"Where on earth do I start?" That’s generally the first thought that runs through everyone’s head as they start to consider studying a postgraduate degree. The questions can seem endless, what shall I study? Does what I do next have to relate to my undergraduate degree? Shall I carry on training?
Here’s how to go from being interested in studying a postgraduate course to an actual placement.
Many postgraduate courses will require at least a small amount of work experience. But even if it isn’t compulsory, it’s definitely worth getting yourself on a placement to get a feel for the industry you’ll be entering.
Not only does this put you in a good position when it comes to your application, it will also help you solidify your decision to commit to a certain profession. Read our guide on how to make the most of a work experience placement.
So you’ve made up your mind on the area of study you’d like to peruse. The next major challenge is picking the right course.
Different universities often have very different ways of approaching the same subjects. Take time to read course descriptions and find out which one suits you best. Go to virtual university open days to get a feel for the campus and browse our website.
With a lot of universities currently using an online or blended learning approach, it is also worth checking university web pages for more informartion on how they will be teaching you as this could impact your decision.
Once you’ve narrowed down the courses you’re interested in it’s time to decide where you’d like to study. Whether you stay in the area you attended university as an undergraduate or move elsewhere, location is an important factor to consider at this stage.
Don’t take the application stage lightly. Just like your undergraduate degree, filling in an application for a postgraduate course is by no means simple.
Read and re-read your application and, if it’s possible, get a former lecturer to have a look at it too. This is the first time your name will be associated with the course you wish to study and as with everything, first impressions count! Our guide to filling in applications will tell you what to avoid.
Do your research. Find out what the course requires of you and how you can demonstrate a commitment to the industry you hope to be a part of. Think about some of the instances that you’ve demonstrated the characteristics a course leader might be looking for. Maybe you’ve travelled abroad independently or volunteered with a relevant organisation – this is also the perfect time to discuss any work experience placements you’ve had. It is also worth noting that in the current circumtances, your interview is likely to be done virtually, so having a laptop to hand and somewhere quiet you can do the interview is key.
There are lots of ways to fund a postgraduate course. Find out whether you’re eligible for a grant or bursary as this will really benefit you when the time comes to start paying back what you may have borrowed. You could be eligible for student finance of up to £10,609 if studying a postgraduate course (NOTE: PgCert and PGDips are not eligible for postgraudate loans). Most students however will opt for a postgraduate loan if private funding isn’t available.
Once all your student finance is in place you’re good to go. Read our ultimate guide to funding to find the best options for you.
Many Postgraduate courses accept applications all year round and will close when there are no more spaces available. It is still best to get your applications done as early as possible so you have time to read-through and make it the best it can be.
For January 2021 intake students have until December to submit applications and for September 2021 intake students will usually have until August or early September. There are usually differences in deadlines for UK applicants and International applicants so it is best to check course and university information.
If studying a Master's or Master's by Research degree then these usually start in September. Postgraduate Certificate's and Diploma start dates vary depending on which course you will be studying, the majority are often done via distance learning. MBA courses again differ regarding their start dates but you can expect it to be in either October, February or May.
We would advise to research the postgraduate course you are studying and contact universities directly as they can provide more specific deadlines.
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