Killian Russell carries out repairs and maintains New Zealand's research base in Antarctica during the day, but has also been hitting the books at night.

Russell, who is one of just 11 staff living at Scott Base during winter, only had two papers in his business degree to complete when he landed an unusual job as a carpenter at the South Pole.

The carpenter by trade took up the year-long position last October and decided to put the University of London's saying: "Studied Everywhere, Valued Anywhere" to the ultimate test by completing his final papers in mathematics and core management principles in the snow.

"I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish my degree this year but the chance to work and live at Scott Base for a year was worth the risk."


Russell is originally from Ireland but had been living in New Zealand prior to landing the handyman role, which requires him to do a range of odd jobs including painting, making cabinets and anything else need to maintain the base over winter.

He had been working as a foreman on the Bridge of Rememberance in Christchurch when he spotted the Hercules flying overhead and when he asked where they were going it encouraged him to also apply for a role in Antarctica.

"It's almost the perfect environment to study as your meals are cooked for you and you obviously don't lose time commuting. It's hard to study when the Auroras are kicking off though."

The 31-year-old even managed to sit his final two papers in mathematics and core management principles in May. The papers arrive on the last flight in April and exam invigilator Bill Henriksen from the US National Science Foundation at McMurdo Station, about 3km from Scott Base, invigilated during the two- and then three-hour exams held in May.

Henriksen then scanned the completed exam papers back to the university and will send the hard copies back when the first flight arrives and then departs McMurdo Sound for the first time in two months in early July.

Russell will get his exam results in August and if he passes hopes to begin a Master's Degree in Sustainable Development following his March graduation where he will be able to meet his online classmates after four years.

"I feel guilty that I'm not studying after work now!"

Durning the seven long winter months, where it is dark all day and night, there are only 12 people running Scott Base. It is a vast contrast to summer which is light 24 hours of the day and up to 35 people including scientists living there.


Killian said it meant the small team had to get on and having his psychology and management papers to draw on had been really useful.