Schools Training

How to make sure you don’t choose the wrong postgraduate course

3 MAR 2014

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You’re investing time and money into postgraduate study, so you don’t want to end up on a master’s programme that’s not right for you.

To avoid finding yourself doing a degree that’s not what you want, course directors say you must consider why you are continuing to study in the first place.

Do it for the right reasons

“You’ve got to understand what your motivations are,” says Prof Sarah Hainsworth, from the University of Leicester. “Are you doing it because you want to top up your skills, or is it an area that interests you?”

At this stage it’s important to think about the added value beyond your BA that postgraduate study will give you.

“When you do your BA you’re often young and it’s OK to choose what you like,” says Dr Sabine Braun from the University of Surrey.

“But with a master’s programme it’s important to have a future orientation and to look at what you get at the end. You’ve got to think, do I want to go into research or into the professional world.”

It’s important not to do a master’s for the wrong reasons. “Studentsshouldn’t do a postgrad course if they’re defaulting on choosing a career,” says Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers, director of admissions at Newcastle University.

“If you do that you won’t have the same level of commitment. It will just be a stop gap to you.”

Do your research

When you choose an institution, it’s a good idea to find out if a department you’re interested in has a particular specialism.

“Different departments focus on different things,” says Braun. “So to avoid any disappointment look at the websites of different institutions and see what they specialise in and if it suits you.”

Remember that postgraduate study is going to be different to doing an undergraduate degree. “When you do an undergrad you often want wide-ranging focuses because you might not know what you’re interested in,” says Mark Lacy, director of postgrad studies at Lancaster University. “But now you probably want something more specific.”

Find out more about teaching methods and style and think about if it would suit you. “Be prepared for what the course is likely to do,” says Chrzanowska-Lightowlers.

“You are taught in a particular way as an undergraduate, but postgrad courses are different. They can require you to be more self driven, motivated and focused on individual learning.”


Read full article: The Guardian