Student testimonial | Ellen Flint

Ellen Flint
MSc Demography & Health

Ellen Flint

I was fresh out of my undergraduate degree when I joined the MSc Demography & Health programme. I did A levels in History, Geography and Biology so I was always interested in the crosscutting subjects. I went on to study Geography at Cambridge University and throughout, I picked a wide range of modules because I was interested in what connects things rather than specialising.

I was really lucky that I was offered the opportunity to do the MSc at LSHTM with some funding from the Population Investigation Committee. I was attracted by the fact that this MSc offered the opportunity to share modules with the other MSc programmes: Reproductive & Sexual Health Research, Epidemiology and Public Health, giving students that rounded view but also getting into the specific detail of demography.

"...MSc Demography & Health shaped my career, it gave me absolutely fantastic skills in things that are really transferrable, within social science and beyond."

I saw it as being a T-shaped course: a broad horizontal stretch, but also a deep vertical specialism as well – that’s what I was looking for. I think the programme really set me on the track that I have continued along to this day; I would not be here without it! It made me realise what I wanted to do as a PhD; I was more interested in health so I wanted to lean more towards epidemiology but still situating an individual within a household, within a generation as well as time, cohort and period. It made me realise that I was interested in non-communicable conditions; also, it taught me statistics and quantitative methods for the first time. I was basically completely set up by the programme!

I moved into the civil service from academia. I didn’t feel that my personality was matched up with the ways of working in academia and found it quite intellectually lonely. I loved teaching, lots of elements of research, but I was interested in looking at what else was out there.

A job came up at the Department for Work and Pensions, working for the chief scientific adviser. They were looking for someone to bring an academic research background with them and a good grounding in research, with knowledge about the intersection of the social and health worlds. It was one of those jobs where I thought, “that’s really interesting – I have to go for it”. It’s the job I’m in now, and I really love it! Without Demography & Health, I wouldn’t have had the grounding to work in a department like the DWP, it’s so relevant.

I’d say that in terms of how the MSc Demography & Health shaped my career, it gave me absolutely fantastic skills in things that are really transferrable, within social science and beyond.

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