A big shift from undergraduate study to Master program

13 Dec 2022

About to graduate with a Master of Public Policy at Crawford School,Eleanor Cooper describes her time on campus and how it led to a graduate position at the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. 

What did you study at ANU?  

For my undergrad I completed a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), and then chose to continue on to do a Master of Public Policy at the Crawford School, where I specialised in environmental policy.  

Why did you choose this degree?  

Initially I wasn't even considering going to university in Canberra, and I had to be dragged down to ANU open day by a friend (I very nearly bailed to go to a party!). Once here, I saw a leaflet for PPE and thought it sounded fascinating, then did a tour of the colleges and decided ANU was for me.  

How has your Master program compared to your undergraduate study?  

Masters has been quite a shift - the biggest change is that people actually participate in tutorials! I've really enjoyed discussing course content with people in my classes who have worked in the field, whether they've been at the lectern or sitting beside me.  

What has been the biggest takeaway/learning from your degree?  

A thread that has run through both my degrees is the need to examine the source of everything and look at people's motivations for their reasoning.  

What was your favourite course and favourite lecturer and why?  

My favourite course was in undergrad, called Unravelling Complexity - it was an interdisciplinary course, so anyone can do it! We had a succession of guest lecturers, and the tutor was Ellen Lynch, who really brought everyone together and encouraged the best discussions ever. The final assignment had no set format; I did an embroidery, a friend made a 3D print, some people created paintings... some even wrote papers. 

Advice for students just starting out at ANU 

Do a little bit of everything! I've found so many unexpected friends and passions by just putting my hand up for random clubs and volunteer activities on campus.  

What have been some challenges that you have overcome during your degree?  

Does over-committing count as a challenge? Sometimes study felt like a break after juggling a million other things in life.  

What were some of the highlights of your time at ANU?  

While the academic side of ANU has been enjoyable and challenging, I think the really memorable parts of university have been extracurricular. Running Inward Bound in 2019 was pretty special, and I'm really glad that the event came back post-COVID. Being part of ANU performing arts societies has also been a surprisingly big part of my university experience, and I've made some amazing friends and learned a bunch of new skills putting on student-run shows.  

What is next for you after graduation? 

 I'm heading to Germany to see family at Christmas, and then travelling for a while before starting a graduate position at the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. It's been nice to turn off my brain for a bit after five years of study.