From planning a wedding to genome editing: Studying postgrad part-time

When she’s not working with the NHS full-time or planning her wedding (congratulations, by the way!), Catherine Banks still manages to study her MSc in Genomic Medicine on a part-time basis.

Starting the programme this year, Catherine will complete the Master’s over the next 2 years: this course is one our many flexible postgraduate programmes designed to cater to people at various stages in their personal professional life. Take a look at how she’s been getting back into the swing of study and how her first year is panning out…


It had been 6 years since I graduated from the University of Manchester with my BSc in Cell Biology when I applied to study the Genomic Medicine MSc. I currently work within the sequencing team in an NHS Genomic Diagnostic Laboratory using genetic techniques every day, so the opportunity to study part-time whilst developing my career working full-time would be ideal for me.

This flexible learning approach meant that I could continue to earn a full wage but gain a major qualification which would certainly benefit my career prospects. In completing this course, I hope to gain a greater understanding of how the technologies I use work; I am also responsible for delivering training in groups and one-to-one: the course has already helped me build my confidence in delivering this training too.

Having had a gap in education, I hoped that as well as having to get back into the swing of study, that the material was valuable – fortunately, things like group work and presentations are already very relevant in my current role. Having studied my undergraduate degree at Manchester I knew I could expect a similar standard of teaching I was familiar with.

I learned about a range of genetics in my undergraduate degree but this MSc is enabling me to learn about integration of genomics into the NHS and healthcare and the progression over time, which is directly relevant to my career. The course is helping me gain a more up to date and in-depth understanding of genetics, as well as increasing my knowledge around analysis, which also plays a huge part in my current work.

shutterstock_1012082455Of my course modules so far, I have particularly enjoyed the Bioinformatics unit: this involved things like group work and interrogating a particular genetic variant and determining its clinical relevance. Again, this has helped me dive deeper into carrying out a more detailed level of analysis.

I was unaware of just how wide the range of people who would be taking the course was: I have met so many senior professionals as well as people with various levels of experience, which has made projects like group work so much easier and interesting.

It has also been very interesting meeting undergraduates who have just finished a degree and come straight into the Master’s course.

Beyond that, the course has shown me how vast the gap in my knowledge has grown in the years since my initial study; the range of unit choices available meant that not only could I locate areas in which I could bridge that gap, but it also meant that I could choose content I was particularly interested in and therefore would benefit me best.

I am hoping to continue to use this learning, combined with the experience I am currently gaining through employment, to further progress my career in the genomic laboratory. I feel like updating my knowledge has given me an edge to allow our department to develop new innovations which will be useful in the future.


Developing genomics services has the potential to revolutionise UK healthcare and so furthering my knowledge will not only aid me in my genomic career but hopefully impact the wider landscape surrounding healthcare.

P.S. – Have a fantastic wedding day, from all of us here at Manchester!





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