary Sciences
Why did you choose this degree programme at the University of Aberdeen?
Having studied Geology (also at Aberdeen) beforehand, I was introduced to the geology of other planets (and many of the Master's course staff) after changes were made to some of our modules during the Coronavirus Pandemic. I greatly enjoyed taking what I knew about Earth's geological evolution and applying it to those of the Moon and Mars, so upon hearing of the inauguration of this course, I thought joining it would be a great way to build on this and gain knowledge of other space-related topics beyond Geology too.
What skills, knowledge or experience did you gain or develop on this degree programme?
Being able to take what I had previously learned in my Geology degree and apply it to other planetary bodies allowed me to enhance my comparison and interpretation skills. However, while I joined primarily with an interest in planetary geology, I was introduced to new topics such as instrumentation and mission planning. These gave me a much deeper insight into the technologies required and the strategies employed in actually collecting and processing data, allowing me to consider what actually lies behind the scientific results gained from a mission. Atmospheric and space weather modules provided me with understanding of how scientific phenomena in Space can feedback into planetary environments, while learning about the impacts humans have on space and the 'politics' that attempt to regulate and control our activities there was intriguing. Combining many of these aspects into my dissertation, where I focused on comparing exoplanets to planets within the Solar System, was highly enjoyable. I also appreciated a variety of methods of study across the programme, ranging from conventional research, data analysis and modelling techniques (including the use of GIS software for remote sensing data analysis, and atmospheric radiative transfer modelling software) to more hands-on approaches, such as taking measurements in cleanroom conditions, an astrobiology-focused geological excursion, and testing scientific equipment in space-analoguous environments.
Tell us about your career since graduating
While I am yet to start, I have been accepted into a Graduate Scientist position with DSTL, where working within their Space Group, I will be involved in activities such as data processing and analysis, assessing the near-Earth environment, and finding ways to enhance Earth-Space communication and observation techniques.
What advice would you give another student who is considering applying to this programme?
I would definitely recommend this programme; as I have previously mentioned, it has massively broadened not just my scientific understanding of our Solar System and the near-Earth environment, but also how we can explore it and sustainably use it for our benefit. This course offers a broad range of skills that would make it a great step towards either further studies (including continuation into a PhD) or a career within a space-related (or indeed any scientific) sector.
Is there anything else about your time at the University of Aberdeen that you would like to share, that was not covered in the above questions?
Having lived in Aberdeen for over 5 years now, I can say that both the University and city are wonderful. All the staff I have encountered here are friendly and supportive, and (at least in my case) my course groups have been small / intimate enough that everyone in those groups have forged strong bonds with each other. Aberdeen itself is a very friendly city, and offers all the conveniences of a big city while simultaneously providing easy ways to escape to the beautiful surrounding countryside.