Shall I do a MSc(conv) Computing? (Have a PhD in Chemistry and some postdoc experience)


Hello everyone, I would like your comments and any advice you can offer me. I am 38 years old, and I am a research chemist (BSc, MPhil and PhD) from UK. I am unemployed at the moment, been working on my research without funding for 5 months now (I am not in the UK at the moment). I recently finished my post-doctoral project (about a year). Before I went to uni, I worked in the chemical industry for five years. I really enjoy doing research but I feel a bit limited in the chemical industrial roles. My PhD speciality is very niche, only a few universities in the world would be interested in my work. I am not against working in the chemical industry but I have grown tired of laboratory-based roles, its different in a university environment (particularly when its my own project). I am submitting a funding proposal for my own project in EU (not UK). However, I am aware that it might not work out given the cuts in research in EU. I have grown to enjoy the computational aspects of my research over the years, and I have been thinking about doing a MSc(conv) course in Applied Computing in September. I must point out that I don't feel that I should apply for permanent or long-term positions until I know the outcome of my research proposal in May/July. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Would doing a MSc conversion course in computing help me move into other scientific roles with heavier emphasis on computational analysis and maybe application development? Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks!!:-)

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I did a computing conversion course way before I did my PhD. Whilst I got the M.Sc., it was skin of my teeth and proved to me that computing is not my thing. I've not really used any of the computing since and not followed as a career path. Others on the course adapted better and they went on to careers initially in computing. One even did a PhD on the back of the MSc. This is basically what these conversion courses are for.

From memory, the course will certainly give a base set of programming skills in computing. However, one employer who interviewed me bluntly said they did not consider my computing skillsbase to be 'not that much' compared to other candidates.

Whether the conversion course will give you the analytical skills you need is a different matter and you'll need to look at the potential course syllabus. However, by analytical skills, my assumption would be the use of, for example, various statistical and FMEA packages to enable you to carry out the analysis you need to do on the data you produce. I don't think the M.Sc. conversion courses on offer will necessarily give you that.


My husband was a physics and astronomy graduate. He did a computing MSc conversion course, and after that did a computing PhD. And he's a now a Research Fellow in a computing department working (primarily programming) on space technology research. So it worked out well for him.

I think you need to think really carefully about what you aim to get out of any conversion course before you enrol. My husband was aiming for either a job as a computer programmer or a computing PhD. Either would have worked out well for him. And he already programmed in his spare time, so knew he had plenty of aptitude for the task.


Thanks for your replies. It seems that the conversion course is ok before doing your PhD. It makes sense I suppose. I am having second thoughts about the course. The course is intensive and it seems good, but I think it might not help me so much. I am glad that you have pointed the obvious. I think I will withdraw my application and just carry on with my voluntary research until I hear about the outcome of research funding application. I could probably publish more research in the next 6 months to strengthen my proposal application. I think I have been getting a bit anxious about the research funding cuts in the present climate. In my department, the number of researchers have been halved. I work alone in the lab (apart from my supervisor). I am glad that both of you have confirmed my reservations regarding the course.
Thanks once again.