Toby Balson

Questions and answers:

Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?

Before coming to Brookes I studied Film as an undergraduate at Warwick University. After that I definitely needed a break from academia and so I got into property renovation. My Sarah Beeny days were fairly short lived, but they inspired me to get into energy efficient construction – and also gave me the practical knowledge I needed to get on the course.

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

Brookes has a strong School of the Built Environment so it came highly recommended. I checked out the post-degree employment prospects and they were very strong. But what really clinched it was visiting the university and talking with the existing students – they rated it as a place to study, and that’s what really sold it to me.

What do you think of the course while you were here?

I found the course to be very demanding but also very rewarding. Progress was fast so it was important to be organised, meet deadlines and keep up. The syllabus covered a wide range of topics, and we learned a good mix of theory and practical skills, as well as several software applications. When I look back at the amount we learned within a year it was huge, and the field trips really helped to cement us as a group – especially Findhorn!

Since completing your course what career opportunities have you taken up?

Since completing the course I have been working as an energy consultant at the Building Research Establishment. The skills I learned on the course were directly related to my getting the job, and have continued to help me during my first year of employment.

What are the best aspects of studying at Brookes?

There’s a real family atmosphere within the department and it’s very down to earth. The tutors don’t just talk about sustainability but practice what they preach – it’s an inspiring place to be.

What advice do you have for others thinking of studying in the School of the Built Environment?

Go for it! I didn’t fit the standard profile for my course, but I applied anyway and was lucky enough to get accepted. Taking an MSc at Brookes gave me a clear direction for my future career and helped kick start my prospects, so I’d definitely recommend it.

Toby Balson

Toby Balson studied MSc Sustainable Building: Performance & Design with the School of Architecture


I found the course to be very demanding but also very rewarding. The syllabus covered a wide range of topics, and we learned a good mix of theory and practical skills.