Top 5 Topics to Know About Master’s Study

Written by Maria Goncalves Neves, Politics & International Relations student.

Whatever reason made you read this blog post; you’ve come to the right place!

Unlike me, most students attending the session seemed pretty solid about their thoughts on master courses. Still, many remain unsure about the options available and how to proceed after graduation, therefore I will tell you all I have learned on this wonderful webinar: “Master’s Study: is it for you?”.

The length of a Master’s course varies depending on the type of master’s you choose to do. If you are doing a taught master’s such as an MSc (Master of Science) or a MA (Master of Art), it can last a year full time, or two years part-time. The same for MBAs. Research Masters (MRes and MPhil) on the other hand, will depend on how long your research takes, but it is normally estimated between one to three years.

Through this webinar, I discovered several websites to look for postgraduate opportunities across different universities, like FindAMasters, FindAPhD, Prospects, and UCAS, in case you want to become a teacher. Also, you can refer to research councils and professional bodies for the same purpose. To find useful links for master’s research, just go on ‘workshop materials’ on Blackboard organisation Careers 24/7 and check the webinar’s slides!

However, here are some key points I think you should evaluate before you apply for your master’s course:

Costs

  • Fees can vary incredibly between subject areas, universities, and countries. In the UK, the average cost of a taught master’s is £8,407
  • Keep in mind, the price is (always) higher for international students
  • Personally, I think higher education should be considered both as a professional and personal investment
  • Nevertheless, it is indeed pricey speculation, and you might end up paying for accommodation and living costs simultaneously
  • Perhaps, you don’t need a master’s qualification to achieve your career goals?
  • Ask yourself whether you will get a good return on your investment

Funding

  • You will need to apply for funding and there are multiple options to consider: university funding, government funding, medical and healthcare courses bursaries, social work bursaries; or even self-funding through charities, part-time work, crowdfunding, and employer sponsorships
  • Postgraduate Loans can worth up to a maximum of £11,222, it is best to apply as soon as possible as they don’t require a confirmed place to apply
  • There’s also government funding for some PG vocational training for certain subjects, and Postgraduate Doctoral Loans worth up to £26,455 if you study in the UK at a university that awards PhDs

You can find plenty of ideas in the Prospects funding guide. Furthermore, Student Finance has lots of information about this, and RUSU has specialist money advisors that can advise you in a 1:1 meeting in confidence.

Future employment/next step

  • The idea that you need a degree to be successful has become slightly obsolete. It continues to be decisive though, but not all organisations or employees ask for a master’s or a PhD
  • If you know the sector or organisation you’d like to go into, it is advantageous to check what they are looking for
  • Careers Fairs are a fantastic opportunity to hear insightful views from employers

Application Process

  • Most application forms require a statement explaining the reason for your course choice, institution choice, and why you would make a noteworthy student or researcher
  • Make sure you tailor your personal information (the relevant aspects of your experience, skills, and knowledge) to the institution and the course in order to write an outstanding declaration

For more help with your personal statement, check the slides available at Careers 24/7 or book an appointment with a Careers consultant! I have had a couple of appointments and always found them worthwhile and valuable.

Alternatives

  • Everyone has their own path! It’s fine to be unsure about the future or to be the only one of your friends not applying for master’s courses
  • There are other options in academia! You might opt to work with an employer on a research project (knowledge transfer partnerships), enrol on CASE studentships, Professional Doctorates, or prefer conversion courses
  • Additionally, I didn’t know many employers actually sponsor graduates to undertake professional qualifications in jobs such as accountancy, tax, HR, and marketing; it seems to be a good incentive for those who wish to go into those sectors

 

I found this session extremely informative. Notwithstanding, it made me reflect on my own decision-making process – ask yourself how you usually make big decisions (you can use Edward de Bono’s model as a starting point). Above all, you should know your ‘why’. Vicki Wiles, the presenter, suggested reflecting on past research projects and coursework and think about whether we genuinely enjoyed doing it. Whatever you do, make sure to consider the pros and the cons involved, so that you make a responsible and well-informed decision.

Our university has a very supportive team of professionals who can offer guidance in this next step! I’ve realized that academic tutors can be a respectable reference point for advice since they have studied master’s and they have been following our academic journey for a few years. Moreover, our Careers Team is available to help. You can book appointments and mock interviews at MyJobsOnline or contact the Careers department by email or telephone.

We are so lucky to have a Careers service that is not only qualified to support you but also wants you to help you achieve your goals. Having said this, I recommend you take advantage of the facilities available at the University of Reading as much as you can.

If you want to know more about this topic, you can go to ‘Postgraduate Events’ at www.reading.ac.uk and book your place at events!

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