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Case Studies

Hear from some of our recent MA Professional Practice graduates and read more about their experience of studying with the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research.

Jenny Morgan

Singing teacher Jenny Morgan is nearing the completion of her MA degree in Professional Practice (Vocal Pedagogy) – a Master’s programme offered by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in partnership with Voice Workshop. 

Voice Workshop specialises in providing a highly flexible pathway for singing teachers, vocal coaches, choral directors and voice coaches and facilitates the study of Voice Pedagogy within a Professional Practice framework accredited by UWTSD. 

Jenny, a self-employed singing teacher in an inner London comprehensive, also teaches privately and is Director of Camden Music Saturday Centre.

Having already studied the Postgraduate Certificate Professional Practice, Jenny decided to progress to the MA as it offered her the opportunity to advance with her studies whilst also continuing to work.

“The most important skills I have gained are academic: researching, writing and developing academic scholarship.  I have learnt how to conduct primary research and present it in a report to a publishable standard. I also feel my voice teaching skills have grown and improved through better and more up-to-date knowledge achieved through my research,” says Jenny.

“Personally my confidence in researching and writing has grown enormously. It has re-invigorated my singing teaching and given me ideas for guiding and offering mentoring to young teachers at the Saturday Music Centre.

“The course has also given me the confidence to consider other avenues to explore such as academia and writing - I have more professional confidence to try new things and be innovative and creative.

“I’ve really loved the weekend lectures offered and run by Voice Workshop and the fabulous director of studies, Debbie Winter. I’ve loved making new friends of all ages and forging professional connections for the future. My sense of achievement in doing well in the assignments has given me great pleasure and the confidence to submit articles for professional publication.

“Initially it was very difficult to find a balance and I struggled for consistency in my study habits. As time has gone on, I have settled into a regular study rhythm meaning I am more relaxed, efficient and effective in my research and writing,” adds Jenny. 

“Learning, improving skills and immersing yourself in something you feel passionate about is uplifting, worthwhile and life-affirming.”

For further information on the courses offered at UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, please visit  https://uwtsd.ac.uk/wappar/ 

And to learn more about Voice Workshop, please visit https://voiceworkshop.co.uk/

Sharon Frewin

Sharon Frewin recently graduated with an MA in Professional Practice at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research after returning to education to progress with her career.

Having worked for Carmarthenshire County Council for nine years, Sharon currently holds the position of Community Inclusion Senior Manager. Sharon, who originally trained as a nurse, has studied a number of short courses using different forms of study but says that this is the course that has benefited her the most.

“I originally started studying with UWTSD as part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Future Leaders course.  I was one of 12 employees chosen to study the course and after it finished, I decided that I wanted to carry on learning and enrolled to study the MA in Professional Practice.  This method learning really ‘clicked,” says Sharon who lives in Llanpumpsaint, Carmarthenshire.

“For my MA I decided to focus on Leadership and Management and the skills that I gained and developed during that period have been invaluable.  I learnt how to be more analytical and how to apply my research findings to my practice.  I gained a great deal of confidence and clarity in my own practice too.

“It was also great to be able to evidence how I shaped and managed my team in the workplace.  I became far more effective; had a greater understanding of the theory and became more responsive in the workplace.

“I’ve always been fearful of failing in an academic environment but the tutors spent time with me and demystified the academic side of things,” continues Sharon. 

“I struggled at the start but managed to graduate with a distinction.  The tutors invested in me; they took the time to work with me and invested time, energy – and tissues – to get me get through it! I owe them a huge debt of gratitude as they took the time to understand my learning style.

Sharon graduated in the Summer of 2019 and the experience was even more memorable and sweet than she’d anticipated as she graduated in the same ceremony as her wife, Rosie.

“I studied at the same time as my wife – Rosie – and we both created a learning environment at home.  Our daughter, Molly, was also studying for her GCEs during that time and I’m sure that she benefited from seeing us study and putting in the hard work.  

“Thankfully, Rosie and I had different submission dates so there was an understanding that we’d pick up the slack for each other.  My employers were flexible and allowed for study days as my University work was directly linked to a piece of transformation work that I was doing for the council.

“I really enjoyed the final project, pulling together the work I’d done – seeing it make a difference to my job.

I have gained confidence and self-belief first and foremost which is a great feeling. I also feel my professional practice has been enhanced and have become a more adaptable leader.”

For further information on the courses offered at UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, please visit WAPPAR website.

Andrew Edwards

Andrew Edwards, who currently works as the Assistant Director of the Domestic Abuse Review at Dyfed-Powys Police is preparing for a new role within the force having been recently been selected as a Superintendent through the College of Policing’s direct entry scheme. 

Andrew, who studied for his Master’s in Professional Practice at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has a background in public protection and offender management and started his career as a Probation Victim Liaison Officer.  

As his career progressed, Andrew became Assistant Director of the Business Support Unit managing 140 support staff within the police force before being seconded to the chief officer team to lead a domestic abuse review with the organisation.  He is now about to embark on an exciting new chapter – an 18-month training programme to become a Superintendent with Dyfed Powys Police.

“I was aware of a new programme offered by the College of Policing that aimed to attract new people from both inside and outside the organisation to become chief officers and I was identified as the right type of person to apply for the direct entry scheme at Superintendent level. 

“I was also fortunate that our Chief Constable, Mark Collins and our Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn are both very supportive in terms of staff development and are extremely forward thinking in terms of recruiting from different backgrounds,” says Andrew.

