What were you doing before you became a student at UCL?
Before I became a student at UCL I was attending a boarding school in rural Czech Republic. I came to UCL straight after graduating high school.
What attracted you to study Population Health at UCL?
I wanted my studies to be interdisciplinary whilst also leaving me with clear qualifications and skills in a specific sphere upon completion. This course does just that, combining the core social science disciplines with data science to broadly be able to assess the needs of populations in the 21st century. I also really liked how population health as a field has developed in recent years in response to emerging/changing global [health and human] needs – in this way it feels extremely relevant and tailored to current times, if you will.
What’s the best thing about your programme?
The best thing about this programme is the broad exposure it gives students to the fields of health/medical research, from the largely social aspects of health to the more medical and research-based bits. First year leaves you with a broad base of interdisciplinary knowledge (all within health of course), from the social determinants of health to research methods in population health to beginner’s epidemiology. From there over the next two years you really have the opportunity to explore all these spheres and figure out which is most interesting to you and which you’d like to take further. I also like how the course is predominantly based on the most current research in the field – most of our readings are recent papers from academic/scientific journals, rather than dated textbooks.
What can a student expect to learn on this course?
Students should expect an interdisciplinary programme integrating the fields of global health, public policy, epidemiology, sociology and data analysis into a comprehensive study of the socioeconomic and demographic distribution of health and disease worldwide. Students will come to understand the underlying patterns and trends of population health, as well as the technical skills and research methods implicated in generating this knowledge.
What is it like studying in London and how do you think it’s benefited your studies?
Living in London whilst at university has informed and enriched my studies significantly. It’s such a global capital and it is inspiring to learn in such an environment. It facilitates a feeling of coherence between that which we learn and the real world – our classroom learning doesn’t feel separate or far-removed from on-the-ground realities.
What are your career plans once you’ve completed your current studies at UCL?
After UCL I hope to eventually get into sustainable development consulting or biotech/biomedical research and development. Institutions that I’ve considered include the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, GSK and Dalberg. Eventually I’d like to return to university for a joint MBA/MPH qualification.
What piece of advice would you give to new students?
Sometimes it can be difficult to see how all the different pieces fit together. I found this especially difficult in my first year, where I felt like I came away with a bunch of separate pieces of information without a sense of their interconnectedness or like I had any kind of specific skill. Keep contextualizing what you study and trust that little by little it all comes together in a very comprehensive way – this is the nature of interdisciplinary study. Otherwise, take full advantage of office hours – lecturers on this course are very knowledgeable and are often involved in the research at the forefront of the field.