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Virtual graduates
  1. Jo-Anne Murray


The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies broke new ground during 2011, with one of the first set of students from its Masters in Equine Science course graduating virtually. Course director Jo-Anne Murray explains

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THE University of Edinburgh's equine science programme delivers its Masters education on a global scale for students who are looking for flexible, career-enhancing education. The MSc in equine science offers students flexibility by allowing them the opportunity to study online and part time over a period of three years.

During the course, students gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of equine science and an increased understanding and awareness of the application of scientific principles to the study of equine science. The course aims to provide students with sufficient understanding of equine science to undertake independent research or a PhD research programme in this field.

The programme is delivered online, offering distance learning by recognised experts in the various subject areas as well as drawing on the extensive expertise of the staff at the University of Edinburgh and at other institutions internationally. Students become part of an online community that brings together students and tutors from all over the world.

The programme uses a blend of learning methods and offers students the opportunity to work closely with their fellow students and tutors in a supported, collaborative and vibrant online learning environment. With access to the internet, students are able to study at the times and in the places that suit them best.

Image: Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The programme is structured to allow sequential progression via certificate (year 1), diploma (year 2) and Masters phases (year 3). However, it is also possible to exit after the certificate or diploma phase of the programme.

Virtual ceremony

One student, Jayne Roberts, based in Georgia, USA, received her Masters degree from the university by attending a virtual ceremony in Second Life, a 3D virtual world. Jayne received her graduation ‘scroll’ as an avatar in the virtual world wearing a specially designed University of Edinburgh robe. This was the first time a student has graduated virtually from the veterinary school.

‘I always knew I wanted to go on at some point to complete my Masters, but living in the USA meant it was not possible,’ Jane says. ‘When the opportunity arose to enrol in an online, long-distance MSc equine science programme with the University of Edinburgh, I jumped at the chance. I was disappointed not to make it home to the UK for the graduation ceremony, but Second Life made it possible for me to be there. The support team was patient and encouraging and everything went great on the day. Not many people can attest to graduating with a cup of tea and their pyjamas on; it was 6 am here!’

The vet school is extremely proud of its first set of graduates from its online equine science programme and is delighted that these students can undertake all aspects of their studies online, including graduating.

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