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Moving from an undergraduate degree to a postgraduate degree can seem daunting. It was often said to me how different postgraduate study was compared to undergraduate and whilst I agree in a sense, I think that the academic learning and knowledge that you build up at undergraduate level combined with the support from the university really does help you prepare to make the step up to postgraduate study.
Here are some of the things I’ve noticed after making the step from undergraduate study to postgraduate after finishing my BA Broadcast Journalism degree in 2020 before embarking on a master’s in Public Relations and Digital Communications.
There is definitely a bigger onus on more independent studying at postgraduate level. That doesn’t mean that you are left on your own though, the usual support from your lecturers and tutors is still available, it’s just that you will need to do some research and learning outside of class and in your own time.
I also found that when completing assignments, there was more of an emphasis on researching and using analytical skills, especially when writing essays. This wasn’t exactly a new thing but there has definitely been more analytical writing as you study in-depth about a topic of your choosing. The good thing is that you will have already formed these key essay writing skills at undergraduate level but the difference is now about putting those skills to use.
The workload at postgraduate level can be intense and will require you to manage your time a lot more than at undergraduate level. You may have to work on multiple assignments at the same time whilst attending classes in addition to your own reading and research outside of class. Whilst that sounds scary, a little bit of planning and preparation beforehand goes a long way.
This really will help you for when you graduate and start your career. Jobs often require you to manage your workload and be able to prioritise tasks, starting this whilst studying will mean that it’s a lot easier to do in the future.
One more thing to note is that the academic year at undergraduate level usually runs from September – June, this changes for most postgraduate courses. Undergraduate degrees are usually over three or four years whereas postgraduate courses can be as short as 12 months. Whilst the overall length is shorter, you will have work to do over the summer during trimester three, so at postgraduate level, the academic year will usually last a full 12 months from September – September.
The exciting part
Postgraduate study, it’s not as different as it sounds and it’s definitely not as scary as it looks. You will most likely be better prepared than you think through the experiences you have been through with your undergraduate degree.
Whilst the workload will increase and you will need to adapt to new ways of learning, it’s definitely an exciting and rewarding choice to ponder. It’s your choice as to what you study and you have the freedom to manage your own workload and have some more practice at being an adult, before the real thing happens – I know I needed it!
You’ll get to learn new specialist topics about your chosen subject but also solidify what you have already learnt at undergraduate study. Before I began my master’s in Public Relations and Digital Communications, I had undertaken a module in Public Relations and Journalism. This had given me an initial understanding and idea of how both the public relations and journalism industries operated however I didn’t feel like I was prepared enough to go looking for a full-time job in the industry.
This has completely changed over the course of my master’s and I now feel ready to work in the communications industry.
I have been given the platform to work practically and actually go out and practice as a public relations practitioner, even with all the chaos that COVID-19 has caused.
As part of an ongoing assignment, we have had a real fashion company based in Manchester approach us and ask for help with their public relations and communications strategy. In groups we have been able to put our academic knowledge and skills learnt from both undergraduate level and trimester one of this year to the test by gaining practical experience with a real business. Part of this has involved pitching a campaign to the company, just as I will have to do in a future career. My master’s has given myself the platform to really prepare myself for future work.
This is something that I would not have expected to have experienced whilst still a student, but the contacts and experience that I have been able to build during my postgraduate degree will definitely help me going forward.
I mentioned workload above, I won’t lie, it does increase and you will find yourself with more to do. However, I found this has allowed me to strike a good balance between studying and adult life where I have managed to also gain a part-time job at the University to aid my work experience. There’s still enough time for a social life too, even if our social lives have been put on hold since we entered lockdown.
You do feel a bigger sense of responsibility, especially since you are required to do more independent study and research. Just as you would have to do I suppose in a job. It’s a good way to practice and get prepared for a job in your chosen industry.
Studying for a master’s degree gives you the chance to further your learning in a subject that you are already passionate about and enjoy whilst enhancing your career prospects. It is a step up from undergraduate study but it’s one that is manageable and that should excite you!
If you want to find out some more information on our postgraduate courses, visit salford.ac.uk/postgraduate and join us for a postgraduate open day.