Dr Jordi Paps Montserrat – Life Sciences

Dr Jordi Paps Montserrat is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences, specialising in the genomic basis of major evolutionary transitions.


Tell us about your journey into academia… 

I did my degree in molecular biology in Barcelona and, while I still find subjects like molecular genetics or biochemistry fascinating, the science that totally captivated me was evolutionary biology. After finishing my degree, I did a PhD using molecular genetics to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of the major lineages of the Animal Kingdom. This was followed by a postdoctoral position investigating the closest relatives of animals. 

After that I moved to Oxford to keep studying the evolution of animals, but this time using comparative genomics. After five years as a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford, I got a lectureship at the University of Essex, and I moved to Bristol in early 2019. Here I teach genetics, developmental biology, and evolution to undergraduates, and I am the academic lead of the MSc in Bioinformatics.  


What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students? 

Postgraduate programmes offer a unique chance to complement what you learnt during your undergraduate degree, acquiring new skills that you can apply in scientific research projectsFor example, the MSc in Bioinformatics allows students from biosciences backgrounds (biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, medicine…) to tackle research questions usually out of the scope of their degree programmes. Investigate which programme options are available and ask yourself what do you need to learn to pursue your academic or professional interests? And be honest with yourself! 


What’s your experience of events at Bristol? 

I’m relatively new to Bristol, but I’ve participated in several open days and events for prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students. I’ve also organised and been part of outreach events in Bristol. I enjoy talking to people and sharing my views about science and learning. 


Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the events? 

I’d like to encourage you to be proactive. Navigate the information you’re being given and set a clear plan for which sessions and meetings you need to attend in advance. Importantly, prepare questions before coming to the event, and ask them 


What kind of things can students ask you? 

I’m happy to answer all types of questions related to the postgraduate programme, science, or my research. Most often I get questions about types of research projects we offer (many and very different projects!), previous knowledge about bioinformatics required (none!), and sometimes I get questions about my own research. 


Why is it important to attend the events? 

Most likely, your choice of postgraduate programme is going to impact your future, both short and long term. It’s important to make an informed decision, get a feeling for the programmes and the people involved, and to clear doubts or misconceptions. Attending these events gives you a great opportunity to get this information and make a wise choice! 


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Dr Rabeya Khatoon – Social Sciences and Law

Dr Rabeya Khatoon is a Lecturer in Economics within the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.

Tell us about your journey into academia… 

have always had a desire to work in academia from the start of my undergraduate studies at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Maybe this is because I got influenced by the very best lecturers there and to the subject matter of Economics from the very beginning. With my hard work and love for the subject, I topped the class and eventually joined the University of Dhaka as a Lecturer after completing my master’s in Economics.

To know more about the subject and with a desire to specialize in Econometrics, I applied for and got selected at the University of Manchester for MSc in Economics and Econometrics, funded by the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship. Based on my performance there, I was able to gain full funding for my doctoral studies straightaway and completed my studies with success. For me, it was the love for the subject that helped me the most, this is the reason why I did not fall behind even after having three of my children during PhD studies

Upon completion, I returned to the University of Dhaka, though not for long. After one year, I was able to join University College London, and then the University of Bristol as an academicMy place as an academic is neither by chance, nor by luck; I believe it is my love for Economics and my passion to teach that brought me where I am at present.  


What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students? 

Postgraduate study is a must if you want to join academia. If you have a different career goal, its still worth exploring, as the return to this one more year of education is measured to be significantly positive. MSc Economics and Finance at Bristol is a specialist programme that can equip you with cutting-edge economics knowledge with a focus on finance. 

There is no alternative to gather as much relevant information as possible before you choose your University and your programme. It is important to know the strengths of the institution and the prospects of the programme to see if it matches with your aspirations.  


What’s your experience of events at Bristol? 

I’ve been at several events since working at Bristol. It’s such a pleasure to interact with many prospective students showing an interest in MSc Economics and Finance! During the lockdown, I was involved in a virtual event with a live chatI was very happy to see students asking questions about the programme as well as overall life in Bristol. 


Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the virtual events? 

believe if you take the time to use all the resources available to research for the programmes you are interested in and note down some questions or points of discussion beforehandit’ll not look quite different than the face to face open week. You’ll be able to use the chat function to ask any questions or queries you might have   


What kind of things can students ask you? 

Anything! I’ll be happy to answer any questions about my programme, guidance on the suitability of the programme given your background, the structure of the programmethe way we teach it, and the future career prospects after studying on the programme. We are an approachable bunch so feel free to ask away. People often have very specific questions about the suitability of the programme given their career goal and their academic preparation so far. I often get queries about what modules they can take, the format of the general teaching and research interests regarding dissertation supervision.  


Why is it important to attend the  events? 

I think it’s really important to attend the events as it gives you a firsthand feeling of the University and the staff working here. Though they’re taking place virtually this year, by attending the events you’ll get to know how we are using technology to facilitate communication in this new normal state of life. By chatting to academics, you can make sure that the program is the right one for you.  


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Dave Jarman – Arts

Dave Jarman is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the Faculty of Arts.

Tell us about your journey into academia… 

Like most of the team at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I’ve followed a slightly unconventional path into academia! We actually pride ourselves on the diversity of experience we’ve collectively accumulated!  

After my own master’s degree at Bristol, I was initially a skills trainer and development coach in the Students’ Union and later the Careers Service here at the UniversityThen just over 10 years ago started supporting freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs whilst working for the University’s Research and Enterprise Division, supporting new social and commercial ventures ranging from healthcare and high-tech ideas to charities and creative freelancers.  

I eventually became the Head of Enterprise Education here at Bristol, chaired the UK’s national network of entrepreneurship educators, and then became the Head of both Careers and Enterprise at a creative arts university just down the road. I got tempted back to Bristol with a switch to the academic side of the house as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at what was then a brand new Centre in 2016. 


What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students? 

My top tip for prospective postgraduate students when applying is to show us the trajectory that you’re on; what I mean by this is if we’re going to invest in you and support you, we want to see in your application some evidence of your passion and skill so far, and also your ambitions for the future. We want to invest in students who’ve got the motivation to make the most of the course, so show us your initiative, show us your burning interest, show us your hopes for the future and that’ll excite us about wanting to work with you to achieve that. 


What’s your experience of events at Bristol? 

Whilst events have moved online they’re still a great way to meet people. I love meeting prospective students and talking through their ideas and ambitions. It’s really fun sharing our programme with people who are usually surprised by just how practical it is. 


Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the virtual events? 

Make the most out of all the resources and opportunities available. Read the information, come to events and ask questions using the chat, listen in to the briefings and try to get a feel for what we do. If you’re still not sure about something, get in touch and ask! 


What kind of things can students ask you? 

Applicants can ask almost anything, certainly about what and how we teach, and what and how we assess (clue: no exams), but I’d also welcome questions about what a great city Bristol is for start-up and innovation. We often get questions about getting the chance to work on a specific idea during the master’s, which is possible, but most students tend to have better ideas whilst they’re studying! I also get asked if you need a business idea to even apply, to which the answer is a definite “no”, we can help you have all those ideas! 


Why is it important to attend the events? 

Research is important! Obviously I’d say that, but it is important to get a proper feel for what you’re applying to. It’ll help you make the best choice and it’ll help give you content to put into your application too. It’s also fun!


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Professor Dave Cowan

Professor Dave Cowan is a Professor of Law and Policy in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I became an academic by chance, really.  I had an undergraduate degree in law, and decided not to take up my training contract at a City law firm, as I wanted to focus on different (not really specific) interests.  I was forwarded an advert for a law lectureship at my old university by a friend and couldn’t believe it when they offered it to me. I was asked to teach land law, and from there I developed a deep interest in, and passion for, housing issues and social change. It has led to work changing the law on renting homes in Wales, and influencing changes in the law on housing standards in England.  After 30 years, I still skip into work, although that is a virtual skip at the moment. 


What tips do you have for prospective postgraduate students?

