For a list of courses and more information about financing and completing postgraduate study take a look at the links to your left.
Graduate Careers Advice Video: Postgraduate study and courses
Postgraduate study it conjures up images of boffins in white coats and students who can't bear to leave university life. Isn't one degree enough? I went to talk to some career pals to find out more.
My name is Calum Leckie, I'm a careers advisor at UCL. I did a PHD, I started in 1992 and I did that after doing a first degree in biology.
My name is Terry Jones, I'm a careers advisor at Kings College, London.
What exactly is postgraduate study, it sounds very grand?
Postgraduate study is everything that you do after you've got a degree. It relates to things like doing a PHD which is an original piece of research or it could relate to a teaching qualification.
But why bother with postgraduate study?
The thing with postgraduate study you have to be clear about the added value of doing it. For some particular careers, postgraduate study can be an essential route in. For example, if you've done a first degree and then you decide to go into teaching, then something like the PG Certificate in teaching is something you have to do before you actually teach but some people do postgraduate study because they're actually interested in the subject area and they want to learn more about a particular area of work or research in more depth.
Is it not just an excuse to be a student a little bit longer?
That is the danger, and I think that one of things, when we talk to undergraduates when we talk to them about postgraduate, particular masters, is why are you doing this and why are you doing it now? Those are the two factors. What is it costing you in time, in other words it’s an opportunity costs issue. You could have been trying something else but you're sticking in this safe area.
The thing is, if you do a PHD in nuclear physics won’t people think you’re the brain of Britain? Maybe employers will think you’re too experience?
It's worth doing some research before applying for a position on what's the attitude of employers in the sector you're interested in to particular qualifications, so do they have a preference? And I think it's worth doing that before committing yourself to do another year. The other thing you should remember is that it could be possible that the course you are applying to, the research course or taught masters for example might have an element of working with employers in it, so for example, some PHDs are sponsored by employers and during a PHD you might have to spend a fair amount of time onsite.
Is postgraduate study expensive?
That really depends. Many courses, particularly research courses are funded by the UK Research Councils and basically those kind of funded postgraduate research positions will be advertised by the institutions hosting them. But many courses you will actually have to fund them.
Some medical charities will fund research into their diseases, so Cancer Research UK for instance will fund lots of college places and PHD studentships so that they can work on the various sorts of cancer.
So it’s OK to do that PHD in nuclear physics but how should you decide where to go?
Start off with saying, I want to look at this area, and so I want to find out where this kind of course is offered and there are a number of directories around, a number of websites.
If you have an idea of the kind of career you want to go into afterwards it can be worth finding out from employers, perhaps at employer fairs, presentations at university, what their attitude is to particular courses and also particular institutions. Because, for example, if you're thinking of doing a business degree as a postgraduate subject, it's worth finding out if particular business schools have a good reputation among the employers you are targeting.
How do I apply? is it a central system like UCAS or do you apply to each individual institution?
There are some kinds of vocation groups where you apply to a central clearing house but actually mostly it's a completely free market. The courses are advertised and marketed and so on and they take applications one by one.
Is there anyone you wouldn't recommend it to?
If have really struggled with the academic aspects of your first degree you have to really ask yourself, do I want to do that again, but more of it?
Here's a thing that people make incorrect assumptions about. It's very common, they think, ah, I only got a 2:2 so I will go and get masters and that will take away the perceived disadvantage of a 2:2 and no employer I know works like that. They want to know what grade you got in your first degree.
So there you have it Postgraduate Study, the clue’s in the title really. All the study you do post being a graduate. It’s not an opportunity to put off your career choice but perhaps a nice journey on the path. Good Luck.
© Copyright CareerPlayer 2008-2013.