The Jump from Undergraduate to Postgraduate Study

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Postgraduate | 0 comments

Written by Alex Otway, an MSc Data Science student.

Most people will tell you that there is a jump from undergraduate to postgraduate studies, but it is certainly doable. Of course, the size of it depends on what courses you’re doing. In my case, I went from a subject I loved – BSocSc Politics and International Relations, to an entirely new field in which I’m learning a completely new range of skills – MSc Data Science.

Whether you’re staying in the same subject or doing a complete 180, a Master’s degree isn’t called that for nothing. The work required is harder, the hours longer. But if you’ve managed the step-up from first to second to third year, you can certainly manage a Master’s.

Manchester will offer postgraduate places to those who are capable of doing well. And on that basis, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was from my course director to all of us in induction week – remember that you’re here for a reason.

In general, you will find that postgraduate study is more independent. Again, this depends on your subjects. In my case, success in studying Politics was only possible by independent reading, and a lot of it. But my Master’s actually has more contact hours, and the majority of that is in practical classes rather than lectures. And, as it is designed with the assumption that it is a new subject for those on the course, you’re not just left to fend for yourself. Like my undergraduate course at Manchester, I have access to committed academics in class and in office hours.

The workload at postgraduate level is higher, but I also found the jump from second to third year tough because the content seemed to get more challenging. Whereas I was used to three modules per semester in first and second year, and two modules alongside my dissertation in third year, I now have four modules at a time. But if you can prioritise your tasks and manage your time well enough to succeed in an undergraduate degree, you can do it for a Master’s.

Truthfully, I don’t have time for as busy a social life as I did when I was an undergrad. But, it would be the same story if I was working full-time. And of course, you’re not going to find yourself chained to a desk 24/7, and it’s always important to have downtime and spend time with friends, because you will need energy for postgrad study.

For many people, the jump from undergrad to postgrad also means moving from one city to another. And even if not, some of your friends from undergrad might have left Manchester. In my case, I stayed at Manchester, which has maybe made the jump feel easier, for the first couple of weeks. It’s meant I’ve often given tips to my course mates about the university and the city, and didn’t have to work my way around a new university’s admin systems or campus. But whether you want to stay at UoM or come here from somewhere else, postgraduate study is an exciting change, and I wouldn’t want to do it in any other city over Manchester.

So, if you’re thinking of taking the jump from undergrad to postgrad study, my advice would be to understand that it can be tougher, but that you’re more than capable of it.