MSc Poverty and Development
Salma Bouchiba, a 32 year-old from Rabat, Morocco, completed the Poverty and Development MSc in 2017. Describing her time in Manchester as a life-changing experience, Salma was enabled to study at the Global Development Institute by a Chevening Scholarship, and is now working as a research consultant and assistant. She returned to the city recently to catch up with friends, and we managed to get some time with her too.
Why and how did you choose to study at the University of Manchester?
I am from Morocco. I chose the University of Manchester because I wanted to do an international development course, and the development courses at the University of Manchester were really interesting. The different subjects, the range of courses that they offer were what was really great for me. It was a really good experience.
Why did you choose to do the Poverty and Development Masters, as opposed to the other streams?
Because for this one you had a combination of both development issues and also poverty. I was interested in both of them. I have a background in Finance and Accounting, which is completely different from what I wanted to study. So, I wanted to have as much info about this field as possible, and this programme allowed me to get a different perspective on different approaches to poverty reduction, as well as development practice and research.
What have you been working on since you graduated?
I just started a consultancy project. I work with a consultancy firm in London, on a consultancy project for gender inequalities in Morocco. It’s about mapping different kinds of gender inequalities, and giving recommendations about potential projects to be realised in this field, to reduce inequalities. I’m also starting to write a paper with a Moroccan scholar on women and social movements, in Morocco. We applied for an Arab journal and our proposal was accepted.
I will be participating in a training and research skills project in Amman, organised by the Arab Research Council, on how to write research proposals. From the writing of the research proposal to the writing a journal article - in gender-transformative research.
Was your degree funded by a scholarship or donor? What impact has this had on you?
My degree was financed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), it’s a Chevening Scholarship. It changed my life because I couldn’t afford to pay to study at the University of Manchester if it was not because of this scholarship. It allowed me to study in the UK, and in an amazing university. It changed my life 180 degrees. I was working in a bank and I quit my job, and now I’m planning an academic career.
Has your GDI qualification helped you with these opportunities, and how?
Of course, having a Masters degree from the University of Manchester and the Global Development Institute is really a great way to start a career. It helped me because the research part that the programme has - writing a dissertation - meant I could easily get a job assisting research, or in a consultancy that includes a component of research. It was really helpful for me, this part.
The programme allowed me to have a wider perspective of different issues, related to development and poverty, that I could talk about to my tutors. It also helped me think about what I wanted to do for my career, what are the areas that I want to develop more?
What’s one of your best memories from your time in Manchester, or what did you enjoy most about studying here?
This is a really difficult question, because Manchester was an amazing experience for me, and I only have really good memories - even the bad ones are really good for me now. First is having lecturers that are really great, and changed my mind and my perspective about a lot of issues. Especially in the first lectures, I was really amazed that I was being taught by such great people.
Also, the diversity of the people studying. Being able to study with people from all over the world made the experience more enriching and enjoyable. And of course, Manchester is a great city. It allowed me to meet amazing people, who became more than friends. Who became family, and with whom I keep in touch.
Do you have any tips or advice for current or prospective students?
I would tell them that one year is really not enough for Manchester, and the whole experience, so they should make the most of it. I know that sometimes it can be overwhelming and it seems too much, but they should try to manage their time in a way that they can benefit from the social life and also from their studies, and from travelling through the UK and enjoying every bit of it.
I also think that they shouldn’t be shy to reach out for help if they have any issues. I have a lot of health issues, and I got a lot of help from the support services. There is a wide range of possibilities offered by the University, that allow people to study in the best conditions. If you feel like you can’t do it, or it’s too much for you, just ask for help and don’t be shy to do that. A lot of people I know from my course went through this - and they could manage it, and get their Masters. A lot of people I talk to didn’t know they had the option to talk to someone, and to reach for help. It’s a really good thing to do.
Who was your supervisor for your dissertation, and what was the dissertation process like for you?
My supervisor was Helen Underhill, she was awesome. She helped me through different stages, even though I had to do most of my dissertation from Morocco. The process for me was harder, because I couldn’t access the library, or some other resources from the University. But it was compensated by my supervisor, who was really helpful and there for me each time I asked for help. I really found the dissertation was a great way to finish the Masters, because it allows you to do independent research and to choose what you want to work on. It’s something which also makes what you want to work on in the future clear.