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After graduating with a degree in biology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Faye Wheller became a science teacher, eventually taking on several teaching roles in Further Education colleges. She soon realised that she was envious of her students, many of whom were retraining for new careers, and considered undertaking a master's to do the same. But she knew that going back to university would be a struggle, particularly as she lived on the south coast with a young family.

"I started to browse master's courses in Food Science. At a University of Reading Visit Day, the presentations, tour and meetings with professors in the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences really sparked my interest. The enthusiasm of the students and lecturers was contagious."

Faye was also drawn to our pilot plant facilities, particularly because they were some of the best she'd seen. After taking some time to work out logistics around course schedules, childcare and travel, Faye decided to apply to study her master's part-time.

"It was quite daunting to go back into studying after such a long time and difficult at first to juggle it with childcare and home life. However, the long commute became a time where my mind was able to shift from home life to focusing on learning and achieving."

The benefits of part-time study

After adjusting to the new routine, Faye realised there are some real positives to studying part-time. By the second year of the course, she had lots of knowledge under her belt that enhanced the second year modules; she became familiar with the types of assignments she was set; and she had passed half the exams, so she felt less pressured. She also had the chance to make friends with two cohorts of students. Despite the challenges, Faye enjoyed studying in the Department.

"I really loved the challenge of learning the content, particularly the chemistry of foods and how this can be manipulated to reformulate products to have improved health outcomes. The lecturers are approachable and leaders in their fields, plus they are extremely supportive. The facilities and opportunities at Reading are outstanding and the staff there make every effort to help you achieve your potential."

Since graduating, Faye has been working as a biology and chemistry lecturer in a further education college. Her master's has enabled her to expand her opportunities at work – due to the substantial biochemistry knowledge she gained, she's now teaching Higher National Diploma (HND) modules on food biochemistry and additives, as well as chemistry.

"My next aim is to study for a PhD. I have discussed this with my tutor at Reading and he supports me strongly with this ambition. I know I can rely on excellent backing from my lecturers at Reading."

Faye has a final message to those thinking of studying a Food and Nutritional Sciences master's at the University of Reading:

"Go and visit. Meet the staff and students and see the facilities. These are the things that made my MSc course so enjoyable and successful."

Athena SWAN Silver Award