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 by Mark Bennett
, posted on 5 Dec '18

Looking Ahead: Preparing for Postgraduate Study as an Undergraduate

The leaves have fallen, there's a chill in the air and Twitter is dominated by discussion of Strictly, The Apprentice and the latest John Lewis advert (among other things). Oh, and everyone gets a chocolate, just for waking up in the morning.

All of which can only mean one thing: it's. . . time for current undergraduates to start thinking seriously about a Masters.

But isn't it a little early to be considering another degree whilst you're still completing your Bachelors? I don't think so. And, given that you're reading this, I suspect you don't either.

There may be a while to go before you actually apply for a Masters. But, if you play your cards right, you can use your Bachelors to prepare for that process and ensure you make the right choice. The Christmas holidays are a great time to that and this blog is here to suggest a few points (once you've caught up on the festive TV).

#1 Understand your options

Postgraduate study isn't just more complex than undergraduate study. It's also complex in new ways.

For the first time you'll be able to choose between two very different types of degree. Taught courses that will be organised in a similar way to your Bachelors. And research course that almost certainly won't

Meanwhile, the subject you knew as an undergraduate may be about to branch out into several new academic and vocational specialisms. To top it off, part-time and distance learning courses will be more common - and potentially more attractive if you're planning to combine work and study.

All of this means that 'choosing a Masters' actually involves a range of choices. Thankfully, you'll never be better placed to get help and advice as you make them. And, if you start now, you've got plenty of time to gather information and explore your options.

Our introduction to postgraduate study and our guides to different types of Masters degree can help you get your bearings, but you should also take advantage of other opportunities this year.

#2 Speak to your tutors

The staff at your current university should be your first port of call for advice about further study. They'll understand your specific subject and know what sort of postgraduate opportunities are available within it.

They'll also be familiar with your own academic work and interests. That should enable them to offer genuinely useful advice about the kind of course you might get the most out of.

Needless to say, your tutors will also know exactly what sort of postgraduate programmes are available at your own university. They may even be involved in delivering them.

And don't worry if you're considering going to another university. This is perfectly normal and your current teachers will still be able to advise you on what a course is likely to involve and how it compares with options at their own university. They may even be able to put you in touch with contacts at other institutions.

#3 Use your university careers service

This one should go without saying, but it's surprisingly easy to overlook with so much online information available.

Don't get me wrong - online information is great. A lot of it is written by amazing, helpful people who you should absolutely buy a coffee for if you ever meet them at a postgraduate study fair.

But right now you've got the opportunity to sit down and discuss your future with professional advisors at your current university. Don't pass that up.

Careers library staff will be able to answer general questions about postgraduate study and will have a range of helpful resources at their fingerprints. They may even recommend us (tell them we said 'hi' if so).

But a good careers advisor can do more than that. They'll also be able to listen to your thoughts and help you reflect on the best way to achieve your goals.

#4 Chat to other students

You're not the only person making a choice about postgraduate study this year. Chances are a big chunk of your year group are asking themselves similar questions.

You may not have all the answers for each other (yet) but you can certainly swap experiences and perspectives.

Find out what other students on your course are considering. Chat about the courses you've found. Tell them about this blog and see if they can recommend any other useful resources.

But don't just restrict the conversation to your undergraduate peers. Chances are your university is home to quite a few postgraduates too. They were like you not so long ago and most will be happy to chat about their experiences.

Your tutors can probably help put you in touch with current Masters (or PhD) students in your subject. You can also reach out further and chat with the helpful community on our postgraduate forum.

#5 Use us!

It may seem strange to leave our own website until last, but that's part of the point I've been trying to make with this post.

Our advice section is comprehensive, our course search includes thousands of postgraduate programmes and our newsletter will keep you updated on postgraduate news and opportunities throughout the year.

But we aren't going anywhere.

If you're at university right now, you're currently surrounded by unique opportunities to talk about postgraduate study. Make sure you take advantage of them.

Once you've done so, you'll be even better equipped to take advantage of our course database - or to follow up on some more specific topics such as international study or postgraduate funding.

#6 Visit a postgraduate study event

What's better than chatting to tutors, advisors and students at your current university? Chatting to tutors, advisors and students from lots of universities, all in one place.

And that's exactly what you can do at a postgraduate study fair.

We run several of these events ourselves, with representatives from universities across the UK and beyond. Most also include a specialist talks programme, with presentations on all aspects of postgraduate study, from applications to funding.

Better yet, they're completely free. Why not take a look and see if we're going to be holding an event near you anytime soon?

Editor's note: This blog was first published on 07/09/16. We've checked and updated it for current readers.

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