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Graduate Travelled Between Cape Town and Durban Weekly to Complete Degree

April 20, 2015

Mr John Burns was awarded an Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies degree.
Mr John Burns was awarded an Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies degree.

After qualifying as a Master Mariner and getting a Bachelor’s degree in Transport, Economics Maritime Specialist, Cape Town-based Mr John Burns, decided to explore his passion for research through a qualification that combined research and practical experience. 

Burns chose UKZN’s highly specialised Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies which meant he had to commute between Cape Town and Durban weekly to complete his Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies. 

Burns, who works as a Maritime Specialist at PRDW Consulting Port and Coastal Engineers based in Cape Town, says although commuting between the two cities was challenging, it was worth it as the degree met his requirements more comprehensively than any other course offered in the maritime industry. PRDW contributed financially to Burns’ pursuit of his postgraduate degree for which he is extremely grateful. 

‘I travelled from Cape Town to Durban and back once a week to attend lectures which was quite taxing, but it paid off as it provided me with exposure to lecturers who were experts in their respective fields. Their knowledge and experience is what I believe allowed me to achieve success in my studies,’ said Burns. 

Not only has the degree empowered him to tackle the challenges associated with his job but it has also given him the opportunity to explore his passion for research. 

“An Offshore Transhipment Operation as an Alternative to an Investment in Port Infrastructure Development”, was the title of Burns’ dissertation supervised by Professor Trevor Jones. 

The study aimed to find a more feasible alternative to an investment in port infrastructure which offered solutions to increasing economic development in Africa so vital to the continent’s survival. 

‘I studied a Bachelor’s degree in Transport Economics and while that provided a good grounding, I realised that for a Masters degree one would need to specialise more in terms of research,’ said Burns. 

‘I wanted to further my development academically within the field of transport economics. This is why I embarked on this field of study as I felt it was a good match to my chosen career path and allowed me the opportunity to research and specialise more in my everyday work.’ 

Burns is an ultra-marathon runner having completed both the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons. ‘I treated my studies a bit like training for an ultra-marathon where there are sometimes huge challenges in terms of sacrificing sleep and putting those running shoes on, especially on cold mornings. But when you cross the finish line and achieve your goal, those hardships and sacrifices are forgotten. 

‘I think that personal development is very important in one’s life and I am always looking for ways to improve academically, on the sports arena and as a person,’ said Burns.

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