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UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Blogs from UCL IEDE Staff and Students


The Croxford Files: the MSc EDE course over the years

By ucftben, on 18 February 2016


ede_students-EDITED300dpiEDE has come a long way since I first encountered it. In 1994 Dr Alan Young was running it all, and spent much time caring for students and cursing various systems and problems that arose. Around then I started helping to supervise dissertations and giving the occasional lecture. In 1999 I took on the Health and Comfort Module, and around the same time started to co-ordinate all of the dissertations. I also was producing some early web pages for the EDE course and in 2000 we developed the Methods of Environmental Analysis module.

During these years Alan managed to organise the first trip to Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in 2001, causing himself more worry and giving more opportunities for cursing, but also starting a fabulous tradition! Even now I am sure many of the strongest memories for EDE graduates are of various activities there…., certainly there are a good few etched in my memory!

Another new initiative I started in around 2001 was the now thriving EDEComm alumni group, which is now nearly 600 strong.

I suspect Alan had had his eye on me for course director quite early on, and after a few years of trying, in 2007 he finally managed to retire early and hand over the course to me. He could barely disguise his glee! I wasn’t looking forward to running the MSc but I could see the logic, so gave it a go. Early changes were to scrap interviews, and massively upgrade the course web presence so that prospective students would have a better idea of what they were signing up to. It took me a while to start changing content and structure, but after a while I got the hang of it and over my 6 year tenure I led the development of around a dozen new optional modules, see our website for details. To make this work required shifting a few things around so that students could take two optional modules alongside 6 core ones.

We started to have more students very early on in my course director role, and this allowed us leeway to encourage and select a few to continue as researchers, undertake PhD’s and become IEDE staff. Maximum numbers admitted were dictated by the maximum number of students we could get into a coach for the CAT trip!

In 2013 I was able to hand over the running of the course to Dr Hector Altamirano-Medina, I had enjoyed running it, but it was tiring! Young Hector with plenty of enthusiasm has taken on even more students. I’m still closely involved and am running 2 ½ modules this year.

As I write we have 8 full time staff including two core IEDE lecturers who were once EDE students, nearly 60 full time students, and the total number of EDE graduates successfully conducting, or having completed, PhD’s with us is now well into double figures.

So the course is in great shape and I wish it, and IEDE Happy Birthday and best wishes for the next 50 years!


Ben Croxford. MSc EDE course director 2007 – 2013.

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