Postgraduate studies: Should I or shouldn’t I?

Hello, my name is Eleonora and I study MA Film Studies at King’s College London. I’m going to tell you about your postgraduate options.

For some students, doing a Master degree is something that is required for their chosen career or future studies. Others don’t really see postgrad as an option, as they’d rather start working immediately after graduating. But there are also many students who are undecided about doing a Master – this is especially true for Arts & Humanities subjects, as holding a Master degree isn’t usually required for many career options. I was precisely in this position in my last undergraduate year, and I’m now really glad that I chose to continue my studies. I have here created a short list of situations you might relate with for which a Master would be really helpful. While the reasons for doing postgraduate studies can be very varied and personal, ticking off two or more points in this list can be a good indicator that a Master might do well for you!

1) You’re interested in doing an internship before finishing your studies
While King’s does offer Internship modules for final year Bachelor students, and other undergraduate students find internships independently, many undergrads find it difficult to complete an internship – whether that’s because of other part-time work, focusing on their dissertation, doing a Year Abroad, or simply because it might seem too early to think about their career after university. In fact, the majority of King’s students who enrol in internship modules are postgrads.

By doing a Master at a university that offers internship modules, you give yourself the opportunity to get invaluable skills, contacts and work experience before you graduate, setting yourself ahead of other students in careers that can be very competitive, while remaining in the safe environment of the university. Unlike what often happens when doing an internship independently, King’s Accredited Internship modules prevent the employers for assigning you menial, basic or non-relevant tasks through the Internship Host Agreement, and some of the internships are offered exclusively to King’s students. The lectures and the assessments also ensure that you think about your experiences critically and that you contextualise them within your chosen career path. Moreover, an internship module can be extremely helpful if you’re moving to London or to a new city for the first time, as it will provide you with invaluable contacts.

A screenshot of one of the videos about filmmaking that I created as part of my internship at Raindance Film Festival

2) You’re considering doing a PhD
If you’re 100% sure about doing a PhD, then doing a Master is a requirement more than an option. However, many Arts & Humanities students end up doing a PhD only after taking a year or more off from studying, especially because PhDs programmes start in September, right after Master’s dissertation deadlines. If you’re thinking about doing a PhD but you’re not too sure about it yet, doing a Master is a good option to get the requirements in case you do decide to do it, but also to learn more about your subject, get introduced to graduate life, and realise if a PhD option would actually do for you or not.

3) You feel there is still a lot more you can learn
Many Master programmes are more specific than Bachelor ones, or they are in subjects that are not offered at undergraduate level – for example, King’s offers unique Masters such as Digital Humanities, Critical Methodologies, Shakespeare Studies and Sustainable Cities). Alternatively, you might be considering doing a Master in a subject that was a minor part of your Bachelor, or simply you’re still wanting to learn more. In each of these cases, a Master can be an invaluable opportunity to acquire more in-depth and specific knowledge, in areas that you’re more or less familiar with. This is especially helpful if your Masters subject is closely connected to the career you’d like to pursue, and it can set you apart from students who only have a Bachelor degree in the subject.

4) You want to benefit from a high-ranking university that has strengths in your subject
While subject rankings should be important when choosing your undergraduate university, they are even more essential when doing a Master. This can be your last chance to study your subject of choice at the top of its level, benefitting from larger, excellent faculty and resources, as well as from the overall reputation of the institution when starting your career.

As a top 25 world university in the heart of London, King’s offers both excellent academic reputation and partnerships with organisations that would not exist in other UK universities – for example, the Arts & Cultural Management MA offers an unique module in collaboration with Tate, and the Shakespeare Studies MA is taught jointly with the Globe Theatre.

The impressive Round Reading room at the Maughan Library is one of the many excellent resources that King’s offer for postgraduate study.

5) You’re a little unsure about your career
In your final undergraduate year, there might have been a few students in your programme who had an extremely clear idea of what to do after graduating and a specific plan on how to get there. However, many students experience graduation blues, as they don’t have the resources, contacts or knowledge to build a career, especially if they’re still unsure about the specific area they’d like to focus on. Instead, the pressure to find a job after graduating might lead them to do less stimulating jobs that are completely different from what they’d actually want to pursue.

A Master can be an excellent way of discovering more about yourself and your aspirations while being in an intellectually stimulating environment linked to the career area you’re interested in. For example, while I always knew that I would have liked to work within the film industry, it was only during my Master that I realised I wanted to pursue a career as a Film Festival producer, which happened both thanks to my courses, my internship, and the opportunities that London has to offer.

Unlike many other European countries, Masters in the UK last for 12 months rather than 2 years, which is definitely a benefit if you want to get those invaluable skills and opportunities that a Master can offer without having to make a 2-years commitment. However, doing a Master degree is still an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, both from a practical perspective (it is costly and time consuming) and a more personal one (is this really what you’d like to do?).

Take your time to think about it thoroughly, look at universities websites, seek advice from faculty members and Careers Advisors at your undergrad university, attend Open Days Postgraduate events at universities you’re interested in, and get in touch with alumni who have made the choice to continue or not to continue their studies.

Whether you realise that continuing to study is or isn’t the best option for you, I wish you best of luck!

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