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Meet CAT graduates

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CAT now has over 1,800 graduates – people who have immersed themselves in studying sustainable solutions for 18 months or more, gaining the skills, knowledge, networks and qualifications to make a real difference in the world. Alis Rees caught up with a few of them to find out about life after CAT.

A new career researching Ash dieback

Ffion Thomas graduated in 2019 as one of the first students on our MSc in Sustainable Food and Natural Resources. Before studying at CAT Ffion had previously worked in German banks and then as Head of Risk Management and Compliance at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust.

Looking for a change of direction, Ffion was able to transfer the research, practical and analytical skills she’d gained through her career to her studies at CAT.

During her studies, Ffion was part of a team looking at the changes to pesticide regulations in the lead up to Brexit. The important work Ffion and the team were doing reached the national press and Ffion was quoted in the Guardian. Her analysis highlighted that the changes could weaken the rigour of the process by which pesticides are approved and monitored in the UK.

Following on from this and the work Ffion undertook in her dissertation, she is now working towards her PhD focusing on agroecological approaches to managing Ash dieback at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University.

Studying at CAT was life-changing, and has enabled me to take on a new career in an area I love, but which I never thought would be feasible, given I didn’t have a scientific background.”

Ffion Thomas graduating

Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Sustainable Architecture graduate Kirsty Cassels won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year award category at The Scottish Women’s Awards 2019.

After graduating from our Part 2 Architecture course in 2016, Kirsty set up ‘Building Together CIC’ with fellow CAT graduate Robert Thompson. It is a design and build Community Interest Company (CIC) that designs that designs buildings or structures for communities or organisations, using the members of that community to help with the build.

As a Community Interest Company, they are bound by their constitution and their profits are capped and poured back into the community. Kirsty says that her studies at CAT played a huge part in getting her to this point.

It is difficult to suitably express the impact my studies and time at CAT have had on my life. It is a huge part of who I am today, and who I will become.

My studies at CAT give me a huge advantage in the conventional architectural and construction industries. I have a much higher degree of influence and respect in my environmental opinions and strategies, and my clients and colleagues know, with the backing of the [CAT degree], that I am an expert in environmentally nurturing buildings.

Kirsty Cassels CAT Graduate

Helping Bath go carbon neutral

Sarah Warren (below right) heard about CAT’s MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation Planning from a former student, and promptly signed up for one of our Open Days. As a parent, the flexibility CAT’s courses offered was attractive to her, and the part time and distance learning options were key parts of why she applied.

Like Ffion, she graduated last year, and describes her time at CAT as ‘life-changing’, from the immersive experience to studying alongside like-minded people.

The impact the course had on Sarah prompted her to run for a council election in May 2019, and she was then elected as a Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council, helping provide leadership to ensure the district achieves carbon neutrality by 2030.

The wide-ranging nature of the course has been invaluable. It means I have at least some idea of the right direction of travel, and the right questions to ask, in discussions ranging from building design and insulation, transport, and waste to communications and engagement, food, biodiversity, and land use.

Sarah Warren (on the right)
Sarah Warren (on the right)

About the author

Alis is CAT’s Graduate School Marketing Officer, and is the person to speak to if you have any questions about our Masters degrees, or if you’re a CAT graduate who would like to share your story. You can email Alis at or call her on 01654 705953.