Ryan gained his undergraduate degree at Kent and is studying for a taught Master's in Criminology
Why did you choose Kent?
I did my undergraduate degree here, so I was very familiar with the University. Originally, I chose Kent because I liked the campus, the course looked interesting and the rankings were good.
Is postgraduate study very different to undergraduate?
I think there is a big change; more is expected of you at Master’s level and you have to do a lot of independent research and develop your own understanding of the topics. I have enjoyed writing the essays, even though they have been more difficult. A lot of the lecturers I have now I was taught by as an undergraduate but I think as a postgraduate you get to know your lecturers better and engage with them more.
Is there a good level of support in the School?
The level of support is excellent; you can email the professors at any time and they will put time aside to meet you. Also, the library is fantastic and the number of online journals you can access because you are a Kent student is great.
Which module has particularly appealed to you?
I found a module called Drugs, Culture and Control very interesting. It covered everything from the perspective of individual drug users to the wider debate on the war on drugs. It inspired me to delve deeper into these issues and my dissertation have grown out of that.
Describe your fellow students?
Everybody is very focused. There is a good mix of nationalities and ages and our discussions are lively and enlightening. It is quite an intense year of study but there is still time to socialise.
What is the focus of your dissertation?
I am looking at how developments in communications technology have affected drug markets; drug transactions are increasingly moving from public deals on the streets to more private arrangements made via mobile phones, where drugs can be delivered to your door. I want to find out how law enforcement has kept up with these changes because I imagine it isn’t easy.
You spent time studying in New York, how did that come about?
MA Criminology students received an email about the possibility of a study trip to John Jay College in New York. I thought it sounded interesting and so wrote a proposal and was fortunate to receive a grant towards the cost of the trip.
How did it go?
I interviewed narcotics police officers who had served for 20 or 30 years and were now working part-time as officers and also as lecturers at John Jay.
The interviews were fascinating but their replies were not what I had expected. I had intended to concentrate on cannabis and dance drug markets, but when interviewed the officers focused their answers on crack, crack cocaine and heroin, which has moved my dissertation on from a study of two specific drug markets to the drug market as a whole.
Is your research/dissertation solely focused on New York?
I recently wrote a letter to Greater Manchester Police to try and set up interviews with officers there so that I can do a cross-cultural qualitative comparison; that would be my ideal scenario. I am now transcribing my New York interviews. I?have to let the data guide me rather than try to fit it into any preconceived plan.
What do you plan to do after your Master’s?
I haven’t decided yet. I think having a Master’s will show employers that I have a real passion for my subject, can work independently, can analyse data and produce a coherent narrative from it. I am looking at possible internships perhaps with Interpol or the United Nations and may do a PhD later.
Any advice for someone considering a Master’s?
Make sure you are interested in the subject because if you are you will enjoy it and do well.