Meet Professor Sarah Smith, lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Management.
Tell us about your journey into academia…
I am an accidental economist – and academic. My undergraduate degree was Philosophy, Politics and Economics and I specialised in politics. My first job was in political consultancy but I soon realised that economics would provide the tools that would help me to understand the policies that I was interested in.
After doing a master’s at the LSE, I worked at the Institute for Fiscal Studies which was a great combination of academic research and policy analysis. I spent time working in government but saw opportunities in academia for a more flexible career and the luxury of choosing the questions to work on. My first academic job was at the LSE on their master’s in Public Administration, where I really enjoyed teaching economic evaluation methods. Bristol economics department is a perfect fit for me because it has a focus on applied research and research with impact on policy and practice – in health, education and welfare.
What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?
I have taught an economic evaluation course to MSc students at Bristol – it’s great because it’s really applied and gives students powerful tools that they can use later in their careers. As part of the assessment, students designed and presented their own policy evaluation. As well as giving students an opportunity to learn by doing, I found it fascinating to learn about different policies from across the world. Our PGT programme is very diverse, bringing together students from many countries.
What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students?
Think about why you’re doing a postgraduate taught degree. Our specialist PGT economics programmes build on an undergraduate degree but they’re also much more tailored to different economics careers – in industry, banking/finance and public policy. You can use the year to build up specialist knowledge and skills – try to tailor it to what you want to do next.