The most important thing is to look for the kind of programme that does more than merely interest you – it should inspire you and offer you the chance to do more.  That’s what we think we offer here. 


What’s your experience of events at Bristol?

I love meeting and engaging with our future students, and telling them about what we do here, the way we teach, and what is unique about us. Most of all, though, my colleagues and I get to talk about what we do and why we do it – I love hearing their passion for their research and conveying that research in their teaching. 


Do you have any advice for how prospective students can make the most of the virtual events? 

Make use of all the resources available and take the time to browse on the platform. There will be lots of information available, both programme-specific and more general information. What may well surprise you is the range of choice we offer, which we hope will spark your interest. You will have questions that you want to ask, so we hope that you will engage with us during the webinar, which will offer you the chance to have your questions answered by my colleagues and I. 


What kind of things can students ask you? 

You should feel free to ask us anything.  We are happy to answer any question about our programme, such as its modules and structure, and the way we teach it. You may want to ask advice on your next steps after studying on my programme. We are an approachable bunch so feel free to ask away. One of the great things about the open day is that we can never prepare for the kinds of questions we get asked, and so our responses are natural and demonstrate our passion for our subjects and the law school. The most common questions we get are around the format of teaching and assessment, as well as around the extra employability that our degrees offer.  


Why is it important to attend the events? 

What I have found is that, even though it’s virtual and so you don’t necessarily get a feel for the physical virtues of Bristol which are many, you can find out in a really focused way about the programme and the University. You can make sure that our programmes are tailored to your interests, and we might pique your interest in a slightly different area. By the end of the day, we hope that you will know that our University is the right place for you. 

Why attend a postgraduate open day?

We asked Alice Brereton, Postgraduate Recruitment Manager, to tell us all about Bristol’s postgraduate open day in 60 seconds.


“You have the opportunity to meet our internationally renowned academic staff and current postgraduate students, whilst getting a feel for the university and city”

Why should students come to a postgraduate open day?

There is only so much you can gather from looking online – the fantastic thing about coming to our open day, is that you have the opportunity to meet our internationally renowned academic staff and current postgraduate students, whilst getting a feel for the university and city.

We recognise that continuing to postgraduate level, or coming back to academic study, is an important decision for individuals. Our postgraduate open day on 20 November allows you to get the answers to your specific questions and experience the atmosphere here – Bristol is a friendly campus in the heart of a vibrant city.

“There’ll be talks on offer, such as personal statement top tips, postgraduate funding, getting back into study, research at Bristol, student panels.”

What can attendees expect from the day?

The day begins at 1.00pm when you can register and collect your welcome pack. The main exhibition will be taking place between 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. You’ll have the opportunity to talk to our students and academics and find out more about course units, types of assessment and anything else you’d like to know. Our support services will also be on hand to explain what support is available to help you feel safe, supported and able to reach your full potential.

From 1:20 pm to 3:50 pm there’ll be a suite of informative talks on offer, such as personal statement top tips, postgraduate funding, getting back into study, research at Bristol, student panels and many more. You can take a look at our open day programme to find out more and plan your day.

From 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm there will be a selection of Faculty specific and subject specific tours and presentations, where you will get to explore the different classrooms, libraries, labs and study spaces.

What else is on offer?

We are running city tours and campus tours in the morning, before the event begins. This provides you with more time to attend talks and chat to academics during the afternoon. Morning tours can be booked in advance and whilst the event is running, from 1pm to 4pm, we are holding student led tours of the campus, which you can book on to at registration.

“I’d recommend making a plan before coming to the event to get as much as possible out of the day.”

How can students get the most out of the day?

I’d recommend making a plan before coming to the event to get as much as possible out of the day, talk to student ambassadors in the red t-shirts, interact with the academics who are on hand to answer questions – along with experts from support services; everyone is keen to help and ensure you get all the information required.

Use the timings in our program so you can attend the talks, go on a tour and also have enough time to talk to academics and students. You can attend as many talks as you like – but please make sure you get to the talks 5 minutes early, as they can fill up quickly.

