Studying at sea

London Met was only ever "a phone call or an email away" for Captain Michael MacLeod, who completed his Maritime Law LLM from onboard his vessel and at home in the Outer Hebrides.

Date: 08 December 2020

Captain Michael MacLeod has been working at sea since he joined the Merchant Navy at 16, before going on to work on various vessels including tankers and container ships.

Now working as a Captain on boutique cruise vessels and superyachts, he’s spent the last eight years studying from his home in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and on his vessel around the Caribbean and Mediterranean. 

But London Met was always "only an email or a phone call away, even when you are hundreds of miles from the University," he said. 

"The best thing about London Met is that everyone you deal with is friendly and unpretentious. It can be daunting entering a postgraduate course close to your middle age. This is made easier when you feel you are not being looked down on and you are accepted with a smile, this makes you feel you can complete the course with confidence."

 Having started with a Postgraduate diploma, he has now completed his LLM in Maritime Law, both courses he undertook while in full-time employment throughout and through distance learning. "Bearing this in mind," he says, "I really have a sense of achievement in completing my course."

"Studying onboard was at times easy and others difficult. I would try to set aside time each day to study but often was interpreted by one issue or another, such as dining with passengers, manoeuvring the vessel, emergency dills, or crew complaints.

"While at sea I was able to interview the other mariners and marine pilots I worked with to ask about their opinions and experiences that related to the subject of my dissertation. The internet could be an issue at times onboard but I found that during these times it was better to sit and think on the subject matter and take notes, and then research those ideas when the internet was stronger."

"Studying at home with my family was slightly easier but with young twin boys it would sometimes be interrupted. I would always try to get up one hour before them and study/research before making their breakfast – it’s all fun and games!"

Asked how the ongoing pandemic had affected his studying, he said that "while coronavirus has affected us or another, and very much so in the maritime world," undertaking his course through distance learning from the beginning meant he faced fewer challenges than others. The situation shows if anything, that "this should be the way forward for many courses, especially at post-grad level," he said. 

captain on ship holding wheel