A British Army soldier, who studied for his degree while based in a war zone, has seen his career prospects soar after graduating today with a Masters (MSc) degree in Environmental Health from University of Derby Online Learning.

Oswald Amponsah, MSc Environmental Health

Oswald Amponsah, a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps, studied for his degree while continuing in his full time job which involves frequent home and overseas training exercises and deployments.

His current role is Environmental Health Technician, which involves overseeing all aspects of environmental health and providing technical advice to colleagues.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 for a seven month tour where the ultimate objective of his team was to ensure that the risk of disease amongst troops was significantly minimised. This was fully achieved by the end of the tour when he and the team earned recognition for exceptional performance.

Oswald, 36, lives in the South East with his wife and two children. He decided to study for the degree to maximise his employability opportunities, both within the army environmental health unit and in the future, when he retires from the armed forces.

He said: "Studying the programme has enormously enhanced my understanding of the subject as a whole and improved my knowledge of current thinking and legislation. There is a potential for me to become a commissioned officer in the field of environmental health in the future as a result of attaining the Masters qualification.

"It was very challenging trying to complete an online degree, particularly due to persistent deployments and the lack of regular access to the internet when working in a war zone - but the University was very helpful in giving me the flexibility to defer my registered modules until I was back home and ready to continue the study.

"I would recommend it to anyone but also remind them that, to be successful in completing such a study, especially in the armed forces and with a young family, it will take maximum dedication, commitment and desire.

"I am really looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony this week in Derby with my family to celebrate my achievement."

Alan Whitfield, Programme Leader for the MSc Environmental Health degree, added: "The online MSc Environmental Health programme is perfect for students like Oswald and it is flexible enough to allow for the sudden changes in circumstances that he faced.

"The dedicated team of environmental health lecturers were able to offer support and practical solutions to accommodate his academic studies whilst serving overseas with the Army."

The MSc Environmental Health at the University of Derby is the only online course accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland, which makes it a crucial first step in becoming a qualified environmental health professional.

For further press information please contact Alice Oliver, Head of Corporate Relations, University of Derby. Direct dial: +44 (0)1332 592032 or email: a.oliver@derby.ac.uk