UCL Department of Geography


Alana Bourgeois, MSc Conservation

Meet Alana, a student on our MSc Conservation programme.

Alana Bourgeois

7 February 2024

She tells us about how her experience in environmental consulting led to a realisation of the need for direct action to address environmental impacts.

Why were you interested in studying an MSc in Conservation?

“I had the opportunity to work in environmental consulting and at the beginning I was hoping to make a difference indirectly by working with companies. 

“But the more I interacted with my clients, the more I realized how very disconnected they were from their environmental impacts, and I felt a bigger necessity to act directly myself to help the environment.”

And why did you to choose to study at UCL?

“I knew I wanted to become a conservationist and be more hands-on in the fight against climate change, but I really had no idea the heads or tails of how this sector worked or even the specifics of what conservationists do. 

“But I could tell that the interdisciplinary aspect of UCL's Conservation modules would provide me a more holistic understanding of the ins-and-outs of conservation -- the policy side, the science side, the social side -- and the information I need to better shape my future career path.”

What were the most interesting or engaging things you learned on the course?

“Though I loved the fieldwork and classroom lecture aspects of the course, the most interesting part of my Master's has come from simply talking and listening to the real experiences of my professors.

“Because they are all actively working as conservationists, they give useful insight and are very forthcoming about the normal challenges they face in their work; be that dealing with a local community, the logistics of a project, or the paths to funding.

“The constant opportunity given in this course to have discussions with so many varying viewpoints is truly one of a kind.”

Can you tell us about any particularly memorable experiences from your time as a Master's student with us?

“For better or worse, what has been lovingly dubbed "Pond Day" of the fieldwork course will stay with me for many, many years! 

“Being left (safely) to our group's own devices to wade through mud, search ponds for invertebrates, take data on the water quality, and just generally trek through forest and fields to get to the next destination was exciting, exhausting, and enlightening!”

What have you been doing since graduation?

“Before taking the course, I had assumed I wanted to leave behind the politics of conservation and work only in the field. 

“I see now that the policy side and human side of conservation need equal attention to the nature side of it. 

“I hope to work abroad through NGOs or local trusts to conserve certain species I have an interest in while being mindful of the community, culture and, country I work in. 

“Further down the line, I want to make broader change as well by working in policy later in my career.”

Would you recommend studying Global Studies in the Department and why?

“I would absolutely recommend studying Conservation here! 

“Even if someone has a specific niche they know they want to focus on, the professors within the Department and the master's itself offer such valuable, baseline knowledge and skills needed to succeed in Conversation that it's vital step to anyone who wants to work in this sector.” 

More Information

Interested in following in Alana’s footsteps? Find out more about our MSc Conservation course and see out other degrees in the Study section.