Holly’s experience studying a Q-Step degree at the University of Edinburgh | Case study

By Nuffield Foundation

Q-Step student Holly talks about why she chose to study with the Q-Step Centre at Edinburgh.


International Relations with Quantitative Methods
University of Edinburgh


Why did you opt for a Q-Step programme?

I converted to a with QM degree because I was always interested in numbers, logic and evidence and it seemed like it would add another dimension to my degree. I was also attracted by the chance to learn more tangible skills with analysis software etc.

What did you expect from Q-Step and in what ways, if any, did it differ in reality?

Not sure what I expected, especially as we were the first cohort. I think I expected QM just to be a few extra classes, but it overlapped a lot with other work I was doing; some of the QM courses were the best I did during my degree.

Without Q-Step, I wouldn’t be qualified to be a statistician. Having the combination of social science and QM also gives me an advantage over a lot of colleagues who studied just maths or stats.” Holly Bathgate, Q-Step student

What two or three things did you gain most from Q-Step?

  • Supportive community with great student to staff ratio, peer learning, exposure to research and a continued network.

  • Helped me to better understand my field of study, both with the explicit quantitative skills and the improved knowledge of research methods and critical thinking that came from the QM study.

  • Paid internship that gave me knowledge and experience that I use in my current job
  • Where did you go on placement?

    Audit Scotland.

    What two or three things did you learn or gain from your placement?

  • Experience of work in the public sector.

  • Opportunity to see how things worked across the organisation and have people willing to answer questions and discuss all aspects of their work.

  • Full time, paid internship. I supported myself through uni and always worked during summer; if the internship hadn’t been paid, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, so this allowed me the opportunity that many of my peers took for granted.
  • How has/will your placement experience help you in future?

    I currently work in government, so it provided a lot of relevant background for that sector and an overview of how my skills fit in (for example, good excel skills are needed!).

    What is your current and/or planned position and in what ways, if any, does your Q-Step experience help with what you are doing now?

    Statistician in the Civil Service Fast Stream. Without Q-Step, I wouldn’t be qualified to be a statistician. Having the combination of social science and QM also gives me an advantage over a lot of colleagues who studied just maths or stats as I have greater experience of ‘real’ data and the considerations that come with it.

    What advice would you give a student considering Q-Step?

    I didn’t particularly enjoy studying maths at school but, when applied, it really interests me. Q-Step teaching tapped into that interest and I’d definitely recommend learning more about Q-Step if it’s something that has caught your interest a little bit. These skills are often standard for Social Science students in other countries, so that understanding will help you in your main area of study, from reading journal articles to having a greater understanding of research methods. Even if a Q-Step degree isn’t for you, taking one or two quants classes will be really beneficial.

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