A look back at the 2022 Software Engineering Master’s Degree Programme at DVLA 

As the Centre of Digital Excellence (CoDE) development programme prepares to welcome new students in 2024, DVLA is delighted to share the inspiring journeys of students from previous years.  

Kieran Ayres (Software Development Engineer in Test) and Elanwy Evans (Junior Software Engineer) are soon-to-be graduates of the 2022 CoDE development programme. Over the last 2 years, they have completed a work-based master’s degree in Software Engineering within DVLA’s IT directorate. 

Find out more about the DVLA development programmes. 

We aim to attract and retain the best digital talent, and by sharing current students’ experiences, we hope to inspire others to upskill and grow within our digital family.

We recently met with Kieran and Elanwy to hear all about their time on the CoDE development programme. Read on to find out what they had to say. 

Elanwy Evans

Junior Software Engineer

“ I’ve (also) made some good friends through the scheme, and it has been great working alongside like-minded people”

Kieran Ayres

Software Development Engineer in Test

“There have been too many great things about the CoDE programme to pick an individual highlight”

What were you doing before joining DVLA?

I was a Quality Control Scientist which involved laboratory testing of pharmaceutical drug products such as snake antivenom and ricin antitoxin. 

Before I joined DVLA, I was doing a blend of things. I worked part-time at Asda while studying in university. I completed a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and a master’s degree in a similar subject. It was challenging but ultimately very rewarding. 

Why did you apply for the MSc development programme? 

As I had a keen interest in technology, a few people mentioned to me that DVLA offered great schemes tailored towards people like me with a STEM degree, but a limited technical background. It was a gateway into a career as a software engineer, which would otherwise have taken much longer to achieve with my limited experience. It meant I could transition into a new career, study for an MSc degree, and gain valuable experience on the job. The scheme was also practical as the taught portion was fully remote and the job itself was hybrid. 

DVLA attracted me because I had only heard good things about the development programmes. I didn’t have the confidence to apply to roles where a greater set of experience was expected, so I knew a personal development-based role was something I preferred above all others. I loved the idea of being mentored by experienced professionals and being allowed the space to grow into my role. DVLA had built a reputation for developing individuals into well rounded professionals in their field, so I knew from a young age that it was an organisation that I wanted to be a part of.

What do you enjoy most about the programme? 

I’m enjoying learning about the current tech stacks being used in DVLA, including NextJS, AWS, Serverless, Springboot and Ruby. It has given me a newfound appreciation for the work that goes into developing a service. I’ve also enjoyed the coursework as a lot of it involved creating programs or services, which was much more exciting than just writing essays! 

The learning and the people. The amount I learn each day is incomparable to anything I have ever experienced. The people I work with challenge and teach me so much. If I’m stuck with something, they are always there to guide and help me. I also love the job in general, I like knowing I am writing code that tests a huge project. I feel a real sense of satisfaction when I can see that the tests are passing, adding a sense of confidence around how the project behaves, and I also love the variation of projects that I get to work on. 


What has been your highlight so far? 

I really enjoyed the range of modules covered at university. It gave me a good base knowledge of Java, Springboot, JUnit and different database technologies, which has been useful while working on tickets within my squad at DVLA. I’ve also made some good friends through the scheme, and it has been great working alongside like-minded people.  

There have been too many great things about the CoDE programme to pick an individual highlight. It may be a rubbish answer but just the experience so far; I have been able to take part in a huge variety of work and contribute to some big projects. The experience I’ve gained during work has been invaluable to my personal growth and I’ve loved everything about it.  

What advice would you give someone applying for the MSc development programme?  

If you have no experience in programming, try to complete some courses before starting – there are plenty of free ones online. I did a few on Python to learn core programming concepts and found it very useful. The course is rewarding but intense, so be prepared to sacrifice some weekends and evenings to do coursework! 

My advice would be to put your all into it. Make sure to study the ways in which the Civil Service assesses applicants as this will build your chance of passing the interview. The programme has been the single best job I’ve ever had. I know I’m relatively inexperienced, but this has helped me grow so much as a developer and tester and helped me gain confidence in areas I thought I never would.  

What are you looking forward to achieving?  

Although it will be nice to get a master’s degree at the end of the program, the most rewarding thing for me will be the amount of valuable knowledge and experience that I’ve gained in such a short space of time.  

I am hoping to complete the master’s degree within the next month. I have one more presentation to do before it is sent off to be marked. However, on a personal level, I hope to contribute more and more as I gain confidence within my subject area. My long-term goal is to achieve a long-lasting career at DVLA, in the software development field. 

Find your next role

We are now accepting applications for the MSc Software Engineering programme. Click here to apply.