Funding for M.Sc. in Horticulture at the University of Reading
By Neeth Abeygunawardana
After I completed my three year Kew Diploma course in September 1997, I was fortunate enough to continue my horticultural education by gaining a place on the M.Sc. Horticulture course at Reading University.
I have been awarded the 1997/98 R.B.G. Kew postgraduate award. Although the course fee for non E.E.C. students is high, financial support from the Lennox-Boyd Memorial Trust and from the Kew Guild did enable me to pursue the above course.
The Kew Diploma course gave me a very useful professional qualification with an extremely useful broad knowledge of almost all aspects of horticulture. But in my home country, Sri Lanka, the authorities only recognise a higher degree or professional postgraduate qualification as adequate for most of the horticultural related careers. This has left me with a desire to study horticulture up to a postgraduate level as this M.Sc. qualification will greatly enhance my professional standing within my own country, where I plan to live in future. Also, by completing the M.Sc. course I will have a more closely focused professionally structured body of knowledge, readily applicable to the local situation in Sri Lanka and the region. On a personal level I needed a horticultural postgraduate course related to the subjects I have already studied at Kew. What attracted me to Reading was both the range and the depth of subjects available on the M.Sc. course.
This course is of one year’s duration and includes both teaching and project work. It is a modular course and allows students to specialise in various aspects of horticulture. I have chosen the Amenity Horticulture Option and this consists of 12 modules, of which nine will be examined during the Easter examinations. The majority of teaching (lectures) takes place during the first six months of the course and students are expected to write their thesis during the last six months.
My M.Sc. thesis will be based on the research work that I have planned to do at Kew. This project will be in the area of providing information about economically important plants in the living collection at Kew. As a part of the project I am intending to design a set of brochures interpreting and indicating the locations of the most economically important plants in the glass house collection at R.B.G. Kew. I am also looking at the possibilities of linking my project with Kew’s Economic Botany Museum, which will be open this year.
After I complete my M.Sc. course at Reading and a one year placement at Kew, I very much want to use the knowledge and the qualifications gained from the Kew Diploma and from the M.Sc. course, in my own country, Sri Lanka. In particular I wish to use my experience in environmental education programmes. I intend to use horticulture and botanic gardens as a means of involving local people in a way which will raise environmental awareness and improve their economic situation.