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10 Key Questions to Help You Decide Which Postgraduate Course to Do

Keen to do a postgraduate course, but no idea what subject you want to do? Are you spending hours researching courses, making potential lists only to feel so overwhelmed you binge on Netflix to recover?

Well worry no more! Simply answer these 10 questions and you’ll be filling out your application form in no time...

1. Did you enjoy your undergraduate course?

The first question to ask yourself is this: do you want to carry on along the same lines as your undergraduate course? If you dreaded every lecture and regularly hid in the union bar to avoid them, then you’re unlikely to enjoy a further year of study a similar subject.

There’s nothing wrong with doing a postgrad course that’s completely unrelated to your undergraduate degree, and although it may be harder to get onto a different course subject, it’s certainly not impossible.

2. What interests you?

Are you interested in a particular aspect of an industry? Was there a module in your undergraduate degree that always stuck with you? Then why not try and find a postgraduate course which focuses on these topics? It’ll certainly make essay writing less of a chore – okay, so we can’t promise you’ll suddenly race home to write them, but they’re certainly be more bearable at least.

3. Why do you want this qualification?  

Do you want this qualification in order to open doors in a particular career? Or do you just want to find out more about a particular subject out of sheer interest?

If you want it to open doors, you need to make sure the course you choose is not only relevant to the industry you want to work in, but will also be respected by employers.

4. Taught course or research degree?  

This will automatically help you cross out a fair few courses on your overflowing list. Only want to do one more year of studying? Want structure from your teachers? Then a research degree is pretty much out of the question.

On the flipside, if you want to go off, do your own thing and spend time researching topics massively in-depth, then taught courses need to be avoided.

5. How long do you want to study for?

If you don’t want to study for over a year, then again you’ll need to steer clear of doing a research degree (like a PhD, MRes or MPhil), as these can last for several years. And while most taught courses last a year, some (like a PGDip) can last nine months and others involve work placements in between periods of study.

6. How do you want to learn?

If you’ve always been a dab hand at writing and you’re quite happy sitting in the library for hours on end, it’s likely that you’re going to be happiest on a course which is primarily assessed through essays, coursework or written exams.

However, if you get fidgety in lecture halls and learn from doing rather than reading, then you’re going to benefit more from a course which offers hands-on industry experience.

7. Which university do you want to go to?

If don’t want to move too far away from home or you want to avoid being situated in a certain location, then this definitely needs to be a factor in your course choice. This also applies if you want your university to specialise in your chosen industry or have a certain ranking.

8. Do you have the right grades?

Some universities will expect certain grades before they let you onto a postgraduate course. So if you’re starting to get a shortlist of courses together at this point, then it’s worth researching what qualifications you need (if any) and how you can achieve them if you haven’t already.

9. What’s your budget?

Often a neglected issue, but an issue that will decide whether you live comfortably or just on tins of baked beans and noodles (again) while you’re studying.

Postgraduate courses can be expensive, and if you’re on a limited budget this might instantly block certain options (although it’s always worth seeing if you can receive a bursary before you give up all hope, especially if you’re really eager to do a particular course).

10. Do you know anyone already doing this course?

There’s nothing worse than turning up to do a postgrad only to find out the teachers are rubbish, the subject is barely covered in depth and what you learn isn’t worth even half the fee you pay.

If you can, find someone who’s done the course you’re considering and ask them about the positives and negatives, and whether or not they’d recommend it for you.


- 9 Things to Immediately Delete From Your Postgraduate Application

- Should You Stay at the Same University for Your Postgraduate Degree?


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