How to Make the Step Up from Undergraduate to Postgraduate Study

How to Make the Step Up from Undergraduate to Postgraduate Study


There are plenty of reasons why you might continue to pursue your academic goals after completing an undergraduate degree. A Masters degree or even a PhD is a great way to distinguish yourself from your peers in non-academic jobs, or establish a career in academia.

Whilst career progression is an important benefit of postgraduate study, there’s also a lot to be said for continuing your study simply because you can, and purely learning for learning’s sake. So, if you have the passion to continue your studies beyond undergraduate level, here are a few tips to help you take the next step.

The key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study

The step up from undergraduate to postgraduate level is understandably a bit daunting. For starters, most Masters programes conclude with a dissertation, which will loom large from the off. There’s also likely to be a much greater emphasis on self-directed study, as opposed to the large group teaching favored at undergraduate level. You’ll also notice a shift in your relationship with your tutors and peers, as you begin to be accepted as an expert in your own right.

The opportunity to specialize

Postgraduate courses in different subjects and offered by different institutions vary greatly, but part of the attraction of all postgraduate courses is the opportunity to specialize in your chosen field. There are a huge range of topics and sub-topics within a subject area, allowing you to focus on a particular specialism which undergraduate programes will not touch on in anything like the same detail. 

Whilst there will be some key components common to almost all postgraduate courses (you’ll almost always write a dissertation), there isn’t really such a thing as a typical postgraduate course in terms of the content or the methods of assessment.

The postgraduate credits system

Your progress as an undergraduate and postgraduate student is measured using a credit system set out by the Quality Assurance Agency for High Education. This system is based on the premise that a single credit is equivalent to approximately 10 hours of study. A year of full-time undergraduate study will usually require the completion of 120 credits. To complete a Masters degree, you will be required to attain 180 credits in the same amount of time, which shows just how much harder you’ll have to work.       

An emphasis on self-directed study

One of the first things you’ll notice about a postgraduate degree programe is the reduction in the number of modules you’ll be taking. At postgraduate level, 5 or 6 modules will run concurrently in each semester. Conversely, at Masters level, you may only find yourself studying a couple of modules each semester, with only a few hours of contact time scheduled per week. However, each semester of your programe will still account for 60 credits, so they’ll be much more time spent studying on your own.

You will be expected to read around your areas of study, identify important themes and issues, and think critically about your work before scheduled meetings with your peers and tutors. Teaching sessions will also function more as a forum where you can express, reflect and develop your ideas, rather than being actively taught by your tutors.  

This information has been compiled with the help of the professional undergraduate and postgraduate essay writers at Oxbridge Essays. Check out their Twitter page for more hints and tips to improve your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study. 


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Categories: Advanced Education