Most importantly, enjoy the day!

How do I keep in touch with all the latest postgraduate information at University of Bristol?

Remember to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and keep an eye on this blog channel. You can also visit www.bristol.ac.uk/vip where you can sign up to receive further information and updates.

Written by Alice Brereton, Postgraduate Recruitment Manager


To find out more about postgraduate study attend our Open Day on 20 November.


Why go to a Postgraduate open day at the University of Bristol? 

Master’s student Lyndon shares his experience of a postgraduate open day



I feel it is important to attend an open day at the university of your choosing for postgraduate study.

Firstlythis is an important step in your academic career, are you ready for the exciting challenge that postgraduate study poses (whether your undergraduate studies have just finished or you are returning from a break in education)? 

Secondly, even if you know the university (I didn’t study at Bristol prior to enrolling on my MA) it is important to gauge the feel of the place, the campus, city, course or courses on offer to you and to have conversations with the staff that will teach or supervise your studies. 

“My own experience of the postgraduate open day at Bristol was positive… everyone was very friendly and keen to help”

There is considerable information available on university websites even down to unit details, staff biographies/research interests and also student reviews. Although they are a useful first step, I would argue that face-to-face discussions and visits give you a far better idea of what a place is like to study at and what you can expect from your time on a course. 

My own experience of the postgraduate open day at Bristol was positive, it was busier than I anticipated, however, there were plenty of volunteers on hand to guide and assist me to find the right people to talk to. More importantly, everyone was very friendly and keen to help, if they didn’t have the answer to a query, they would find the right person to ask and either give you the information or hand you over to that person. 

“…after talking to the course director and getting answers to my questions, I was able to decide the best route for my postgraduate degree”

Initially I was considering the MPhil route, as well as the taught MA, but after talking to the course director and getting answers to my questions, I was able to decide the best route for my postgraduate degree. I also needed to decide whether to study full or part time and what that looked like in terms of contact hours, timetabling and study load. I was able to ask questions about units that were likely to be available and what ideas were contained and discussed within the core (nonoptional) unit. I chose full time, taught course, as it suited my circumstances better. 

As well as this important, incredibly helpful and informative conversation, there are other benefits to visiting an open day, for example, I was also given guidance about what would be beneficial to include in my personal statement as I was unsure beforehand how to pitch this. 

Finally, I was able to get an idea of the geography of the university buildings, including the study facilities, refreshment areas and the libraries. Simply physically walking around the various parts of the campus and its environs, talking to current students and staff  gave me a flavour of what to expect should I choose postgraduate study at Bristol. 

Reader, despite all the hills, I am glad I chose Bristol for my postgraduate adventure! 


Written by Lyndon, History of Art MA


To find out more about postgraduate study attend our Open Day on 20 November


Postgraduate open day

Choosing a university for postgraduate study is an important decision and we’re here to help you. On this blog we’ll be sharing information on postgraduate study at the University of Bristol as well as advice and insight from some of our current students.

Visit us in Bristol

If you’re thinking about postgraduate study, our Postgraduate open day is a great way to explore our programmes, talk to the experts and get the student view from our current postgraduates. 

Our open day will take place on Wednesday 20 November and we’d love to see you there. We’ve designed the day to inform and inspire you, show you the benefits of further study and find all the information you need to make this important decision.

Book your place

This is your opportunity to meet some of our current postgraduate students and the academics you could be working with. You’ll also be able to attend central talks about all aspects of postgraduate study as well as some subject specific talks, exhibitions and tours.

Want to explore the city? Book your place on our guided city tour to take in the sights and sounds of Bristol and find out why our city has twice been named the best place to live in Britain (Sunday Times, 2014 and 2017).

Autumn on the Downs
The Harbourside in summer
Royal York Crescent in Clifton

By visiting our campus, meeting our staff and students, and experiencing the atmosphere for yourself, you can make an informed decision on whether Bristol is the right place for you.

Join us for our open day 

Keep in touch

Email us – postgraduate-recruitment@bristol.ac.uk

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