The Differences between Postgraduate and Undergraduate Study: Part I

Nina van Rooy, who studied English BA and Philosophy MA at King’s, writes about her experience of postgraduate study:

Postgraduate study is a whole different matter compared to undergraduate study – not just in terms of the workload, but also in terms of the kind of work you produce, assessment standards, the general postgraduate group dynamic, and your relationship with your teachers.

Having done both my undergraduate degree (in English Literature) and postgraduate degree (in Philosophy) at King’s, I’ve been given a great chance to compare undergraduate and postgraduate study at King’s. After thoroughly researching and preparing myself for my Master’s degree, if there was one thing that still surprised me it was how different it was to be a postgraduate student compared with my undergraduate student days.

First of all, the fact that the workload for a Master’s is higher than in the average year of a undergraduate degree may seem obvious; nevertheless, it is easy to be deceived by the King’s MA course structure which allows you to pick only three modules per term compared to the four modules you select at undergraduate level. Initially, I was confused by this and, geeky as I am, wondered if I couldn’t just take four modules anyway. But quickly I realised why you only take three modules: you are expected to do more work per module and, above all, your final coursework is expected to be of a higher standard, and to demonstrate more wide-ranging research, than undergraduate coursework. This is reflected in the fact that MA modules are worth 20 credits each, whereas BA modules are worth 15.

 Maughan Library


Moreover, as an undergraduate I spent most of my study time at King’s Maughan Library, as I found it met my needs in terms of books, study spaces and opening hours. However, as an MA student I noticed an increasing need to make use of other libraries and study resources. I’d often go to Senate House Library in Bloomsbury, or the British Library just by Euston, either for their resources or study spaces, or just for a change of scene. As a King’s student you can get free Senate House Library membership, and you can also get free British Library membership if you can show that you need a book they have on record. I would highly recommend making use of the resources in these libraries (and many others); they are an excellent addition to the Maughan library.

 Senate House Library

I’ll be posting Part II of my blog soon, in which I will talk about the change in relationship with your lecturers and your place within the research community, but in the meantime you can find out about what careers you can do with a Philosophy degree, read about a day in the life of an English MA student, or discover 4 top tips for managing your university workload.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.