What to consider
- What’s your motivation? Further study is expensive, so you’ll need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Is it to gain an industry-recognised qualification? Do you think it will make you more employable? Continuing a subject you’re extremely passionate about can be a good motivator, however studying in order to delay finding a job isn’t the right option. Remember, you can book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to explore the options available with your degree.
- What do you plan to do afterwards? Postgraduate study does not guarantee you a job. If you’re taking the course to improve your chances of entering a particular industry, look at job descriptions and speak to employers in that area to find out which (if any) qualification is most desirable. Don’t fall into the trap of being overqualified and not having enough practical experience. Get some work experience in the area, especially if you have not worked in that field before. Not only do you need to make sure that your chosen career area is right for you, but you will also gain valuable practical experience that will make you more employable when you graduate.
- Know what’s involved. It’s vital that you choose the right course, as postgraduate study is much more specialised than an undergraduate degree. The form of examination may be different, and the academic year commonly runs from September to September. Attend open days, speak to lecturers and previous students to understand what to expect before making a decision.
- Have you thought about funding? You’ll need to thoroughly research the fees and likely living costs, and where the funding will come from. For more information, see here.
Choosing a university
Think about what’s important to you when choosing where to study, e.g. reputation, facilities or whether the course is accredited/recognised by a professional body. Your choice may be restricted by the location of a particular course or supervisor, but it’s worth considering practical factors such as the proximity to archives or libraries, and access to work/networking opportunities, as these could vary depending on your area of study.
Depending on the type of study you choose, which could be a professional or vocational course, or a research degree for example, there may be flexible ways of working, e.g. part-time or distance learning. League tables can give an indication of a university's strengths, whilst it’s useful to visit other universities and talk to current students and staff before making your decision.
Applications and interviews
Normally postgraduate courses require you to complete an application form or send in a CV outlining your academic record and research interests, along with both academic and employment references. Most will require a personal statement demonstrating your motivation for choosing the course, and previous experiences etc. Book a 1-2-1 appointment with a Careers Consultant for feedback on applications, CVs and cover letters, or to attend a mock interview.