Cara Treasure

MSc Poverty and Development

Why did you choose to study at The University of Manchester?

Cara Treasure

After completing my BSc in Human Geography and Planning at Cardiff University, I knew that I wanted to continue my studies and specialise in development more specifically. When I was considering where to study, The Global Development Institute (Institute for Development Policy and Management when I studied there!) was ranked as third globally, with outstanding lecturers and professors all at the forefront of development theory and practice. Upon reading the blurb for the course outlining the various modules, I knew it was the perfect one for me! It was the only Masters I applied for and I was absolutely delighted to receive my place.

What have you been up to since graduating?  

After graduating, I undertook two internships at international development organisations: Pump Aid and Farm Africa. These helped to reiterate my desire to work within international development and the charity sector, and further contributed to my understanding of all of the elements making up an NGO, and the importance of each of these.

Following these internships, I was offered a role at the British Red Cross, based in the London Headquarters. I worked within crisis response for over three years, responding to emergencies in the UK, including Grenfell, London Bridge and Manchester in 2017. I also went on to develop a new strategy for recovery following emergencies, outlining how best to support people and work with communities after emergencies occur in the UK. I frequently travelled over to Northern Ireland, and worked with colleagues throughout the British Red Cross, other National Societies and the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent. In addition, I developed the strategy around strengthening community resilience in the UK, and was the subject matter expert in the establishment of a new service, based on evidence from people who had lived experience of emergencies.

In September 2019, I was offered my current role at Pump Aid, managing the fundraising and communications for the organisation. On a daily basis, I feel that I draw on my previous experience and studies, given the focus of programmes on water, sanitation, hygiene and providing small-scale farmers with access to irrigation.

Has your qualification helped you in your career? 

The course was the perfect next step in preparation for my career path. The content of the course developed my comprehension of key development debates, especially through the vast range of aspects to development covered in the modules, and through discussions with my student cohort. Studying my Masters also gave me many transferable skills which have been crucial in my career since, including presentation skills, critical thinking and the ability to articulate debates and complex development theories in a concise and clear manner.

Were there any specific modules or lecturers who particularly inspired you?

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of aspects of development I was able to focus on, from the role of conflict, politics, governance and gender in relation to poverty and development, to strengthening food security, to research skills.

One module that stands out In particular is Poverty and Development with Professor Armando Barrientos. This module was a perfect nexus between theory and practical, tangible examples of development in reality. It helped us to further explore the complex dynamic between the level of poverty and the level of development of a country, often challenging the assumption that a more developed nation equals a lower level of poverty. Armando was also an extremely engaging lecturer, with so much practical experience and knowledge of economics, poverty reduction and social welfare schemes, such as Bolsa Familia in Brazil.

Secondly, being so interested in food security and land issues in the developing world, I was thrilled that there was the option to take Global Food Systems and Agrarian Change with Professor Phil Woodhouse, who later became my dissertation supervisor!

What is your best memory from your time at Manchester? 

Manchester is an amazing city with a fascinating history and such a diverse range of things to do and see. Being so close to the Peak and Lake Districts and other large cities including Liverpool and Leeds, it is a great place to be for exploring!

Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students?  

I’d say that an absolutely key thing is to think about what you’re passionate about, and therefore what you want to study. Doing your research is key – Manchester has lots of fantastic development courses, and so it is worthwhile reading about the areas of focus and module options, opportunities for field trips, and format of the course e.g. coursework/exam-based, to see which one may suit you best.

Studying my Masters at Manchester was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – I loved being able to immerse myself in the subject, it confirmed that it is exactly what I want to do, and it has certainly opened up lots of doors since. Therefore I could not recommend it more highly!