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Work by Miriam Porter Image courtesy of Miriam Porter
Studying Landscape and Wellbeing - MSc at ECA offered Miriam the opportunity to explore her interest in the relationship between people and their environments through the unique programme at ECA, which supplemented her Landscape Architecture undergraduate studies. 

Since graduating, Miriam has gone on to work for a UK-based landscape architecture practice where she continues to pursue, and implement, her interests in health and wellbeing through design.

Why I chose to study Landscape and Wellbeing - MSc

Throughout my education and work experience in the field of landscape architecture, I had become fascinated with the relationship between people and their environments. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I was interested in pursuing postgraduate study that would explore this relationship further.

At the time of applying, a simple Google search of the keywords ‘Landscape and Wellbeing’ brought up the one-of-a-kind MSc Landscape and Wellbeing programme at ECA. I was impressed by the active work of the OPENspace research centre and the innovative research coming from the lecturers.

The programme overview and strong links back to landscape architecture was a significant draw, as I wanted to utilise this course as a way to supplement my previous education and work experiences.

The decision to study at ECA also provided me with the opportunity to study abroad in Scotland. Edinburgh provided a model context in which to access, investigate, and learn about the benefits of green and blue spaces. It is an amazing city to experience as a student.

Work by Miriam Porter
Work by Miriam Porter

My time at ECA

Coming from a design-focused background, my time at ECA was both challenging and rewarding. The programme was flexible and provided a foundation to explore our specific interests within the landscape and wellbeing domain. Throughout the year, the structured nature of the programme and key courses established a practical route through initial understanding, design applications, and how to structure research for landscape and wellbeing.

Highlights included memorable guest lectures and site visits to Maggie’s Centre, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, and Larbert Woods/Forth Valley Royal Hospital. It was great to be able to explore what was being discussed in class and learn from those places. These key courses and experiences ultimately set me up with the knowledge, resources, and research skills for the final project.

My final project provided me with the opportunity to apply what I had learned throughout the course. I took part in a project run by a multi-disciplinary research initiative focused on understanding the impacts, effects, and benefits of ‘blue spaces’ on health and wellbeing. I contributed to a research project that was following the effects of an urban beach regeneration project in supporting health and wellbeing in the community.

Throughout the project I was able to explore the impacts of spatial change through various research strategies and methods, conducting semi-structured interviews and behavioural observations. I had the opportunity to work and collaborate with the local authority as well as site users and local residents. This experience provided valuable insight into how landscape interventions could be analysed, investigated and evaluated within the lens of health and wellbeing.

"The programme was flexible and provided a foundation to explore our specific interests within the landscape and wellbeing domain."

Miriam Porter

Landscape and Wellbeing - MSc alumna

My experiences since graduating

During my year at ECA, I focused on learning new skills that I could apply and utilise within the practice of landscape architecture. The programme provided an outlet for me to further refine and focus my passion on health and wellbeing in my career.

Since graduating, I have been working for a landscape architecture practice based in the UK. Recently I have been working as part of the landscape team involved in designing and planning the landscape for a new Mental Health In-Patient Facility. Being involved in the project at its initial stages allows us to utilise an evidence-based approach when planning and designing therapeutic environments for patients, staff, and visitors.

My time at ECA has provided me with a knowledge base and perspective in which to approach design, planning and engagement within both public and private spaces. The programme supported a unique skill-set that I have utilised to justify design and aid in the conception and development of meaningful places.

There is great value in understanding the impact and effects of what we do as landscape architects. I have always thought that this type of knowledge should be emphasised more in the landscape architecture industry. I actively apply and bring this knowledge to the various projects I work on, adding value both to the team and our work.

My advice to new and current students

To someone just starting, I would recommend exploring and selecting courses outside of the mandatory modules. ECA and other schools within the University offer a wide range of courses. Find something that interests you beyond your field of study! These courses allowed me to meet and collaborate with students from various backgrounds and experiences.  

For someone graduating, the relationship between landscape, human health and wellbeing is growing and becoming more widely recognised in both research and a range of industries. Regardless of your path, it is an exciting time to bring that knowledge and understanding into practice.

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