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Niall Readfern

“With every module I take on this course I am gaining additional skills that I am able to apply immediately to give me more confidence in my professional reasoning and decision making.” Read Niall’s experience

Our online Sustainable Development MSc empowers students to contribute effectively to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through widespread sustainability transformations.  

We caught up with Niall Readfern, one of our online students who is the co-founder of Kuokoa, an NGO operating in Uganda and helping to create sustainable fisheries. Here’s what he had to share about his experience studying so far: 

Why did you choose to study online with the University of Sussex?  

I chose to study online with the University of Sussex for two reasons. The first is the reputation of the University in the international development sector; the name came up time and time again when speaking with people in leading development agencies. The second was the responsiveness of support staff and the quality of online resources available, which is obviously extremely important when you are studying from another continent.

Why did you choose to study Sustainable Development MSc (online)? 

My journey into the development sector was quite unorthodox coming from a creative arts background. Although I have been able to learn a great amount from experience, colleagues, and peers over the past 5 years, I felt like it was time to formalise and contextualise my knowledge by acquiring new tools to strengthen my work and expand my career prospects. The modules in the course look at various aspects of development and it takes a multidisciplinary and critical approach. This helps to understand methods more broadly and to be critical of their strengths and weaknesses, which I think is very important in such a multi-layered field. It provides the flexibility to apply the concepts you learn to issues that you resonate with, which helps to maintain engagement and really enjoy the assignments.

What’s been your favourite module so far and what made it so engaging? 

It’s hard to answer this because I feel like every module has been engaging for their own reasons and they all feed into each other in a really enlightening way. That being said, so far, the Policy Analysis module has been my favourite. Although it was challenging, bringing new perspectives that I had not encountered before, it was also rewarding to bring my technical and creative mindset to problem solving and I really enjoyed working with other students in my group.

How have you found online learning?  

Studying online has been a great experience. The flexibility alone is incredible and engagement from the University support team is fantastic. More so, collaborating with other students on the course, from various professional backgrounds in diverse regions, provides a whole other aspect to learning that has made the course really special.

How do you manage your study time around other personal and professional commitments? 

The course is very flexible, all lectures are recorded, professors are always available and the online study materials are well put together. The MSc, of course, requires dedication of time and energy to get the most out of it which is not always straightforward, but the course is designed to be as easy as it can be to fit around your other commitments.

How has this course impacted your career and/or personal development so far? 

With every module I take on this course I am gaining additional skills that I am able to apply immediately to give me more confidence in my professional reasoning and decision making. I am excited to continue the course knowing that I am gaining so much with every step.

What advice would you give to anyone considering this online course? 

It took me a long time to pick out the course that I thought I would benefit from the most and I feel like I made a good choice. There is a lot of talent to draw from, from both the teaching staff and other students. The course is packed full of value, and I can enthusiastically recommend it.


If you would like to learn more about the online Masters that Niall studied with us, please visit the Sustainable Development MSc (online) course page.