Melanie Kiefer

BA (Hons) City and Regional Planning

We attract students from all over the world, and Melanie Kiefer, who came to England originally to work as an au pair to improve her English, opted to stay for longer and study at Brookes.

After leaving school in Stuttgart at 19 when she finished her Abitur exams, Melanie had moved to East Sussex to live with a family with three young children. She then decided she would like to embark on degree level study in the UK.

She knew she was looking for a course that would cover urban design and planning, but as she also had a broad range of interests, including art, design, politics and architecture, she was looking for a special kind of degree. After a bit of research, she discovered that our course in City and Regional Planning matched her requirements perfectly.

"The course covers a broad range of topics, which appealed to me," she says. "I also thought that Oxford would be a great place to study. In the first year, we covered subjects such as politics and design, which gave me a good choice about what to specialise in later on." She opted to follow the pathway in urban design in year two. By her second year, Melanie found that her newly acquired skills enabled her to easily find work placements in the holidays. She spent three weeks working for an urban design consultancy in Stuttgart, designing an area of open space and helping with research in the office.

The course has given her the confidence and skills to tackle these tasks, she says. For example, she has to make regular presentations to fellow students, including a design for a mixed used development for a site in Dudley in the West Midlands. She is interested in green buildings and ecological housing.

"It's hard work, but I am really enjoying the course. If you put in the work at Brookes, you really get something out. The classes are small and friendly, too. In Germany, there would be a hundred students in a lecture." Melanie helps pay her way by working in the Students' Union bar, and enjoys the social life at Brookes. When she graduates, she says she won't be leaving Oxford just yet, either. She plans to go on to take a master's at Brookes, probably in spacial planning or urban design. Melanie is also a Student Ambassador in the Department of Planning.