“In order to apply for the scheme, I needed to have a Level 7 (Master’s) qualification so I decided to enrol with UWTSD to study the MA in Professional Practice.  The force has a close relationship with the University and the course was recommended to me by colleagues

“The Master’s gave me the opportunity to academically investigate my practice as well as the work that I’d previously done.  It was a really enjoyable experience and hugely satisfying too.  I enjoyed submitting my work and getting good feedback.  The course also developed my academic writing, my referencing skills and allowed me to use an evidence based approach.

“If you look at the modules – the reflective essay; the training needs analysis and professional development plan – they really set the tone about what you want to achieve.  As prior experience is such an important part of this qualification, the reflection part is vital.  This course really made me think about what I wanted professionally and also made me look at my strengths and weaknesses giving me a more rounded picture of myself. 

“I also found the course to be really well-balanced and well sequenced.  It starts with what you want to achieve – interrogating your previous work – and then further developing your research skills in a professional environment.  The course finishes with a final work-based project that allows you to use those new skills and to apply them to a project that’s directly linked to your day-to-day work.

“During the course, I also made really close friendships with people from different organisations.  We met regularly throughout our studies and supported each other throughout.  

“However one thing that I had underestimated is how difficult it is to balance work and studying.  It was difficult and challenging at times but it was definitely worth it.  It’s been a fantastic qualification and I found it hugely rewarding.  When you get to graduation day and you’re in your cap and gown surrounded by family - it means everything - and you realise that it was definitely worth it.”

For further information on the courses offered at UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, please visit WAPPAR website.

Rhys James

Rhys James, a Ships Agent working at TATA Steel in Port Talbot, graduated with a Master’s degree in Professional Practice from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in 2018.

Responsible for the organisation and birthing of sea-going vessels, Rhys’ day-to-day work includes dealing with border force enquiries as well as co-ordinating the raw materials coming into TATA Steel’s plants in Port Talbot and Newport as well managing the movement of coil into Europe.

Rhys had started a degree programme many years prior to enrolling to study the MA at UWTSD but hadn’t finished the course – something that had always played on his mind.

“I’d started studying for a degree at another University - before taking up a position at TATA - but never finished the course. There was always a niggle at the back of my mind that I hadn’t finished.  I heard about an Open Day that TATA were holding and members of staff from UWTSD were there showing what the University offered.  They talked to me about the work-based MA in Professional Practice and how that method of study would enable me to gain a qualification whilst also working.  They also explained how I could use the experience that I’d gained with TATA to go straight to a Master’s degree.  If I’d gone to do an undergraduate or a Master’s degree in another subject, it wouldn’t have suited, but this way, I got to study with the support of TATA and was able to attribute what I’d learnt to my day to day work,” says Rhys.

“During the course I acquired a number of skills and saw a marked improvement in my writing, grammar and language abilities.  For example, my report writing in work is now 10 times better than it was before I did my MA.  My first piece of work was very different to the final piece – I definitely learnt to write in a more professional manner,” continues Rhys.

“Much of my work is customer facing and I feel that my verbal communication skills also improved during my period of study.  Other areas of my work also developed as a result of my studies – my time management, prioritisation and presentation skills improved – and the course also taught me how to reflect on my work and made me realise how much I’d achieved.

“For our final project we had to choose an improvement that we’d implement in our workplace.  I looked at the way we handle stock and had to research, analyse and implement that improvement plan – something that was directly related to my role within TATA Steel.

“All the skills that I learnt were transferable and ones that I’m now using in both my professional and personal life.  I have secured a new job and although I’m not sure whether it’s a direct result of the MA, the skills that I learnt during my studies probably helped – especially with my CV, interview techniques, presentation style and my confidence.

“It was difficult at times but was also a really good experience.  I had a young family at the time – my children were 4 and 6 when I started - so fitting the study in around my family and work commitments was a task but my tutors were very understanding and understood that the course wasn’t my priority all of the time.  There were some months when it felt impossible to study, for instance during school holidays but my wife was very supportive and we’d plan weekends in a way that enabled me to study.  The support of my family was key but I also received support from a study group that was formed with some of my colleagues.  We’d share books, resources and stay after work for an hour or so to discuss different aspects of our projects.  Planning was key as was the support of managers, colleagues and my family.

“I was also really impressed with the tutors.  They all had a lot of experience in the workplace – they had a great practical understanding and everything we did was work related.

“I also really enjoyed having time out of my normal workplace and having the opportunity to meet different people from other industries and to gain a different perspective.  It was great to interact with people from different backgrounds and to be part of such a diverse peer group.

“It was a really, really good experience and I would highly recommend studying in this way.  Once you’ve got it, no-one can take it away from you.”

For further information on the courses offered at UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, please visit  https://uwtsd.ac.uk/wappar/

Sarah Hagget

Sarah Hagget is Headteacher at Craig yr Hesg Primary School in Pontypridd – part of the Fern Foundation - and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Professional Practice at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research.

As well as undertaking her own studies, Sarah has also actively encouraged fellow members of staff to enhance their skills by studying with the Academy. 

“For me, it was really important to study in this type of way because I’m a full-time working mother who holds a leadership role and it’s allowed me the flexibility to be able to combine my studies and continue with my work without it impacting on either,” says Sarah.

“It allowed me a flexible approach to develop my own professional learning and to continue to have somewhat of a home-work life balance.  The opportunity to develop as a reflective practitioner and leader has been very beneficial to me and to those around me – I’ve loved it.

“As a Fern Federation, we’re very much committed to professional learning,” continues Sarah. “Every member of staff within the school – no matter what their role or responsibility – has been afforded the opportunity to take on this learning approach – whether that’s Learning Support Assistants accessing a degree course or teachers and LSAs who already have their undergraduate degrees deciding to take on a Master’s.”

For further information on the courses offered at UWTSD’s Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research, please visit  https://uwtsd.ac.uk/wappar/