Masters Degree? 'If I Can Pass, Anyone Can!'

Case Study: Jonathan Backhouse

Taking a step up academically to a Masters degree can sound pretty daunting. However, according to Jonathan Backhouse, who recently gained an MRes in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management from the University of Hull and NEBOSH “If I can pass, anyone can.”

Jonathan does not intend his statement to be flippant. Having been through the course offered by the University of Hull, he as much as anyone appreciates just how much hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at this level. Instead, he wants his words to “encourage others” because he says “a bit of self-belief can go a long way.” 

Fifteen years before taking his Masters, Jonathan was stuck in a dissatisfying career. After struggling at school with dyslexia, he left with just two GCSEs. As Jonathan had always been good at maths, he ended up in an accounting role. It was not a job he enjoyed, but other options were limited. He felt disillusioned and trapped.

It was then in 2000 that a conversation with a family friend completely changed his life. Jonathan was encouraged to take his NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. He gave it a go, and not only did he discover an incredible passion for health and safety, more importantly he gained a new found confidence and belief in his abilities. 

This success spurred Jonathan on to continue his studies. He first passed the NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health before completing a Masters degree in Professional Practice in the Context of Education.  

Jonathan also gained the confidence required to leave the job he disliked so much. This brave decision has resulted in a fulfilling career as a health and safety trainer and consultant.  

Jonathan was one of the first to sign up for the MRes in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management (in partnership with NEBOSH) when it was launched in 2013. 

The qualification gives students the opportunity to develop and hone their research skills. It was perfect for Jonathan because it was offered via distance learning, which enabled him to fit his studies around other commitments. 

He admits the course was a challenge at first, but with the guidance of his tutors Steve Pace and Peter Waterhouse at the University of Hull, Jonathan was successful. 

It now feels a bit like when I passed my Certificate all those years ago. The Certificate made me believe I could pass anything. Now my MRes has given me the belief that I can research and write with authority about just about anything.” 

Jonathan hopes his experience will encourage and inspire more Diploma holders to go one step further. 

To find out more about NEBOSH Masters degrees in partnership with the University of Hull, visit: